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7 April

In the headlines

Dissident Republicans are plotting terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland over the Easter weekend, police have warned. A senior officer says there is “very strong” intelligence that forces will be targeted ahead of Joe Biden’s arrival in Belfast on Tuesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. MPs routinely under-report the cost of corporate jollies to get around rules requiring them to disclose hospitality worth £300 or more, undercover reporters have been told. “You’d be amazed at the number of times I’ve been to races,” said a laughing Scott Benton MP, “and the ticket comes to £295.” Italian politicians have proposed a new law banning the use of English words in official documents, and making the mispronunciation of “bruschetta” (it’s bru-sketta, not bru-shetta) a punishable offence. “Mamma Mia!” says the Daily Star. “Or flipping ‘eck, as we say round here.”

Eating in

Italians are running out of olive oil, says Jessica Lionnel in The New European. With harvests being hammered by hot, bone-dry weather, the mainland is on course to produce only 235,000 tonnes of the slick staple this year – almost 400,000 tonnes less than two decades ago. In Spain, Europe’s largest olive oil maker, production dropped so much in 2022 that prices rose 60%.

Quirk of history

When Margaret Thatcher was first selected for the safe Tory seat of Finchley in 1957, says Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph, “she did not actually get quite enough votes”. The party’s constituency chairman had decided that her “charm, ambition and energy” were much greater than those of her male opponent: “He wanted the woman.” So he secretly “lost” a few votes and declared the young mother of twins the winner.


Nepal has the “only non-rectangular national flag on Earth”, says International Intrigue. It is formed of two red triangles, meant to depict the Himalayas, with white symbols representing the harmony of the sun and moon. The unusual design supposedly helps the standard “fly in low-wind conditions”.

Tomorrow’s world

Biotechnology company Modern Synthesis has made a sustainable fabric (above) from fermented bacteria, says Dezeen. The tiny organisms are fed “waste sugars” from old fruit and veg, which they use to produce nanocellulose fibres “eight times stronger than steel and stiffer than Kevlar”. When grown on a frame, they combine to form a nylon-like fabric.

On the money

Americans typically receive just 15 days of holiday a year, says Bloomberg. But many don’t even use that paltry allowance: a new survey has found that only 48% of US workers use all their vacation days. The 52% cite anxieties about missing promotions and saddling colleagues with extra work. But the most common explanation is that they don’t feel they need a break at all.


It’s an extremely posh Easter egg. The dark-chocolate creation, flaked with gold leaf, is the brainchild of pastry chef Vincent Zanardi, who makes treats for Chelsea’s fancy Birley Bakery and the members’ clubs 5 Hertford Street and Oswald’s. They’re not cheap, at £130 a pop; those who don’t require gold leaf can opt for an unadorned version for a slightly less eye-watering £40.


quoted 7.4.23

“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”