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7 August

In the headlines

Ministers have resurrected plans to send illegal migrants to Britain’s overseas territories if the Rwanda scheme falters. Ascension Island, a volcanic rock in the south Atlantic, is being considered in the hope that its remote location would put people off crossing the Channel. Barbie has become the first film directed by a woman to generate more than $1bn at the box office. Greta Gerwig’s feature is the fastest-ever Warner Bros movie to hit the milestone. The Royal Mint is making jewellery out of silver extracted from old x-rays. Metal will be taken from the hundreds of tonnes of images currently in NHS storage, and fashioned into pendants and bracelets celebrating sustainable design.


The winners of this year’s iPhone Photography Awards include snaps of a flamboyance of flamingos in San Diego; a pink synagogue in Sydney; life inside a tube-shaped building in Chongqing, China; sunbathers under lockdown in Málaga, Spain; and a close-up of a Ken doll clutched by the head in Orange County, California. See more here.


Elon Musk’s motivation for renaming Twitter is to create a so-called “super app” – a single platform on which users can chat to friends, book a taxi, order food, share images, and much more. These one-size-fits-all apps are huge in China, where the likes of WeChat and Alipay dominate the market, says Jeremiah Johnson in Foreign Policy. But Musk will struggle to do the same in the US. Super apps are dependent on mobile payments, which are already part of everyday life for most Chinese – in 2021, 87% of citizens used them, “almost double the next highest nation”.

Gone viral

This recently resurfaced video of yellow varnish being removed from an early 17th-century portrait has racked up almost two million views on X (formerly Twitter). As one user says, “that must be so satisfying to do”.


A few weeks ago, says Dennis Lee on Substack, Burger King Thailand unveiled “The Real Cheeseburger”: a sesame seed bun, containing no burger and 20 slices of American cheese. Desperate to try this “dumb” culinary invention, I asked my local Burger King in Chicago to make a knock-off version. Weighing nearly 330g, it’s a “weapons-grade sandwich”. All the layers of cheese fused together, creating one giant blob, and the plasticine-like surface reflected so much light I “briefly considered putting on sunglasses”. As for the taste? All I can say is that it was “prohibitively salty” – a single bite “made me feel like I’d just shoved a tablespoon of salt in my mouth”. Sorry, Thailand. You can keep this for yourselves.

Inside politics

Liz Truss has put 14 people on her resignation honours list, says The Times – one for every four days she was in office. The list could have been longer: two people reportedly turned down a nomination, one feeling it wasn’t deserved, another that receiving a honour from the shortest serving prime minister in history would be “humiliating”.


It’s a red admiral butterfly, of which there are now at least 170,000 in the UK – five times more than last year. The surging numbers are almost certainly due to global warming making British temperatures more bearable all year round. If you spot one yourself, you can record the sighting here.



“Choice usually isn’t choice, only what you’re left with.”

American novelist Richard Ford