Twitter faces reckoning, culture boost in Germany

Is Musk's facade starting to crack?

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It can be hard to stay optimistic when you’re reading headlines like “Tories soak the strivers”, “Years of tax pain ahead”, “Hunt paves the way for years of pain”, and “You’ve never had it so bad”. The Chancellor’s new budget this week is due to bring the highest burden of taxation and the largest reduction in household incomes on record. Boris Johnson spent the last few years papering over the cracks and turning a blind eye to the fact that the UK faces a 15% trade reduction in the long run directly as a result of leaving the EU. For a fleeting moment I felt some sympathy for Jeremy Hunt, having to clean up an economic mess which was made astonishingly worse by his predecessor. As a left-leaning voter, my hope is that when the next general election rolls around, the UK follows the trend in the USA of large young voter turnout leading to a democrat majority in the senate.

Celebrations in Kherson 

In Kherson, we were treated to joyous scenes of celebration as Ukrainian forces retook the city. Photos emerged of crowds filling the squares, cheering around bonfires, and sharing songs and drinks. Reclaiming this key city has brought a new wave of optimism to Ukrainian troops, boosting morale, and bringing hope that the war can be won. Traditional media coverage of the war greatly reduced over the summer and I find news has to be searched for. In our office, we often discuss how UK news channels are becoming quicker to drop regular reporting on stories outside our borders. This victory at least returns Ukraine to our headlines and renews our empathy for those suffering in the conflict.

Elon Musk tightens his chokehold over Twitter

One story that I can’t tear my eyes away from is the slow, painful decline of Twitter under its new ownership. My phone helpfully reminds me of the chokehold the bird app has on me; I spent 5 hours scrolling this week alone. The twists and turns of Musks’s bizarre decision making are as gripping to me as a fresh Netflix drama. Users this week took advantage of the new “pay for verification” feature to send tweets while posing as celebrities and companies. A phony Eli Lilly, pharma giant, tweeted “We are excited to announce insulin is free now” dropping the share price by 4%. Following a similar hoax, weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin lost 5.5% of stock value after a tweet emerged they would halt sales to Israel, Saudi Arabia & the USA. Musk’s arrogance is costing Twitter billions as these companies pull their advertising from the platform. In another move, the new CEO issued employees with an ultimatum to commit to the “hardcore” culture or quit. Twitter is now set to lose 75% of remaining staff. If I weren’t so reliant on Twitter, I might actually enjoy watching this spectacular downfall.

England team show solidarity 

The England team flew out to Qatar this week ahead of their first World Cup match against Iran next week. Having read and heard many headlines about the stand the team is making against Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws, I was slightly surprised to learn the famous “Rain Bow” jet takes its name from a small LGBTQ+ icon, Oscar, on the front. Some have accused Virgin Atlantic of virtue signalling as a result. Shows of solidarity are expected to continue throughout the tournament with many countries adopting rainbow branding.

Culture boost in Germany

I experienced a fresh feeling of Europe-envy on Tuesday, this time for young Germans. In a drive to rekindle interest in the arts, every 18 year old will be given a €200 voucher for live music, bookstores, art galleries, or any cultural expense. This follows an identical move made by the Italian government of 2016, who gave young people €500 to spend on cultural experiences. Online platforms like Amazon and Spotify have been excluded from the scheme in a win for small businesses and local entertainment. This new “Kulturpass” will greatly widen access to the arts for many.

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