May 4th 2018 News Digest

May 4th 2018 News Digest

Good afternoon,

UK News

With a few results still trickling in the local elections have proved to be disheartening to the Conservatives, not as good as hoped for Labour, and only a little encouraging for the Liberal Democrats.

At the time of publishing the Conservatives have won Barnet, Redditch, Basildon, and Peterborough. They have also lost three councils to the Liberal Democrat’s. Their seat count has decreased by a net of 35.  Labour have lost Nuneaton and Bedworth and Derby to no overall control while gaining Plymouth and becoming the biggest party in Tower Hamlets and Trafford and increasing their council seats by a nationwide net of 79 seats. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have defended their London councils while gaining Richmond-upon-Thames, Kingston-upon-Thames, South Cambridgeshire, and Three Rivers council and adding a net of 75 seats. The UKIP vote has been decimated after they lost 123 seats leaving them with just 3 councillors at present. Finally, the Green Party is up by 8 seats. 

In a move to prevent another immigration crisis the government will allow more than 150 Afghan interpreters who served with British troops to remain in the UK without paying the £2,389 fee to apply for indefinite leave to remain. The families members of the interpreters are currently not allowed to live in the UK unless they came at the same time as them.

More than 1,500 jobs are at risk after the news that Virgin Media is closing a call centre in Swansea and the Calvetron retail group is appointing administrators. 

US News

Breaking with previous statements President Trump admitted that he paid his lawyer Michael Cohen a monthly retainer which Mr Cohen used to pay the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels  $130,000 in a settlement to prevent her from talking about an affair she alleges happened with President Trump but which he denies. The president's comments come after his new lawyer Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani said that the payment was not a campaign expense. In the most recent episode of the law podcast Opening Arguments one of the hosts Andrew Torrez explains why Giuliani's claims don’t actually stand-up.

ProPublica is reporting that at least six lobbyists employed by the Trump administration are already working as registered lobbyists with more doing similar work without registering after leaving the administration. This behaviour goes against Trumps executive order which banned lobbyists from returning to lobbying for five years after leaving the administration. According to the article:

Some former officials are tiptoeing around the rules by not registering as lobbyists or by exploiting loopholes. Others obtained special waivers allowing them to go back to lobbying

On Thursday President Trump said “Faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God” on the same day as signing an executive order giving more freedom to federally funded religious groups overturning Obama era rules.

The order has alarmed some LGBT+ groups who believe it could lead to more discrimination towards LGBT+ people.

The Outline reports that “Americans are still serving unconstitutional sentences” but that “a mercy doctrine could help.” It’s hard to quickly sum the article up so I’ll let you read it. It’s very readable, I particularly liked the line:

The same way we wonder what they were thinking in Salem or Prohibition or the Jim Crow South, surely the next generation will wonder about drug crimes and juvenile life without parole.

World News

Dust storms hit the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan killing more than 125 people. Officials are warning of more bad weather to come. One BBC article explained:

The storms on Wednesday disrupted electricity, uprooted trees, destroyed houses and killed livestock. Many of the dead were sleeping when their houses collapsed after being struck by intense bursts of lightning. Dust storms are common in this part of India during summer but loss of life on this scale is unusual.

On May 6th Lebanon will be having it’s first parliamentary elections in nine years. The more than 3.6 million registered voters have a choice of 583 candidates to fill 128 seats. 

In an effort to boost sales in Australia beer manufacturers are trying a new tactic: weaker beer. Bloomberg reports that:

healthier, image-conscious drinkers is cutting back on booze, forcing brewers to roll out weaker versions of everything from Stella Artois to local tipples such as James Boag and Hahn.

In an article in The Outline, Josh Nadeau writes about how young Russians are having fake protests to evade arrest. In the protests known as ‘monstrations’ the protestors carry posters that “simply don't make any sense” such as “Freedom to victims of political depression!”; and “Bunnies will save the world!”

The protests take place under the guise of performance art offer: a sharp critique of the Russian system — a mock protest meant to expose what many Russian young people believe to be a mock democracy, and challenge the Kremlin’s increasingly aggressive policing of public space.


Jim Waterson, in the Guardian, writes that RT the Kremlin-backed broadcaster's future lies in its website which is going unregulated despite receiving millions of views. According to Waterson the website features:

excitable rewrites of mainstream news stories, livestreamed video coverage of protests and constant questioning of anything deemed to be an established news source.

Slates, Felix Salmon writes about why the new Bloomberg paywall makes little sense. It’s largely because the money is being used to offset losses from Bloomberg TV which most of the websites readers aren’t even watching. It’s stealing from Peter to pay Paul.


Scientists in Japan have invented wood alcohol which they hope to have on shelves in the next three years. The method for creating the drink involves:

pulverising wood into a creamy paste and then adding yeast and an enzyme to start the fermentation process So far, they have produced tipples from cedar, birch and cherry. Four kilograms of cedar wood gave them 3.8 liters of liquid, with an alcohol content of around 15 percent, similar to that of Japan's much-loved sake.


Teslas shares fell by more than 7% after Tesla reported a record $710m loss and Elon Musk took part in a very strange result call.

In other tech news, Amazon Prime Video's growth outpaces Netflix in the UK as it gains a 41% year-on-year rise in subscribers however Netflix still has more subscribers than its rival and has had a still impressive growth of 25%.


/u/mrv3 perfectly sums up the case for why Reddit is becoming a social media platform like Facebook.


The Physics Girl youtube channel released a fascinating video yesterday examining why tic tacs  bounce in such an odd way e.g. some bounce higher on their second bounce than their first. The answer it turns out is a combination of many things including tic tac’s shape, the way they’re dropped, how they hit the ground, and their resulting rotation.

Thank you for reading this. See you soon.

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