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10 August

In the headlines

Four of the UK’s largest mortgage providers are cutting their rates for the second time in three weeks. Halifax, Nationwide, HSBC and TSB are reducing their fixed-rate deals by between 0.2 and 0.7 percentage points, says the Daily Mail, raising the prospect of a “mortgage price war” that will ease pressure on “embattled homeowners”. At least 36 people have died as wildfires rage across the Hawaiian island of Maui. Hundreds of buildings in the historic town of Lahaina have been destroyed, with winds from a passing hurricane fanning the flames and frustrating rescue efforts. A record number of Brits are snapping up last-minute tickets abroad to escape the soggy summer weather, says The Times. British Airways Holidays has seen a 22% year-on-year increase in bookings over the past 30 days; in the last week of July, Club Med’s sales were up 146%.


Social media is awash with fully-grown adults proudly showing off their dollhouses, says Nicole Cooley in The Guardian. More than 200,000 people follow Kate Ünver on Instagram, where she shares her miniature furnishings like printers and bookshelves; others post tours of their toy homes on TikTok, showing off everything from diddy swimming pools to kitchens fitted with tiny top-end stainless steel appliances. According to one millennial miniature-lover, the hobby enables people who can’t afford a human-sized house to experience the “pleasure and fulfilment” of interior design.

Inside politics

A group of Democrats have had a cunning idea, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph: they want the Donald Trump court proceedings broadcast live on TV, so voters can see how awful he really is. What are they smoking? “Trump is a TV star.” That’s how he became president – his whole political appeal is bound up in the thrill of the “what’s he done now?” news alert. So if anything can get him back in the Oval Office, it’s “handing him the starring role in the country’s highest-rated legal drama of all time”. He won’t be “cowed” by the gravity of his situation – he’ll remain an “unabashed, storm-weathering, charismatic bulls***er”, who, crucially, believes every word he says. And “he’ll convince a lot of other people to believe it too”.

Staying young

The idea that you should walk 10,000 steps a day was never based on real science – marketing executives in Japan made it up in the 1960s to promote a new pedometer. But after the largest study of its kind, researchers say they’ve found the real magic number: it’s 2,337. That’s apparently enough to reduce your risk of dying prematurely from heart disease or a stroke, with each additional 1,000 cutting risk of death from any cause by a further 15%.


A rousing speech delivered by former Ireland rugby star Ronan O’Gara to the French team he now coaches, La Rochelle, has racked up more than six million views on Twitter, after fans noted the mixture of heavily Cork-accented French and some choice English words. “L’opportunité est f***ing énorme,” he told players. Are you hungry to win the game, he asked in French, or are you planning on taking a “f***ing vacance”? Watch the full motivational mélange here.

Quirk of history

Becoming an MP is expensive, says Patrick Kidd in The Times, “but not as much as before bribing voters became illegal 140 years ago”. In 1802, William Paxton spent £15,690 (about £1.5m today) on his campaign to win the seat of Carmarthenshire. His expenses included 11,070 breakfasts, 36,901 dinners, 25,275 gallons of ale and 11,068 bottles of spirits. “He lost by 46 votes.”


It’s “Hank the Tank”, a notorious ursine bandit who has finally been captured after a year on the run. The 227kg black bear is believed to have broken into 21 homes around Lake Tahoe, as well as trawling through people’s rubbish and smashing windows. Officials in California say Hank, who is actually female, will be “relocated” to a sanctuary in Colorado. Her three cubs will be taken to a different facility, in the hope that they can “discontinue the negative behaviours they learned” from their mum and be returned to the wild.



“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

AA Milne