Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

25 February

In the headlines

Russian forces are advancing through Kiev following a night of heavy bombardment over the city. Ukraine’s defence ministry is offering guns to any citizen who wants one and urging civilians to make Molotov cocktails to “neutralise the occupier”. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky claims that “enemy sabotage groups” have entered Kiev and are out to assassinate him. The West is split over how best to punish Putin. Boris Johnson wants the Russians booted out of the global banking system by cutting off their access to the payments service Swift. But some EU countries, including Germany and Italy – both highly dependent on Russian gas – are refusing to play along. European leaders blocking tougher penalties have “disgraced themselves”, says former EU chief Donald Tusk on Twitter. British flights have been banned from Russian airspace in retaliation for Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, being blocked from British skies.

Get The Knowledge in your inbox

signup box

We scour the world’s media sources and bring you the best – all in one place. Sign up to our five minute daily newsletter here.



Punishing Russia will hurt the West too

The West is more than able to inflict sanctions “that would make Russian eyes water”, says James Forsyth in The Times. The problem is, “they’d make British eyes water, too”. Imposing the toughest penalties on Russian aggression – a boycott of its oil and gas, say – would lead to a spike in energy prices and send the cost of living through the roof. The West currently buys $700m of Russian oil and gas every day, and substitutes are thin on the ground. Here in Britain, we buy just 3% of our gas from Russia, so our most effective tool is financial sanctions. We should slap an “unexplained wealth order” on every Putin ally living in London, and seize the “trophy assets” of any oligarchs who can’t prove how they made their fortunes. The downside is that this would hit the City hard.


The people who love loneliness

For most of us, sleeping through the day and staying up all night sounds miserable, says Faith Hill in The Atlantic. For some, it’s bliss. Across America, “ultra-introverts” are seeking out a nocturnal life. They buy blackout curtains and train themselves to sleep during the day; they voluntarily work night shifts; they find 24-hour supermarkets to do their shopping in the early hours. The aim is to limit human contact as much as possible. “There’s a sense of timelessness,” says one night owl. “It feels like you’re in a free-floating abyss.” The lifestyle gives you freedom – from people, expectations, and distractions. Another nocturnal says: “The night-time, with its silence and its darkness and its solitude, helps you settle more into who you really are.”


Neuroscientists got a shock when an epilepsy patient whose brain they were monitoring died from an unexpected heart attack with his head still in the scanner. They analysed the data and found that in the 30 seconds either side of death, the 87-year-old man’s brain waves suddenly changed to a pattern strongly associated with memory. Warning that this single case was not enough to prove that life flashes before your eyes at the point of death, the researchers did say their evidence hinted that one last “recall of life” might await us all.

Love etc

When Bond girl Madeline Smith got into bed with Roger Moore in 1973’s Live and Let Die, there was little chance of things heating up. “I wore a sort of nappy and he was wearing blue boxer shorts,” she tells the Evening Standard. Not only that: “His wife was peering through the bars at the bottom of the bed.”

On the way back

“The party dress is back, back, BACK!” says Jess Cartner-Morley in The Guardian. London Fashion Week has been packed with silk, sequins, velvet and feathers as people finally let loose after two years of Covid. There was barely a tracksuit in sight.


It’s Alexey Galda, a theoretical physicist at the University of Chicago who tests his aerodynamic knowledge with jaunts in a “wingsuit”. He can reach speeds of up to 200mph in the outfit, says Futurism, typically after jumping out of a plane at 12,000ft above the ground. Galda, who competes in skydiving contests, says his scientific knowledge gives him an edge over other flyers.

Tomorrow’s world

France is finally seeking approval for its Covid jab, says The Daily Telegraph. The vaccine, developed by pharma giants Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, first went into development in April 2020 but severely lagged behind its rivals. Better late than never: tests with multiple variants, including omicron, found that two shots of the jab stopped severe illness and hospitalisation 100% of the time.


A new book lays bare the gory details of Charlize Theron’s feud with her Mad Max: Fury Road co-star Tom Hardy, says Nick Curtis in The Times. Apparently, the actors argued so much that Theron asked for a producer to accompany her at all times as a buffer. Given how PR-bound most celebrities are, this sort of bitchiness is refreshing. In my career as a journalist, the standout has been photographer David Bailey, who was “unafraid to diss everyone” when I interviewed him. Catherine Deneuve? “Fat.” His parents? “Never liked them much.” Terence Stamp? “C***.” Even I got an earful. When I showed Bailey my profile he sniffed: “Dodgy nose, big forehead. Everyone calls you ‘big head’, I bet.”


quoted 25.2.22

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”