February 22, 2024 - 6:00pm

→ Western companies are dodging sanctions

Sanctions are the West’s best friend. To date, the EU has approved 13 rounds of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine, with plans for more over the death of Alexei Navalny. But just how effective are they? A new tweet thread by Sky’s Ed Conway examines how British companies are discreetly bolstering Vladimir Putin’s war machine by redirecting their goods through “neutral” countries such as Kyrgyzstan.

As the above graph shows, there has been a huge 1,100% spike in UK exports to the Central Asian country, raising further questions about the efficacy of the sanctions. And it’s not just UK companies either; this chart from economist Robin Brooks shows that Armenia has become a hub for the re-export of Western (EU) goods to Russia too. When will Western leaders finally admit that sanctions aren’t working?

→ Are US colleges getting over DEI?

Green shoots are emerging in American academia. Yale University is now the second Ivy League school to reinstate standardised testing in admissions, noting that “test scores are the single greatest predictor of a student’s future Yale grades”.

Unfortunately, a separate announcement has taken some of the gloss off Yale’s decision. This week, the Supreme Court turned down a challenge from the admissions policy at a prestigious Virginia high school over its removal of standardised testing. After the “racial reckoning” of 2020, the high school had attempted to raise the number of black and brown students by abandoning standardised tests in favour of a more “holistic” process.

This resulted in the Asian American proportion of admissions dropping 19 points under the new system, from 73% to 54%, while the number of Black and Hispanic students roughly quadrupled. The latest ruling will now leave this new policy intact. Another example of the Supreme Court’s “two steps forward, one step back” approach to academia…

→ CPAC’s Jan 6 merchandise

Yesterday, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicked off in Washington DC. With a star-studded list including former British PM Liz Truss, El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele, Argentina’s Javier Milei and old favourites such as Steve Bannon, the conference is a hotbed for all the weird and wonderful figures of the global Right.

 Beyond the big set piece speeches, there will also be talks on combating “woke warriors”, “stopping George Soros” and whether Moses would go to Harvard. And to cap it all off, attendees can enjoy all the attendant accoutrements: a Jan 6 insurrection pinball game, woke tears shelf merch and, if they’re feeling peckish, bitter raw apricot seeds. Does the dress code also allow for golden shoes?