Barometer

Losers of the week

Spectacular losers though the Russian people have been this week, they also have a strong claim to be the biggest losers of the 20th century. One of Russia's more charming exports to the West are sets of historical Russian dolls featuring the likenesses of Tsar Nicholas through Lenin, Stalin, Khruschev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev, to the biggest doll, a scowling Boris Yeltsin. Reflecting on these men and their achievements makes you wonder about the old adage that countries get the leaders they deserve. Boris and his predecessors have seen to it that, uniquely, the Russian people will leave the 20th century far worse off than when they entered it. Not for them the People's Century.

Winner of the week

It's not just Boris who's got a big belly just now. The current wave of preggers-plays-pop stars such as Melanie Blatt (pictured) are making political statements as fast as they're making babies. Girl Power is growing up and scoring points for womankind. Pregnancy used to be regarded as an illness; if you were unmarried, a crime. Now it's an obvious and vivid symbol of life and liberation. Girl Power feminism is born.

Hamster of the week

Quiet please, and respect, as we visit the Tomb of the Unknown Hamster for this week's posthumous award. A TV advert for Levi's jeans reduced children to tears by showing a "dead" hamster being poked with a pencil having been deprived of its only joy in life, an exercise wheel. But we soon learnt that the hamster in question, Kevin (pictured), was, in fact, alive and well. The dead "part" was played by a stuffed "body double". But what of this anonymous, pouched-cheeked understudy? After all, no greater love hath hamster than this - that he should lay down his life for denim.

Image of the week

A real bionic man: Mr Campbell Aird of Dumfriesshire and his electric limb, which is moved

by his pressing tiny switches at the top of the arm with the residual movement in his shoulder.

Now, if only they could do something bionic for Boris's brain.

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