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In the headlines

Joe Biden has asked Congress for another $33bn in aid to support Ukraine, more than double the $13.6bn the US provided last month. It’s a sign, says the FT, that “Washington is preparing for a long and intensifying conflict”. Britain is also upping its engagement: some 8,000 UK troops are being sent to eastern European countries, one of the largest deployments since the Cold War. The premier of the British Virgin Islands has been arrested in a sting operation at Miami airport for alleged money laundering and drug smuggling. Andrew Fahie was caught by undercover agents who were posing as members of a Mexican cartel. Sleep boffins reckon seven hours of shut eye a night, not eight, is the “sweet spot” for the middle-aged and older, says The Sun. Any more or less, according to a study of half a million people between 38 and 73, is bad for your brain.

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Nuclear weapons

Putin’s war could sink the SNP

The Ukraine war has drastically altered the stakes of Scottish independence, says Andrew Marr in The New Statesman. With Russia now “openly threatening” the West with nuclear weapons, Britain’s own Trident nuclear deterrent ­is suddenly centre stage. The submarines which carry the missiles are based in Scotland – and if the country goes independent, the fiercely anti-nuclear SNP certainly wouldn’t allow the subs to remain. Nicola Sturgeon, for one, “joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament even before she joined the SNP”. But there are no good alternative bases elsewhere in Britain. South Wales is too near oil and gas installations; the southern English coast is too close to busy sea lanes and heavily populated areas. And basing Trident on US or French territory would be a “national humiliation”.


Cinderella, the “fourth-wave feminist”

In 1994, a book entitled Politically Correct Bedtime Stories became a number one bestseller, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph. “How people laughed” at Cinderella’s fairy “godperson” and Snow White’s seven “vertically challenged men”. But almost 30 years on, Disney is close to making this satire reality. In its latest remake of Cinderella, the heroine becomes a “progressive fourth-wave feminist” who refuses to be scooped up by her prince (“I can walk, it’s faster”). The dwarves in the next Snow White film are being replaced by “mythical creatures”, and there is pressure to make the kiss awaking the heroine from her eternal slumber “consensual”. Disney World Florida has replaced its traditional welcome of “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” with the more gender-inclusive “Dreamers of all ages”.


The oldest person in the world, Kane Tanaka of Japan, died at the age of 119 this week. To put that in perspective, she was born in January 1903, almost a year before the Wright brothers flew the first aeroplane.

Gone viral

A series of photographs of Victorians pulling silly faces has racked up thousands of likes on Instagram. Victorians had personalities, wrote one user – “who knew??”


It’s the actress Margot Robbie as Barbie. The 31-year-old is starring as the plastic blonde in the new live-action film, Barbie. Luckily, says Olivia Truffaut-Wong in The Cut, they’ve not forced Robbie to have the actual proportions of a Barbie doll. “Life in plastic may be fantastic, but it can also require one to have boobs bigger than your head.”

Quirk of history

When America deregulated its airline industry in the late 1970s, it sparked a flurry of unusual business models, says CNN. They included Pet Airways, which exclusively took feline and canine “pawsengers”, and Hooters Air, which supplemented its cabin crew with girls in the restaurant chain’s signature skimpy uniform. Others struggled to take off: The Lord’s Airline was pitched at pilgrims flying from Miami to Jerusalem, with strictly no alcohol on board and Bibles and Torahs instead of in-flight magazines; Smoker’s Express was to function as a private members’ club to get around the 1990 smoking ban on flights. Neither made it off the ground.

On the money

Fraudsters stole so much money from the government’s Covid business loan scheme – an estimated $4.9bn in total – that some of them were caught trying to smuggle suitcases of cash out of the country. Other recipients used the handouts to fund gambling sprees, cars and watches, says The Times. One sandwich shop owner spent his £35,000 loan refurbishing his garden.


quoted 29.4.22

“Everyone lies about sex. People lie during sex. If it weren’t for lies, there’d be no sex.”

Jerry Seinfeld