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13 April

In the headlines

Boris Johnson has refused to resign despite becoming the first serving prime minister to be sanctioned for breaking the law. The PM, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were among those issued with £50 fines for attending Johnson’s birthday party during lockdown in June 2020. So far, only one Tory MP has called for the PM to go. Sunak “agonised for hours” over whether to quit, says The Times. Friends eventually convinced him that doing so would be considered “regicide”, hampering his hopes of one day succeeding Johnson. Inflation in the UK has hit a 30-year high of 7%, largely thanks to surging fuel costs. Average petrol and diesel prices are up more than 30% in a year. Brazilian lawmakers are demanding to know why the country’s military has bought more than 30,000 Viagra pills, says The Guardian. Officials will be subjected to “stiff questioning”.



Should Boris Johnson resign?

Boris Johnson is quite right to resist calls to step down, says The Sun. There’s no doubt that the lockdown-breaching parties in No 10 have “sickened the nation” – and this is the first PM “to have broken the law while in office”. But “we must keep a sense of proportion. This is not a mistake worthy of Britain losing both its Prime Minister and Chancellor.” The party in question, to mark Johnson’s 56th birthday, was hardly a party at all. He and his colleagues were, technically, in their workplace. It lasted less than ten minutes. The birthday cake didn’t even come out of its Tupperware box. Johnson has, rightly, paid his fine and apologised. Now let’s concentrate on supporting Ukraine “during the biggest European military crisis since the fall of the Berlin Wall”.


Keep calories off the menu

“I love a cheeky Nando’s,” says Clemmie Moodie in The Sun. “What I don’t love is being told my 10-wing roulette and sweet potato wedges with garlic Perinaise contain 1,261 calories.” That, alas, is the depressing reality of the government’s “latest diktat to curb obesity”. Under the plan, which came into effect last week, all restaurant businesses with more than 250 employees must publish how many calories their dishes contain. Ministers argue that we already have calorie counts on supermarket labels, so why not restaurant menus too? But “no one goes to Tesco for a treat”. Restaurants are meant to be “a fun, indulgent, sensory experience”. You go out to have a nice time, not count calories.


Japan’s former Princess Mako – who left the royal family to marry a commoner and move to Manhattan – has done what every young New Yorker does, says Olivia Truffaut-Wong in The Cut. “Landed an unpaid internship.” The 30-year-old recently started work as a volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, helping to prepare an exhibit of paintings inspired by a 13th-century monk. “That sure sounds like intern work to me.”


A new “cinema trope turned TikTok microtrend” is the “coastal grandmother”, says The Guardian. It’s all about adopting the aesthetic of the type of “older heroine” played by Diane Keaton or Meryl Streep in romcoms. That means “relaxed, mature luxury” by the American seaside: think cashmere jumpers, farmers’ markets and “antique ginger jars”. It’s no surprise the youth want to emulate fictional boomers – “would you rather engage with the roiling chaos and existential terror of 2022, or cosplay Meryl Streep fixing a lobster salad in her sun-soaked kitchen”?

Tomorrow’s world

A driverless taxi that was pulled over by police in San Francisco – seemingly because it had defective headlights – appeared to make a break for it. Cruise, the company behind the vehicle, says it was just trying to pull over in “the nearest safe location”. That’s a move “most human drivers can’t get away with so easily”, says The Verge.


It’s an operation to free the unfortunately named Ever Forward, a container ship that ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore a month ago. The 1,096ft vessel is the sister ship of the Ever Given, which got stuck in the Suez Canal last year for six days. After several failed attempts to dislodge the Ever Forward using tugboats, says Axios, coastguards are “trying to lighten the load” by removing 500 of its 5,000 containers, “one box at a time”.

Gone viral

Russian influencers are “getting snippy” with Chanel, says CNN. Since the French designer closed its stores in Russia, beleaguered fashionistas in Moscow have been posting videos of them cutting up the luxury brand’s handbags in protest. “If owning Chanel means selling my motherland, then I don’t need Chanel,” says one woman, before hacking away at her quilted purse with a pair of large secateurs.

Eating in

An “electronic nose” has managed to identify different brands of whisky with more than 95% accuracy, says InsideHook. The machine, NOS.E, uses eight gas sensors to detect odours, which are then analysed using artificial intelligence. On tests with blended and single malt Scotches, it got the right answer 92% of the time for whisky type, 96% for brand name, and 100% for region. Whisky boffins hope the machine can be used to sniff out mislabelled bottles.


quoted 13.4

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut