Lots of moving parts today, and lots of waiting to be done.
Waiting for Sue Gray's report to be published, waiting to see what Putin's plans are, and waiting to see why it took so long to ban virginity testing in the UK.
Click the screenshot below to access the podcast version of today's NewsFix.
KEEPING AN EYE... 👀
Sue Gray's highly anticipated report into Downing Street parties is potentially going to be delivered to the prime minister today, though that might slip to Thursday.
The Guardian noted Boris Johnson "is braced for the most perilous 48 hours of his premiership".
Gray is said to be "keen" for the report to be published "in its entirety", but BBC News pointed out that is unlikely to occur ahead of Prime Minister's Questions today at noon.
"The report is said to be full and frank, and is not expected to be easy reading either for the government, or the civil service itself. It's understood that there has been no shortage of evidence, with photographs and Whatsapp messages passed to her." - Analysis from the BBC's Political editor, Laura Kuenssberg
Remember: On Tuesday, evidence passed on from Sue Gray's investigation led to the Metropolitan Police initiating their own investigation.
Jozef Puska, the man charged with the murder of Ashling Murphy, is due to appear in court in Dublin today.
It will be the second court appearance for the man accused of the murder of 23-year-old Ashling on Wednesday, January 12.
WHAT'S THE LATEST?
The anxious wait, wondering what might happen in Ukraine, continues. Here are the latest key points;
- As Channel 4 News pointed out, in terms of "boots on the ground ready to fight", the Russian army is currently five times the size of the Ukrainian army.
- President Biden has suggested personal sanctions against President Putin could be imposed if Russia invades Ukraine.
- Prime Minister Johnson referenced German reliance on Russian gas as "one of the big issues" in agreeing a united response.
- The Times earlier this week wrote about the "record-breaking gas and petrol prices in the event of a Russian invasion in Ukraine". Meanwhile, the US appears to be leading an effort to negotiate with global suppliers to ensure "Europe would not suffer from a sudden loss of energy for heating in the middle of winter".
- The Ukrainian government are calling for calm, with the president saying there's no need to panic right now.
"It seems to be that the British and the Americans are the ones who are, in a sense, talking this up, trying to give the message to Putin he must not do this. Ukrainians, are trying to keep calm." - Lindsey Hilsum
There's been so much rhetoric and speculation about Ukraine in recent weeks, but below makes for a fascinating watch because it brings you right to possible front lines. While most of the reporting has been about geopolitics and "spheres of influence", this gets to the heart of the situation on the ground, and includes perspectives from ordinary citizens wrapped up in this.
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PIN DROP - WHAT'S GOING ON IN NORTHERN IRELAND?
The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party has been embroiled in a scandal over historic misogynistic and racist tweets that have resurfaced, which he admits are "horrific".
Beattie offered to resign if asked, but following his apology he received support from his party to continue as leader.
Bigger picture: It is a critical time politically in Northern Ireland. On May 5, there will be Assembly elections, with speculation already mounting over whether or not there will be a republican majority for the first time in history. Beattie's UUP party was positioning themselves as an alternative to the DUP.
"A survey at the weekend showed Sinn Féin in pole position to become the biggest single party at 25%, the DUP down one point at 17% and the UUP at 14%." - Context from The Guardian
SHILPA SHETTY CLEARED
In what is likely to be the most bizarre case you hear about today, Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty has finally been cleared in an "obscenity" case that lasted 15 years.
What is this all about? Back in 2007, actor Richard Gere kissed Shetty a number of times on the cheek during an event in Delhi. The incident provoked intense backlash among Hindu groups, with many saying Shetty didn't object to Gere's advances.
As The Times noted, demonstrators "burnt effigies" and accused them of "insulting Indian values". The case against Gere was dropped years ago.
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The UK is set to introduce a ban on hymen repair surgery and virginity testing, and also make it a criminal offence to bring someone overseas for the procedure.
The practice is sometimes used in conservative cultures to determine a woman's virginity ahead of marriage, with the woman then expected to bleed after sex on her wedding night.
The World Health Organisation has repeatedly said sex is not the only instance where a woman's hymen can tear.
A BBC investigation in 2020 found 21 clinics in the UK offering hymenoplasty, with at least seven also confirming they carried out virginity tests.
Playboy has sought to distance itself from its late owner, Hugh Hefner, following the airing of a docuseries that accuses him of drugging women and coercing them into having sex.
Hefner's family no longer have a stake in Playboy. The company said it "strongly supports" the women.
What allegations were made? There was allegedly a Thursday night tradition of having "Pig Night". According to BBC News, sex workers ("pigs") would first be examined by a doctor "and then be used for sex by Hefner's VIP friends".
A former girlfriend of Hefner also said cocaine was so rife in the Playboy mansion "the dogs became addicted to licking it off the floor".
Hefner's son Cooper came to his late father's defence.
Why? Robert F Kennedy Jr - the son of the late senator and nephew of President Kennedy - has gone viral for suggesting pandemic restrictions are worse than the Holocaust.
Kennedy has long been known for his anti-vaccination views, in the past supporting a debunked claim linking them to autism. During a speech over the weekend, Kennedy suggested those who were not vaccinated are in a worse situation than Anne Frank.
The comments were widely condemned - even from his wife, actor Cheryl Hines.
Australia Day. The day commemorates the arrival of the first British fleet in 1778, but many refer to it as 'Invasion Day'. Read our explainer 👇🏽
ON A LIGHTER NOTE...
Dogs. We just don't deserve them.