Juan Carlos, Spain’s exiled former king, has apparently tired of the United Arab Emirates, where he’s been cooling his heels for a year and a half while being investigated for corruption. It seems he’d like to return to Spain. Oh, and live in the royal family’s Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid while drawing an annual stipend of $265,000, according to The Times of London. Reportedly, these are not requests but demands. It’s unclear just how welcome—or unwelcome—the 83-year-old ex-monarch, who abdicated in 2014, would be with the Spanish public. Or for that matter with his successor, King Felipe VI: the relationship between father and son, said the newspaper El Confidencial, was “at a low point … practically nonexistent.”
But Juan Carlos’s chances of a comfy return home improved this week when a prosecutor who had been looking into an alleged $86 million kickback for Juan Carlos’s role in securing a contract for a high-speed train link to Mecca announced that the case had been dropped, according to The Times. The prosecutor “could not find enough evidence to link the payment with the railway contract,” reported the newspaper. “He did acknowledge that Juan Carlos had received that sum of money in 2008 from the Saudi Arabian treasury ministry into an account belonging to the Lucum Foundation, a Panamanian offshore company allegedly created by Juan Carlos.”
When it comes to investing for the future, forget about gold or wine or even plastics. Look instead to collectible toys—Lego in particular, according to experts at the Higher School of Economics in Russia. In a paper published in the journal Research in International Business and Finance, they recommend untraditional investments such as Barbie dolls, superhero mini-figures, model cars and trains, and especially Lego, which they found rises in value by 11 percent annually.
The researchers suspect this is because items such as Lego models, whose most expensive sets include the Millennium Falcon, Death Star II, Airport Shuttle, Imperial Star Destroyer, and Taj Mahal, tend to be produced in limited quantities, creating a similarly limited secondary market. And they have a powerful nostalgic appeal among adults. Well, certain types of adults. If that’s you, snap to it.
A man whose regular morning commute down the stairs from his bedroom to his home office was interrupted by a fall can claim workers’ compensation, a German court has ruled. (His employer’s insurance had for some reason balked at the notion.) The man, who works in sales for a company identified only as “R-GmbH,” slipped on his spiral staircase and fractured a vertebra.
“In many countries, firms have a duty of care to their employees, regardless of where they work,” reported The Guardian. “The German federal court said: ‘If the insured activity is carried out in the household of the insured person or at another location, insurance cover is provided to the same extent as when the activity is carried out at the company premises.’”
It’s always those last few steps—which in this instance are apparently the same as the first few steps—that you have to watch out for.
As The Guardian notes, “There are few commercial principles more reliable than this: there will always be another James Bond movie,” No Time to Die notwithstanding. So the newspaper asked a few authors how they’d reboot the franchise. While several of the responses needed to be wrapped in crime-scene tape labeled spoiler alert and will be omitted here, a couple of those polled sidestepped that problem.
The crime writer Manda Scott imagined “the old guard knowing when it’s time to let go of the reins of power and doing it with panache and flair,” and making way for a new 007—”she’ll be young, perhaps mixed race, definitely gender fluid and she’ll focus on the things that matter most: the climate and ecological emergency and how to wrest from the chaos that’s coming a future she’ll be happy—even proud—to leave to her kids.” The spy writer Charles Cumming went the other way. “You could do an origin story with Bond coming out of the Royal Navy as a ‘Commander’ and applying to join MI6,” he offered. And then he added something that’s hard to dispute: “Bond is like Hamlet or Sherlock Holmes. He’s eternal.”
It was a big day, and naturally the Chinese government wanted a pleasant forecast. So they simply made the necessary arrangements and ordered up some good weather. “On 1 July the Chinese Communist party marked its centenary with major celebrations including tens of thousands of people at a ceremony in Tiananmen Square, and a research paper from Tsinghua University has said an extensive cloud-seeding operation in the hours prior ensured clear skies and low air pollution,” reported The Guardian.
“Blueskying,” which involves rocketing silver iodide into clouds to increase the chance of a cleansing rain in advance of an event, has become very popular with the Chinese government, which has spent billions on the technology and used it for agricultural purposes as well as during the 2008 Summer Olympics. But despite the apparent success of the technique, there is still debate, the newspaper notes, “about whether manipulating the weather in one area could disrupt weather systems elsewhere.” Oh, that.
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail