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24 June

In the headlines

Last night’s by-election results were a “disaster for the Tories”, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. The Conservatives lost the Red Wall constituency of Wakefield to Labour, while Tiverton and Honiton, a true-blue region since the reign of Queen Victoria, fell to the Lib Dems. The departure of party chairman Oliver Dowden, who resigned this morning, is like “the ravens leaving the Tower of London”. A “summer of travel chaos is looming”, says the Daily Mirror, following a vote for strike action by British Airways staff. Workers are trying to reverse the 10% pay cut the airline imposed when the pandemic began. Amazon has unveiled a macabre potential feature for its Alexa digital assistant, says The Verge – using AI to recreate the voices of users’ dead relatives. “Hey Alexa, that’s weird as hell.”

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Inside politics

The European Council’s decision to grant Ukraine a EU candidate status brings to mind a clip from Volodymyr Zelensky’s acting days, when he played the Ukrainian president on comedy show Servant of the People. His character receives a call from Angela Merkel telling him the EU has decided to make his country a member state. “Oh f***!” he exclaims, before excitedly telling her how much it means to the Ukrainians. “Ukrainians?” asks Merkel. “Oh, I’m so sorry. That’s a mistake. I was trying to call Montenegro.” Watch the full clip here.


The Queen wishes she could have been an actress, says The Times. That’s according to the “reliably indiscreet” former French president François Hollande, who says the monarch told him as much during a state dinner in 2014. “Ah,” Hollande replied, “but in a way you are one to some small degree, no?” The Queen sighed. “Yes,” she said. “But it’s always playing the same role.”


Gone viral

Google has a new game: Quick, Draw! Players are given 20 seconds to doodle an object, and a specially trained AI tries to guess what it is. The clever part is that the bot learns from each drawing, so it gets better as more people play. Try for yourself here.


Twitter user Jason Chou (@jaythechou) has amassed 280,000 followers by photoshopping Paddington Bear into famous scenes from movies and TV shows. He has done one a day, every day, for the past year and a half. Examples include The Graduate, Singin’ in the Rain, When Harry Met Sally… and Casablanca. Enjoy the whole lot (472 and counting) here.

Love etc

Pete Doherty’s relationship with Kate Moss was dramatic from the start, says Air Mail. According to the musician’s new memoir, A Likely Lad, he persuaded the supermodel to get matching tattoos within a week of their meeting in 2005. They had countless stormy rows during their two-year romance, but the last straw was when Doherty accidentally hit a panic button at Moss’s house and 12 armed police turned up. During their final break-up, he recounts, she doused his teddy bear Pandy in petrol and set it alight. “It still rankles.”


It’s “Jade”, an endlessly looping animation backed by quiet, lo-fi music, which has become “the internet’s relaxation go-to”, says Elephant magazine. The video, in which really absolutely nothing happens, has racked up more than a billion views. Jade exudes “simplicity and calm”, a perfect antidote to the Kardashians and “mega-million” movie franchises. Calm yourself here.


quoted 24.6.22

“No man can be wise on an empty stomach.”

George Eliot