He’s a (semi-)royal juggernaut: readers gave Prince Harry first place in last week’s poll, with 59.93 percent of the vote. Kevin McCarthy was a solid but distant second (14.81 percent), followed by Elon Musk, George Santos, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and, finally, the doubles team of Gwyneth Paltrow and Heidi Klum. Frankly, here at AIR MAIL we thought McCarthy would have done a little better, having essentially spent the entire week wandering around with a KICK ME sign on his back that he’d pinned there himself. But you, the readers, have spoken. And now you can again.
The nominees in this week’s edition of the Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
The over-Spare-ing goes on. After picking his family off one by one, as if they were Taliban, including disparaging his stepmother, Camilla, the popularity-tanking Harry (lower than Andrew’s by week’s end) said that none of it “has ever been with any intention to harm them or hurt them,” and that henceforth “what I have to say to them will be in private.” To be continued. Alas.
The former ambassador to the U.N. under George W. Bush and national-security adviser under Donald Trump announced, on Good Morning Britain, that he was running for president. Of the United States. “If I didn’t think I could run seriously, then I wouldn’t get in the race,” Bolton said.
Thousands of supporters of Brazil’s former president rioted in the capital of Brasília, storming government buildings over what they called a “stolen election.” President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva blamed Bolsonaro, who decamped to a hospital in Orlando, Florida, claiming a flare-up of an old stab wound but doing well enough to tweet the specifics.
In a brief Hitchcock-like cameo, Trump turned up visibly as “DT” on Marjorie Taylor Greene’s cell-phone screen when he called during the Speaker free-for-all in the House chamber last week.
Reportedly holding twice-weekly etiquette classes for fellow inmates at her Florida prison. “This course teaches the three principles of etiquette—focusing on respect, consideration and honesty,” reads the flyer. She is also said to have hired Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur L. Aidala to appeal her 20-year sentence.
Stop the presses! “The fun-loving actress, 49, visited the newly-renovated Castle Elvira in Puglia.” And not only that: she also “took to Instagram to show off the unique ensemble she wore for a casual day at home playing pool with her cat Willow.” Clearly her New Year’s resolution was To become even more ubiquitous in the media than I already am.
And now for this week’s Diary …
The Boeing 767 known as the Wing of Zion was put out to pasture in 2021, around the same time as Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Now that he’s back, it looks as if the V.I.P. aircraft, deemed an unnecessary expense by other Israeli leaders, will be as well. No commercial flights for Bibi!
Hothouse-flowers update: the University of Aberdeen has bestowed a trigger warning on J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, having determined that undergraduates might find the book “emotionally challenging” with “odd perspectives on gender but”—phew!—“no objectionable material.”
Hundreds of Iranians risked jail time by uploading pictures of traditional meat patties, known as kotlets. The word had been used to “describe the body of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s former spy chief, who was killed in a precision strike by the US in Baghdad in January 2020,” Euronews reported. Hard-liners failed to see any humor in the anniversary posts.
Several recent deaths of well-known individuals have people questioning China’s official coronavirus death toll, of just 22, since December. Among them: Chu Lanlan, soprano, 39, unspecified illness; Gong Jintang, actor, 83; Wu Guanying, designer of the 2008 Olympics mascot, 67, “infection with a severe cold”; and Ni Zhen, screenwriter of Raise the Red Lantern, 84.
In case your 2023 Vladimir Putin wall calendar is still in the mail, rest assured that this year the Russian leader is entirely clothed, even from the waist up. Putin is in full hockey gear on the cover, and inside images include him sitting on a rock, doing judo with children, riding a chairlift, and striding purposefully in a suit.
It’s never too soon to plan for a possible asset freeze. A hack of an offshore Internet-service provider here revealed that three weeks before the start of Putin’s Ukraine war, at least $4 billion worth of offshore trusts belonging to the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich “were rapidly reorganized,” making his seven children the beneficiaries of his luxury properties, super-yachts, helicopters, and jets, The Guardian reported.
In Nothing but the Truth, a new tell-all (or tell-some) book by the late Pope Benedict’s private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein mostly steers clear of the more problematic issues of that papacy (sexual abuse, sketchy finances), but says that Benedict disagreed with Pope Francis on abortion, homosexuality, and no longer conducting mass exclusively in Latin. Ite, missa est…
Some creative paperwork turned 750,000 gallons of “cheap Spanish plonk into hundreds of thousands of bottles of pricey Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Saint-Julien and Margaux,” said The Times of London, a re-labeling that increased the cost of each bottle by ten- or twentyfold. A judge will rule this month on the fate of the five defendants, all of them part of the region’s wine industry. —George Kalogerakis
George Kalogerakis, one of the original editor-writers at Spy, later worked for Vanity Fair, New York, and The New York Times, where he was deputy op-ed editor. A co-author of Spy: The Funny Years and co-editor of Disunion: A History of the Civil War, he is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL