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15 February

In the headlines

Nicola Sturgeon is resigning after eight years as Scotland’s first minister and leader of the SNP. She insisted the decision was “not a reaction to short-term pressures”, but said someone can work in frontline politics for only “so long”. The 52-year-old will remain in post while a successor is chosen. Jeremy Corbyn won’t be a Labour candidate at the next election, Keir Starmer has confirmed. The former party leader was suspended as a Labour MP in October 2020 after saying antisemitism concerns during his leadership were “overstated”. Police have “saved Easter”, says the Daily Star, after recovering 200,000 Cadbury’s Creme Eggs that were stolen from a Shropshire industrial estate on Saturday. With the culprit facing up to two years in prison, the “case is cracked”.

Tomorrow’s world

Arctic squirrels may hold the key to helping humans embark on lengthy space journeys, says Nasa is funding research into the rodents’ hibernation patterns to see whether astronauts could be placed into a similar state. When squirrels shut down, their brain activity slows, their cells stop dividing and their body temperature plummets – allowing them to survive in freezing conditions without their bones or muscles wasting away.

Inside politics

“I’m a great believer in nominative determinism,” says Matthew Parris in The Times, which doesn’t bode well for our current crop of MPs. Given the trouble we had with Chris Pincher, it’s alarming that a fellow called Greg Hands has been appointed Tory party chairman. There’s “two Bacons rootling around in the Westminster undergrowth”, and a Blunt “not always noted for his tact”. “I know of no association between Cash and brown envelopes, but ‘Hazzard for prime minister’ would worry the nation, Skidmore sounds unsteady and, as for Rimmer, let’s not go there.” It all adds to my theory that today’s MPs are often yesterday’s kids who were teased in the playground. “The angels weep for a boy called Hancock.”


Employees are taking advantage of their companies’ work-from-home policies by taking “hush holidays”, says the Evening Standard: secret overseas breaks that their managers have no idea about. A recent survey found that 36% of millennials and Gen Xers already have a clandestine trip booked for this year. One 29-year-old marketing manager says she has spent the past month joining Zoom calls from Mexico, with her boss none the wiser. The only kicker is the time difference, which means she has to log on at 5am. “But it means I’m done working by 12pm and can drink margaritas on the beach for the rest of the day.”

Gone viral

American chef Ming Tsai has racked up half a million views for his TikTok video revealing what he claims is the best way to crack an egg. Instead of using a bowl or a flat surface, the culinary whiz suggests smashing one egg against another – the theory being that this shatters the shell so neatly that you never have to fish out any stray shards. “Egg-on-egg violence,” comments one user. “Where does it end?”


Heavily pregnant Russian women are flying to Argentina to wrangle their babies an extra passport, says Quartz. People born on Argentine soil get automatic citizenship, and unlike many governments, Buenos Aires hasn’t suspended visas for Russians. In recent weeks more than 5,000 Russian mothers-to-be have entered the country, with 30 on a single flight last Thursday.


They’re artworks made from rubbings of celebrity tombstones. Scott Covert makes a copy of the epitaphs using canvas and an oil stick, says The Guardian. Often, he imprints two names on the same canvas, “bringing people together in death who he thinks might have liked to meet” – Amy Winehouse and William Blake, for example. Other works demonstrate “a sense of irony”, such as Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed by the US in 1953 on espionage charges, alongside Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. “I talk to the dead person while I’m working,” says the clairvoyant creative. “I tell them what I’m doing.” Book tickets for his London exhibition here.


quoted 15.2.23

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

JK Galbraith