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1 September

In the headlines

Britain is holding face-to-face talks with Taliban chiefs in Qatar about how to rescue as many as 9,000 Afghans – it’s “the final staggering twist”, says the Daily Mail. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace called the desperate effort to contact the 300 most vulnerable on the phone “Dunkirk by WhatsApp”. The killing of Geronimo with a bolt gun yesterday was supervised by four government officials and 25 policemen in chaotic scenes – “How many coppers does it take to help kill an alpaca?” asks the Daily Star. Men who mumble are more attractive to the opposite sex, according to new research – but men prefer women who enunciate clearly. 

Comment of the day

US politics

Trump and Biden aren’t so different

Joe Biden and Donald Trump aren’t all that different, says Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. During his first nine months in office, the president has pursued “a surprisingly Trumpy agenda”. He has completed the rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan that Trump negotiated with the Taliban; maintained punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, despite corporate pressure; and continued coddling Russia by approving Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline to Germany that circumvents Ukraine.


Love etc

Octopuses “throw” shells and silt at one another, and it’s often females trying to fend off males that are harassing them, says New Scientist. They grip the projectiles in their tentacles, then shoot a jet of water at them, propelling them several body lengths. A team from the University of Sydney studied footage and spotted a female octopus in her den “throwing” silt 10 times at a male that wanted to mate with her – on two attempts he anticipated the attack and ducked out of the way.

On the way out

The International Space Station, which is falling apart. Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer at the space corporation Energia – the Russian equivalent of SpaceX – warns of an impending “avalanche” of broken equipment past its expiry date, after cosmonauts reportedly noticed cracks in the exterior. The ISS was launched in November 1998. 


Seventy-one per cent of Britons would be supportive if a family member said they were transgender or non-binary, according to a YouGov poll. We’re less progressive than Spain (87%), but well above France (47%). 


Quoted 01-09

“It’s dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.”

George Bernard Shaw

Snapshot answer

It’s the tents left behind at Reading Festival after 100,000 revellers decamped from the Berkshire site on Monday. Hundreds of tents were abandoned, along with beer cans, bottles and even broken false teeth. The festival’s sustainability manager, Lily Robbins, said: “Tents are one of the worst things to recycle.” Environmentalists say synthetic tents left at festivals add 875 tonnes to landfill in the UK each year. 


Several Afghan women gave birth mid-flight during the Kabul evacuation, says Le Point. “Which prompts the question, where are these babies from?” According to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the nationality of the child depends on the country in which the aircraft is registered – but only a few dozen nations have ratified it, and France isn’t one of them. If the plane is over US soil, you’re an American. And airlines sometimes reward those born on board: Virgin granted one baby free flights until the age of 21.