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26 April

In the headlines

Elon Musk has bought Twitter for $44bn. The 50-year-old billionaire celebrated the deal by tweeting some quotes about the importance of free speech and the caption: “🚀💫♥️ Yesss!!! ♥️💫🚀”. “I hope Elon Musk does what he does best,” says one user, “and launches Twitter into f***ing space.” Millions of summer holidays are at risk because of “shambolic” delays at the Passport Office, say MPs. Around five million people put off renewing their passports during the pandemic, resulting in a massive backlog and months-long waiting lists. New “shock research” shows that more people now love Marmite than hate it, says the Daily Star. You either “love it or love it”.



Ukraine’s unlikely friend

Israel was rightly “condemned” at the start of the war in Ukraine, says Michael Oren in The Wall Street Journal, for being “too neutral” about Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion. One of Jerusalem’s “most fervent supporters” in Washington, Senator Lindsey Graham, said he was “very disappointed” by Israel’s refusal to sell its Iron Dome missile defence system to the Ukrainians. Former US National Security Advisor HR McMaster said “Israelis ought to be embarrassed” by their government’s lack of support for Kyiv.


France loves a pompous president

The “most telling moment” of Emmanuel Macron’s political career was in 2018, says Dominic Sandbrook in UnHerd, when he rebuked a teenager for addressing him as “Manu”. “No, no, no,” the 40-year-old president said, wagging a finger. “You call me ‘Monsieur le Président de la République’ or ‘Monsieur’.” This haughty response helps explain why he was re-elected on Sunday. Because “even if you can’t stand Macron and loathe his centrist politics”, you can’t deny he has always “looked and sounded as a French president should”.


It’s ridiculous for Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian tennis players over an “accident of birth”, says Henry Mance in the FT. Barring players like men’s number two Daniil Medvedev – who lives in Monaco and said last month he wanted “peace in all the world” – achieves nothing, and risks alienating “even Putin-sceptic Russians”. But there’s an irony in Wimbledon taking the moral high ground. In 1939, the former world number one and prominent Nazi opponent Baron Gottfried von Cramm was blackballed from the tournament, allegedly to appease Hitler.


The Queen’s recent birthday photograph, in which she’s sandwiched between two horses, is unsurprising. The monarch is animal mad. During her 70-year reign she has been given a whole menagerie of creatures as presents, including a sloth, an elephant, a crocodile, two wallabies, two jaguars, two pygmy hippopotamuses and six kangaroos. Most of these have been re-homed at various zoos, says Mia Mercado in The Cut. “But I choose to imagine this 96-year-old woman has a big, big garden where all of these creatures live in harmony.”


It’s a house in Ramsgate where the building, a car, a van and a boat are all completely hidden under a sea of greenery. The local postie has boycotted the unkempt property, which despite appearances remains occupied, says MailOnline. Locals in the Kent town say the owner is a “lovely, well-kept man”, and that he gets into the house through the rear entrance. When neighbours complained that the abundant foliage was creeping onto their property, he happily trimmed back the offending branches.

Gone viral

Leo, a brainy cocker spaniel from Aberdeen, has learned to play tennis. According to the canny hound’s trainer, Emily Anderson, Leo is so quick at learning tricks that she sometimes has to film the process in slow motion to figure out how he does it. Leo’s Instagram account, @trickspaniel, shows him stacking children’s toys, playing the xylophone, and producing (admittedly abstract) paintings.


Rory Farquharson had an unusual lockdown, says The Times – he spent it with the Obamas. The 23-year-old son of a Suffolk accountant is dating Barack and Michelle’s oldest daughter, Malia, who he met at Harvard. “I didn’t want to like him but he’s a good kid,” said the former president. There was just one snag. After Farquharson moved in, the Obamas’ food bill jumped by 30%. “Young men eat.”


Russia’s security services appear to be staffed by “complete morons”, says Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. According to the new BBC documentary Navalny, a senior Russian security officer had his email hacked because his password was “Moscow1”. Keen not to be caught out again, the hapless spook immediately “took steps to make it impregnable”. He changed the password to “Moscow2”.


quoted 26.4

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

Thomas Jefferson