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28 September

In the headlines

Some police officers are switching off their body cameras when using force, the BBC has found, as well as deleting footage and sharing some videos on WhatsApp. A two-year investigation uncovered more than 150 reports of “camera misuse” in England and Wales. Rishi Sunak refused a dozen times to say if the Manchester leg of HS2 will be scrapped, during a series of interviews with local radio stations this morning. The PM says a bigger priority for Mancunians is “making sure that the roads are free of potholes”. A Nasa astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts have landed back on Earth after being stuck in space for over a year. The trio’s mission was meant to last only six months, but when the hull of their original spacecraft was pierced by flying space junk, they had to wait on the International Space Station while a replacement was sent up.

The great escape

UNESCO has added 42 sites to its World Heritage list this month, bringing the total to 1,199 across 168 countries. New additions include the old town of Kuldīga, in Latvia; prehistoric structures in Menorca; the ancient caravanserais, or roadside inns, in modern-day Iran; 3,000-year-old standing stones in central Mongolia; and the volcanoes and mountains of Martinique. See the full list here.

On the money

The rise of frequent-flier mileage schemes has effectively turned airlines into “financial institutions that happen to fly planes on the side”, says The Atlantic. Consumers charge nearly 1% of America’s entire GDP to Delta’s American Express credit cards alone. And Wall Street lenders value these bank-partnered programmes more highly than the airlines themselves: in 2020, United Airlines’s MileagePlus was valued at $22bn, more than double the company’s entire market cap.

Inside politics

When Lib Dem leader Ed Davey capsized a kayak during his party’s conference in Bournemouth this week, says Patrick Kidd in The Times, he joined a long list of politicians to fall foul of the “political photo op”. Neil Kinnock was knocked over by a wave on Brighton Beach. Zac Goldsmith drank a pint of beer as if he had never seen one before in his life. David Cameron ate a hot dog with a knife and fork, making him appear “too posh to use his fingers”. And Ed and David Miliband never recovered from their infamous encounters with, respectively, a bacon sandwich and a banana.


This year’s “unexpected breakout hairdo” is, simply, shaving all your hair off, says Amy Francombe in the Evening Standard. “Buzz cut season” has included Kim Kardashian debuting cropped hair (though possibly using a wig) on the cover of CR Fashion Book, Florence Pugh at the Met Gala, and Emma Corrin at Wimbledon. With winter on the horizon, make sure you “invest in a good hat before stepping anywhere near a set of clippers”.

Tomorrow’s world

Spotify has a new AI-powered translation feature, says The Verge, which promises to reproduce audio in other languages “using the podcaster’s own voice”. The service is available for a few big-name hosts – the likes of Steven Bartlett and Lex Fridman – and for now the only option is Spanish, but French and German will be added soon. Listen to a sample of Fridman interviewing Yuval Noah Harari en Español here.


On the left is an artist’s depiction of a block of flats in Greenwich, southeast London, says The Guardian, and on the right is what the developers actually built. After counting 26 “major deviations” from the original proposal, including the lack of a promised underground car park and communal gardens, Greenwich council has ordered the builders to pull it all down. Unless the developers can successfully appeal the decision, tenants of the 204 flats will have to find somewhere else to live.


quoted 28-9-23

“There is a Russian expression: if you wake up feeling no pain, you know you’re dead.”

American writer Andrew Solomon