While you were sleeping, innovation was pulling on its flares and platform shoes and practicing its disco moves in front of the mirror. The reason? What with oil, dissident scientists, spies, Castro and recession, we're so back to the 70s—and here's our first track, from BP and the Sunshine Band.
1. According to BP, the latest containment cap over the Gulf spill is working. (According to The New York Times, BP's has a "history of boldness and costly blunders.") It was lifted into place by a pair of robotic arms, but will need to undergo tests to gauge its efficacity, says the oil firm. Meanwhile, the government has gone back to court to un-ban the ban on deepwater drilling. The Washington Post's Allan Sloan takes us back to the oil crisis of 1973—Mark Zuckerberg, if you're reading this, bone up on the subject here—all grist to my First Days of Disco theory.
2. Let's talk money—or lack of it. This week's intertubes have been burning up with the question "what shape do you think this recession is?" Well, a little run-down for you all. In China, it's the shape of a half-finished skyscraper, as the country's property market starts to drop. (Good news, however, for Chinese workers, who are able to cherry-pick the factories they work in, says the NYT.) On Capitol Hill, it's politician-shaped, and outlined in chalk. According to a Washington Post-ABC News survey, Obama's approval ratings are suffering—it's the economy, stupid. But he's in good company, as the malaise is politician-wide.
3. What with last week's spy shenanigans, one had almost forgotten the story of Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist. He's been kidnapped, said the Iranian authorities. By the CIA. No he hasn't, said the U.S., he sought asylum. He's now pitched up at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, where he's hiding out in the Iran section.
4. Although there is just one day before France packs up for the summer (Bastille Day tomorrow, best parties are always at the fire departments, hedonism fans) there's a bit of a tempete de merde going on in gay old Paris. President Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni is getting it from the media. For a country whose newspapers and TV channels are very much in awe of its politicians, you've gotta say bravo to a small Internet-only publication, with a paywall (we won't boo or hiss too much in this case) which broke the story. Mediapart has been regaling its readers with the unexpurgated tapes at the heart of the tale of the L'Oreal heiress, her Butler, the labour minister and an undeclared political donation (it's all very Peter Greenaway). Bit players also include the heiress's daughter, the society photographer, the chief financial advisor, and the accountant. The scandal has forced Sarko to postpone his summer frolickings with fawn-like Carla in order to address the nation. Anne Applebaum has a great catch-up here, and all iFive can say on the matter is: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Holidé.
5. Enough with the "privates" jokes already: Hugh Hefner has offered to bring Playboy back under his sole control. The firm's share price spiked by around 40%—Viagra jokes ahoy, is that a tentpole in your share-price graph, or are you just pleased to see me? Hef, who owns just under 70% of the firm's Class A Common Stock, could be squaring up against Penthouse owner FriendFinder Networks Inc, whose CEO has also expressed an interest. C'mon guys, fight this one out where it should be fought—in a paddling pool filled with Jell-O and naked young ladies.