Syria: record numbers of refugees flee

In addition, some 5,000 people are believed to have been killed during the 31 days of August, making this the bloodiest month of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that a total of 234,368 people have left Syria for neighbouring countries, with the biggest concentrations found in Turkey and Jordan. Several thousand have even arrived in Iraq – the first refugees to choose to enter the country for at least 25 years.

Melissa Fleming, the UNHCR spokesman, described last month’s outflow as “quite an astonishing number”.

Many more Syrians have been displaced within their country’s borders. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent puts the number of “internally displaced persons” at 1.5 million, meaning that about 8 per cent of the entire population have fled their homes during the last 19 months of conflict.

Because of the collapse of public services, perhaps another 1 million people need humanitarian aid inside the country, bringing the total requiring some form of relief to 2.5 million – or 12 per cent of the total population. Privately, UN officials are planning for this number to increase to as many as 4 million.


David Cameron’s first reshuffle prompts outrage at sidelining of Heathrow rebels

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, led the opposition to Miss Greening’s move to the Department for International Development and replacement by Patrick McLaughlin.

Miss Greening, a London MP, is a well-known opponent of the building of a third runway at Heathrow, and Mr Johnson, who favours a new airport in the Capital, said her departure proved that Mr Cameron was going ahead with the “simply mad” expansion of the airport.

In what proved to be an extensive rejigging of the middle and lower ranks of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister also raised eyebrows by moving Andrew Lansley from the Department of Health to the lesser role of Leader of the House of Commons.

He was replaced by Jeremy Hunt, who narrowly survived in Government earlier this year over his links to News International during his time as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, but who is back in favour after the success of the Olympics.


Reshuffle Day

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

The reshuffle is underway and seeping out. There is much excitement, but only because it’s Dave’s first, not because it will be a big one. With luck there will be a surprise, and most reshuffles always have an unexpected moment, usually when a minister refuses to budge. To recap the moves so far, reported and speculated:

– Sayeeda Warsi has outed herself, as it were, on Twitter, and is no longer Tory chairman. We don’t yet know whether she gets something else.

– Today says Kenneth Clarke is out as Justice Secretary. Rumours are flying that he’s to become a minister without portfolio with an emphasis on economy. How will that work?

– I gather Eric Pickles joined the Quad to discuss planning yesterday afternoon, so presumably he isn’t going anywhere.

– The papers seem certain David Laws will get Sarah Teather’s slot at Education, with a roving brief (whether she gets something in return is unclear). Apparently there was a dispute with Nick Clegg over whether he could have an extra minister or had to make room for Mr Laws.

– Nick Boles has cancelled a speech today, encouraging speculation that he will be promoted. Matt Hancock is mentioned, of course.

– ‘Thrasher’ Mitchell was confirmed as Chief Whip – the joy! – by No 10 last night. “George gets his chief whip,” the Guardian reports, reflecting Thrasher’s proximity to the Chancellor. Mr Mitchell (or, as some Tory MPs are already calling him, Christian Grey) famously invited Mr Osborne to dinner at the height of the leadership campaign when he was running David Davis’ doomed operation (one minister told me disobligingly yesterday that DD would have done better without Mr Mitchell in charge). ConHome seem pleased. Co-editor Paul Goodman says Dave is right to “restore the firepower” to the Whips Office. The FT headline describes him as “Popular choice” and “widely respected”, which is one way of putting it.

– In the self-reshuffling department, Zac Goldsmith has promised to resign and force a by-election if the Government changes course on Heathrow.

– The Times reports that this morning’s Cabinet has been cancelled, to allow Mr Cameron to make his moves.

– Various names touted for chairman: Grant ‘Michael Green’ Shapps, of course, but also Jeremy Hunt.

– The fate of Justine Greening is one to watch: Patrick McLoughlin is being tipped to replace her, so where does she go? Out altogether? Bit harsh?

– It also seems Caroline Spelman was told last night that it’s over for her. And there’s a consensus forming around the departure of Andrew Lansley.

You can follow the events as they happen today on our live blog here.


Meanwhile, Dave’s proposed reforms to planning law are already starting to backfire. Malcolm Sharp, the president of the Planning Officers’ Society, told us that the Government has misjudged the problem: the economy – not red tape – is the obstacle to building more homes.

And that’s not the only hiccup. The FT reports that Eric Pickles is making noises too. His spokesman said yesterday that changes to the greenbelt were permitted only in “exceptional circumstances”, which doesn’t sound very radical. But if the speculation is correct, he’s radical enough for Dave.


