When the sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom is a cause for dread

Planet Business: ITV’s royal writedowns, Rupert Murdoch’s new wife-to-be and Credit Suisse memorabilia

Image of the week: Early blossom

This week brought a fresh warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said the window of opportunity to secure a liveable, sustainable future for all is “rapidly closing” in light of the highest temperature rise in 2,000 years over the last half-century and concentrations of carbon dioxide that haven’t been seen in at least two million years.

In some parts of the world cherry trees have become much-watched for signs of climate impact, as warmer weather prompts the fleeting beauty of their full bloom to come earlier and earlier.

In Japan, where the blooms herald celebrations known as hanami parties, it’s been another record early start to the season, extending the pattern of recent years. In Washington DC, milder temperatures have encouraged an early bloom but this has exposed the temperature-sensitive trees to cold snaps, prompting the appearance of brown-tinged blossoms.

The hellscape planet of the future is not going to be renowned for its prettiness, is it?


In numbers: Royal write-offs

£16 million

Costs incurred by UK broadcaster ITV relating to the death of Queen Elizabeth II last September, it has revealed – in euro terms, that’s €18.1 million. The sum does not include the impact of an advertising blackout in force in the days after her death.

£7 million

The portion of the exceptional costs related to news coverage of the British monarch’s death and her funeral, which drew a peak audience of 5.3 million to ITV (compared to a 19.5 million peak on BBC One).

£9 million

Write-off related to scrapping unaired episodes of revived puppet sketch show Spitting Image featuring the queen, with ITV saying they “could not be effectively edited” so it was “highly unlikely” they would ever be screened.

Getting to know: Ann Lesley Smith

Rupert Murdoch (92) must love a wedding. Less than a year after his divorce from Jerry Hall was finalised, the media mogul is engaged again, this time to Ann Lesley Smith, who will soon have the honour of becoming his fifth and – he says – final wife.

Smith (66) was last seen accompanying Murdoch to the Super Bowl. Married twice before, she is the widow of Chester Smith, who was a country singer as well as a media executive.

“I speak Rupert’s language,” she told the New York Post, one of his newspapers. “We share the same beliefs.”

The couple, who met last September at an event held in Murdoch’s Moraga vineyard in Bel Air, California, intends to marry this summer and will split their time between California, Britain, New York and his ranch in Montana.

“For us both it’s a gift from God,” said Smith.

God was unavailable for comment.

The list: Credit Suisse merch

The ink was barely dry on UBS’s government-brokered takeover of Credit Suisse when memorabilia from the troubled 167-year-old institution starting filling up Switzerland’s online marketplaces. So what can fans of Credit Suisse nostalgia bid for?

  1. Bars of gold: tiny gold bars stamped with the name of Credit Suisse were uploaded to sites such as and
  2. Bars of silver: an alternative option was available for bidders who like their bling to be bank-branded.
  3. Ski hats: woolly red-and-blue Credit Suisse ski hats attracted bids of about €200.
  4. Sports bag: a giant red-and-blue sports bag, coincidentally ideal for carrying vast sums of cash, was advertised.
  5. A watch: no Swiss memorabilia collection would be complete without one. Anyone for an Anglo Irish Bank pen?