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30 October

In the headlines

The UN has warned that “civil order is starting to break down” in Gaza, after thousands of Palestinian residents raided its warehouses for basic supplies. Israeli forces intensified their airstrikes and launched a ground invasion on Saturday, in what Benjamin Netanyahu said was the next phase in Israel’s “second war of independence”. Rishi Sunak held an emergency Cobra meeting this morning to discuss how the Middle East conflict has “accelerated” the threat of domestic terrorism. Met Police chief Mark Rowley says his force is facing a “particularly challenging time” with a rise in activity by Iranian-backed groups and a spike in hate crime affecting Muslim and Jewish communities. Two “pristine” coral reefs have been discovered by marine biologists off the Galápagos Islands. They stumbled across the deep-sea ecosystems – one of which is over eight football fields long – while mapping the seafloor with laser scanners.


Supermodel Heidi Klum doesn’t do fancy dress by half measures, says Vogue. The “Queen of Halloween” hosts a party for the occasion every year, and is known for her elaborate, borderline-insane outfits, including an old woman; Fiona from Shrek; Jessica Rabbit; an “alien science experiment gone wrong”; a giant butterfly; and – last year’s effort – a giant worm.

Inside politics

When Rishi Sunak admitted earlier this year that he used private healthcare, says Bagehot in The Economist, subsequent polls suggested most people were “perfectly fine with that”. So spare a thought for Peter Mandelson. Back in 2008, at the height of the banking crisis, the former cabinet minister told Gordon Brown he was ill and wanted to see a private doctor. “Mr Brown refused and instead suggested the then health minister, a surgeon, should have a look.”

Nice work if you can get it

Taylor Humphrey is a “baby name-influencer” who charges parents up to $30,000 to choose the right name for their child, says The Guardian. For top-tier clients, the California-based Instagrammer (pictured) carries out “brand-strategy development”, gets feedback from thinktanks, and creates a video or book “telling the story” of how the baby got its name. For a (marginally) more reasonable $350, she can supply a list of 15 names, or feedback on an existing shortlist, based on the client’s “preferences, tastes and values”. Arrange your consultation here.

Gone viral

This video of a dockworker expertly securing mooring ropes with a flick of the wrist has racked up more than 400,000 views on X (formerly Twitter). As one user says: “Sometimes I have to redo my shoelaces three times.” Watch the full video here.


America’s drive-thrus offer far more than food and films, says The New Statesman. There are drive-thru ATMs, which first opened in 1930. There are drive-thru ballot boxes, drive-thru strip clubs, drive-thru wedding chapels and drive-thru funeral homes. Louisiana even has “daiquiri drive-thrus”, which serve ready-to-drink cocktails. To comply with drink-driving laws, they come with a piece of tape over the hole for the straw.


It’s Dean Phillips, a Democratic congressman who has announced a long-shot presidential primary challenge against Joe Biden. The 54-year-old former ice cream magnate from Minnesota said the president had done a “spectacular job” in the White House, but that his advanced age (80) and poor polling (he is trailing Donald Trump) had become an “emergency”. The odds are obviously stacked against him, says Tim Alberta in The Atlantic. But it’s hard to find a Democratic official who isn’t “jittery” about Biden – they just all “refuse to say so on the record”.


Quoted 30-10-23

“Every journalist has a novel inside him, which is an excellent place for it.”

Russell Lynes (a journalist)