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25 April

In the headlines

Emmanuel Macron has become the first French president to be re-elected since Jacques Chirac 20 years ago, taking 58.5% of the second-round vote compared to Marine Le Pen’s 41.5%. Now “all the miserable French” can go back to hating Macron, says statistician Tom Forth on Twitter. Twitter itself is in “advanced talks” with Elon Musk about the billionaire’s $46.5bn bid to buy the company, says The New York Times. What initially seemed to be a “highly improbable deal” now looks to be “nearing an endgame”. The Sue Gray report into Downing Street’s lockdown-breaking parties is so damning it could leave Boris Johnson with “no choice but to resign”, senior officials tell The Times. Her findings are due to be published after Scotland Yard finishes its own investigation. Women are louder snorers than men, says the Daily Star, reaching an ear-splitting 80 decibels, the same as a vacuum cleaner. “Snore blimey.”

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UK politics

Why Brexit is boosting immigration

Forget the furore over government plans to send migrants who cross the Channel to Rwanda, says Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times. The real story is in the recently published figures for the first year of Britain’s “post-Brexit immigration policy”. Last year, it turns out, nearly 240,000 work visas were granted, 25% more than in 2019. The recipients were overwhelmingly skilled workers from outside the EU – India was top, followed by Nigeria.


China’s Covid arrogance

When the number of Covid cases spiked in Shanghai this month, the Chinese government “trotted out its usual Covid-busting formula”, says Michael Schuman in The Atlantic. It locked residents in their homes, tested them repeatedly, and isolated each positive case. But this time it wasn’t such a success. The tactics failed to stem the surge of the virus and the sudden lockdown caused a city-wide food shortage. Worse still, the locals got cross. Protesters defiantly posted their confrontations with authorities on social media; some people resorted to simply screaming out of their windows.


Nasa’s Perseverance rover has recorded footage of a solar eclipse as seen from the surface of Mars. The video shows the “potato-shaped” silhouette of one of Mars’s moons, Phobos, crossing the face of the sun, says MailOnline. It only lasted 40 seconds, far shorter than an eclipse seen from Earth, as Phobos is about 157 times smaller than our own moon.

Nice work if you can get it

Piers Morgan is reportedly being paid £50m over three years to host a daily talk show on TalkTV, a new Rupert Murdoch-backed television channel being launched today, as well as write weekly columns in The Sun and the New York Post. Morgan is handling it with characteristic modesty. “I haven’t seen the bank balances of the other [TalkTV presenters],” he tells The Times. “But I did say to Simon Cowell, ‘I’ll get dinner next time around.’ That annoyed him.”


It’s The Sense of Smell by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens, for which the Prado Museum in Madrid has created accompanying scents that visitors can sniff. As part of a sensory exhibition, gallery-goers press their noses to a machine which dispenses smells based on things within the painting. These include flowers, scented leather gloves, and even an excrement-like animal smell taken from a civet cat’s hind legs.

Inside politics

Boris Johnson was my motoring columnist when I edited GQ, says Dylan Jones in The Sunday Times – and over his ten years in the position, he cost the magazine about £4,000 in parking tickets. In Boris’s own words, they started accumulating “like drifting snow on the windshield”. Speeding tickets, however, were never a problem. “And I’ve got a pretty good idea why.” On “many, many, many occasions”, the test car’s mileage would be exactly the same before and after Johnson’s review. “I leave you to draw your own conclusions.”

Gone viral

There’s a new, “mind-bendingly meta” TikTok trend, says the Dirt newsletter: musicians complaining – on TikTok – that their labels are forcing them to post TikToks. “Pls send help,” begs singer Florence Welch in one; in another, pop star Maggie Rogers films herself drunk in the loo after remembering “someone is gunna yell at me in the morning” if she doesn’t post on the app. The irony is that these casual, relatable videos are exactly the kind of successful content the corporate overlords are after.

Love etc

Gwyneth Paltrow’s pricey lifestyle brand Goop is selling a range of libido-enhancing herbal pills to get women in the mood, says Dazed. A jar of the gummy tablets – named DTF, short for “down to f***” – will set you back £43. Paltrow isn’t the only one cashing in on aphrodisiacs. Harrods offers a “libido enhancer” IV drip – £240 for a 45-minute session – and for £1,100, will sell you 32 caramel-flavoured syringes of liquid containing cordyceps mushrooms, designed to heighten sex drive.


quoted 25.4.22

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Mark Twain