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22 April

In the headlines

Boris Johnson will face yet another Partygate investigation, says the Daily Mirror – a parliamentary inquiry this time – after “dozens” of furious Tory MPs blocked a Downing Street effort to delay the process. The PM says he doesn’t want “this thing to just go on and on and on”. But, says Politico, “on and on it shall go”. Britain will offer India “increased defence co-operation”, says the FT, to break the country’s reliance on Russian weapons. The UK is keen to help India build fighter jets and speed up the process for New Delhi to buy arms from Britain. The two armies will also carry out more joint military exercises. A chihuahua from Florida called TobyKeith has become the world’s oldest dog, says the Daily Star. As he turned 21 years old – 147 in dog years – the aged hound “celebrated with a pedicure”.

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Wooing India is a waste of time

Boris Johnson is in India today, says Sunny Hundal in The Independent, trying to persuade its PM, Narendra Modi, “to join the Western alliance against Putin”. It’s a waste of time. India is far more aligned with Russia than the West realises: $36bn out of the $54bn it’s spent on arms imports over the last 20 years went to Russia, and that makes it “reliant on Putin for spare parts, maintenance and upgrades”. It’s not out of choice: India was “hampered” from buying better American weapons by sanctions imposed by Bill Clinton in 1998, after New Delhi tested multiple nuclear weapons.


My duel with the Donald

Precisely eight minutes before I was due to interview Donald Trump, my crew told me we had a problem, says Piers Morgan in the New York Post. Someone had gathered every scathing thing I’d written about the former US president in the last two years and delivered it to him. “The quotes are not good,” said one team member. “In fact, they’re really bad.” I hurried to Trump’s office to attempt damage control. “What the f*** IS this?” he snarled, reading out my quotes with “mounting rage in his eyes”. He ranted on, threatening to cancel the interview altogether, until I decided “it was time to change the mood music”. I congratulated him on his recent golf hole-in-one. “Trump sat bolt upright.” I asked if it was his first. “No!” he replied. “I’ve had seven!” And he clapped his hands together and agreed to speak.

Gone viral

Montreal-based artist Raku Inoue arranges leaves, petals, and twigs he finds on the ground to make animal shapes, from crimson birds to multicoloured reef fish. Naturally, the colour palette of his arrangements shifts depending on the season. In autumn, he works with warm red leaves that fall in great drifts. In the spring, his animals are made out of blossoms and fresh green foliage. You can buy prints of Inoue’s work from his online shop and keep up to date with the artist’s latest creations by following him on Instagram.

On the money

The global microchip shortage is now so bad that at least one (unnamed) industrial conglomerate has taken to buying up washing machines and tearing the chips out to reuse them in its own products. Toyota will make 100,000 fewer cars than planned this year for the same reason, and one Chinese chipmaker says it has sold out every chip it can make until the end of 2023.

Quirk of history

Shelved US defence plans, which were recently revealed in a Freedom of Information Request, include a plot to blast a tunnel through the moon using nuclear explosives. Officials hoped the scheme would revolutionise space travel by weakening the moon’s gravitational pull, making it easier to take off from the surface. Vice magazine got hold of nearly 1,600 pages of official documents from between 2007 and 2012, detailing other government-funded research projects into “exotic and occasionally downright weird” ideas like portable wormholes and invisibility cloaks. “None of these technologies ever seem to have gotten remotely close to being a reality,” says Vice. Well, not as far as we know.


The feather star is the canny cousin of the starfish, which has evolved to undulate its feather-like arms to navigate the seas and elude predators. It’s thought of as a “living fossil”, says National Geographic, having first turned up around 200 million years ago and barely changed since.


Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian painter who pioneered abstract art, painted the two on the right. The top left was made by a machine called ELBO AI and the bottom left by Dall-e 2, two AI systems that create brand new images based on descriptions written in normal language. “I put this test to quite a few people,” says Sean Thomas in The Spectator. “And about four out of ten got it right.”


quoted 22.4.22

“It is a serious fault in our approach to literature that we do not take comedy seriously.”

Barrister and author John Mortimer