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27 September

In the headlines

Britain’s largest undeveloped oil field has been green-lit for drilling by the government regulator. Rosebank, about 80 miles northwest of the Shetland Islands, contains an estimated 300 million barrels of oil; production is scheduled to begin by 2027. Labour will immediately introduce VAT on private school fees if it wins power, senior party figures tell the I newspaper. The 20% tax, which would be imposed by abolishing the schools’ charitable status, would raise about £1.7bn a year. Dental boffins in Japan are developing a drug that could let people grow new teeth, by stimulating dormant “tooth buds”. Kyoto’s Toregem Biopharma says it has had encouraging results in ferrets and dogs, and plans to begin testing on humans next summer.


The overall winner of the Ocean Photographer of the Year award was Jialing Cai’s image of a paper nautilus drifting on a piece of ocean debris at night. Other top picks include snaps of a spider squat lobster in the Philippines; a gentoo penguin hurtling across the water in Antarctica; a coral reef perfectly reflected on the sea’s surface, off the island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean; and humpback whales wallowing in shallow waters off the Turks and Caicos Islands. See more here.


When The Washington Post unveiled its new slogan in 2017 – “Democracy dies in darkness” – it triggered widespread mockery. But that wasn’t actually our first choice, says Martin Baron, the paper’s former editor, in The Atlantic. Jeff Bezos, who owns the Post, had been fully involved in the decision – “I’d like to see all the sausage-making,” he said – and after two “tortuous, torturous” years of work agreed on a different option: “A free people demand to know”. But when he ran that past his then-wife, the novelist MacKenzie Scott, she immediately dismissed it as too clunky – a “Frankenslogan”. So Bezos had to pick something else.

Tomorrow’s world

Bristol University scientists have run simulations to predict what the world will look like in 250 million years, says New Scientist, and the result is rather dramatic. The seven continents of Earth will fuse together into a single “supercontinent”, similar to the one on which the dinosaurs lived; temperatures will regularly exceed a rather toasty 60C; and extreme weather will be complemented by huge bouts of volcanic activity. On the bright side, all mammals will have died out long before any of this happens.

Inside politics

Amid growing fears that a “bad fall” in public could scupper Joe Biden’s re-election chances, says Axios, his team have been secretly working on a “don’t trip strategy”. The 80-year-old has taken to wearing tennis shoes to avoid slipping, and does regular balance-enhancing exercises with a physiotherapist. He has even started boarding Air Force One via a lower deck, so he can use a shorter staircase.


It was remarkable to hear Suella Braverman claim that “multiculturalism has failed”, says The Times’s Hugo Rifkind on X (formerly Twitter). “She’s a British home secretary descended from Indians from Mauritius and Kenya, married to a Jewish husband, in a government headed by Britain’s first Hindu PM. What would successful multiculturalism look like?”


It’s an artist’s impression of a proposed bar deep beneath the streets of London. Australian financier Angus Murray has spent £220m buying up a “warren of tunnels” under Holborn from the telecoms company BT, says Bloomberg, and he plans to turn them into a tourist attraction to rival the London Eye. The passages, which occupy more than 86,000 sq ft some 130 ft below ground level, were built in the early 1940s as bomb shelters. By 1944 they were occupied by spies, including the real-life equivalent of “Q branch” from the James Bond books, and after the war they were used to store 400 tons of highly sensitive documents.


Quoted 27.9.23

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

Gore Vidal