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5 September

In the headlines

Liz Truss will be Britain’s next prime minister. The Foreign Secretary, 47, was confirmed as the winner of the Tory leadership race at lunchtime today, taking 57% of the party member vote compared to 43% for Rishi Sunak. She will be appointed by the Queen at Balmoral tomorrow after Boris Johnson formally steps down. According to YouGov, the new PM is liked by just 21% of the public, says Clare Foges in The Times. “Never has a premiership begun with such low expectations.” Truss is considering freezing energy bills for millions of households this winter, says The Daily Telegraph. The final package could be on the scale of the Covid furlough scheme, which cost about £70bn. If businesses don’t get help paying their bills, pubs may be forced to charge £20 for a pint, says the Daily Star. “Tears for beers.”

Russian economy

The key to Moscow’s fortunes

Since the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, says Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times, we have been inundated with explanations of why the Soviet Union “disintegrated”. In Russia, Gorbachev gets much of the blame; in the West, Reagan gets much of the credit. No one has mentioned the true cause: “hydrocarbons”. Then, as now, Moscow’s one source of wealth was its vast oil fields, which powered not just the eastern bloc but also the West. All that changed on 13 September 1985. That was the day Saudi Arabia’s oil minister announced a shift in policy: over the next six months, oil production in the gulf state increased fourfold, sending the price plummeting. The Soviet Union lost about $20bn in oil revenue a year – money without which it simply could not survive.

US politics

Why America’s divisions grow ever wider

For anyone trying to understand America, says The Economist, August 25 was an instructive day. In California, state lawmakers banned the sale of petrol-powered cars from 2035. In Texas, a ban came in outlawing abortion from the moment of conception, with no exceptions even for rape or incest. These two seemingly unrelated developments are “symptoms of an important trend”: while Washington DC is gridlocked, “states are making policies at a furious pace”. That’s partly the point of federalism, of course. With 50 states, America “has 50 laboratories to test which policies work and which do not”. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, increasingly partisan governors and state lawmakers are “fighting a national culture war”.


The Natural History Museum has unveiled a collection of highly commended pictures from its Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Entries include an octopus hiding in a shell, a bonobo cradling a mongoose pup, and a treefrog perched between two palm fronds. See the full shortlist here.

Tomorrow’s world

Scientists are developing a dishwasher that cleans plates within seconds, says the Daily Mail – without even using soap. Crockery is blasted by 180C steam which kills bacteria in just 25 seconds; the typical cycle on a normal machine peaks at 80C and takes about 90 minutes. Not only will the new method kill more germs, it will also help slash energy bills.

Inside politics

We know Liz Truss’s colleagues think she’s an “oddity and a buffoon”, says Camilla Long in The Sunday Times, and we’ve all read comment pieces calling her “crackers”. It turns out even her “liberal” dad isn’t backing her. He says he is “extremely saddened” and “furious” about her politics; he can barely speak about it, apparently. What a “big old baby”. Imagine being “even the vaguest of liberals” and having the brass neck to tell your family how to think and behave. It’s no wonder Truss left the Lib Dems. She must have realised that if she carried on hanging out with her dad and his fellow “terminal weirdos”, with their “cat-loving harems and sad reliance on vegetables”, she’d never get anywhere. After all, the Lib Dems have only two purposes: “to get the Tories into power and to be wrong about everything”.

Gone viral

This video of a robot rejecting unripe tomatoes has impressed Twitter users. “The machine is Leonardo DiCaprio,” says one, “and the green tomatoes are women over 24.”

On the way out

Major hurricanes can put parents off certain baby names for good, says Axios. In 2015, a full decade after Hurricane Katrina hit, 83% fewer babies were registered with the name in the US. It’s a similar story for Betsy, down 45% in the years after Hurricane Betsy ravaged the south coast in 1965, and Audrey, which became 35% less popular after a storm of that name hammered Louisiana in 1957.


He’s at the top of the Shard, in London. Police were called at 5.38am on Sunday after a man, believed to be notorious daredevil Adam Lockwood, was spotted scaling the 1,016ft-tall office block. Lockwood posted a selfie of himself at the top of the tower. “Hanging off things doesn’t feel like much,” the 21-year-old said after a previous urban climb. “My brain is blank, my heartbeat doesn’t go up, and it feels almost peaceful.”


quoted 05-09-22

“A bore is a man who, when you ask him how he is, tells you.”

Bert Leston Taylor, American journalist