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31 August

In the headlines

Criminals will be made to attend their sentencing hearings, with “reasonable force” if needed, under new laws announced by the government. The move comes after four murderers, most recently Lucy Letby, refused to appear when being sentenced. Grant Shapps has been appointed defence secretary, replacing Ben Wallace, who revealed in June that he planned to step down after four years in post. Shapps has no military experience, says the BBC’s Frank Gardner, but his previous work in transport might give him the logistical nous to address “the thorny problem of defence acquisition”. The world was treated to a “blue supermoon” last night, when the celestial body comes close to Earth and looks unusually large and bright. It’s a rare spectacle – hence the phrase “once in a blue moon” – that won’t be seen again until 2037.


Biker boots “will be everywhere this autumn”, says Vogue. The stompy shoes were the star of Miu Miu’s autumn/winter 2022 collection, and since then, countless brands have offered their own interpretations, “from H&M’s knee-grazing pair to Paris Texas’s distressed brown boots”. Combine them with a slip dress or Bermuda shorts for an “unexpected, yet undeniably chic, combo”.

Tomorrow’s world

The next time you field a video call from your boss, beware, says Bloomberg. Cybercriminals are now able to impersonate anyone on Zoom, using AI programmes to change their voice and appearance in real time. Online, “the going rate is as little as $20 per minute, $250 for a full video or $200 for a training session”. The software sounds “a little off” on words with long vowels, but people are so used to bad-quality internet connections that it’s good enough to fool many viewers.

Gone viral

Graphic designer Pat Naoum has spent the past seven years hand-painting a video game set inside the eye of Claude Monet. “It’s as wild as it sounds,” says Fast Company. The Master’s Pupil is a puzzle adventure game in which players wander through the French impressionist’s iris, helping him complete his paintings by solving “mind-bending puzzles based on colour, physics, and space”. The backdrop is so beguiling, the hashtag #themasterspupil has racked up more than 10 million views on TikTok.

On the money

The world’s third most valuable carmaker is currently a loss-making Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer that was founded just six years ago. VinFast has a market capitalisation of $218bn – behind only Tesla ($816bn) and Toyota ($227bn) – after its stock price rose almost 700% in two weeks. But don’t be too tempted to invest, says Quartz. The valuation, which has already dropped sharply this week, is almost entirely “froth”: a combination of not many shares being available, and amateur traders hoping to make a quick buck. “If other EV manufacturers’ past is any precedent, a comedown is inevitable.”


To The Times:

Can nothing be done about the plague of inanimate objects talking to us? Lorries on the motorway inform me “I am green”, the cornflakes packet tells me “I am recyclable”, the magazine wrapper implores me “Do not put me in the bin”. A house spoke to me the other day to say “I am for sale”. The final straw came in the ladies lavatory at the motorway services, which cooed: “I’m sorry, I’m out of order. But I WILL BE BACK SOON!” I wrote on it: “Thank you for reaching out to me. Best wishes. Have a nice day.”

Elizabeth Challen, Twickenham


They’re an artist’s impression of flats to be built in Folkestone, which have drawn comparisons to doner kebabs and the stone-age architecture of The Flintstones. The brown mounds are part of a 1,000-home development dreamt up by Roger De Haan, heir to the Saga holiday empire, and have already secured planning permission. Duarte Lobo Antunes, one of the lead architects, is confident in his creative choices. “I rewatched The Flintstones,” he told KentOnline, “and I did not see anything as cool as what we have.”



“Always tell the truth. It’s the easiest thing to remember.”

American playwright David Mamet