It's amazing how quickly one can fall out of the habit of writing the news. You have every intention of doing it, and you sometimes even come up with not terrible pun titles. But then the story develops, a drama breaks out, or someone says something of such awe-inspiring stupidity that you are left staring at the screen wondering how you would even process it.
That has really been the story of the last two years, but we have been particularly derelict in our duties of late so here is a bumper roundup of some of the biggest stories over the last month!
- Multiple hurricanes devastate Caribbean and Florida Keys
- Mexico suffers multiple earthquakes
- Parsons Green Tube bombing
- Trump steps war of words with North Korea
- LibDem and Labour Party conferences
- Hugh Hefner dies, age 91
- Elizabeth Dawn dies, age 77>
- Apple unveil a myriad of new hardware
- Uber loses its operating license in London
- Basquiat: Boom for Real opens
- Twitter raises character limit to 280
Multiple hurricanes devastate Caribbean and Florida Keys
The Atlantic Hurricane season has been particularly devastating this year, and for the time three Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the US. It is also only the second time that two Category 5 hurricanes have occurred within a single season.
Puerto Rico has been ravaged by the storms. It first got clipped by Hurricane Irma which passed just north of the island and left 1m people without power. It then suffered a direct hit by Hurricane Irma, which was smaller but passed straight over the island, passing over the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, and home to about 400,000 people.
The island's infrastructure is completely decimated, with roads and airport severely damaged. Electricity is mostly down, meaning water can't be pumped into homes. Many are calling the situation a humanitarian crisis, and Trump has come under intense criticism for his lacklustre response.
Mexico suffers multiple earthquakes
Mexico is one of the most seismically active regions on the world, due to its position atop several intersecting tectonic plates. These plates have exhibited a large amount of movement this month, with firstly the Chiapas earthquake on 7 September (measuring 8.1 on the richter scale) and then the Central Mexico earthquake on 19 September (measuring 7.1).
The first triggered a tsunami with waves 1.75m above tide level, and was the second strongest in the country's history. It was also the strongest measured globally this year. Nearly 100 people were killed and over 300 were injured. The shakes could be felt over 1000 kilometres away.
The second came 12 days later - ruling it out as an aftershock - and hit 55 km south of the city of Puebla. More than 340 people were killed and over 6000 were injured. It caused mass destruction to cities around the region, with more than 40 building collapsing.
Image credit: AP
Parsons Green Tube bombing
A bomb injuring 30 people partially detonated on a District line train during rush hour. On 15 September at roughly 8:20am, a homemade bomb partially exploded at Parsons Green tube station, causing many to suffer flash burn injuries. The white plastic bucket, left in a shopping bag, was filled with knives and screws, and packed with the same explosive as the 2005 London Underground bombings.
The police have arrested seven men, six of whom were released without charge. The seventh, an 18-year-old male, appeared in court on 23 September accused of attempted murder and causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury. He is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 13 October.
Trump steps war of words with North Korea
Tensions between Trump and Kim Jong-un are reaching fever-pitch as the war of words continue. After N.Korea claimed to have successfully detonated a thermonuclear bomb on 3 September, and then firing another missile over the Japanese archipelago, Trump took to the podium at his first United Nations address and said that America would be forced to "totally destroy" them if they didn't stand down. Trump also lambasted other states who continued to trade with the North Korean regime. He then went on to call Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man" and said he was on a suicide mission.
Not one to take provocation standing down, Kim Jong-un released a video accusing Trump of declaring war on the nation, and even described the US President as a 'dotard'. "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire."
A fresh round of US sanctions will see China - one of Pyongyang's only allies - close down all North Korean businesses operating in China, as well as any joint Chinese and North Korean ventures. This is in addition to existing sanctions which saw China clamp down on its purchase of coal from North Korea, as well as iron and seafood trade. There is also a textiles ban in place, essentially cutting off the majority of North Korea's source of foreign investment.
LibDem and Labour Party conferences
The annual political party conferences are starting to take place, and it's here where policies, ideas, and in-fighting often take place.
The LibDems were first, with their conference taking place from 16 - 19 September in Bournemouth. With their new leader Sir Vince Cable at the helm, the party were riding somewhat of a high following their increase in seats during the last general election - taking their total up to 12, after being all but wiped out in 2015. Cable stated that the LibDems should aim to get back into power through offering a mix of "hope and realism". He doesn't want to become UKIP in reverse by only promoting the Remain side of the Brexit debate. He also called for higher taxes on second home owners and foreign real estate owners. They also have their legalising cannabis plan.
Labour's conference was in Brighton on 24 - 27 September, and was the first during Mr Corbyn's leadership that he wasn't fighting for his position. His dominance over the party was felt when, even before he was on stage, the crowds were chanting his name. In the speech he declared that Labour were on the cusp on power, and that labour are the new "political mainstream" due to the popularity of their policies. He said there should be rent-control, and an end to forced gentrification and Public Finance Initiatives (PFI). The conference was not without drama, as votes to have more in-depth discussions on Brexit were blocked, Corbyn wouldn't commit to staying in the Single Market, and McDonnell said there should be preparations in case there is a run on the pound.
