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17 August

In the headlines

Cabinet ministers watched President Biden’s unrepentant speech last night “in genuine disbelief”, says Politico. He blamed Afghans for allowing the Taliban to overrun their country, saying they were not “willing to fight for themselves”. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab scrambled back from his five-star hotel in Crete to tell BBC Breakfast that the UK is creating a “bespoke arrangement” for Afghan refugees. New Zealand has gone into a three-day national lockdown because of a single case of coronavirus. A 58-year-old man in Auckland has been infectious since last Thursday.

Comment of the day


Inside politics

Relations between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden aren’t “all sweetness and light”, says Ben Riley-Smith in The Daily Telegraph. There are “genuine tensions” over Brexit, travel rules and the COP26 climate summit. They’ve chatted on the phone just twice this year – in the first seven months of 2020, Johnson and Donald Trump had seven calls. In a not-so-subtle metaphor, the $10,000 handmade bicycle given to the PM by Biden at the G7 meeting in June is now collecting dust in Whitehall. Presents worth more than £140 are verboten for government ministers. 


In 2013, 25% more university students studied arts and humanities subjects than Stem (science, technology and maths). This year, however, the gap is just 1%. The driving force? Science obsessive Dominic Cummings, who was behind Michael Gove’s “shock and awe” education reforms, which prioritised science subjects in the early 2010s, says Ed Dorrell in The Independent. 

Gone viral

Hedgehog influencers have taken over Instagram, says Noelle Mateer in Wired. Top of the hedgie tree is Mr Pokee, above, whose 1.9 million followers tune in to see him wearing tiny socks, visiting the Eiffel Tower and popping out of ice-cream cones. But the pet trend has a darker side. The Instagram stars tend to be African pygmy hedgehogs, half of which develop tumours by middle age. And 10% succumb to “wobbly hedgehog syndrome”, which begins with loss of body control and ends in total paralysis. 

Eating in

The seven astronauts on the International Space Station, 408km above the Earth, are expecting a pizza delivery on Thursday, says Sky News. It’s part of a 3,720kg shipment launched today from Virginia, which also includes apples, kiwis and a cheese smorgasbord. The world’s longest terrestrial pizza delivery was 19,870km from New Zealand to Spain in 2006.


Quoted 17-08

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Harry S Truman

Snapshot answer

It’s a Boeing 707 that’s been turned into a restaurant in the West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian twins Khamis and Ata al-Sairafi bought the decommissioned aircraft from an Israeli businessman for $100,000 in 1999. It took 13 hours to transport it on a giant truck from Israel to the West Bank. The twins stripped out the seats, put wooden floors into the cabin and added furniture. A Palestinian uprising in 2000 delayed their plans, but the restaurant is now ready for take-off.