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9 August

In the headlines

More than 40 million voters have had their names and addresses compromised in “the biggest data breach in UK history”, says the Daily Mail. The Electoral Commission has revealed that “hostile actors”, thought to be Russian hackers, are behind the cyberattack, which remained undetected for 14 months. In a similarly damaging leak, Northern Ireland’s police force has admitted it accidentally published the personal data of all its staff online. Wegovy, the much-hyped weight-loss drug, can cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by a fifth, according to a study of more than 17,500 people. The treatment was approved for use on the NHS in March and may eventually be given to as many as 12 million Brits. Tarot card readers and clairvoyants are losing business to AI chatbots, which apparently “give more reliable predictions”, says the Daily Star. “They didn’t see that coming.”


Freckles were once considered an imperfection to be covered up, says The Washington Post. But today, they’ve become so desirable that people are using digital “freckle filters” on Snapchat and Instagram to add “tiny sun-dappled dots” to photos of their faces. Meanwhile, increasingly popular freckle pens let you paint your face with dark dots, while “semi-permanent fake freckles”, applied with a tattoo-like procedure, can last up to three years before fading.


There’s a new internet acronym for laughter, says The New York Times: IJBOL. LOL (“Laugh Out Loud”), ROFL (“Rolling On the Floor Laughing”) and LMAO (“Laughing My Ass Off”) are old news. IJBOL, pronounced “eej-bowl”, stands for “I Just Burst Out Laughing”, and has been taken up by Gen Z because it “describes something people actually do: explode into an audible, full-belly chuckle”.

On the money

An abandoned town of half-finished mansions near Shenyang in China has been reclaimed by farmers, says France 24. Cattle now wander among the “crumbling verandas and overgrown arches”, and the land that would have been manicured gardens has been ploughed up and planted with crops. These ghost towns, known as “rotten-tail” homes in Chinese, now “pockmark urban landscapes across the country” – stark symbols of China’s deflating housing bubble.


Mental Floss has gathered a list of some “brilliantly named” and highly specific colours you’ve probably never heard of. They include: Bastard-Amber, used in theatres to give the illusion of dawn or dusk; Drunk-Tank Pink, proven to have a calming quality when painted on the walls of police holding cells; Lusty Gallant, originally the name of a Tudor dance, then adopted as a colour by Elizabethan dressmakers; Pervenche, from the French word for periwinkle; and Sang-de-Boeuf, another word for the rich crimson of oxblood. See more here.


To The Times:

If restaurants are worried enough about money to ban solo diners, perhaps they should extend their prohibition to teetotallers and people who don’t order dessert. It might make for a better atmosphere.

Samuel Casey, London


It’s Chinese propaganda, in the form of graffiti, which appeared on London’s Brick Lane over the weekend. The etching comprises the Chinese Communist Party’s “core socialist values” – such as “equality” and “harmony” – which are regularly invoked by Xi Jinping’s regime. The display quickly became an “arena for competing narratives”, says BBC News: some people added messages criticising the CCP, while others said the lettering may have been intended as ironic.



“Never commit murder… A gentleman should never do anything he cannot talk about at dinner.”

Oscar Wilde