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18 August

In the headlines

The US has approved sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. In a letter seen by Reuters, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that officials would help expedite the transfer of at least two dozen aircraft from Denmark and the Netherlands, expected to take place in early 2024. Some 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate the northern Canadian city of Yellowknife because of approaching wildfires. People are waiting in hours-long queues to board flights and sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get out before the deadline later today. Bonnie Prince Charlie wasn’t as handsome as history remembers, says the Daily Mail. When scientists at the University of Dundee created a model of the Young Pretender’s face from his death masks, they found that his hair was a “mess of dirty blonde ringlets” and his skin was “marked with pimples”.


Winners of this year’s World Sports Photography Awards include shots of Zhou Guanyu’s Formula 1 car upside down following a crash at the British Grand Prix; the match-winning kick in a snowy American football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins; a Team Kazakhstan athlete emerging from the water as part of an artistic swimming routine; and Lee Westwood playing a shot while appearing to be shrouded in clouds at the LIV Golf Tournament in Miami. See the rest here.


When Michael Parkinson was working in Australia in the early 1980s, says Popbitch, Elton John invited him and his wife to a party on his yacht. Unfortunately, they arrived at the jetty a little late, “just in time to catch the HMS Elton sailing off towards the horizon”. But thankfully, a couple of water cops recognised Parky and ferried the couple out to the vessel. Once they were aboard, however, Elton was “furious”. On seeing the police boat approaching, the rest of the party had assumed it was a drugs bust and “lobbed all their gear overboard”. Thousands of dollars’ worth was “lost to the deep” – and “the Parkinsons were pariahs for the rest of the night”.

On the money

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, which wrapped up its first North American leg last week, has been “both a business and a cultural juggernaut”, says The New York Times. The 33-year-old has sold an estimated $14m in tickets each night, with the full 146-date bonanza expected to pull in a record $1.4bn – around 50% more than the current record holder, Elton John’s $939m farewell tour. It’s hardly surprising: Swift has had more top No 1 albums on the Billboard charts than any other woman, and this year became the first artist to place four albums in the Top 10 at the same time since trumpeter Herb Alpert in 1966.

Gone viral

America’s Mullet Champ competition has unveiled the 25 finalists for best kid’s mullet of the year. Contenders include children with haircuts they have called “The Axel”, “The Electric Slide”, “Son-Of-A-Soldier” and “Mufasa”. See the full selection here.


Russia’s economy really is in “dire straits”, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Daily Telegraph. The rouble has sunk a whopping 40% in value since November, and this week briefly dropped below the “psychological line” of 100 to the dollar. Energy sales to Europe have dropped to €2bn a month, down from €12bn last year. The Kremlin has so little “usable hard currency” that it can’t afford replacement aircraft parts – some of its Aeroflot passenger jets are having to land with their brakes switched off so as not to wear them out. “Pilots have to rely on reverse-thrust alone.”


It’s the windmill that appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which is now up for sale. The structure, in the Chiltern Hills, was the home of Caractacus Potts, the eccentric inventor in the 1968 film. Including the adjoining house, the property has a total of six bedrooms, a swimming pool and about 37 acres of land. It’s on the market for £9m.


quoted 18.8.23

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

American cartoonist Charles Schulz