His advisers were a bit nervous about it and with hindsight it was an obvious risk, but the Chancellor will be smarting from his reception at the Paralympics yesterday (you can watch it here ). It’s a good thing Mr Osborne has a realistic view of his popularity. As he explained on Marr on Sunday, it would be odd if he wasn’t the most unpopular politician in Britain. So you could argue that the more he is booed, the more he is doing a good job on the austerity front. If only it were that simple…


It’s worth noting that Alan Duncan is backing the burglar shooters. Bold and will go down well with the grassroots. Not sure I can imagine the PM saying the same, though. You can read more here.


The Lib Dems will note two polls today in the Independent and Sun that suggest the party would do better if Vince Cable was in charge instead of Nick Clegg. But not by much. YouGov in the Sun says the party would go from 8 per cent to – wait for it – 11 per cent, while ComRes in the Indy says rating would go from 14 per cent to 18 per cent, enough to take it from 23 to 39 seats.


And finally, the Greens unveiled their new leader: Natalie Bennett, an Australian-born former Guardian journalist and United Nations advisor. She boasts that she’s the only party leader who can shear sheep – just what we’ve always wanted. More information is available in the Indy here.


“@tom_watson: Hi @louisemensch – how’s it feel being free?! Just wondering – is it your pic on the side of this toolkit?”

If only it had been one of Grant Shapps’s – sorry, I mean, Michael Green’s – toolkits.


Latest ComRes/Independent polling: Conservatives 35%, Labour 42%, Lib Dems 12%, Others 11%


In The Telegraph

Mary Riddell: The cracks between Ed Miliband and Ed Balls could swallow Labour’s hopes

Liz Truss: We must shift science out of the geek ghetto

Leader: Mr Cameron’s old rival shows him the way

Leader: Still not fit for purpose

Best of the rest

Steve Richards in the Independent: It’s not the names that matter but the policies

Rachel Sylvester in the Times: Game changer? No, more an echo chamber

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian: These angry Tories can’t see what ‘no alternative’ means

Jana Ganesh in the Financial Times: Time for Britain to rediscover the art of coalition


Today: Theresa May will make an announcement on police pension reform

Today: Alan Duncan will attend a Friends of Yemen meeting in Saudi Arabia

Today: Agriculture and Food Minister Jim Paice will announce measures to help farmers

2.30pm: Foreign Office questions

Humorous Dispassionate

Steve moves into a nudist colony. He receives a letter from his
grandmother asking him to send her a current photo of himself
in his new location.

Too embarrassed to let her know that he lives in a nudist colony,
he cuts a photo in half but accidentally sends the bottom half of
the photo.

He’s really worried when he realizes that he sent the wrong half,
but then remembers how bad his grandmother’s eyesight is,
and hopes she won’t notice.

A few weeks later he receives a letter from his grandmother.
It reads;

Thank you for the picture.
Change your hair style it makes your nose look short !!`    


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Humorous Dispassionate

What a Woman Want in a Man age 21 to 75



What a Woman Want in a Man age 21 .

1. Handsome
2. Charming
3. Financially successful
4. A caring listener
5. Witty
6. In good shape
7. Dresses with style
8. Appreciates finer things
9. Full of thoughtful surprises
10. An imaginative, romantic lover

What a Woman Want in a Man age 31 .

1. Nice looking
2. Opens car doors, holds chairs
3. Has enough money for a nice dinner
4. Listens more than talks
5. Laughs at my jokes
6. Carries bags of groceries with ease
7. Owns at least one tie
8. Appreciates a good home-cooked meal
9. Remembers birthdays and anniversaries
10. Seeks romance at least once a week

What a Woman Want in a Man age 41 .

1. Not too ugly
2. Doesn’t drive off until I’m in the car

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Nurses ‘having to clean toilets and mop floors’#?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Nurses are having to clean toilets and mop hospital floors amid concerns over cleaning provision, says a survey.

A survey of 1,000 NHS nurses and health assistants, by Nursing Times, found a third had cleaned toilets or mopped floors in the previous 12 months.

More than half believed cleaning services for their wards were inadequate and a fifth said hospital managers had cut back on cleaning.

Two-fifths had cleaned a bed after an infectious patient had been discharged.

And almost three-quarters said they had not received training for such cleaning.


So totally brave and strong.

Humor in America

Sometimes cancer creeps up on you.  Sometimes it pounces.

I got the kind that pounces.  Late last November, I found a swollen lymph node.  In late December, they removed it.  By early January I was in the hospital, beginning the seemingly endless rounds of week-long hospitalized chemotherapy, leaving the hospital only long enough for my blood levels to recover before going back in for more chemo, finally ending with an autologous stem-cell transplant on May 2 — a full Microsoft-style reboot of my immune system, using my own stem cells.

It was a rare and aggressive, double-hit, B-cell lymphoma, and already in Stage IV when they found it.   I was lucky from the very beginning, though.  If I’d had a different, more common, genetic anomaly — they would have foregone the chemo, patted me on the head, and told me to make peace with my maker.  But I didn’t get…

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