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2 October

In the headlines

Jeremy Hunt has rejected calls from Tory backbenchers for pre-election tax cuts, insisting there are “no shortcuts” while inflation remains high. The Chancellor, who was speaking on day two of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, also pushed back on Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s remarks on multiculturalism last week, saying he “wouldn’t use her words”. NHS bosses have warned patients to expect “extreme disruption” at hospitals in England, as junior doctors and consultants begin an unprecedented three-day joint walkout. NHS England says that with medics providing only “Christmas Day” cover, non-emergency care will be at a “near standstill”. Participants at the World Conker Championships may be allowed to harden their nuts by baking them, says the Daily Star. According to organisers of the event, which takes place in Northamptonshire on Sunday, unseasonable weather has left this year’s crop of horse chestnuts “soft and mushy”.


The Las Vegas Sphere – a $2.3bn concert arena shaped like a giant ball – opened on Friday with an “avalanche of buzz”, says CNN. The interior of the cavernous venue is lined with the world’s largest and highest-resolution LED screen. The grand opening – the first night of a 25-show run by U2 – had a few teething problems: the band started half an hour late due to “technical problems”, and at one point the giant screen appeared to freeze on a single image “over multiple songs”. But when the new tech worked, its effect was, in the words of more than one social media user, “insane”.


Hollywood studios pulled their films out of Russia after the invasion of Ukraine in March 2022, says Will McCurdy in The Guardian, but that hasn’t stopped Russians from watching the latest blockbusters. In big cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg there is a “vibrant illegal market” for screenings of movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer. The cinemas sell tickets for Russian films and then show the Hollywood one beforehand as a “free preview screening”. Something similar happened during the Soviet era, when small “video salons” played pirated VHS tapes with amateur voice dubbing, “often with a single actor performing almost every character in the movie”.


The winners and runners up in this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition include images of the red-and-orange Running Chicken Nebula; a 700,000km-long solar flare erupting on the sun; firework-like purple “sprites” in the Himalayas; and a close-up of Jupiter. See more winners here, and get tickets for the exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich here.


Around 1985, people started telling Maryland resident Brian Coffman he looked like Sting. The Police were topping the charts, and Coffman bore an uncanny resemblance to the band’s frontman, says The Washington Post. “Waitresses asked if Brian was Sting. People on the street.” A group of teenagers once stopped him in a mall and demanded his autograph. Then, in 1987, Coffman ran into the real Sting at a fancy restaurant in Brooklyn. “I went up,” he recalled, “and said I’ve been told by people that I resemble you.” Sting looked at Brian and said: “No. You are much better looking.”

Inside politics

Last week’s Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth didn’t arouse much corporate interest, says Kevin Maguire in The New Statesman. The event had a “tiny” exhibition area, with Dignity in Dying and Wessex Water among the few outsiders buying space. Instead, the patch was dominated by party factions. “Buffer stalls kept apart the Lib Dem Christians and the Lib Dem secularists, avoiding an ungodly row.”


It’s the view from the newly opened Horizon 22, the highest free viewing platform in Europe. The 58th-floor public gallery of 22 Bishopsgate, in the City of London, is 254 metres up, 10 metres higher than the platform on the Shard. But it isn’t easy snaffling a ticket, says The Times. “The trick is to be ready and waiting at 10am, two months ahead of the day you want to visit.” Try your luck here.


quoted 2-10-23

“I was raised a socialist. I’m trying to earn enough to become a socialist again.”

Comedian Shaparak Khorsandi