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4 April

In the headlines

Donald Trump will be formally arrested in New York today, becoming the first former US president charged with a crime. He is expected to have his mugshot and fingerprints taken at Manhattan Criminal Court, over allegations of hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Finland is officially joining Nato, doubling the defence alliance’s land border with Russia. The bloc will formally welcome its 31st member at a ceremony in Brussels later today. London City Airport is scrapping the 100ml limit for liquids in hand luggage, thanks to new high-tech security scanners. The government has set a June 2024 deadline for other UK airports to adopt the technology, says Zoe Wood in The Guardian, and “end the tyranny of tiny toiletries”.

Gone viral

This video of a Kallima inachus, also known as the orange oakleaf butterfly, has racked up more than 605,000 views on Twitter. The illusive insect camouflages itself almost indistinguishably as a leaf – complete with the appearance of lichenous growths common on dead plants, and lines simulating the midrib and lateral veins.

Quirk of history

Given the vast quantities of beer consumed in Tudor England – soldiers in Henry VIII’s army were entitled to eight pints a day – historians have long assumed the drinks weren’t very alcoholic, says The Sunday Times. Not so. Researchers have recreated a typical brew from that period and found that it contains a whopping 5% alcohol, “as potent as today’s premium lagers”. As study leader Susan Flavin, from Trinity College Dublin, puts it: “The basic insight is that many people during this period probably were inebriated a lot of the time.”

Inside politics

The thing Donald Trump is most dreading about his arrest today isn’t the reputational damage or the potential jail time, says Christina Cauterucci in Slate. No, insiders suggest his biggest worry is being fingerprinted – because he hates people touching his hands. A self-described “clean hands freak”, Trump has described the handshake as a “terrible custom… almost barbaric”, and says he washes his mitts “as many times as possible” each day. The prospect of a New York cop “cradling each one of his 10 individual fingers”, and “rocking them to and fro” on a digital scanner, must be giving him the shivers.

On the money

When Banksy made his 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, the artist gave one of his paintings to a band with the same name, in exchange for using the title. Last week Brace Yourself (above) – which depicts the grim reaper riding in a bumper car – sold for just over $2m, three times what art experts had expected.


“America has too much parking,” says The Wall Street Journal. There are thought to be as many as two billion spaces across the country, equivalent to seven spots for every registered vehicle. Parking covers around 14% of the land in Los Angeles County, an area “almost as large as Houston”. The main culprit is minimum-parking rules: in LA, for example, churches must have “one spot for every five seats in the pews”, and hospitals must have two per bed.


It’s Marty Cooper, creator of the mobile phone, who made the first-ever call on his invention on a corner of New York’s Sixth Avenue 50 years ago this week. An engineer at Motorola, Cooper used the opportunity to ring a rival at Bell Laboratories and triumphantly announce that he was calling from a “personal, handheld, portable cell phone”. There was silence on the other end, recalls the 94-year-old American. “I think he was gritting his teeth.”


quoted 4.4.23

“If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.”

George Bernard Shaw