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8 March

In the headlines

It was probably a “pro-Ukrainian group” which sabotaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines last September, US spooks have told The New York Times. Though there’s no evidence that President Volodymyr Zelensky or his “top lieutenants” ordered the operation, it could have been “conducted off the books by a proxy force”. Gary Lineker is to be rebuked by BBC bosses for comparing the government’s proposed asylum laws to Nazi Germany. The highly paid pundit wrote on Twitter that politicians are using language “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”. Asda’s baked beans are tastier than Heinz’s, according to a blind test by the consumer magazine Which? A can of the own-brand pulses costs 50p, compared to £1.39 for its more famous rival. “Beans doesn’t have to mean Heinz.”


Avenue Road in St John’s Wood, northwest London has snatched the crown of “Billionaire’s Row”, says Tatler. According to a new survey, there are more mega-mansions being built there than on any other street in the capital, supplanting the long-time holder Bishops Avenue in Hampstead. Running from Regent’s Park to Swiss Cottage, the leafy, kilometre-long Avenue Road is lined with homes ranging from the merely spacious (5,700 sq ft) to the “truly palatial” (30,000 sq ft). The 25 luxury properties under construction will be worth an estimated £930m once they are complete – an average of £37m each.

On the money

There’s a lot of talk about machines coming for our jobs, says The Economist. So it’s worth remembering that the total amount spent on industrial robots in 2020 was a relatively meagre $25bn. “People spent more on sex toys.”


When Gary Oldman played Winston Churchill in 2017’s Darkest Hour, says Far Out magazine, he saw a perfect opportunity to “indulge his vices”. To really get into character, the actor insisted on smoking genuine Cuban cigars for the entire shoot. He later claimed he’d puffed on “a dozen £50 cigars a day for the entire 48 days”, which amounts to nearly £30,000 worth of method acting. “No wonder he ended up with a stomach ulcer.”

Gone viral

This clip of a shiver of sharks in a feeding frenzy off the coast of Louisiana has racked up more than three million views on Twitter. They were feasting on a pod of menhaden, a type of small fish, by pushing the prey up against the hull of a fishing boat. One user compared it to “Black Friday at Walmart”. Watch the full video here.


The Seychelles is in the throes of a drugs epidemic, says BBC News: around 10% of the local population is addicted to heroin, the highest per-capita consumption rate in the world. It’s largely because the island nation is on well-established trafficking routes from Afghanistan and Iran to East Africa and Europe, and its “vast, porous water borders” offer smugglers “easy access”.


It’s Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, who has taken to wearing high-heeled footwear to boost his stature. Every US president since Jimmy Carter has been 5ft 11in or taller, says Slate, including Joe Biden (6ft) and Donald Trump (6ft 3in). DeSantis comes in at a comparatively Napoleonic 5ft 9in. One Republican critic posted a picture of the Florida governor standing seemingly level with 6ft 1in Tiger Woods, commenting that he “must have had a growth spurt”.


quoted 8.3.23

“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.”

Bertrand Russell