How many countries have conscription?

Halfway points Rishi Sunak told us we would have an election in the second half of the year, and we will have one on 4 July. When, exactly, is the halfway point of 2024? – There are 366 days in 2024, so we will be halfway through after 183 of them. That brings us to

How dangerous is it to fly by helicopter?

Crime without borders How many nations are signed up to the International Criminal Court? – 124 signed the Rome Statute in 1998 and ratified it. – 31 have signed it but never ratified it (includes Iran, Thailand, Ukraine). – 2 (Philippines, Burundi) ratified it but have subsequently withdrawn. – 4 signed the statute, never ratified

When was the last genuine royal tour of Nigeria?

Royal welcomes The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Nigeria last week. When was the last genuine royal tour of that country? – The late Queen made a 20-day visit in 1956, four years before Nigeria’s independence. She went for three days in 2003 when she opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.– The then

How violent are prisons?

Name calling Springwatch presenter Gillian Burke says she finds it ‘jarring’ to call animals by their English names, preferring Swahili. Some popular Swahili translations: – Elephant: tembo/ndovu – Giraffe: twiga – Lion: simba – Hyena: fisi – Hippopotamus: hippopotamus – I’m fed up of paying for a TV licence: Nimechoka kulipa leseni ya TV Full

How many people are attacked by sharks? 

Horse trials Five Household Cavalry horses bolted in central London, with two reaching Limehouse before being calmed down. It may have been a shocking sight in the 21st century but it would have been ordinary life in the 19th century. – By the 1890s there were 300,000 horses in London. It was not uncommon for them

When was the world’s first drone attack?

Attack of the drones The world’s earliest drone attack goes back further than you might think. On 12 July 1849 the Austrian military launched unmanned balloons over Venice, which they hoped to recapture after the city had declared itself a republic the year before. Suspended beneath each of the balloons were bombs containing up to

Who uses Grindr? 

Meet market Who uses the gay dating app Grindr?  – The site claims 27m users worldwide, 80.5% of whom identify as gay. – 13m users are active on a monthly basis. Some 923,000 are paid users. – 80% are younger than 35. – 39% are single. – 48% are in the US. – The average

How many people sleep rough?

Ballot points Michael Gove hinted that the general election could be on 14 or 21 November.     Have we had a November election before? – General elections were held on 15 November 1922, when the Conservatives won a 74 seat majority and on 14 November 1935 when the National Government won a majority of 242. –

How much more expensive have houses got?

Lock, stock and barrel Jeremy Hunt committed the Conservatives to maintaining the Triple Lock in their manifesto. How much is the policy costing taxpayers? – The Triple Lock – which guarantees a rise in the state pension equivalent to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), average earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is the highest –

Is it getting cheaper to install a heat pump?

Popularity polling Vladimir Putin won the Russian presidential election with 87.3% of the vote. But he doesn’t appear to be quite the world’s most popular leader. Some others who have won commanding election victories: – Robert Mugabe won 61.9% of the vote in the 2013 Zimbabwean election. – Alexander Lukashenko won 81% in Belarus’s 2020

Which upstarts parties have won by-elections?

Polls apart When was the last time an upstart party not represented by George Galloway won a  UK by-election? – In November 2014 Ukip won by-elections in both Clacton and Rochester and Strood. In each case the winner was the sitting MP: Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, who had defected from the Conservatives. – A

Which year was the worst for strikes? 

Populist roots Where did the term ‘populist’ come from? The original Populist party grew out of the Farmers’ Alliance, a movement set up to fight corporate interests in the US in the 1880s. It then joined with other minor parties to fight the 1892 presidential election under the Populist banner. Its candidate James B. Weaver

Does any country allow children to vote? 

Baby voters The Lib Dem Polly Mackenzie proposed giving people the right to vote from birth, with a proxy vote going to the under-tens. Does any country allow children to vote? – No country has a voting age lower than 16, although Iran allowed 15-year-olds to vote until 2007. Those countries that do allow 16-

How many countries are led by an octogenarian?

Gerontocracies How many countries are led by an octogenarian? – Out of 187 states assessed in March last year, 10 had heads of government aged over 80. The oldest – who is still in power, is the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya, who celebrated his 91st birthday this week. – The median age of a

How many people are switching religions? 

Rough drafts Ian Lavender, who died aged 77, was best-known for playing Private Pike, an out-of-place young man in a group of elderly Home Guardsmen in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army. Yet in reality Pike was much closer in age to the majority of those who served in the Home Guard. A sample analysed for

Which ministers have complained publicly about their own poverty?

On their uppers The former science minister George Freeman claimed that he resigned from the government last year because he couldn’t afford his mortgage repayments – which had risen from £800 to £2,000 a month – on his ministerial salary of £118,000. – There is a precedent for a minister complaining publicly about his own poverty.

Could Nikki Haley become the first female US president? 

Madame president If Donald Trump stumbles before election day, could Nikki Haley end up becoming the first female US president? Hillary Clinton failed as the first female presidential candidate in 2016, but she wasn’t the first to stand on a presidential ticket: that honour belongs to the now-forgotten Geraldine A. Ferraro, who was picked by

Is the Iowa caucus really so important?

State of play Iowa became the first US state to pick its election candidates in 1972. How many times since then has the small Midwestern state predicted the eventual winner? – On nine out of 13 occasions, Iowa has chosen the Democratic candidate who went on to win the nomination. However, in three of those

How many criminal convictions are overturned? 

Power play The former energy minister Chris Skidmore resigned in protest at a bill to issue more licences for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. What are other countries doing? – US oil production hit a record 13.3m barrels a day last month, up from 10.8m five years ago. – Qatar is investing

What was banned this week?

For the love of dog XL Bully dogs were banned in England from this week, although there is an exemption for animals which are neutered, registered, insured and kept on leads and muzzled in public. Some other things that have been banned this week: – Parking on the pavement in Edinburgh. – Importing disposable vapes