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7 September

In the headlines

A nationwide manhunt is under way for a terror suspect who escaped from Wandsworth prison yesterday. Daniel Khalife, a 21-year-old ex-soldier accused of leaving fake bombs at a military base and trying to leak secrets to Iran, is believed to have broken out by clinging to the underside of a food delivery van. The UK is to rejoin the EU’s Horizon scientific research programme, nearly three years after being kicked out over Brexit disagreements. From today, Britain’s boffins will once again be able to apply for money from the £81bn fund. For the first time in Rugby World Cup history, Wales has named a squad without a single Jones. Seventy seven Joneses have played for their country over the years; during a 2004 match against South Africa, six out of the team’s 15 players shared the surname.


This year’s Bird Photographer of the Year competition was won by Jack Zhi’s snap of a peregrine falcon attacking a pelican. Other commended pictures include a blackbird silhouetted against the moon; a glistening-green tanager perched on a leaf in the Ecuadorian rainforest; a sword-billed hummingbird in Colombia; and two king penguins in the Falkland Islands. See more here.

On the way out

India, which is falling out of favour as the country’s name. Narendra Modi’s government has increasingly been using “Bharat”, the traditional Sanskrit and Hindi name, in diplomatic settings like this week’s G20 dinner, says The Washington Post. Supporters of the move say that “India”, the English-language name, has colonial baggage. Modi’s critics, however, have noted that his Hindu nationalist BJP party uses “Bharat” to “evoke the sense of an exclusively Hindu past”, in a country with one of the biggest Muslim populations in the world.

The great escape

For Australians, Europe is becoming the new Bali, says Lizzy Hoo in The Sydney Morning Herald. Armed with stacks of annual leave accumulated during lockdowns, hordes of us have been flying to the continent for long holidays. Anything-goes Europe seems more appealing than by-the-book summers back home, where we Aussies like to swim between the flags and “drink alcohol within the designated spaces”. “Pass me my linen and statement sunglasses daaaaaaaarling” – we’re off to Positano. Or, as I heard one group of Aussies refer to the Italian seaside town, “Pozi”.


TikTokers are embracing a new glass-half-full attitude called the “burnt toast theory”, says Refinery29. The idea is that small setbacks can have surprising benefits: burning your toast might make you late for work, say, but it might also mean you avoid a car crash that otherwise awaited. Or if you get stuck in a queue for coffee, you could meet the love of your life. It’s a cheesy idea, but it “might just help you cope when that smoke starts rising from the toaster”.


DNA has revolutionised forensics, says Liam Shaw in the London Review of Books, but “it can’t solve every problem”. In the 2000s, German police were offering a €300,000 reward for information about the so-called “Phantom of Heilbronn”, a woman whose DNA had been identified at more than 40 crime scenes over 15 years. It transpired that she worked in the factory that made the cotton swabs used to take samples.


It’s Russia’s distinctly low-tech effort to make its planes less vulnerable to Ukrainian drone attacks: plonking a bunch of old car tyres on top of the wings and fuselage. Satellite images show that at least two Tu-95 nuclear bombers have been kitted out with the cut-price camouflage, which may help reduce the aircraft’s “thermal signature”, says The Daily Telegraph. Other “creative” solutions to defend strategic targets include sinking ferries in front of a bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland, to stop it being hit by underwater sea drones.


quoted 7.9.23

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Groucho Marx