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13 October

In the headlines

Britain’s biggest container port is full and turning ships away. The cargo logjam at Felixstowe docks is a “perfect storm” of too few lorry drivers, Covid restrictions and booming demand for goods. “I don’t want to sound like a Grinch, but there are going to be gaps on shelves this Christmas,” a shipping boss tells the Times. The EU has offered to end the “sausage wars” and save the Northern Ireland protocol by lifting customs checks on a host of products. But European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic says the UK faces a trade bust-up unless it also compromises. Insulate Britain activists were dragged off the M25 by irate motorists this morning. One driver was seen ripping banners out of their hands. 

Comment of the day

UK politics

Let’s get asylum seekers working

Here’s one way to fill some of the million vacancies crippling British employers, says Polly Toynbee in The Guardian: get asylum seekers working. There are currently 125,000 people awaiting a decision on their claim or appeal, most of them “young, fit and eager to work”. The overwhelming majority are “here to stay” because it’s “virtually impossible” to get other countries to accept them: in 2019 Britain forced only 4,000 rejected asylum seekers to depart.




This penthouse on the 96th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper nicknamed the Pencil is yours for $169m. Owned by a Saudi retail magnate, the 8,255 sq ft apartment has six bedrooms, a library and furnishings by Louis Vuitton, Bentley and Hermès. The asking price is nearly twice what it sold for five years ago, but the Pencil is not without problems: residents have complained about million-dollar plumbing leaks and walls “that creak like the galley of a ship” in high winds.  

Inside politics

The three fur robes given to Donald Trump by the Saudi royal family in 2017 have turned out to be fake, says The New York Times. Wildlife inspectors found the linings were “dyed to mimic tiger and cheetah patterns”. This will no doubt cause embarrassment to the House of Saud, which is worth more than $1 trillion.


Agatha Christie coined the term “scene of the crime”, mortician and writer Carla Valentine tells The Times. The creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple also improvised the detective’s “crime scene kit” while writing her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. “Christie had this idea in fiction [in 1916] eight years before it was actually created in real life.”


The UK is one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries, ranking in the bottom 10% of the Natural History Museum’s new Biodiversity Intactness Index. That’s lower than any other G7 country.


Quoted 13-10

“Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant.”

1950s French PM Henri Queuille 

On the way out

Cleavage, now that pandering to “red-blooded patriarchal tastes” has fallen out of fashion, says The Guardian. Instead we’ve entered an age of killer abs. “Fitness has been elevated from a chore to a religion” and toned obliques are a mark of the “truly devout”. Conversely, miniskirts are making a comeback – often a sign of a booming economy.

Snapshot answer

It’s a pretend mission to Mars in the Negev Desert, Israel. Five male and one female “analog astronauts” will spend the rest of this month living in isolation on a cramped base. As well as testing drones and other vehicles, the experiment will measure how the crew get along. “It’s like a marriage, except in a marriage you can leave, but on Mars you can’t,” mission supervisor Gernot Grömer told The Times of Israel.