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31 August

In the headlines

Taliban zealots posed with a British bobby’s helmet and an American state trooper’s hat at the police training HQ in Kabul yesterday, showing they are in command of the country western powers have abandoned. It’s “war’s bitter end”, says The Independent’s front page. Police scuffled with protestors this morning as officials dragged Geronimo the alpaca from his Gloucestershire farmyard home to be put down, ending hopes of a stay of execution. Defra has denied planning to tax disposable nappies as part of the fight against single-use plastics. “The story is much like a bulging nappy,” one raging government insider told the Mail – “full of s***”.

Comment of the day



An “apocalyptic” hailstorm hit Dolce & Gabbana’s men’s fashion show in Venice last night, says Luke Leitch in Vogue, forcing the celebrity-packed audience to flee as hailstones the size of golf balls fell from the sky. “I felt like the last woman on the Titanic,” said reality TV star Kris Jenner. Her daughter, Kourtney Kardashian, was less worried: “I happened to have an umbrella.” At the women’s show the previous evening, 400 of the world’s super-rich watched celebrity offspring parade the catwalk, including Christian Bale’s daughter Emmeline and Heidi Klum’s lookalike 17-year-old daughter Leni.

Inside politics

The word in Whitehall is that the Department for International Trade has the code name “Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V”, because it copies and pastes existing trade arrangements into new post-Brexit deals. 

On the money

The price of wool is now so low that farmers are burning it, says The Times. It’s worth as little as 20p-30p a kilo, which doesn’t cover the cost of shearing. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes are going to waste. 

Tomorrow’s world

A Glasgow club is trialling a system that generates energy from the body heat of its sweaty customers. Power will be stored in 150-metre boreholes beneath the venue, SWG3, and can be used when required. The project is part of preparations for the COP26 climate summit, which will take place in Glasgow in November. It should save 120 tonnes of CO2 a year.   

On the way out

Leaded petrol, which the UN says has been eradicated after Algeria stopped using it in July. Toxic lead was added to petrol from the 1920s until the 1970s to make engines run better, says the BBC, despite it being linked to strokes, heart disease, cancer and brain development in children.

Snapshot answer

It’s the remains of a bronze battering ram once attached to a Roman trireme and used to smash into enemy vessels. It was found this summer off the western coast of Sicily, site of the battle of Egadi in 241BC, when the Romans defeated the Carthaginians (whose empire spanned what is now North Africa), according to Italian news agency Ansa. Archaeologists say the Carthaginian battering rams were inferior to those of the Romans, which bear a still-legible inscription saying they were first-rate. 


Quoted 31-08

“Has anyone thought to cancel the Taliban takeover by digging up all its old tweets?”

Journalist Siraj Hashmi on Twitter