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24 August

In the headlines

The August 31 deadline for the US to pull out of Afghanistan is unlikely to be extended, though Boris Johnson will try to persuade President Biden to delay the withdrawal on a call this afternoon. The Taliban says any extension will be met with unspecified “consequences”. Extinction Rebellion shut down parts of central London yesterday, the start of a fortnight of protest. McDonald’s has run out of milkshakes in its British restaurants because of a lack of lorry drivers.

Comment of the day


Gone viral

Pop It, a rubber toy that replicates the sensation of popping bubble wrap, has become the hit toy of the year. FoxMind, the Canadian company behind it, says US sales have leapt from 700,000 in 2019 to more than seven million in the past 12 months. The fad has been turbocharged by TikTok – videos tagged #fidgettoys have racked up 12.9 billion views.

Inside politics

“There’ve been seven prime ministers before me, and three have died in office,” says Mia Mottley, 55, the first female PM of Barbados, in Vogue. “Those were the odds foisted on me, and it’s up to me to beat them.” She has great ambitions for the small island: size “didn’t stop Rihanna”. 


Cambridge University’s archaeology museum is adding notices to its classical busts to explain their “whiteness” and lack of diversity. Dons have described the move as “unhinged”. “You might just about understand this coming from a student,” one academic told the Telegraph, “but the idea that this has been approved by the faculty is as terrifying as it is comical.” Most of the museum’s 600 plaster casts of Greek and Roman statues depict Greeks and Romans. 


Contrary to what pundits, politicians and the US president seem to think, “Afghan” means a people and “Afghani” means their currency. “If I had an Afghani for every time President Biden called Afghans ‘Afghanis’, I would have five Afghanis,” tweeted Reuters journalist Idrees Ali. That’s just over 4p – the Taliban takeover has seen the value of the currency fall. 


Quoted 24-08

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Dr Seuss

Data update

Groceries delivered by Waitrose are on average two and a half days closer to their expiry date than those ordered from Tesco, says Which? magazine. A team of 12 shoppers ordered more than 1,000 items from six of the UK’s top supermarkets.