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18 August

In the headlines

Britain will take in 5,000 Afghan refugees this year and 20,000 over the long term. It’s not enough for former minister David Davis, who tells HuffPost that “north of 50,000” better reflects our “direct moral responsibility” for the crisis. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from a village near St Tropez as a wildfire sweeps across 17,000 acres in the south of France. A group of about 20 protesters last night tried to “seize” Edinburgh Castle from the “corrupt, evil, satanic paedophiles” in government. They said their actions were justified by “article 61” of the Magna Carta, which has no legal status in Scotland.

Comment of the day


Israel is rushing out triple jabs

Israel’s vaccination success made it a “laboratory for the world”, says the Financial Times in an editorial. It was the first country to reopen after double-jabbing 70% of its population by early April. But now it’s seeing an “alarming” fourth wave of infections. There are signs that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness starts to wane six months after the second jab ­– for the over-65s, protection against severe illness from the Delta variant may have fallen as low as 55%. At the current infection rate, about 5,000 people will need hospital beds by early September – “twice as many as Israel is equipped to handle”. The country has responded by offering a third shot to the over-60s, and soon the over-50s.

Inside politics

When Barack Obama had to reduce the guest list for his 60th birthday party, the “disinvitados” included those who helped him to power, says Maureen Dowd in The New York Times: Nancy Pelosi, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel. Last week showed he’s become “Barack Antoinette”, indulging in “an orgy of the 1% – private jets, limousine liberals and Hollywood whoring”.


Some anti-vaxxers wrongly believe the dog worming medication Ivermectin protects against Covid. When quizzed about it in his blog, The Red Hand Files, Nick Cave was suitably scathing. Proudly double-jabbed, the 63-year-old singer wrote that he could now “move safely through the world with more than dog worming pills and an inflated belief in my own immune system for protection.”

Gone viral

Amol Kamble, a 38-year-old police constable from Mumbai, has wowed the internet with his high-energy Bollywood dances, says The Indian Express. Kamble originally made it big on TikTok, but when India banned the app last year because of its Chinese links, he had to move to Instagram. His bio reads: “Mumbai Police on field. ⭐ Swagger on and off field. 😎”

Tomorrow’s world

China has begun building an experimental power station for “converting solar energy bounced to Earth”, says The Register. The hope is that mile-long satellites, 22,000 miles up, will collect the sun’s energy 24 hours a day and beam it down to power stations in the form of microwaves. Scientists in the Bishan district of Chongqing are testing the technology with balloons at a modest 1,000ft.

Snapshot answer

It’s Hakainde Hichilema, 59, who was voted in as president of Zambia on Monday after five failed attempts. Born a “cattle boy”, he won a scholarship to the University of Zambia and moved to the UK, where he made his fortune in finance and property. Since getting into politics, he has been arrested 15 times and spent four months in prison. In his victory speech, he extended an olive branch to the incumbent, Edgar Lungu: “Don’t worry… you won’t face retribution or get teargassed.”


Quoted 18.8

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Martin Luther