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14 September

In the headlines

Labour will treat people-smugglers like terrorists, Keir Starmer has told The Times in an interview about his immigration plans. The leader of the opposition also says he will axe the Rwanda plan and strike a deal with the EU on turning back asylum seekers, even if it means accepting quotas of migrants from the bloc. A Russian pilot fired two missiles at an RAF surveillance plane over the Black Sea last September, according to BBC News. Moscow previously described the incident, which didn’t result in any damage, as a “technical malfunction”, but sources say the pilot thought his commanders had given him permission to fire. A “ufologist” has presented alleged alien corpses to Mexico’s congress. Jaime Maussan, who has a long history of debunked claims, opened two wooden crates in front of lawmakers; inside were small figures (pictured) that he says had been preserved in a Peruvian mine for 1,000 years. 👽🤔


Italy has released a new postage stamp in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. “How beautiful!” writes one person on X (formerly Twitter). “Thank you Italy! 🇮🇹🇬🇧”. “The UK has done that for years,” points out another. “We even dedicated bank notes to her.”

Inside politics

When Nicola Sturgeon resigned as Scotland’s first minister in March, says Lindsay Paterson in The New Statesman, many commentators thought it would kill the campaign for Scottish independence. Certainly, the SNP is in a bad way under Sturgeon’s successor, Humza Yousaf: Labour could gain “several dozen seats” from the party at next year’s general election. “But the SNP is not the independence movement.” Polls show that support for secession remains strong – an average of 3.3 percentage points higher than the 44.7% achieved in the 2014 referendum.

Staying young

Westerners have longer lie-ins at the weekend than people in Asia, says New Scientist. Researchers at the National University of Singapore analysed a year’s worth of sleep tracker data from volunteers in 35 countries. They found that people everywhere slept more at the weekend, but that it varied hugely from country to country. Finns slept the longest, getting up on average 26.5 minutes later than they did on weekdays, while Indians slept in the least, rising just 3.4 minutes later. Brits came somewhere in the middle, allowing themselves a bonus 15.9 minutes of weekend shut-eye.

Quirk of history

People today don’t appreciate quite how dirty London used to be, back when everything was covered in coal-fire soot, says Jay Owens in The Guardian. During the restoration of Downing Street in 1954 (pictured), workers discovered that beneath the “familiar dark facade” of the building was yellow brick. “The shock was considered too much for the country to take and the newly clean building was painted black to maintain its previous, familiar appearance.”

Tomorrow’s world

The US government is investing $22m in new “smart textiles”, says Interesting Engineering – clever fabrics that can record “audio, video and geolocation data”. The programme tasked with clothing America’s spies so they become walking surveillance machines is called SMART ePANTS – or “smarty pants”. Geeks 🙄


It’s a newly discovered rove beetle that grows an entire fake termite on its back to fool real termites into giving it food. Discovered in Australia, Austrospirachtha carrijoi has evolved an enlarged abdomen in the shape of its unwitting patron, complete with individual body segments, antennae and legs. Because termites are blind and therefore rely entirely on touch, says, they are fooled by the “puppet” into dropping food into the beetle’s mouth. It must be one of nature’s “craziest forms of mimicry”.


quoted 14-9-23

“The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.”

American humourist Will Rogers