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25 January

In the headlines

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has confirmed that Berlin will authorise sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The West will donate nearly 200 battle tanks to Kyiv in total, says the BBC, but for Volodymyr Zelensky it’s “thanks, but more tanks” – the Ukrainian president says he needs at least 300. The NHS has started using robots to help clear waiting lists, says The Daily Telegraph. A pilot scheme in which automated calls assess patients waiting for operations and prioritise their urgency found that as many as 15% no longer needed the treatment they’d been waiting for. “Is there a Chinese spy in your fridge?” asks the Daily Star, after warnings that Beijing may be snooping on Brits through internet-connected kit. Many “smart” doorbells and kitchen appliances upload recordings to a 5G network, which experts say can easily be hacked.


“Paris Couture Fashion Week is off to a contentious start,” says The Cut. On Monday morning, Schiaparelli kicked things off with a runway of gargantuan bustiers, shoes adorned with keyholes, and “at least one bronze oversize helmet reminiscent of an ancient Egyptian death mask”. But what dominated the headlines were three dresses “embellished with the heads of a faux-taxidermy wolf, snow leopard, and lion”. Some critics said the fake furries “glorify the killing of animals”; others wondered whether they were real, “a backhanded nod to the craftsmanship”. Either way, says veteran supermodel Christine Brinkley, it was a “huge fashion FAUX PAW”.

Inside politics

“I thought I knew everything about the honours system,” says Alastair Campbell on The Rest is Politics. What I didn’t know is that the list of people who are put up for OBEs, MBEs and the like is sent to HMRC, where they have a “traffic light system” designed to flag up anyone with dodgy tax records: red is a no go, amber is questionable, green is clean as a whistle. According to The Sun on Sunday, Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi was up for a knighthood in the recent New Year’s honours list. He was turned down.


Buzz Aldrin turned 93 on Friday, and celebrated by getting married for the fourth time. I’ve never met the former astronaut, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun, but I’ve heard he can be a tricky customer. A few years ago, he agreed to take part in a live TV interview. As the director used his fingers to count down silently, with one second to go Aldrin leaned over to the reporter and said: “Nothing about the moon, OK?”

Nice work if you can get it

An American firm is hiring people to eat cheese every night before bed for three months, in a bid to debunk the theory that doing so makes you have nightmares. Sleep Junkie will pay each “dairy dreamer” $1,000 to record how the pre-slumber fromage impacts their dreams, sleep quality and energy levels. “Before you get too excited,” says Food & Wine magazine, there are a few requirements: participants must have a consistent sleep schedule and commit to kipping alone for the study’s duration.


French national pride was left “reeling” over the weekend, says Patrick Kidd in The Times. First, a global infidelity survey found that the Italians have more affairs than the French. Then came an “equally devastating” result at the World Pastry Cup in Lyons, where France finished second behind Japan. Quelle horreur! 🇫🇷😱


They’re “trainers” fashioned almost entirely from plants, including live mushrooms. The French artist responsible, Christophe Guinet, tells The Observer he has been “passionate about plants since adolescence”. The idea to combine human-made consumer goods with nature came to him in India, where he had travelled to escape the corporate grind. It’s also where he conceived his artistic persona: Monsieur Plant. See the rest of his work here.


quoted 25.1.23

“It’s better to be quotable than honest.”

Tom Stoppard