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6 April

In the headlines

Volodymyr Zelensky told the UN Security Council yesterday that it had to punish Russia in order to “show all the other potential war criminals in the world” that they wouldn’t get away with it. The alternative, he said, was to “dissolve yourself altogether”, and acknowledge that “there is nothing that you can do besides conversation”. Roman Abramovich has been “begging celebrity pals to lend him cash”, says The Sun, after the billionaire Chelsea owner’s assets were frozen around the world. “Spare some change, comrade?” Domesticated dogs evolved specific face muscles to mimic their human friends, say dog boffins at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Muscles around the eyes of tame hounds, for example, are radically different to those of wolves, allowing them to raise their eyebrow in irresistible fashion.

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Channel 4

The Tories are mad to sell off Channel 4

Nadine Dorries has announced plans to privatise Channel 4, says James Ball in The New Statesman. The Culture Secretary says government ownership is holding the channel back from competing against the streaming giants. But that’s nonsense. Channel 4 may be owned by the government, but it’s completely funded through advertising and commercial partnerships – so it costs taxpayers nothing, compared to £13.25 a month for the BBC licence fee and £15.99 for Netflix’s most expensive deal. And an organisation of Channel 4’s size – which spends less than £1bn a year on content – will never be able to go head to head with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, which spend billions.


The “inconvenient truth” about fossil fuels

What progressives often forget about oil and gas, says Allysia Finley in The Wall Street Journal, is that they’re not just used to fuel cars and heat homes – they’re also “critical” for a vast array of everyday products. One of the most ubiquitous is polyethylene – the “most common plastic in use today”, found in everything from shopping bags to water bottles to catheters. Another is polypropylene, which is used in iPhone cases, fitness kit, female sanitary products, food containers, face masks and much else besides. “Drive an electric car or ride a bike?” Just remember that the tarmac you travel on is made from bitumen, a semi-solid form of petroleum.


Under pressure from new board member Elon Musk, Twitter has announced it is working on a way to allow users to edit their tweets. They’ll have to be careful, says The Independent’s Tom Peck. On Facebook, which has long had an edit button, someone I know once posted a message asking people to list the best places they had ever been: “bar, country, museum, anything”. Once the “obscure replies” had rolled in, the user edited the question to: “What’s the strangest place you’ve had sex?”

Staying young

Jerry Hall stars in this summer’s Yves Saint Laurent campaign at the ripe age of 65. It’s a growing trend: Isabelle Huppert is 69 and modelling for Balenciaga, and makeup guru Charlotte Tilbury has just cast Twiggy, 72, as the face of her new collection. How savvy, says The Daily Telegraph. “Older women are pretty much the only ones with any disposable income these days.” Designer products have never been more expensive, and who do we think is buying them? “Clue: not the teenage or twenty-something models fronting so many of the campaigns.”

Tomorrow’s world

A robot named Ai-Da is the first to paint in the same way as human artists. With “camera eyes fixed on her subject”, Ai-Da creates a painting via a brush held in her hand, says The Guardian. “I like to paint what I see,” she “says”, in response to pre-submitted questions. “You can paint from imagination, I guess, if you have an imagination.” Her favourite artists include Yoko Ono, Michelangelo and Wassily Kandinsky.


In 2011, Nancy Crampton Brophy – a self-published romance novelist – wrote an essay called How to Murder Your Husband. In 2018, her husband was found shot dead. “Huh,” says LitHub. “Imagine that.” Brophy went on trial this week, but the judge has deemed her essay inadmissible as evidence on the grounds it might prove prejudicial. “You think?”


All 26 million people in Shanghai have been put under strict lockdown as China struggles to adapt its zero-Covid policy to the fast-spreading omicron variant. With so many residents relying on deliveries, it’s been a nightmare to get hold of basic foods. This “smart Shanghai husband”, says tech analyst Rui Ma on Twitter, is using a massage gun to help him click “buy” on a grocery app faster – improving his chances of securing provisions.


They’re naked drawings of a man and woman designed to attract the attention of lonely aliens. Eggheads at Nasa want to send the image into space, alongside explanations of some basic mathematical and physical concepts, as part of a decades-long effort to contact extraterrestrial lifeforms. “Hopefully aliens won’t be upset about the unsolicited nudes,” says the Daily Star. “And happy to send us some back.”


quoted 6.4.22

“Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”

GK Chesterton