Bad influencer: Ramon “Hushpuppi” Abbas, a former Lagos street hawker turned Instagram star turned swindler, has pleaded guilty to trying to illegally relieve a Qatar businessman who wanted to fund a children’s school of more than $1 million—and has admitted to much, much more fraudulent activity. Abbas, 37, was arrested in June 2020 in Dubai, where he lived and apparently devoted much of his time to Instagram-posting and money-laundering.
“Nearly $41 million in cash and 13 luxury cars valued at about $6.8 million were seized at his Dubai apartment along with evidence that pointed to nearly two million victims,” most of them in the United States, reported The Times of London. “The FBI described Abbas as one of the world’s most high-profile money launderers. He admitted scams included conning $14.7 million out of a bank in Malta and $7.7 million from companies linked to an unnamed Premier League football club. Luxury goods were flaunted on Abbas’s Instagram account, but selfies with his cars in far-flung locations were ultimately used by the FBI to build its case.”
Hushpuppi faces up to 20 years in prison and might have to repay his victims. His Instagram account—“What y’all think about my new bespoke black badge Rolls-Royce Wraith. Lol…. As long as you have a valid dream and work hard, and most importantly if you believe in God, you can achieve anything and everything” (240,691 likes)—will be missed.
New Zealand is the “lifeboat” of choice should the fabric of society really come undone following an environmental disaster, financial crisis, another pandemic, or some distressing combination of the above. So say scientists at the Global Sustainability Institute, at the U.K.’s Anglia Ruskin University, according to The Guardian.
“Countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability,” said the newspaper. “Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities came out on top.” Iceland, the U.K., Tasmania, and Ireland were ranked just after New Zealand, which indeed can boast low human density, abundant agriculture, and a reliance on clean, renewable sources of energy. This explains the wildebeest-like migration of Silicon Valley billionaires such as Peter Thiel (PayPal, Facebook), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, PayPal), and other entrepreneurs to Kiwiland.
We’d like to book two hotels, please. That’s right: not rooms, hotels. For the summer. This community in the French Alps, near the Swiss border, has decidedly mixed feelings about the Abu Dhabi royals housing their staff in all 180 rooms at the Mercure and the Novotel though September. (The staff reportedly needs to be available to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who is at his home in Vétraz-Monthoux, 10 minutes’ drive from Annemasse.) According to The Times of London, the mayor was appalled at the hotels’ being “privatised” for the entire season, but the chairman of the tourist office called the booking a “stroke of luck” for Annemasse, which he said would collect some $28,000 in taxes as a result.
At last, for the eye-of-newt-toe-of-frog set, clothes you can confidently wear to a witches’ cauldron-stir or, really, anywhere: goblincore. “According to the TikTok user @froggiecrocs, also known as Parker, who has more than 90,000 followers who tune in for his goblincore content, it ‘romanticizes the ugly, lesser appreciated parts of the natural world,’” reported The Guardian. “Its trappings include animal skulls and earthworms and its influences range from David Bowie in Labyrinth to the Twilight Saga. According to the trends expert Sabrina Faramarzi, it is about ‘chaos, dirt and mud.’”
The @froggiecrocs hashtag has nearly half a million views on TikTok, said the newspaper, and is on the rise on Pinterest and Reddit, where “one recent poster [hoped] for an exchange of their ‘tiny mice and vole bones in vials’ for other goblincore items.”
How the years have zipped by, even if airborne travelers haven’t, or, anyway, not at quite the same velocity: “It has been almost two decades since air passengers last travelled faster than the speed of sound,” noted The Times of London. “The retirement of Concorde in 2003 left a supersonic-sized hole in the industry for those willing to pay a premium for a fast, and luxurious, flying experience.” The race, needless to say, is on.
At least a half-dozen companies are working on supersonic projects, among them Virgin Galactic (in partnership with Rolls-Royce) and Lockheed-Martin (collaborating with NASA). Spike Aerospace is building a “son of Concorde” that would reach Mach 1.6 (1,200 m.p.h.), cut the flight time between London and New York in half, to three hours, and cost $120 million—all by 2028.
Technical obstacles aside, there are environmental and, consequently, P.R. issues. David Learmount of the Web site Flightglobal told the newspaper, “It is going against everything the world is trying to achieve in relation to climate change. You cannot make a fuel-efficient supersonic aeroplane because they absolutely guzzle hydrocarbons. The other thing is that the aircraft will only be for the privileged few and the world really won’t take kindly to the hyper-rich flying around the world in climate-destroying capsules.”
Nonsense—just look how well Jeff Bezos’s recent aerial escapade went over.
You’d better sit down for this one; it’s a shocker: people who ignore coronavirus restrictions tend to be self-interested, male, disagreeable, extroverted, less open to new experiences, and likely to see restrictions as a threat to their individual freedoms. These conclusions were reached by a University of Sydney study published in the journal Plos One and reported by The Guardian. The survey was conducted last year in Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the United States. It certainly has the ring of truth, except for one thing: Wouldn’t contracting the coronavirus count as a new experience, one that this demographic was, never mind “open to,” actively pursuing?
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail