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15 June

In the headlines

The first deportation flight to Rwanda was grounded moments before take-off last night after an 11th-hour intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. Seven asylum seekers had been transported to a Wiltshire military airbase to board the jet, which was chartered by the government at a cost of £500,000. Depressing stories are pushing people to turn off the news because it makes them sad. Almost four in 10 respondents to a worldwide YouGov survey said they “often or sometimes” avoid current affairs, up 9% since 2017. Researchers blame gloomy coverage of the pandemic. With “Fryday” set to break June heat records – temperatures could hit 36C across central and southern England – Cadbury’s has warned that there may be a shortage of chocolate flakes for ice creams. “Got 99 problems,” says The Sun, “and a flake is one.”



Is China’s star fading?

Far from China being on track to supplant the US as the world’s largest economy, says Craig Singleton in Foreign Policy, more and more signs point to Beijing being woefully unprepared for the competition. The Chinese economy is in freefall thanks to Xi Jinping’s “mismanagement” – this year, the US is forecast to grow faster than China for the first time since 1976. Even more surprising is the fact that Xi, in an attempt to stabilise China’s finances, has abandoned ambitious plans to switch the country’s economy from sweatshop manufacturing to “quality growth”.


Teachers are scared of marking

Just last week, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph, I joked with fellow parents that teachers would surely soon be banned from marking schoolwork. How, after all, could those traumatic “red ticks and crosses” survive in our “we’re all winners” culture? Well, turns out it’s already happening. According to a survey of 6,250 teachers on the Teacher Tapp app, only 42% feel obliged to mark their pupils’ work – down from 61% in 2018. The decline was particularly sharp among secondary school teachers, from 71% to 41%. The main reasons? Teachers say they’re concerned about “upsetting pupils” – and that correcting work is “too much of a burden”.


This year’s winners of the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition, published in bioGraphic magazine, include a leaping stoat, a ball of bees, a jaguar facing off against a pig, and starfish eating a dead sea lion. See the full list here.


As part of a clean streets campaign, the Swedish city of Malmö has installed interactive rubbish bins that reward litter-pickers with a sultry recorded message. A YouTube video shows someone opening the lid and being greeted by a sexy voice saying in Swedish: “Oh, yeah, right there”, “That was crazy good”, and “Come back quickly and do that again”.

On the money

The City of London has an unexpected money spinner, says Bloomberg: a traffic camera at Bank Junction. Since 2018, when the intersection was restricted to bus and cycle use for most of the day, it has pulled in a whopping £15.2m. That’s more than the £14.8m made by all the cameras in Hackney since 2019.


Corbin Lovins is a world-champion “balisong flipper”, says Wired. The hobby, which originated in the Philippines, involves spinning a butterfly knife around at terrifying speeds. Lovins says there are 24 levels of complexity. Level one begins with a “double rollout”: which comprises flipping the balisong blade open like “you see in all the movies”. Level 16, a “handle transfer”, involves throwing the knife mid-twist and catching the other handgrip. Level 24, the most intricate, is spinning two balisongs simultaneously while you complete different tricks with each hand.


This summer we won’t just be eating seafood, says Bettina Makalintal in Eater, we’ll be wearing clothes inspired by it. Fishy fashion is everywhere: from Lisa Says Gah swimwear decorated with oysters and canned sardines, to a pair of velvet Stubbs & Wootton slippers with caviar embroidered on one shoe and a blini on the other. It seems the point of wearing this maritime garb is to prove you’re accustomed to the “inherent luxury” of eating oysters, caviar and spaghetti alle vongole. Because nothing says “comfortable lifestyle” more than dressing up as a “seafood tower”.


The words “The Hidden Tiger” are written in the big cat’s stripes. The origins of the image are mysterious, says Digg, but it’s cropped up in a slew of publications lately, from The Sun to the New York Post to India Times.


quoted 15.6.22

“Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.”

British writer John Galsworthy