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17 August


The number of top A-level grades has fallen sharply this year, as exam boards reverse two years of inflated marks based on teacher assessment during Covid. A and A* grades made up 27.2% of the total, according to results released this morning, compared to 36.4% last year and 44.8% in 2021. Michael Parkinson has died aged 88. Over a seven-decade TV career, he interviewed more than 2,000 celebrities, from Muhammad Ali to David and Victoria Beckham. “LionYESses!” says The Sun, after England beat their Australian hosts 3-1 yesterday in the Women’s World Cup semi-final. The final, against Spain, is at 11am on Sunday.

On the way back

Low-slung baggy trousers “with a visible boxer waistband” were popular on men in the 1990s, says The Washington Post. Now women are bringing them back as “comfy chic”. It began in 2021, when Prada sent models wearing skirts with a boxers-style waistband down the runway, and Hugo Boss put Gigi Hadid in a boxers-and-gym-shorts combo. Today, the style is all over TikTok, as women add a “masculine touch” to stereotypically feminine outfits.


The world might be reaching “peak coffee”, says the FT. Demand keeps increasing, thanks to the growing middle class in Asia and Africa who see the drink as a status symbol. But warming temperatures mean that “up to half of current coffee farmland could soon be unusable”. Once a staple, the beverage could rise in price enough to become a luxury. Or, perhaps worse, the dominant arabica bean will be replaced by the hardier but “less refined” robusta – and “coffee lovers will be faced with a drink that doesn’t taste as good”.


This rare two-headed snake is back on display at a Texas zoo after a two-year hiatus to recover from an injury. Known by the names Pancho and Lefty – one for each head – the three-foot-long Western rat snake has the same condition that results in conjoined twins in humans. Having two brains means the eight-year-old reptile’s movements are often “uncoordinated and awkward”, says Smithsonian Magazine – in 2021, it injured its left neck trying to move in two directions at once. “The right brain is much more dominant and tends to control where they go,” says zookeeper Maddie Michels-Boyce. “The left brain is seemingly just along for the ride.”

Inside politics

Last weekend, “self-described anarcho-capitalist” Javier Milei won a surprise victory in Argentina’s presidential primary, says Jacob Gallagher in The Wall Street Journal. And though his policies are weird enough – shutting the country’s central bank, creating a market for selling human organs – it’s his hair that has really got the world talking. It isn’t quite a mullet, moptop or mohawk, “but some complex combination of the three”. It seems to move in all directions at once, culminating “in a swoop that resembles a treacherous alpine slope”. The overall effect is “a musk ox crossbred with Ozzy Osbourne”. His nickname in Argentina is El Peluca, or “The Wig”.

Love etc

San Franciscans are taking advantage of the city’s abundance of self-driving taxis, says The San Francisco Standard, by getting down to it in the back seat. One unnamed man in his 30s claims he has undertaken “at least six separate sex acts” in driverless robocars, ranging from “impromptu make-out sessions” to going the whole hog. “There’s no one to tell you, ‘You can’t do that’,” he says, adding that one car got so hot that the windscreen completely fogged over. “In any other context, in any other vehicle, that would be an actual problem.”


It’s Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose to play the Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein, a move that has infuriated parts of the internet. Following the release of a trailer for the upcoming movie Maestro – which was also directed and co-written by Cooper, who isn’t Jewish – viewers described his false schnozzle as “the equivalent of Black-Face or Yellow-Face”, and accused him of perpetuating the stereotype that Jewish people have large noses. Bernstein’s children aren’t so bothered. “Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance,” they wrote in a statement. “We’re perfectly fine with that.”



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Homer Simpson