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19 January

In the headlines

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern is stepping down. “I no longer have enough in the tank,” she announced, five and a half years after being elected aged 37. Her Labour Party will vote for a new leader this week, ahead of a general election in October. King Charles has asked for profits from six planned offshore wind farms on the Crown Estate to be used for the “public good”. Were it not for this intervention, says BBC News, 25% of the £1bn-a-year windfall would have gone directly to the royal family – an “awkward surge in income” during a cost-of-living crisis. Stoke-on-Trent is Britain’s smelliest place, says the Daily Star. The city, perhaps now “Stoke-honk-Trent”, received 860 smell complaints last year, more than any other local authority.


The Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has revealed its shortlist, from which the public can vote for their favourite snap. Top picks include a polar bear cub playing among flowers, a huddle of shivering snub-nosed monkeys, a frog with ruby eyes, and a spectacular fight between two female musk oxen. See the rest of the nominees and vote for your favourite here.


On the morning of 5 December, 2022, a Ukrainian drone bombed a Russian airbase around 500 miles southeast of Moscow. Largely unmentioned in the subsequent reporting, says Eric Schlosser in The Atlantic, was that this airbase appears to be home to nuclear warheads – meaning the attack was “the world’s first aerial assault on a nuclear base”. There was very little risk of a detonation, as the nukes would have been in heavily fortified underground bunkers. But it’s a reminder of “how dangerous this war remains”.


Single-use coffee pods, viewed by many as an “environmental nightmare”, might actually be quite a green way to get your caffeine fix, says The Washington Post. Latte-loving boffins from the University of Quebec have found that an “old-school filter coffee maker” can generate roughly one-and-a-half times more emissions than a pod machine. This is because it uses a lot of electricity to boil the water, and ground coffee is often wasted in the process. Pods make up for their bulky packaging with very efficient brewing.

Gone viral

This 2020 video of a Turkish paraglider taking to the skies on a sofa has been doing the rounds on Twitter, where it has racked up more than 10 million views. Hasan Kaval, then 29, attached a parachute to his red leather couch, then decked it out with a footstool, lamp and working television. Incredibly, he didn’t wear any kind of safety harness for the stunt, during which he put on his slippers, tucked into a packet of crisps and watched a bit of Tom and Jerry. “Come on dude,” wrote one Twitter user. “Get up off your couch and do something.” Watch the full clip here.

Quirk of history

Mental Floss has compiled a list of 20 highly enjoyable slang terms from the 1910s. Everyone knows an “againster”, for example, only we’re now more likely to call them a “contrarian” or “hater”. Most of us probably also know a “bosher” – someone who talks “bosh”, or nonsense. Spending too long with either one might bring on a case of the “woofits”, a malaise caused by anything from a lack of sleep to an excess of booze (or being “peloothered”). See the full list here.


It’s The Embrace, a new memorial to Martin Luther King Jr in Boston, symbolising the civil rights activist hugging his wife, Coretta Scott King. Not everyone is a fan. A cousin of Coretta’s has said the 20-foot-high statue “looks like a penis”. Daily Wire journalist Frank J Fleming suggests it depicts the couple after having been mangled together in a teleporter. If you peer at the work from a certain angle, says Emily Watkins in the I newspaper, it even suggests “the act of cunnilingus”.


quoted 19.1.23

“Age doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.”

Spanish-Mexican filmmaker Luis Buñuel