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8 September

in the headlines

Police are searching Richmond Park in south-west London, with the manhunt for escaped prisoner Daniel Khalife now in its third day. The Met’s counter-terrorism commander Dominic Murphy, who is leading the hunt, says the 21-year-old terror suspect will draw on his military experience to evade capture. “He was a trained soldier, so ultimately he has skills that perhaps some sections of the public don’t have.” In a blow to the government’s renewable energy strategy, an annual auction for new offshore wind projects didn’t yield a single bid. Energy providers say the price set for electricity generated was too low to make them viable. London band Ezra Collective has become the first jazz act to win the Mercury Prize. “I need to thank God,” said drummer and band leader Femi Koleoso, “cos if a jazz band winning the Mercury Prize doesn’t make you believe in God, then what will?” Listen to the album, Where I’m Meant to Be, here.

Gone viral

Slices is a highly addictive online game where each level has one or more red shapes adorned with yellow balls. Players must draw two straight lines, each of which cuts the shapes in two, so that none of the remaining pieces contains more than one ball. Try it for yourself here.

On the money

The scandal over shoddy concrete in English schools falls into a wider pattern, says Matthew Brooker in Bloomberg. Britain appears “curiously reluctant” to invest in the infrastructure “necessary to sustain and enhance the economy’s productive capacity”. Investment as a share of GDP has long been lower than in all other G7 countries, particularly since the government of David Cameron cut spending in an effort to repair the UK’s public finances. George Osborne’s insistence that the time to “fix the roof” is when the sun is shining “rings with particular irony now”.

Quirk of history

In 1913, HG Wells published Little Wars, the first proper set of rules for a miniature wargame – a version of which is still played by around 100 or so people in Britain today. The writer Colin Murry recalled playing with Wells in the 1930s, when he was a child and The War of the Worlds author was in his sixties or seventies. “He rushed round frantically, winding up clockwork trains, constructing bridges and fortifications, firing pencils out of toy cannons. It was all quite hysterical – quite unlike any grown-up behaviour I had ever known.”


Marianna Spring, the BBC’s “disinformation correspondent”, made a youthful mistake that now looks fairly ironic, says Mandrake in The New European. In 2018, Spring applied for a job working in Moscow for the US news site Coda Story. Her CV implied that she had worked for the BBC in Russia during that year’s World Cup, alongside the correspondent Sarah Rainsford. “This claim was, unfortunately, pure disinformation.” As Spring admitted after being confronted by Coda Story’s editor, she had only met Rainsford “in a couple of social situations”, adding “everything else on my CV is entirely true”.


English Heritage’s blue plaque scheme, which marks where famous people used to live, may be extended beyond London, according to a report this week. There are nearly 1,000 of them in the capital, says Patrick Kidd in The Times, but my favourite was installed illegally (and hastily removed) in Soho’s Golden Square. It read: “Jacob von Hogflume, 1864-1909. Inventor of time travel. Lived here in 2189.”


No one knows quite what it is. The strange golden object was found off the coast of Alaska last week by deep sea explorers, then taken up to the surface for examination. Stumped boffins believe it may be the egg of an unknown species. “Something tried to get in… or to get out,” said one researcher during a live feed of the dive, which took place two miles below sea level at the site of an extinct volcano. “I just hope when we poke it, something doesn’t decide to come out,” a second marine scientist said. “It’s like the beginning of a horror movie.”


quote 8-9-23

“You can always tell jazz by the way the people on the stage are having more fun than the audience.”

Rob Gretton, manager of Joy Division