The French government has taken down a conspiracy-infested Web site that was claiming Jews run France. “Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, sent in prosecutors after a site called IlsSontPartout.com [They Are Everywhere] laid out the names and profiles of Jewish politicians, media owners, financiers and arts figures who supposedly connive to control the country,” reported The Times of London. “The site’s name is an allusion to Je Suis Partout [I Am Everywhere], an anti-semitic newspaper during the Nazi occupation of 1940-44.” The newspaper also reported that last week, in Brittany, “a monument … to Simone Veil, the feminist, former minister and Holocaust survivor, was daubed with swastikas.”
Plus ça change? France has historically been … troubled by anti-Semitism, but during the pandemic there’s been an ugly uptick, stemming in part from a crackpot theory that Jewish doctors are somehow behind the coronavirus.
For many perhaps slightly overexcited commoners, the newly accessible private grounds of Buckingham Palace have revealed themselves to be nothing more than, well, garden-variety gardens. When the Palace announced in the spring that it would open its 39-acre enclave to the public, demand for tickets was high, even at $23 per person. “The palace website, which at one point had 6,000 customers in a virtual queue, promised visitors the chance to soak up the ‘beauty and calm of this walled oasis’ on a self-guided tour before enjoying a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to picnic on the lawn,’” reported The Times of London.
But, according to the newspaper, for every “absolutely delightful afternoon” review—and despite near-unanimous acclaim for the cleanliness of the lavatories—there were at least as many “bitterly disappoint[ed]” visitors, who cited “dull, uninspiring” flower displays, “wild” lawns, a ban on prosecco, and “very expensive tat” in the shop. (“No wonder the royals are rich.”) The Palace, for whom diplomatic spinning comes as naturally as breathing, said that while “we have been pleased to receive a good deal of positive feedback from many visitors to the garden this summer … all visitor feedback is important to us and will be considered for future planning.”
Fashion, beauty, lifestyle—so pre-2020. “Being too ‘aspirational’ is seen as almost repellent now by many generation-Zers, who favour platforms such as TikTok because of this,” the trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry told The Guardian. Quick—we need a term for this new demographic! And lo, “change forecaster” WGSN has already supplied it: “genuinfluencers,” who, according to one of the company’s strategists, “spread important information that can keep people informed.”
That’s actually our favorite type of information—the kind that, you know, informs. Still: if it means that influencers are going to disseminate accurate data on the coronavirus instead of on, say, branded perfume, then by all means, influence—or, rather, genuinfluence—away.
The pandemic has been good to billionaires—most things, if you think about it, are good to billionaires. An analysis by Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the Patriotic Millionaires determined that a “one-time tax on the world’s 2,690 billionaires” for the money they’ve made only during the pandemic would be enough to a) vaccinate every adult on the planet, b) provide $20,000 in cash to all the world’s unemployed workers, and c) still leave them with $55 billion more than they had pre-coronavirus.
There’s even a precedent. According to The Guardian, “during the first world war, the US increased its tax rate for people with the highest incomes to 67%. In the second world war, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to cap individual income at $25,000.” And last December, Argentina instituted a one-time tax on the wealthy that raised $2.4 billion. “Our economies are choking on this hoarded resource that could be serving a much greater purpose,” said Morris Pearl, a former managing director of BlackRock, who now chairs Patriotic Millionaires. “Billionaires need to cough up that cash ball — and governments need to make them do it by taxing their wealth.”
After China imposed a restrictive national-security law in Hong Kong in 2020, Britain smoothed the path to citizenship, and would-be émigrés reacted with enthusiasm—and thousands of applications. But even as it became easier for Hong Kongers to get out and get to the U.K., it became more difficult for their pets. The South China Morning Post reported that, according to some estimates, half of the abandoned dogs in Hong Kong in recent months have been left behind by owners unable or unwilling to pay as much as $13,000 for the quarantine, flight, and customs requirements necessary to bring them along. A canine-itarian crisis is clearly brewing.
Friends, without certain benefits: Single men with lots of female friends are apparently less attractive to potential opposite-sex partners, according to a study conducted by Monash University, in Australia. The reason? “The idea that the men would have ‘many options’ to choose from and would therefore be ‘hard to secure’ as a partner,” the lead author told The Times of London. Other potential problems: a perceived lack of humility (“Saying one has a lot of female friends may seem boastful”) or the possibility of exaggeration (“could elicit ‘suspicion and/or distrust’”). However—no surprise—too few opposite-sex friends, for men and women, was also found to be a liability.
Shod help us: one in eight British women own more than 100 pairs of shoes—that’s 14 pairs for each day of the week—according to a recent survey reported in the Daily Mail. Then again, the average is a mere 30 to 35 pairs, and for men around half that, though men spend a little more ($130 versus $120 per pair). Sales of footwear, mostly sneakers, went up during the coronavirus lockdown. After restrictions eased, it’s the heels that went up, from an average of three inches to four.
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail