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10 September

In the headlines

Tory support has dipped to its lowest level since the election. In a YouGov poll following the announcement of tax rises to fund the NHS and social care, backing for the Conservatives fell five points to 33%. Labour is now on 35%, up one point and in the lead for the first time since January. The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan has “emboldened” terrorists in Britain, the head of MI5, Ken McCallum, told Radio 4’s Today this morning. Thirty-one “late stage” attack plots have been foiled in the UK in the past four years, including six since the start of the pandemic. The first black lord-lieutenant for London says he has discussed “the whole issue of race” with the royal family. Asked whether the Queen supported the Black Lives Matter movement, Sir Ken Olisa said: “The answer is easily yes.”

Comment of the day

War on terror

It’s mad to confiscate nail scissors

I recently had my nail scissors confiscated by security before boarding a flight to LA, says Adam Creighton in The Australian. Which is ridiculous – America has spent more than $2 trillion on counterterrorism in the 20 years since 9/11, but statistics show that a person would have to fly “every day for 30,000 years before being involved in a terrorist attack”. Nor has all that spending calmed nerves. In 2016, 15 years after the Patriot Act vastly expanded US government surveillance, nearly three in four Americans said the risk of terrorist attack on the US by foreigners was greater or the same.


Inside politics

Last week the gossip newsletter Popbitch reported rumours that Michael Gove had joined the dating app Bumble. This week it has more proof. “I can confirm Michael Gove is on Bumble – I matched with him,” wrote one anonymous reader. “To make sure it was him, I asked him to take a selfie holding up that day’s newspaper and he did.”

Quirks of history

Joseph Heller’s hit novel Catch-22 was rejected 22 times. “I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say,” said one publisher. “Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level.”

On the money

A white gyrfalcon has been auctioned in Saudi Arabia for a record price of £337,400. The 42cm-long bird of prey was bred in the US and sold on Sunday at the International Falcon Breeders Auction near the capital, Riyadh. Hunting with falcons is a prestigious pursuit across the Middle East – Vladimir Putin presented King Salman of Saudi Arabia with a white gyrfalcon, the largest of the species, in 2019, and elite falconers often fly their birds around the region in business-class seats.

Tomorrow’s world

In Singapore, a new fleet of robots is cracking down on “undesirable social behaviours”, says Mashable. Four-wheeled boxes named Xavier scan for infractions such as smoking in the wrong spot, locking a bike up improperly and flouting Covid restrictions by gathering in groups of five or more. The bots then snitch to the local police station.


Afghanistan’s last Jew has left the country, says AP News. Zebulon Simentov, who lived alone in “a dilapidated synagogue” in Kabul, survived decades of war as the country’s centuries-old Jewish community – 40,000 in the late 19th century – dwindled away. The 62-year-old and 29 of his Afghan neighbours were evacuated on a bus arranged by an Israeli businessman.


Quoted 10-09

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”

Writer and critic Logan Pearsall Smith

Snapshot answer

It’s a late-night, flood-lit army parade in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, celebrating the nation’s 73rd anniversary on September 9. The show of military might featured soldiers in orange hazmat suits and gas masks, as well as fighter jets and missiles towed by tractors.