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28 April


An unnamed Conservative MP has been accused of repeatedly watching porn in the House of Commons in full view of female colleagues. A highly charged meeting of 50 female Tory MPs to discuss Westminster harassment was “like a bloodletting”, one attendee tells the Daily Mirror. “Everybody was sharing awful stories.” Durham police are considering reopening a probe into claims that Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules by “swigging beer” with colleagues last April, says the Daily Mail. It’s “scandalous and unacceptable” for police to fine the PM but not the Labour leader for very similar events. Up to a third of fish and chip shops could close this year thanks to Vladimir Putin, says the I newspaper. Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil – essential for frying up a fish supper – and the Russian invasion has pushed prices through the roof.

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UK politics

Blair’s babes, Cameron’s cuties… It’s still the same old Westminster

When Tory MPs accused Angela Rayner of goading Boris Johnson by crossing and uncrossing her legs in a short skirt, I was hardly surprised, says Alice Thomson in The Times. As a reporter in the 1990s, I interviewed Gulf War pilots by a swimming pool in Kuwait, visited a nudist camp and went to an S&M party, “but I never encountered as much sexism as I did when I arrived at the House of Commons”. The MPs treated me and other female journalists appallingly. One assumed we used our “female wiles” to trick innocent men into spilling their secrets. At one lunch a male MP put his hand between my legs; others used to joke about their vibrating pagers. “It soon became clear whom to avoid.”


The priest pushing Putin’s war

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “has become a holy war for Russia”, says Janine di Giovanni in Foreign Policy. And he’s enlisted Bishop Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church since 2009, as his “wingman”. Kirill justifies the war through homophobia: in a March sermon, he claimed that the West was trying to exterminate the people of Ukraine’s Donbas region because the locals refused to hold gay pride parades. Kirill, a long-time Putin ally, has praised his president’s wars before: he described Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war as a “holy battle”. Then, as now, photos circulated of Orthodox priests “blessing missiles and planes that would destroy people’s homes and crush lives”.

Tomorrow’s world

Tesla’s “Smart Summon” feature uses self-driving tech to guide vehicles autonomously to their waiting owner. It doesn’t always work – a Tesla “summoned” across an airfield in Washington state crashed into a $2m private jet. “That’s gonna be expensive,” says one user on the Reddit message board.


Earlier this week National Rail warned passengers that a signalling problem at London Marylebone was causing delays of up to 120 minutes. That same day, Ukraine Railways announced that “destruction of railway infrastructure in missile strikes” was causing delays of 90 minutes.

Quirk of history

Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book was written in the 11th century, says the newsletter Lists of Note, but many of her observations stand up today. The Japanese court lady published pithy lists about society. Under the section “Rare Things”, she’s written “a pair of silver tweezers that can actually pull out hairs properly”; under “Things That Make You Feel Cheerful” is “water drunk when you’ve woken in the night”; and under “Things That Should Be Small” is “the voice of someone’s daughter”.

Gone viral

A photograph of an old Russian bomb repurposed into a barbecue by Ukrainian soldiers has racked up thousands of likes on Twitter. The official account for the US Embassy in Kyiv was impressed, replying: “Where do we order ours?”

Love etc

Dating apps like Tinder are increasingly being used as a sales tactic, says Insider. One 27-year-old Singaporean, convinced “he had found a potential romantic connection” after talking with a girl on Tinder, had a nasty surprise on their first date when she “whipped out a folder of pamphlets and started promoting life insurance policies”. Other singletons have been pitched everything from investment plans to properties via dating apps. By contrast, LinkedIn, the business-focused social network, is a hotbed of online flirting – and with career details on display, it’s easy “to vet a potential mate”.


It’s Saturn, Mars, Venus and Jupiter lined up “like ducks in a row”, says Live Science. The alignment – known to space boffins as “syzygy” – should persist for a while, with Mercury expected to join the line-up in mid-June. How to tell they’re planets and not stars? “Stars twinkle. Planets don’t.”


quoted 28.4.22

“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

Oscar Wilde