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3 October

In the headlines

Rishi Sunak will announce the scrapping of the Birmingham-Manchester leg of HS2 in his conference speech tomorrow, says The Times. The PM is expected to say that “every penny” of its budget will be reinvested in local road and rail schemes. Pope Francis has suggested that there may be a way for the Catholic Church to bless gay unions. In what appears to be a reversal of the Vatican’s previous stance – that “God cannot bless sin” – His Holiness said blessings for gay couples could be possible provided they were not equated with heterosexual marriage. A huge gas explosion near Oxford last night left some locals worried they were being invaded by aliens. The blast, caused by a lightning strike hitting a biogas tank at a green power plant, produced an enormous fireball and what one resident called an “apocalyptic orange glow”.


A small town in Vermont famous for its autumn foliage has temporarily banned non-residents in order to keep away influencers. Sleepy Hollow Farm in Pomfret (pictured) has become a “hot destination” for iPhone-toting visitors, says NBC News: videos using the hashtag #sleepyhollowfarm have been viewed over 800,000 times on TikTok. But locals say the increase in “foliage season traffic” has caused “significant safety, environmental, aesthetic, and quality-of-life issues”. The ban doesn’t come cheap: residents have had to raise almost $15,000 to pay for the road closures and traffic enforcement.


Justin Trudeau rightly described the Canadian parliament’s recent standing ovation for a Nazi war veteran as “deeply embarrassing”, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. But so was his apology. The blunder, he said, had hurt not just Jewish people, but “Polish people, Roma people, 2SLGBTQI+ people…” The “2S”, it turns out, stands for “two spirit” – a group of indigenous Native Americans who believe they have both a “masculine spirit” and a “feminine spirit”. Like any minority, this group deserves our respect. But how many two-spirit people does Trudeau think were persecuted in Nazi Germany? “The Apache were seldom to be found hunting buffalo through the streets of Berlin. Totem poles remain an uncommon sight in Vienna.”

Gone viral

This video of a train passing through a narrow street in Hanoi has racked up more than 6.8 million views on X (formerly Twitter). “Fat people not allowed,” says one user, though as another points out, it “must be the most sober place on Earth”.


Sol Neelman is a self-proclaimed “weird sports photographer”, says Atlas Obscura. His most recent book, More Weird Sports, includes pictures of mashed potato wrestling in South Dakota; llama racing in Colorado; Kaiju Monster Wrestling – a mix of “pro wrestling, Godzilla, and daytime soap opera” – in New York; and Japanese mountain log riding, which is “about as dangerous as it seems”. See more here.

On the money

Small countries are making big money from an unlikely source, says Rest of World: internet domain suffixes. Every nation and overseas territory has one – the UK’s is “” – but some are more valuable than others. The Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu (pictured) makes $10m a year – one sixth of its GDP – from licensing its “.tv” domain. Anguilla, in the Caribbean, has the rights to “.ai,” an “irresistible address for AI start-ups”. Elsewhere, DJs buy domains from Djibouti (“.dj”), radio stations use the Federated States of Micronesia (“.fm”), and venture capital firms plump for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (“.vc”).


It’s Pavel Prigozhin, the 25-year-old son of the late Wagner boss, Yevgeny. The fur-clad nepo baby stands to inherit not only the proceeds of his father’s ill-gotten fortune – estimated to be in the region of £100m – but also control of the murderous soldiers of fortune who made the Wagner group such a terrifying organisation. A photograph of what appears to be the dead warlord’s will has been circulating on Russian social media, naming Pavel as the sole inheritor of his father’s cash and militia. It also stipulates that he must look after his family, including his granny, Violetta.


“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”

America author James Branch Cabell