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6 April

In the headlines

Hundreds of Metropolitan Police officers are being sacked, suspended or placed on restricted duties in the scandal-hit force’s “biggest purge in 50 years”, says The Times. Mark Rowley, the Met commissioner, has diverted dozens of officers from terrorism and organised crime duties to investigate their colleagues. Ukraine is “ready” for diplomatic talks with Russia about Crimea, a top Kyiv official tells the FT, if its forces reach the occupied peninsula’s border. It’s a shift from Volodymyr Zelensky’s previous stance, which ruled out peace negotiations until Moscow’s forces left the entirety of Ukraine. The government is considering banning power showers, says the Daily Star, as part of plans to cut personal water consumption by 15% before 2038. “What a load of dribble.”


The King is “taking it easy” ahead of the Coronation for a rather unusual reason, says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. According to a palace source, the monarch’s fingers can “swell quite badly, especially if he travels or does too much”, and officials are worried the Archbishop of Canterbury won’t be able to get the Coronation Ring on to the royal finger. Justin Welby “might consider having some butter on standby, just in case”.


One big reason for Britain’s absurdly high house prices is good old-fashioned scarcity, says Sam Dumitriu in The Daily Telegraph. “Britain has fewer homes per person than any country in western Europe.” A recent study revealed we would need to build “442,000 new homes every year for the next 25 years” to catch up.


To determine which musicians have the “happiest” and “saddest” music, the website Crossword Solver analysed lyrics from the 120 most-streamed artists and the 1,000 most-streamed songs on Spotify in the US. It found that Gen Z pop star Olivia Rodrigo (above, right) is the happiest, with a 24.6% “positivity rate” in her lyrics, while Billie Eilish (above, left) is the gloomiest, with 18.1% of the words in her songs classed as “sad”.


Lightning rods don’t wait for the bolt to strike, says The New York Times. Less than a millisecond before the moment of impact, the rod – provoked by the negative discharge of the lightning – sends a positive discharge up to it. This phenomenon is incredibly hard to record on camera, but researchers “recently got lucky”, capturing a strike in the Brazilian city of São José dos Campos “with high-speed video cameras at very high resolution”.

Inside politics

Keir Starmer certainly isn’t the first politician accused of being too dependent on focus groups to tell him what to think, says the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges on Twitter. Back in the Blair days, a cabinet minister had a line in their party conference speech attacking the menace of focus groups – and “asked for the speech to be run past a focus group in advance”.


It’s Apo Whang-Od, a 106-year-old who has become Vogue’s oldest-ever cover star. Whang-Od, who appears on the front of the April edition of Vogue Philippines, is a master of an indigenous “hand-tapped” tattoo technique which uses a bamboo stick, a thorn, water and coal. “We felt she represented our ideals of what is beautiful about our Filipino culture,” magazine editor-in-chief Bea Valdes tells CNN. “We believe that the concept of beauty needs to evolve.”


quoted 6.4.23

“Americans are a people so extreme in politics, or religion, or both, that they could not live in peace anywhere else.”

Historian Bertha Ann Reuter