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9-10 April

Behind the headlines

The priest who captivated Putin

One aspect of the war in Ukraine is often forgotten by Western analysts, says Juliet Samuel in The Sunday Telegraph: it is a conflict “with an overwhelmingly religious and cultural dimension”. Over the years, Vladimir Putin has become a leader “beloved by the Russian Orthodox Church”. He has cast the Ukrainian government as “a malignant tool of Satanic and degenerate Western forces”, with his attempted takeover of the country “the start of a great revival of the ancient Russian civilisation”.


quoted Augustine 9.4.22

“Lord give me chastity and self-control. But not yet.”

St Augustine

Long reads shortened

The world’s longest ever flight

The world record for the longest single aeroplane flight is an astonishing 64 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes, a little over two months straight. More astonishing, says Anders Clark in Disciples of Flight, is that the record hasn’t been broken since 1958, when Robert Timm and John Cook co-piloted a poxy little two-seater Cessna around the deserts and mountains near Las Vegas. They refuelled by winching a hosepipe down to a specially kitted out petrol truck that was driven along the ground beneath them. One of the two airmen had to clamber out of the cockpit to stick the fuel pipe into the engine. Over the course of the flight, they repeated this potentially deadly refuelling process 128 times.


“Nuclear Wintour” shrugs off her critics

Anna Wintour is under fire from fellow Condé Nast employees over her multimillion-dollar salary. But the famously frosty American Vogue editor, 72, won’t be fazed, says Laura Craik in The Daily Telegraph. During her 34 years in charge, “Nuclear Wintour” has shrugged off accusations of bullying, colonialism, and being “incapable of simple human kindness”. When an anti-fur protestor once ambushed her in a restaurant and threw a dead raccoon onto her plate, she didn’t even flinch.


quoted Wharton 9.4.22

“The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it.”

Edith Wharton


Why this crisis will boost America

It might be a “tasteless thing to argue”, but America “will be the ultimate ‘winner’ of the Ukrainian crisis”, says Janan Ganesh in the FT. With European Nato members like Germany finally pledging to fulfil their defence spending requirements, Europe could end up “less of a drain” on America. This would free up the US for its turn to Asia – where, thanks to the potential costs being spelled out by the West’s recent sanctions on Russia, China now looks less likely to invade Taiwan.

On the money

The “capitalist monk” giving his billions away

Sam Bankman-Fried is a 30-year-old cryptocurrency tycoon worth more than $20bn. FTX, the crypto exchange platform he founded, “handles $15bn of trading on a good day”, says Zeke Faux in Bloomberg. Despite hobnobbing with celebrities – he recently attended a dinner with Jeff Bezos, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry – Bankman-Fried is undeniably “schlubby”: he has a “mop of curly hair” and works in shorts and a t-shirt. His Bahamas-based office, where he sleeps on a beanbag most weekdays, is littered with tubes of lip balm and left-over lunches.

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Quirk of history

When “crossword mania” swept America

If you think everyone is obsessed with Wordle, just imagine the “crossword mania” of the early 20th century, says Jackie Mansky in Smithsonian Magazine. When the wordy puzzles first appeared in American newspapers in 1913, readers were immediately hooked. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad put dictionaries on its trains to “come to the aid of travelling crossword puzzle enthusiasts”; there was a crossword-themed musical on Broadway called Puzzles of 1925; and Punch magazine published a cartoon of a crossword fanatic ringing a doctor in the middle of the night to find the answer to a clue. As The New York Times’s former puzzle editor Margaret Petherbridge put it: “Crosswords were the Beatles of 1924.”


The beach house

This cottage is perched right on pebbly Chesil Beach, part of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. It has three bedrooms, two courtyard gardens, an open-plan kitchen, and a sitting room with large skylights. Weymouth station is a 20-minute drive away. £700,000.

The country house

This Grade II-listed home in West Sussex was built in 1872 by architect Richard Norman Shaw, the same man who designed Bryanston in Dorset and the former New Scotland Yard buildings in Whitehall. It has nine bedrooms and nine acres of gardens and paddocks. Petworth is a 20-minute walk away, along a tributary of the River Rother. £5m.