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31 January

In the headlines

The UK will perform worse than every other major economy this year, including Russia, according to the IMF. GDP is expected to contract by 0.6% in 2023, due to high energy prices, rising mortgage costs and increased taxes. Britain is the only one of the 30 nations included in the forecast not expected to grow. Joe Biden has ruled out sending American F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, despite repeated requests from Kyiv. Germany’s Olaf Scholz has taken a similar stance, says the FT, but France has “signalled openness” to shipping over some of its home-grown Mirage warplanes. Shoppers are swapping expensive loo roll for “bog-standard” supermarket brands, says the Daily Star. Sales of premium paper fell 4.1% last year because of the cost-of-living crisis. “We’ve really hit the skids.”

The monarchy

Let the Sussexes come to the coronation

It is “beyond extraordinary”, says Melanie Phillips in The Times, that the King has had to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to broker a deal with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for them to attend the coronation in May. But then, it’s beyond extraordinary that Harry and Meghan have “declared war upon the royal family”. Much of the British public want to see “nothing more of either of them”, and if they do come, “they may find themselves booed”. Prince William is said to be resisting his father’s wish for Harry to attend, fearing he will “pull some kind of stunt”.

Gone viral

This visualisation shows the location of each of the 8,000-plus spacecraft currently orbiting Earth. And it’s only going to get more crowded – some 400,000 satellites have been approved for launch globally, with 44,000 of those made by Elon Musk’s Starlink alone.


Mining giant Rio Tinto has apologised for losing an extremely radioactive caesium-137 capsule somewhere over an 870-mile stretch of Western Australia. The device, exposure to which could cause skin burns and even cancer, fell off the back of a lorry and measures just 6mm by 8mm – “the perfect size to get lodged in a tyre”, says Walt Hickey in Numlock News. Still, locals can comfort themselves with the fact that it’s probably “not even in the top 10 most dangerous things in Australia”.


Whimsical British artist James Cook recreates famous paintings using the letters and symbols on a vintage typewriter, says My Modern Met. In each piece, you can find words and phrases related to the individual artwork: the reproduction of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, for example, features “girl”, “pearl” and “earring” among an assortment of symbols to render the details of the face. The shading effect is created with multiple layers of script on top of each other.

Staying young

The “miracle” slimming jab semaglutide is “the worst-kept secret in Hollywood”, says The Sunday Times. Celebrities like Elon Musk and Kim Kardashian (pictured) are rumoured users of the drug – delivered through a weekly, self-administered injection – which hijacks the brain’s appetite regulation system and curtails hunger. “It’s the equivalent of eating a Christmas Day meal many times over,” says one UCL professor. “You can’t even face looking at food.” In trials, users lost up to 33% of their body weight while taking the drug. The problem is that semaglutide is primarily used to treat type 2 diabetes, and manufacturers are struggling to pump out enough of it to meet the extra demand.

Inside politics

Pretty much everyone in the Republican Party agrees that “it’s time to move on” from Donald Trump, says McKay Coppins in The Atlantic. But with no obvious way to do so, many have privately decided that the “least disruptive path” may just be to wait for him to die. Their rationale is simple: Trump is 76, overweight, thinks exercise is bad for you, and “appears to maintain the diet of a college freshman”. Why risk alienating his supporters “when nature will take its course sooner or later”? It’s not exactly a “foolproof strategy”, however – Trump’s mother died at 88 and his father at 93.


It’s a rare “mother-of-pearl” cloud, images of which were captured by stargazers across Scotland on Sunday evening. Also known as nacreous clouds, the formations are usually only seen in extremely cold conditions above polar regions. They develop in the stratosphere, around twice as far from the Earth’s surface as normal clouds, and get their pastel colours from sunlight diffracting around tiny ice crystals.


quoted 31.1.23

“I can’t think of any sorrow in the world that a hot bath wouldn’t help, just a little bit.”

American writer Susan Glaspell