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21 April

In the headlines

Vladimir Putin has abandoned plans to storm the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, says BBC News, the “last redoubt” of Ukrainian resistance in the city. Instead, he’s ordered it to be sealed off “so that not even a fly can escape”. Putin has also tested a new nuclear missile dubbed “Satan II”, which can travel 11,000 miles and carry up to 15 nuclear warheads. “This is probably the most destructive single weapon on earth,” defence expert Ian Williams tells The Daily Telegraph. Donald Trump apparently stormed out of a new interview with Piers Morgan after a “blazing” row about the 2020 election, says The Sun. “Grumpy Trumpy” has accused Morgan of “deceptively editing” footage – and released audio of the pair laughing their goodbyes.

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When will Johnson’s luck run out?

It doesn’t take a great political mind to see that when the PM breaks the law, it does “something devastating and long-term” to trust in politics, says Marina Hyde in The Guardian. By fining Boris Johnson over cake-and-booze parties during lockdown, the police have confirmed that the leader of our country broke a law he had not only made himself, but one that he had “stressed the absolutely vital importance of sticking to, every night on TV”. No wonder the distinguished British historian Peter Hennessy has declared him “the great debaser in modern times of decency in public and political life, and of our constitutional conventions – our very system of government”.


Latin and Greek are safe in Beijing

If you want to study the Western classics, says Alex Lo in the South China Morning Post, “go to China”. Despite growing anti-Western feeling, the study of classical Western texts is “as strong as ever”. There are even star Latin professors like Leopold Leeb of Renmin University in Beijing. His textbooks have become standard references, and he offers hugely popular summer Latin courses for teens and even pre-teens. Leeb’s US counterpart is Princeton classicist Dan-el Peralta, whose main contribution to the subject has been to “denigrate, if not kill it altogether”. Classics, he says, is an intellectual source of “white privilege”. And thanks to Peralta and his like-minded colleagues, Princeton classics students no longer need to learn Greek or Latin at all.

On the money

A perceptive puppy from Blackpool has found nearly £6,000 worth of gold coins on his first ever walk. Ollie is a 10-week-old lagotto romagnolo – an Italian breed famous for truffle hunting – and dug up 15 gold sovereign pieces, likely from the 19th century, within 10 minutes of his first outing. “He cost me £2,000,” says the owner. “So after sniffing out the gold he tripled my investment.”


Italian artist Debora Lombardi splashes individual flowers with UV light and photographs them, says Colossal magazine, “unveiling an entire spectrum of colours otherwise invisible to the human eye”. The results transform the blooms “into otherworldly specimens”, from the purple and blue veins in a leaf to the neon yellow glow of stamens rich with pollen. Lombardi’s photos are on display at Somerset House until 2 May. Otherwise, follow her on Instagram.

Gone viral

A herd of elephants crossing the road has racked up 6.6 million views on Twitter, after viewers noticed that the final big beast to cross pauses once the others are across safely, and waves his trunk to say thank you.

Quirk of history

In November 2002, an auction house in Illinois flogged a small jar of Elvis Presley’s hair for a whopping $115,000, says Mental Floss. It was the most expensive hair ever sold. A few months later, the very same auction house sold more hair advertised as Presley’s. After DNA testing found the second batch to be fake, the chairman was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Great escape

Gwyneth Paltrow has launched her latest woo-woo experiment: Goop at Sea. The nine-night cruise, which Paltrow herself will attend, costs $5,000 and sets sail around the Mediterranean in September. The itinerary includes talks with wellness experts, daily mind, body and soul sessions, and a lot of green juice. That’s all mad enough, says Harriet Walker in The Times. “However, surely the weirdest thing about the Goop cruise is the fact that I’d really like to go on it?” I think Paltrow’s fortnight of “naval navel-gazing” sounds rather nice – “sign me up”.


They’re Anish Kapoor’s new sculptures, which are coated in a substance called Vantablack – the world’s blackest shade of black. The artist, 68, unveiled the series at this year’s Venice Biennale, but not everyone is happy about it, says The Daily Telegraph. In 2016, Kapoor signed an exclusive deal which controversially barred all other artists from using the ultra-dark material. Kapoor is like that child at school “who wouldn’t share their colouring pencils”, said British artist Stuart Semple at the time. “But then they ended up on their own with no friends.”


quoted 21.4.22

“Do not hold your views too firmly. Every fool is fully convinced.”

Spanish philosopher Balthasar Gracián