The Conservative conference is taking place 1 - 4 October, and it will be interesting to see how that goes. In-fighting over Brexit will be front-and-centre in discussions, and Boris Johnson breaking rank over Brexit and undermining Theresa May over the last few weeks will only add to tensions.
UKIP are hosting their conference this weekend, where their new leader Henry Bolton, will address the party. The Greens are holding theirs on 7 - 10 October.
Hugh Hefner dies, age 91
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died on 27 September, at the age of 91. The publisher of the international adult magazine oversaw a sexual revolution, and made is attributed for making nudity more acceptable in mainstream publications. Hefner himself was a keen political activist, proponent of free speech and civil rights, as well as a philanthropist.
However, his life and legacy is not without controversy, namely his exploitative treatment of women. His dealings with Marilyn Monroe were particularly damning, publishing nude images of her without her knowledge, or even having the courtesy of sending her a copy of the finished work. She was fearful of her career as a result, and Hefner was unremorseful of that fact. He even purchased the crypt next to hers in 1992 for $75,000."Spending eternity next to Marilyn is an opportunity too sweet to pass up."
Elizabeth Dawn dies, 77
Sylvia Butterfield, known professionally as Elizabeth Dawn, died September 25, aged 77. The actress was best known for her role on Coronation Street, where she played factory worker Vera for 34 years. The actress received an MBE in 2000, and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 British Soap Awards.
In 2004, Dawn was diagnosed with emphysema (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which she attributed to her smoking habit, and became a celebrity ambassador to the British Lung Foundation. It was her battle with COPD that finally claimed her in her home in Whitefield, Greater Manchester.
Image credit: Getty Images
Apple unveil a myriad of new hardware
In their annual iPhone event, Apple took to the stage and showed us their vision of the future of smartphones: iPhone X.
iPhone X has a new edge-to-edge display with Super Retina, measuring at 5.8-inches, with a notch cut out at the top for the new camera sensors that are used to unlock your phone via facial recognition. That is your only way to unlock the phone, as Apple have removed the fingerprint sensor. The new camera array allows for better facial tracking, meaning they are able to implement a new feature called 'animoji'. This phone will start at £999 when it comes out in November.
For those who don't have a spare grand laying around, Apple also released the iPhone 8 and 8+, skipping the 7S moniker. They are both very similar to the X, with the new A11 bionic processor, a glass back that facilitates wireless charging, and improved camera hardware and software. However, unlike the X, these phones retain the TouchID sensor.
Apple also released Apple TV4K, which as the name suggests, is a new version of the Apple TV that has support for 4K and both formats of HDR - Dolby Vision and HDR10. The Apple Watch also got an update, the headline feature of which is support of mobile data.
Uber loses its operating license in London
The ride-hailing company has had a very difficult relationship with the TfL, and that came to a head this month with Transport for London deciding not to renew its operating license. The reason given was that the company is not "not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence." It further went on to list four main issues with Uber's current practices:
- Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences
- Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained
- Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained
- Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London — software that blocks full access to the app and prevents regulatory oversight
The company has over 40,000 employees in the capital, serving 3.5m Londoners, and a petition for the TfL to reverse the decision has already reached over 820,000 signatures. Uber have appealed the decision, and will be allowed to continue to operate until those appeal options have been exhausted.
Image credit: BBC
Basquiat: Boom for Real opens
The first ever large scale exhibition of revolutionary American 'outsider artist' Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) to ever come to the UK opened this month at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. Rising to international recognition by the age of 22, Basquiat created work influenced by post-punk culture, his status as a black artist with no formal training, and a man of New York. Utilising colour, text and surrealist imagery he is widely recognised as one of the most profound painters of the 20th Century. The exhibition at the Barbican brings together 100 works never seen before in the UK, exploring the wider cultural context to his work, in addition to his famous influences and partnerships and archival materials showcasing his diverse and vibrant practice.
Basquiat: Boom for Real is on at the Barbican Art Gallery until 28th January, 2018.
Image credit: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Glenn, 1985. Photograph: Jean-Michel Basquiat/Barbican
Twitter raises character limit to 280
Twitter have announced that they are trialling a fundamental change that completely upends the foundation of the service - doubling the character count. From inception, Twitter has had a strict 140-character count, which just so happens to be the number of character allowed in a SMS text message.
Twitter said that the character limit "is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English," and that 9% of all tweets are exactly 140 characters, suggesting that users are having to trim back their original tweet. Twitter is doubling the limit to all languages, other than Japanese, Chinese and Korean, which tend to tweet shorter messages due to the nature of their written language. Japanese users, for example, on average only tweet 15 characters and only 0.4% of tweets hit the 140-character limit.
Source: The Verge
Sally Trivett contributed to this report
Header image: driver Photographer