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16 February

In the headlines

Prince Andrew has agreed to pay a reported £12m to settle his sex abuse lawsuit in the US. The Duke of York, who denies ever having met his accuser, Virginia Giuffre, caved in after a mammoth 72-hour secret negotiation between their lawyers. “Royal wrong ‘un pays out to sex victim he’s never met,” says the Star. “As you do.”American boffins say they have cured a woman of HIV for the first time, using a cutting-edge stem cell transplant method that has enabled her to quit medication and remain asymptomatic and healthy. Only two other people have been cured of the deadly virus, both men. Insulate Britain activists are planning to hold a series of traffic-blocking dance parties on the M25 at midday on Saturday, says the Sun. “Raving Morons.”


US politics

Hats off to Joe Biden

“Vladimir Putin is doing Joe Biden a favour,” says Paolo Garimberti in la Repubblica. Before Russia threatened to invade Ukraine, the American president’s approval ratings were a disaster. But as Putin has become more aggressive, previously hesitant countries in the West have been forced to take sides – even us “reluctant” Italians. Everyone is now following America. And Biden’s stance on Ukraine has strong support among Democrats and even some Republicans.


Hollywood won’t bow to Beijing forever

When Universal studios released their adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930, movie execs were certain they “had a hit on their hands”, says Sonny Bunch in The Washington Post. Germany was one of the biggest markets for Hollywood films and the anti-war story was told from a German perspective. But the Nazis had other ideas. On opening night, brownshirts in the audience yelled at the screen, and Joseph Goebbels told the crowd that “Hollywood had come to Germany to sully its reputation”. Universal hastily scrubbed the film of anything that might offend Nazi sensibilities. Two years later, German authorities introduced Article 15: “a provision that gave Germany the right to cancel distribution agreements with any studio that produced a film it found offensive”.


Dinosaurs caught colds. So says palaeontologist Cary Woodruff, from the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Montana, who spotted tell-tale “broccoli-like growths” in the neck bones of a fossilised dinosaur called Dolly. “I imagine that Dolly would have been very much like a sick person: coughing, sneezing, experiencing a fever,” Woodruff tells The Guardian. “I don’t personally know of any fossil I’ve been able to sympathetically relate to more.”


Amazon has released a trailer for its forthcoming Lord of the Rings prequel, The Rings of Power, which is due to come out in early September. The five-series extravaganza is set to be the most expensive TV show ever, with a budget of more than $1bn. Sadly, it seems “CGI demons have already stolen its soul”, says Kevin Perry in The Independent. The characters resemble “Mark Zuckerberg’s creepy, dead-eyed Meta avatars wrapped in a billowing cloak of special effects”.


It’s “ski ballet”, which was, briefly, an Olympic event. It appeared as a “demonstration sport” at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics. This is French contestant Cathy Fechoz at the 1992 Albertville games. She came second.

Gone viral

A photo of two climbers seemingly stranded on a tiny ledge on the Scottish mountain Ben Nevis went viral on Instagram and Twitter last week. But far from being in trouble, says The Times, the two mountaineers were merely pausing for a crafty fag. Their companion, just out of shot, “even persuaded a group of climbers below to send up a cigarette by rope”.

Inside politics

Competition was fierce within the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, says Jack Blackburn in The Times. Once, when George Osborne arrived for a meeting at Nick Clegg’s office, he found a Rubik’s Cube lying outside. One side had been completed – all in Lib Dem orange. The chancellor got to work on the puzzle, but by the time Clegg arrived it was no closer to being solved. “The only difference was that the one completed side was now in Tory blue.”


Now that The New York Times owns Wordle, the online puzzle has had to clean up its act. Under the paper’s snooty rules, the game will no longer accept “insensitive or offensive” terms as possible answers. Banned words include SLAVE and WENCH – but PRICK, apparently, is fine.


quoted 16.2

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”

American satirist PJ O’Rourke, who died yesterday