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Saturday, May 15, 2021

A glimpse into a terrible, dystopian future (with spinach emails and vaccines as currency)

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

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It’s 2021 and there’s nothing that can surprise us — wait … spinach can send emails?

It seems that Popeye (or possibly some scientists) has turned the leafy green veg into sensors that are capable of detecting explosive material and relaying this information wirelessly. While this is clearly extremely clever and potentially excellent news, it’s only a matter of time before we’re being bombarded with spam emails from spinach (or maybe from actual Spam!) offering cheap car insurance or the promise of untold riches from a Nigerian prince.

Rumors that the initial phase of the vegetable/technology trial was Donald Trump’s Twitter account were unconfirmed at the time of publication.

Meanwhile, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he overruled advice and ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rather than 30 million because he watched the film “Contagion” — a thriller starring Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard in which the world battles for limited vaccine supplies to head off a deadly pandemic — and realized he needed to order more jabs.

It’s an interesting departure for the British government, which has hitherto appeared to be modeling its coronavirus strategy on “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

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“Contagion” is of course now no longer a “terrifying glimpse into the future,” and merely “the news,” although I have it on very good authority that there’s a remake in the works with Ursula von der Leyen and Valdis Dombrovskis in the lead roles.

The von der Leyen Commission has already taken steps into the realm of horror by threatening to bring the Brexit deal and the Good Friday Agreement to their knees as part of its efforts to control vaccine exports. While the person responsible for the error has yet to be identified (it was a Friday night, so the finger of suspicion is pointing at … wine), it seems all the Commission needed to do to secure some extra vaccines was be nice.

According to Hungarian media, Bangladesh offered 5,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in gratitude for Hungarian doctors’ successful separation of conjoined twins — but Budapest (not normally bothered about what people think) turned down the offer. Bangladesh media BDNews24, however, reported that Hungary had approached the government and asked for the doses of the vaccine.

Surely it’s only a matter of time before this is a completely normal transaction and vaccines are simply currency: “That’ll be €21, please. How would you like to pay — cash, credit card or BioNTechs?”

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“We go live to Ursula von der Leyen’s video feed showing vaccines being smuggled over the Irish border.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“Don’t look now, but with a stroke of a pen I can tear a hole in that blasted protocol,” by Evie Duff Gordon

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Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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