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9 February

In the headlines

“Give us wings for freedom,” Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded to parliament yesterday, as the Ukrainian president asked Britain to donate fighter jets to his nation’s war effort. Rishi Sunak said nothing was “off the table”. Zelensky is now in Brussels making similar requests to the EU. The Conservative Party’s controversial new deputy chairman has praised capital punishment for its “100% success rate” in preventing reoffending. “Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed,” Lee Anderson told The Spectator. Raising boys is harder than raising girls – at least if you’re an orca. Scientists have found that adult male killer whales struggle to survive without their mums, who catch and even cut up their food for them. Orca mothers with boys are half as likely to reproduce each year compared to those with daughters.


The winners of this year’s National Awards – part of the Sony World Photography Awards – include a spotted owlet peeking out from a hide in Bangladesh, a spluttering volcano in Iceland, a diving competition in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a horseman showing off his skills in Oman. See the rest of the winners here.


ChatGPT turns out to be a bit of a leftie. The much-discussed AI bot will happily write a (rather clunky) ode praising Joe Biden, but if you ask it to do the same for Donald Trump it says that would be in “poor taste”. Similarly, the bot refuses to tell jokes about women or Allah, but churns them out at the expense of men and Jesus. Saying anything good about fossil fuels, the bot says rather sniffily, is “against my programming”. And when asked whether it would be acceptable to utter a racial slur if it would prevent a nuclear war, ChatGPT plumps for nuclear war. Put your own delicate question to the right-on robot here.

Inside politics

Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle marks another milestone in “the rise and rise of Kemi Badenoch”, says Patrick O’Flynn in The Spectator. The 43-year-old now heads a “super department” combining trade and business, as well as the women and equalities brief. There’s a theory circulating that making her responsible for strikes and other “intractable problems” is Sunak’s cunning plan to take the shine off her rising star. But Badenoch now has the cabinet-level clout she lacked during the last leadership election. The bookies have taken note: she’s behind only Boris Johnson in the sweepstakes for next Tory leader. “If the Conservatives are turfed out of office in 2024 then she will be the one to beat.”


The Guinness World Record for the “largest film stunt explosion” is held by the 2015 Bond movie Spectre – specifically the destruction of Blofeld’s sinister spa-like lair in Morocco. The blast was staged using 8,400 litres of kerosene and 33kg of explosives, creating the equivalent of 68 tonnes of TNT. Time Out has gathered the hair-raising stories behind eight more of the biggest bangs in Hollywood history here.

Eating in

Few people realise that potato peelers have a “secret tool”, says Mental Floss: a sharp nub or scooper to fish out the “eyes” from spuds. Generally found next to the blade, the “potato-eyer” saves you having to peel away loads of layers or try your chances with the tip of a knife.

Snapshot answer

It’s the BAGuette, a purse developed by American bakery Panera that’s designed to carry a sandwich. A limited-edition run of 500 embossed green purses, each priced at $39.50, sold out almost immediately when they were released earlier this week. Hopefully, says Eater, this sub-holding satchel “ushers in a new era of fashion with food transportation in mind”. Dangling earrings that can each carry a whole cookie? “Those clear platform shoes, but instead of goldfish inside it’s soup?”


quoted 9.2.23

“Never explain. Your friends don’t require it, and your enemies won’t believe you.”

American writer Elbert Hubbard