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15 September

In the headlines

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has backed the introduction of “Martha’s rule” in English hospitals, giving patients and their families the right to a second medical opinion. It’s named after Martha Mills, a 13-year-old who died after doctors didn’t transfer her to intensive care despite warnings from her parents. Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been charged with illegally buying and possessing a gun after falsely declaring he wasn’t a drug user in 2018. The 53-year-old former crack cocaine addict could receive a prison sentence if convicted. This year’s damp summer has a silver lining: UK butterfly numbers have hit their highest in four years. A group of 95,000 volunteer observers counted 1.5 million butterflies between 14 July and 6 August, a 34% increase on 2022.


Britain’s top stars from the fashion and arts world descended on London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane last night for the “biggest sartorial event of the season”, says the BBC. The second annual Vogue World – held in London this year as an answer to the Met Gala – drew everyone from Stormzy to Andrew Lloyd Webber and a pregnant Sienna Miller, to kick off London Fashion Week, which starts today. See more striking red carpet looks here.

Inside politics

When George Osborne was making the case for austerity in the 2010s, says Georgina Sturge in her new book, Bad Data, the then chancellor insisted he was following the latest economic research: namely, a finding by two Harvard economists that when a country’s debt-to-GDP ratio goes above 90%, its economy shrinks. Yet when an American graduate student later checked the study’s numbers, he found a monumental error: the academics had meant to add together 20 rows of data but had only done 15. Once the numbers from those five additional countries were included, the 90% figure was plain wrong. But by that point it was too late: “the 90% threshold was a cornerstone of economic policy”.

Nice work if you can get it

USA Today is hiring for two exceedingly plum jobs: a Taylor Swift reporter and a Beyoncé reporter. Both pay up to $100,000 a year and require successful applicants to travel internationally as they report on the doings of their designated pop megastar. If you fancy a punt – and have at least five years of journalism experience – apply here for Taylor and here for Beyoncé.

Gone viral

The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset isn’t usually thought of as one of the “world’s great museums”, says The New York Times. Its collection of around 300 armoured vehicles attracts only a few hundred thousand visitors a year. Yet there is one place “where it not only ranks among the world’s largest museums, but surpasses them”: YouTube, where the Tank Museum has over 550,000 subscribers. That’s more than New York’s Museum of Modern Art (520,000), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (381,000) or the Louvre (106,000). Clips include “intensely detailed discussions on tank history”, and newsier items on how armoured vehicles are being used in Ukraine. Watch for yourself here.

Not on the way out

Americans are buying so many laxatives that it is causing nationwide shortages, says The Wall Street Journal. Searches for the drugs on Amazon have more than tripled in the past year, and manufacturers of popular fibre supplements have reported double-digit sales growth. Bowel specialists say the post-Covid surge in travel, together with hybrid work schedules, are “disrupting routines and mealtimes”; and that people are using the medication as a “budget Ozempic” to feel skinnier.


It’s the world’s first confirmed dog-fox hybrid. The unique creature, which died this year, was found in the Brazilian wilderness in 2021, but vets couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. A new genetic study has found that its mother was a pampas fox and its father was a dog of unknown breed. Carers say it barked like a dog but ate live rodents, and had a temperament halfway between a fox’s wariness and a dog’s docility.


quoted 15-9-23

“By the time you’re 80 years old, you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.”

American comedian George Burns