More women have come forward with allegations about their treatment by Russell Brand, says The Times, after four women alleged they had been raped or abused by the comedian between 2006 and 2013. Two of Brand’s former employers, the BBC and Channel 4, have launched investigations into the accusations, which he denies. Keir Starmer has pledged to rewrite Britain’s Brexit deal with the EU if he wins the next general election. The Labour leader says “almost everyone recognises” that the trade agreement, which was negotiated under Boris Johnson and is up for review in 2025, is “far too thin”. Wales has reduced speed limits in built-up areas from 30mph to 20mph. First Minister Mark Drakeford says the change will save 10 lives a year, but the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew Davies, calls it an “economy-stifling vanity project”.
Brand in 2014. Dan Kitwood/Getty
Russell Brand “exemplifies” the problems of our culture
“I think I’m worse than normal people,” said Russell Brand in October 2014. At the time, says Will Lloyd in The Times, the comedian was “selling himself as a revolutionary”, advocating in vague terms for eradicating the nation state and overturning “corporate tyranny, ecological irresponsibility and economic inequality”. Soon after, he ranked fourth in Prospect magazine’s list of the “world’s 50 most influential thinkers”, ahead of German philosopher Jürgen Habermas and Indian author Arundhati Roy. By May 2015, Ed Miliband was seeking his endorsement in that year’s general election. Joined onstage by leftie columnist Owen Jones, Brand mostly discussed himself: “I want attention. I want women. I want drugs. I want food. I want, I want, I want. I exemplify the problems of our culture… I’m a viciously authoritative, controlling man.”
Today, Brand hawks his anti-establishment shtick directly to more than six million YouTube subscribers. His online cheerleaders include Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk and Laurence Fox. In his video denying the allegations, he asked: “Is there another agenda at play?” This is classic Brand. You either question everything or you are on the side of the “bankers, the big pharmaceutical companies, the warmongers”. But the 48-year-old is right about one thing. “He really does exemplify the problems of our culture.” On the same day he was accused, polling found that a third of British adults “regard the system as broken and are highly suspicious of those they hold responsible”. A similar poll in January found that 38% of the population agrees the world is “controlled by a secretive elite”. There has always been a credulous market for “nonsense solutions to non-existent problems”. What’s incredible is how large it has become, and how many are willing to lose themselves in it. “This is Russell Brand’s Britain.”
The single image category in this year’s LensCulture street photography awards was won by Jonathan Jasberg’s snap of an egg-seller in Cairo wearing an eyepatch. Other top picks include images of school graduates dancing on the streets of Odesa, Ukraine; white-clad women in Lomé, Togo, after attending a church service; and someone wearing pink Converse high-tops at a bus stop in Edinburgh. See more here.
More than half of voters say there are “no circumstances” in which they would consider backing the Tories at the next election, while only a third said the same for Labour. New polling by YouGov found that on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is left wing and 10 is right wing, voters characterised themselves as 4.6, Keir Starmer as 3.9 and Rishi Sunak as 7.3, suggesting they saw Starmer’s values as more closely aligned with their own, and Rishi as too right wing.
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A team of students in Switzerland has achieved the fastest ever acceleration in an electric vehicle, says Ars Technica. The “Mythen”, which weighs just 140kg, went from 0 to 62mph (100km/h) in just 0.956 seconds, besting the previous record by more than a third. The speedy feat took place at an airbase in Duebendorf, but didn’t need a whole runway – to hit the 62mph mark, the Mythen travelled just 12.3 metres.
Les grenouilles: pas bien. Getty
Even the French don’t like French food any more
There are certain things so shocking “they can only be said by close friends”, says Sean Thomas in The Spectator. So given the French and the Brits are such old pals, I feel I can give them the truth: “I’m sorry, mes amis, but your food is the worst in the world.” Take the menu degustation, or tasting menu. This is the “essential emblem of aspirational French cooking” – yet invariably consists of “several long painful hours of elaborate dining faff”, as some middling chef “relentlessly strains, foams, quenelles, macaroons, and basically destroys 98 tiny dishes of quite decent ingredients”. And it’s all so repetitive, especially in the provinces. Having the same local speciality over and over again – foie gras, pickled duck colon, whatever – has become the “quintessential French holidaying experience”.
The locals don’t bother with it – they eat fast food like the rest of us. (“There are more McDonalds in France, per head, than anywhere in Europe.”) So why has la cuisine Francaise become so bad? The main problem is the “Great French Culinary Tradition”, which makes French people think they must be good cooks “by sheer ancestry”. They’re so pleased with their cuisine they’ve had it Unesco-listed, which means innovation is now impossible – try adding spice to a soufflé and you’ll be “locked up on Devil’s Island”. Thankfully, there is still one dish the French haven’t screwed up: the classic crumbly croissant, with jam and a good café au lait. It’s just a shame that to eat well in France, you need to “have breakfast three times a day”.
Preston Innovation Laboratory
This year’s Ig Nobel Prizes – a good-natured parody of the Nobel Prizes honouring achievements that “first make people laugh and then make them think” – were handed out last week. The Geology prize was awarded to Jan Zalasiewicz, for “explaining why many scientists like to lick rocks”. The Mechanical Engineering prize went to a group of researchers at Rice University for “re-animating dead spiders to use as mechanical gripping tools”. The Communication prize went to a team of Spaniards for “studying the mental activities of people who are expert at speaking backward”. And the Literature prize was awarded to an international team who studied “the sensations people feel when they repeat a single word many, many, many, many, many, many, many times”. See the rest of the winners here.
Theresa May has revealed she has a “mind-boggling” 275 cookery books, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. Why on earth does she need so many? Is there any space left in her kitchen for pots and pans, “or have they all had to be stored in the garage”? The former PM says she likes to master a new recipe every week, which is admirable. But even if each of her books contains only 100 recipes, getting through them all will take her “nearly 529 years”.
It’s Princess Diana’s black sheep jumper, which was found in an attic in March and has sold for £920,000 at auction in New York. The pastoral pullover is often described as “symbolic of Diana’s place within the royal family”, says the BBC, though fashion historians point out that she first wore it a month before her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, when everything was apparently rosy. The garment geeks say it’s more likely she was simply sporting the “Sloane Ranger” style she helped popularise.
“There are only two types of states in Europe: small states, and small states that have not yet realised they are small.”
Belgian statesman Paul-Henri Spaak
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