Rishi Sunak will “wave through” Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list, says The Times, in the hopes of ending “months of acrimony” between the pair. Among the 50 people who will be nominated for a peerage are the MPs Nadine Dorries and Alok Sharma, who would have to stand down and trigger by-elections if they were to move to the House of Lords. Britain will host the first global summit on AI regulation this autumn. China will probably be excluded from the conference, which Downing Street says will be limited to “like-minded countries”. Wildfires in Canada have blanketed cities on the east coast of North America in a thick layer of smoke, disrupting everything from air travel to Broadway shows. New York was the worst hit: on Tuesday night its air quality ranked worse than any city in the world, even New Delhi.
JK Rowling (left) and the Oxfam advert. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
Oxfam should worry about poverty, not pronouns
Imagine the horror Oxfam’s bosses must have felt, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph, when “thousands upon thousands” of Twitter users pointed out that a cartoon published by the charity depicting an “evil, scowling, hate-fuelled transphobe” looked exactly like JK Rowling. Of course, the do-gooders were quick to issue an arse-covering statement insisting there was “no intention” to portray “any particular person”. And who am I to question their sincerity? It’s no doubt merely an “unfortunate coincidence” that the animated bigot closely resembled a widely published photograph of Rowling attending a 2018 movie premiere, “right down to her hairstyle and outfit”.
Even if the cartoon hadn’t looked remotely like the beloved children’s author, “Oxfam would still have been utterly in the wrong”. Partly because of the absurd implication that anyone who supports single-sex changing rooms and thinks only women should play women’s rugby is a “nasty old hag who loathes the vulnerable”. But the bigger problem is that Oxfam is a charity that was founded to tackle poverty. “How exactly does attacking ‘terfs’ help to feed starving children?” Transphobia may be a hurtful prejudice, but it’s not a leading cause of “drought, hunger, disease and war”. Perhaps they think a starving child in Burkina Faso might shout: “No! I refuse to accept any food that may have been paid for by someone who believes that biological males should not be allowed to enter the women’s Olympic weightlifting!” But on the whole, “I think it’s unlikely”.
Good Morning America asked bartenders to predict the “it” cocktails we’ll be sipping this summer. Their bets included: the limoncello spritz, combining the liquor with prosecco and soda water; a tequila tipple mixed with “pineapple, mango and coconut, with a dash of spiciness like jalapeños”; and a “Rocco margarita”, pairing blanco tequila with mandarin-infused cognac, fresh lime, honey and grapefruit bitters.
“Virgin birth” might be possible in crocodiles, says New Scientist. Staff at a Costa Rican zoo discovered that a female croc had laid 14 eggs – one containing a still-born fetus – despite having had no contact with any males for years. Parthenogenesis, “a form of asexual reproduction in which embryos develop from unfertilised eggs”, is known to occur in some snakes, lizards and even turkeys. Its discovery in a crocodile suggests that the trait dates back to the animals’ shared ancestors, and could even have taken place in dinosaurs.
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In 1982, the town of Northampton held a double-decker bus race as part of its annual carnival. As one Twitter user writes, it’s “a lot more interesting than Formula 1 this year”.
A top-level meeting of Nato in 1957. Bettmann/Getty
Don’t blame the West for doing the right thing
Try to get your head around the “magnitude of American power” in the 1950s, says Janan Ganesh in the FT. The US had established Nato; it had “revived” Japan and western Europe in the wake of World War II. It led the world in mass culture – from Hollywood to Elvis – and in high art, with abstract expressionism and the novels of Saul Bellow. It provided a “monstrous share” of global output, and had such far-sighted leaders as Dwight Eisenhower. Yet even then, as the Cold War intensified, Washington couldn’t convince countries home to “half the world’s people” to take its side. “If the West, at its mightiest and best led, couldn’t charm, induce, reason or bully them into its camp, who could blame it for failing to do so now?”
Quite a few people, it seems. On Ukraine, many commentators argue that the West is culpable for “losing the rest”. But that’s the wrong way of looking at it. These other countries have agency of their own, including “the power to be wrong”. And on the matter of Ukraine, they are. Wrong morally, because this is a war of imperial conquest of the kind that these former colonies profess to oppose, and wrong strategically because Moscow is a terrible “alternative patron” to Washington. But too many in the West think that “if something in the world is awry”, then the US and its partners must be to blame. This allows Western progressives to feel their favourite emotion: “ostentatious guilt”. Their obsessive self-criticism has the veneer of humility, but really “nothing could be more patrician”.
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Product designer Soren Iverson creates mockups of nightmarish – and often genius – “improvements” to the apps we use each day, says Digg. Examples include a nepotism disclosure feature for LinkedIn (pictured); a note on Facebook to tell you if someone has actually read the article they are sharing; and “Meet Your Meat” for Uber Eats, which gives a brief biography of the animal used for your order (“Janice ate primarily alfalfa but loved apples as a treat”). See more here.
Last year I drove past a church in south London outside which was a sign proclaiming “God Loves Man” – to which someone had added the word “United”.
It’s a life-size replica of the Ferrari Daytona SP3, made from 402,836 Lego bricks. The ridged sculpture, currently on display at Legoland in Windsor, weighs more than 1,500kg, and has been fitted with a genuine steering wheel and rubber tyres.
“Yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again.”
Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein
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