We had a more evenly distributed result last week among our Attention Whores. It’s true that Donald Trump won handily, with 38.6 percent of your votes—and he might be tough to beat again this week, with all his foaming-at-the-mouth fantasies about manacles and jumpsuits and perp walks. But he was followed by a respectable near dead heat among SVB head Greg Becker (13.3 percent), Ozempic (13.3 percent), and Lauren Boebert (12.7 percent). The also-rans: Emmanuel Macron, Xi Jinping, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and King Charles. (Although Charles may simply be saving his strength for early May, when there’s apparently some to-do in the U.K. that he’s expected to attend.)
The nominees in this week’s edition of the Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
“THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” Oh, and by the way: “WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!! And not forgetting: “HOW DO YOU INDICT A PERSON WHO HAS’NT DONE ANYTHING WRONG, AND YOU KNOW THAT PERSON HAS’NT DONE ANYTHING WRONG???…EVERYBODY KNOWS I’M 100% INNOCENT…IT WAS ALL MADE UP…THIS IS NO LEGAL SYSTEM, THIS IS THE GESTAPO, THIS IS RUSSIA AND CHINA, BUT WORSE.”
Trailing in the polls, he punched back at Trump. Sort of. “Look, I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair, I just … I can’t speak to that.” And: “It’s not important for me to be fighting with people on social media.” How retro.
Zurich-based UBS agrees to buy Zurich-based Credit Suisse: a Swiss-bank story that’s not about Nazi gold!
“Spontaneously” decided to visit Mariupol, the Ukrainian city his Russian forces demolished last spring. His grand tour reportedly included the sites of a former theater, a former maternity hospital, and the bones of former people.
A lawsuit was filed against her friend Trammell Crow, a Texas tycoon, accusing him of having invested in a sex-trafficking ring. Well, the allegations will at least be a good conversation starter for Fergie and her ex, Andrew.
T.M.I.! Announced his engagement to Ann Lesley Smith in an interview granted to his own New York Post: “I was very nervous. I dreaded falling in love — but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy.” The late-summer wedding will be the 92-year-old’s fifth.
Having pushed through his wildly unpopular pension reform, setting off more strikes and protests - the kind that lead to town halls being set on fire and the postponement of royal visits - he barely survived two no-confidence votes but stood firm, in a wobbly way.
THE ROYAL FAMILY
Harry and Meghan haven’t said whether they’ll attend King Charles’s coronation and are said to be “locked in negotiations”—presumably with the royal family and not with each other. Unclear, too, whether their children will be invited. Accordingly, two coronation plans are reportedly being prepared, with one version including neither the Sussexes nor Prince Andrew and his children, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. And on it goes.
And now for this week’s Diary …
In Montreal …
In the midst of a dispute involving throat-slitting gestures and power tools held “in a menacing way,” a man was charged with criminal harassment for giving his neighbor the middle finger. He was acquitted. “Flipping the proverbial bird is a God-given, Charter-enshrined right that belongs to every red-blooded Canadian,” a Quebec judge wrote in his ruling, according to the Montreal Gazette. “It may not be civil, it may not be polite, it may not be gentlemanly. Nevertheless, it does not trigger criminal liability.”
In Plymouth …
According to The Guardian, “Chatting and Cheating: Ensuring Academic Integrity in the Era of ChatGPT,” a paper published in a British academic journal, was—just to prove its point about the specter of plagiarism and academic dishonesty—in fact written by ChatGPT. As was this item. (Or was it?)
In Beijing …
Meanwhile, China’s latest A.I. news anchor, Ren Xiaorong, made her debut. “Sporting a black jacket and shoulder-length hair tucked behind her ears, Ren claims to harness the professional skills of ‘thousands of news anchors,’” Insider reported. “‘365 days, 24 hours. News broadcasts about any topic all year round,’ Ren says in a robotic tone. ‘Every single bit of feedback you give will help me improve myself.’”
In Kabul …
Taliban progeny shouldn’t count on government sinecures any longer. According to BBC News, the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada has decreed that Afghan officials “should replace appointed sons or other family members — and refrain from hiring relatives in future … follow[ing] allegations that several senior Taliban officials had appointed their sons to roles within the government.”
In Tokyo …
NEVER SAY DIE
The world’s longest-serving death-row inmate will be getting a re-trial after awaiting execution for five decades. Iwao Hakamada, 87, was convicted in 1968 of a quadruple murder, but later claimed his confession was the result of a brutal interrogation. “One key piece of evidence used to convict him was a set of blood-stained clothes that emerged more than a year after the crime,” reported Japan Today. “Supporters say the clothes did not fit him and the bloodstains were too vivid given the time elapsed.” Amnesty International lauded the Tokyo High Court ruling as “a long-overdue chance to deliver some justice.”
In Bideford …
A North Devon man, frustrated because he kept forgetting his Tesco-Supermarket Clubcard, had the QR code tattooed on his wrist. Dean Mayhew, 31, told DevonLive that he’s used the card/tattoo twice a day since July: “Sometimes when I go in there, the cashier doesn’t believe it’s real — I have to tell them ‘just scan it please!’”
In London …
Simply by using the word “right,” Brits sound smarter to Americans, researchers say. Britons employ it freely, but Americans do only “to confirm that they knew what someone was talking about,” said The Times of London—so they “got the impression the Britons they were talking to already knew everything they discussed, even when the Britons were clueless.” Does this actually make the Americans clueless, or just insecure? We won’t speculate. But we confess that even though the study was done at Rutgers University, we decided to go with a London dateline instead of New Brunswick, New Jersey. —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