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World view: Palouse, the Tuscany of America

Not many people outside of the US have heard of Palouse, sometimes referred to as the Tuscany of America, except instead of vines the hills are covered in wheat and lentil crops. Straddling south-east Washington state and north-west Idaho, the region’s endless miles of rolling fields are a photographer’s dream – vibrant green in spring and summer, a quilt of amber, red and gold in autumn, and a frosty white wonderland in winter. This view, taken from Steptoe Butte by Hamish Mitchell, was a July finalist in the landscape category of online photography competition Shoot The Frame.

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Inside Japan’s first robot-staffed hotel

Henn-na, said to be the world’s first hotel run by robots, turns out to need a surprising amount of human intervention – except where you would most like it

News of the world’s first hotel staffed by robots, which opened last month near Nagasaki, Japan (where else?), immediately went viral, but few of the reports actually involved a visit. I went along last week to see if Henn-na hotel lived up to the hype.

I arrive at 2.55pm. All is quiet. Behind reception is a motionless but lifelike girl robot wearing a cream jacket and a smirk. She has a sign saying “only Japanese”, so I approach another robot, this one designed, bizarrely, to look like a velociraptor and sporting a bow tie and a bellhop hat. I say hello. Nothing. I wave and he stares past me, his arms outstretched but unmoving.

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