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4 August

In the headlines

China has launched several ballistic missiles into the waters around Taiwan, as it begins its largest-ever live-fire military exercise in the region. Taipei says the drill, which follows Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the island, amounts to a blockade because it stops ships and planes from using the space around Taiwan. With millions facing hosepipe bans, British water firms are urging people to “grass up” rulebreakers using a new hotline, says Metro. It’s really “drought of order”. The forthcoming Batgirl movie has been permanently shelved, after test screenings were so poorly received that Warner Bros decided the $90m film was irredeemable. “And this is a studio that just released DC League of Super-Pets,” says Stuart Heritage in The Guardian, “so it has to really stink.”


Stop bashing “dear old Blighty”

Ever since we dared to vote for Brexit six years ago, says Andrew Neil in the Daily Mail, The New York Times has regularly depicted Britain as a “plague-ridden, poverty-stricken hellhole in terminal decline”. The paper specialises in “gory endings” for dear old Blighty: last month, it reported that the UK was melting. The month before, it said we were “sinking into the sea”. Some unknown British Marxist was at it again this week, complaining on the paper’s front page that Brexit had left us “economically stagnant, socially fragmented and politically adrift”.

UK politics

Why Labour should fear Liz Truss

Liz Truss seems set to become the next PM, says Tony Blair’s former advisor John McTernan in UnHerd, and Labour “can’t believe their luck”. But if they think she’ll be a walkover they’re sorely mistaken. For a start, Truss highlights Labour’s own “longstanding women problem”. Despite a record of “powerful female ministers” ­– the likes of Barbara Castle and Harriet Harman – the Labour Party still hasn’t had a woman leader. Truss also has a more distinctive strength: her “political journey” from anti-monarchist Lib Dem, to moderate Remainer, to staunch Brexit champion. Her evolution makes her seem infinitely flexible compared to staunch party loyalists with their “unchanging commitment to ideology”.


The skirt Brad Pitt wore to the Berlin premiere of his new movie Bullet Train last month quickly went viral. At the film’s Los Angeles opening on Monday, the 58-year-old actor shed a little light on his choice. Asked by Variety why he’d chosen to make the fashion statement, he replied: “I don’t know! We’re all going to die, so let’s mess it up.”

On the way in

Siestas, which may spread to northern Europe thanks to global warming, says Wired. A construction union in Germany “is campaigning for longer lunch breaks so workers can avoid the hottest part of the day”; a garden centre in the Netherlands has already adopted the practice. The downside is that two-hour midday breaks mean work stretches into the evening: around 30% of Spaniards work until 7pm, and 10% until 9pm.

Love etc

Donald Trump really wishes his daughter Ivanka had got together with multi-Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, says Intelligencer. When he was asked for Ivanka’s hand in marriage by Jared Kushner, Trump apparently said his “good friend” Brady had been trying to take Ivanka out, and joked that he’d rather have the American football player as a son-in-law. He later told businessman Robert Kraft that “Jared is half the size of Tom Brady’s forearm”. And in the White House, officials said they heard Trump complaining: “I could have had Tom Brady. Instead, I got Jared Kushner.”


“Can anything be a handbag?” asks Frances Solá-Santiago in Refinery29. Judging by recent designs, the answer is yes. Designer Gabriela Hearst has shown off a bag that looks like an open book. Nik Bentel launched one shaped like a Barilla pasta packet last year, and one that looks like a delivery package this year. Personally, says Solá-Santiago, I’ve gone for a Tomme Studio number made from a repurposed basketball. The first time I took it out, someone told me: “that has to be the most badass bag ever”.

Inside politics

Boris Johnson is in little doubt about whether it’ll be Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak who’ll replace him in No 10. “I wish my successor all the best,” he said during rehearsals for his final Prime Minister’s Questions last month. “Whoever she may be.”


It’s a piece of space junk that landed in a field in Australia. From afar, it “kind of just looks like a burnt tree”, says Brad Tucker, an Aussie astrologist who visited the remote site in New South Wales. “Then you come up to it, it’s like this alien obelisk.” He says the wreckage is part of a SpaceX rocket that broke off when it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.


quoted 4.8.22

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”

George Eliot