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14 April

In the headlines

Male migrants crossing the Channel to Britain will be flown 4,000 miles to Rwanda, where they will be unable to apply for asylum in the UK, under a new trial scheme unveiled by the government today. It’s a “bold and imaginative” plan, says Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail – though Rwanda’s dismal human rights record “makes me queasy”. The “worst is to come” for Boris Johnson over Partygate, says the Daily Mirror: the PM is expected to get at least three more fines for attending lockdown-breaking bashes. Yesterday Lord Wolfson, a justice minister, became the first member of the government to resign over the fines. Pet-loving boffins have found that dogs on vegan diets are healthier than their meat-eating peers, says The Times. “Maybe butchers’ dogs aren’t so fit after all.”

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Cruelty is the Russian way

“Russia has found just the man to lead its ongoing assault on Ukraine,” says Rich Lowry in the New York Post. Alexander Dvornikov, the top-level general now in charge of the campaign, is known as the “Butcher of Syria” for his role leading Russian troops there. He notoriously oversaw the “reduction” of Aleppo into what one UN official described in 2016 as a “slaughterhouse”. Children were trapped under streets of rubble; pregnant women were deliberately bombed. To reward this “bloody handiwork”, Dvornikov was officially honoured as a “hero of the Russian Federation”.

The slap

The emptiness of American “psychobabble”

Will Smith’s Oscar slap was followed by a downpour of “overwrought psychobabble” from him and his wife, says Janan Ganesh in the FT. “I am a work in progress.” “This is a season for healing.” “I want to be a vessel for love.” Emotional oversharing is not the problem here. “That is, for the most part, a healthier thing than its opposite.” The issue is that a “psychological word salad” gives the impression of self-knowledge with none of the actual substance. As one friend of mine put it: “They don’t talk about their feelings. They talk about talking about their feelings.”

Quirk of history

Bridgerton might look steamy, says Esmé Louise James in The Sydney Morning Herald, but in the Regency period in which it’s set, about a fifth of Londoners would have had syphilis (or “the Pox”) by the age of 35. There were so many STIs going round early 19th-century London that many noblemen had an “exclusive arrangement with a chosen mistress”, to minimise the risk of infection. If you did pick up the Pox, toxic mercury was the treatment on offer. This led to a popular saying: “A night with Venus, and a lifetime with mercury.”

Gone viral

This video of someone unlocking a fiddly 18th-century French safe has been viewed more than two million times on Twitter. “Imagine taking forever to figure out how to unlock this,” one user said, “just for it to be empty.”

On the money

Facebook’s parent company Meta spent more than $26m on personal security for CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his family in 2021. For some reason, that’s vastly more than other tech firms pay to keep their head honchos safe. Google shells out a relatively meagre $4.3m to protect Sundar Pichai, while Amazon spends a frankly insulting $1.6m on Jeff Bezos.

Love etc

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez got engaged for a second time last weekend and, according to Lopez’s blog, Affleck popped the question while she was in her “favourite place on earth” – the bath. “I have many questions,” says Olivia Truffaut-Wong in The Cut. What are the logistics of a bathtime proposal? Is one person wet and naked, and the other fully clothed? Was Affleck wearing shoes? Did he get soaked? “I hate myself for asking, but what else can one do with this information?”


The Chinese online fashion brand Shein has just been valued at $100bn, more than H&M and Zara combined, says Lara Williams in Bloomberg. The 14-year-old firm has “turned fast fashion into real-time retail”. It can crank out clothes “from design to store” in a matter of days, with thousands of new products added to the site every 24 hours. The scale is off the charts: while Zara and H&M each have around 800 dresses listed on their US sites, Shein has 78,000.


It’s the very first tweet, which Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold as an NFT – essentially a digital certificate of ownership – in March 2021 for a whopping $2.9m. Now the buyer, crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi, is trying to resell it, says CoinDesk – but he’s not having much luck. He listed the NFT for $48m. The current highest bid is $6,822.


quoted 14.4.22

“I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.”

American humourist Jack Handey