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17 October

In the headlines

President Biden will visit Israel tomorrow, to reaffirm America’s support for its war against Hamas and continue efforts to secure humanitarian assistance for Gaza. Iran’s foreign minister warned yesterday that Israel could face “pre-emptive action” if it goes ahead with a ground assault on the Palestinian territory, saying “all options are open”. British wage growth has overtaken inflation for the first time in nearly two years. Overall pay rose at an annual rate of 7.8% between June and August; public sector employees received a 6.8% bump, their biggest hike since records began in 2001. Hundreds of MEPs accidentally ended up at Disneyland yesterday, after a points failure sent their Brussels-Strasbourg train the wrong way. On X (formerly Twitter), one lawmaker insisted: “We are NOT a Mickey Mouse parliament.”


The winners of this year’s Epson International Pano Awards, the world’s largest competition dedicated to panoramic photography, include an Icelandic “ghost cave” overlooking a cluster of waterfalls; an aerial view of whale sharks swimming near fishermen in the Philippines; a single church piercing cloud cover in Slovenia; and a “vortex of ducks” in Vietnam. See more here.

Inside politics

While China is officially remaining neutral in the Middle East crisis, says Axios, Beijing is doing all it can to take advantage of the situation. Its foreign ministry has pointedly declined to condemn Hamas for the atrocities, presumably to curry favour with Arab countries. Chinese state media has “blamed US involvement in the Middle East as the underlying cause of the violence”. And the Chinese government is trying to present itself as a more neutral peacemaker than Washington, emphasising its success brokering a deal for Saudi Arabia and Iran to re-establish diplomatic relations earlier this year.


Coin tosses aren’t entirely random, says The Economist. Researchers at the University of Amsterdam who flipped coins over 350,000 times found that they have a slight tendency to land the same way up as they were when tossed, returning to that position 50.8% of the time. It’s nothing to do with the coins themselves, apparently – the problem is that humans are “wobbly tossers”. People tend to impart a slight lateral rotation to the coin when they flick it, which has a small but crucial effect on how it lands.

Gone viral

This wholesome video of an American in Kentucky trying Indian food for the first time, and having his mind blown, has racked up more than a million likes on TikTok. See it in its full glory, including an idiosyncratic pronunciation of the word “bhaji”, here.

On the money

The American government is one of the world’s largest holders of bitcoin, says The Wall Street Journal. Federal agencies have seized around 200,000 of the cryptocurrency tokens from cybercriminals and darknet markets. At current prices, that’s worth more than $5bn. The feds aren’t intentionally “HODLing” – crypto parlance for “holding on for dear life”. They sell the bitcoins once the legal proceedings have been completed. But their hoards are so large they have to stagger the sales to make sure they don’t inadvertently move the markets.


It’s the Luvly O, a Stockholm-designed microcar that “wouldn’t look out of place in an Ikea showroom”, says CNN. And like the products made by the Swedish furniture giant, the 450kg electric vehicle is delivered to buyers “flat-packed”. The mini motor is 270cm from nose to tail, has a range of 60 miles – more than enough for most commutes – and contains a swappable battery to avoid lengthy waits while charging. The firm is hoping it will be available to buy next year, for around £9,000. Get on the waiting list here.



“Fundamentalists lack that most civilising of human virtues: doubt.”

Sunday Times columnist Matthew Syed