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14 June

In the headlines

The first deportation flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda will take off today as scheduled, after the Court of Appeal blocked a last-ditch attempt to stop it last night. Other legal challenges have reduced the list of deportees from 130 to seven, however, and refugee groups are hopeful of cutting that number further today. Keir Starmer’s own shadow cabinet ministers think he is “boring voters to death”, says The Times. “Is he exciting? No, of course not,” one opposition frontbencher told the paper. “To loads of my constituents, he just doesn’t exist in their minds at all.” Open Democracy has published a stash of angry letters from members of the House of Lords complaining to parliament about the quality of its food and wine. “There are only so many smoked salmon or prawn and crayfish salads one can take,” grumbled one peer. “Can something be done?”



The party’s over for millennials

The “Millennial Consumer Subsidy” is finally coming to an end, says Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. For the past decade, people like me – “youngish, urbanish, professionalish” – have had a “sweetheart” deal from the likes of Uber and Deliveroo: almost every time we used their apps, they lost money. This is because they’re all funded by venture capital firms desperately hoping to mint the next Amazon or Facebook. The strategy was simple: grow fast, at whatever cost, and hope the profits come later. This made sense at the time: with interest rates near zero, investors could afford to “put their money into long-shot bets”. All they needed was one to come good, and it would cover all their other losses. For us consumers, that meant much of our life was heavily subsidised: taxi rides, food delivery, meal kits, mattresses, exercise machines and so on.

Human rights

An insult to human rights

When the UN’s high commissioner for human rights returned from a China tour last month “spouting Beijing propaganda”, humanitarians were up in arms, says Mary Anastasia O’Grady in The Wall Street Journal. The 70-year-old Chilean socialist Michelle Bachelet, who has since said she will not be seeking a second term, stuck to Chinese government talking points in remarks about Xinjiang, where the Xi regime has locked up a million Uighurs. She described China’s policies as a form of “counter terrorism” to fight back against “violent acts of extremism”, and referred to mass detention facilities as “vocational and educational training centres”. Beijing was delighted: after the visit a Chinese diplomat tweeted that the regime was “not only vindicated, but justified”.

Gone viral

This speedy chamois has racked up 2.9m views on Twitter, careening down an alp past a group of nonplussed skiers. The agile mountain goats aren’t just hot on the downhill; they can also leap a distance of 20ft and jump 6.6ft straight up in the air.


Rapper Jay-Z and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are teaming up to launch a crypto-age summer camp: Bitcoin Academy. The programme, which was dreamt up before the current crypto crash, will teach children as young as five about “Bitcoin specifically and finance in general”. It will initially be offered to residents of the New York housing complex where Jay Z grew up. It’s lovely when a wealthy person gives back, says Gawker, especially to “help underserved kids learn that you can lose all your money on an unstable currency that is ruining the planet”.

Quirk of history

Our brains have a mind-boggling way of distorting the “recency” of certain historical events, says Carol Midgley in The Times. Some examples: Japanese gaming giant Nintendo was founded in 1889, when Jack the Ripper was still stalking the streets of London. And the first Star Wars film was released in 1977 – the same year as the last guillotine execution in France.


Hidden away at the bottom of the ocean are “odd geological features” called blue holes, says Hakai Magazine. They’re like sinkholes, “but on a much grander scale” – Dragon Hole in the South China Sea is a whopping 300 metres deep; the Great Blue Hole in Belize (pictured) is 300 metres wide. And because hurricanes push large grains of sediment into these pits, the seafloor at their base acts “like a calendar” of past storm activity.


Thailand’s government has legalised weed – and plans to hand out a million cannabis plants to celebrate. Officials hope the ganja giveaway, which will see eager households receive a maximum of six seedlings, will boost the country’s medical marijuana market and make the drug a lucrative Thai export. But Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is still, somewhat optimistically, discouraging recreational use, urging people not to “sit smiling at home and not get any work done”.


It’s Britney Spears’s third wedding, which took place in Los Angeles last week. After a brisk 10-minute ceremony, says The Sydney Morning Herald, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Drew Barrymore, Donatella Versace and Selena Gomez posed beside the bride, “sending a message to the combined social media following of 429.5 million that a wedding doesn’t have to be just one person’s fashion moment”.


Quoted 14.6.22

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.”

Author Karen Lamb