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17 March

In the headlines

The government and health unions have agreed on a pay deal expected to put an end to months of strikes. If all goes to plan, more than a million nurses, paramedics and other frontline workers will receive a 5% wage rise plus a one-off payment of at least £1,655. But it’s not all good news – more than 1,000 Passport Office workers have announced a five-week walkout starting next month. China’s President Xi Jinping has confirmed he will travel to Moscow next week for talks with Vladimir Putin. Announcing the visit, the Kremlin said the two would discuss a “comprehensive partnership and strategic co-operation”. A famously virile Exmoor pony has been selected by scientists to help save his breed from extinction. Elsinore Alan Partridge will donate semen to a gene bank as part of a campaign to boost numbers of the iconic small horses. “He is a brilliant, funny boy,” says breeder Madeline Haynes. “His name suits him.”


This year’s winners of the British Wildlife Photography Awards include shots of a fox walking through woodland that’s been hacked down to make way for pylons; a leafcutter bee peering out of its hole; a stag walking along the edge of a Scottish loch; and luminescent jellyfish feasting on tiny plankton. See the full list here.

Inside politics

More and more of China’s elite are getting educated in the West, says The Economist. Today, over 20% of Central Committee members – “the 370 most powerful party officials” – have had some foreign schooling, mostly at Western universities. That’s up from 6% two decades ago. “Eight of the 24 members of the Politburo have studied in Western countries, the most ever by far.”

Gone viral

Kanaya Kolong Parkepu, son of the 95-year-old warrior chief of a Maasai tribe in northern Tanzania, is a huge hit on YouTube, says MailOnline. On their Maasaiboys channel, he and a friend have racked up millions of views with their insights into the lives of 21st-century tribesmen: hyenas circling the camp; youthful stories of fighting off lions. But their most popular videos are pranks. In one, Kanaya gives his buddy a burger for the first time – then mocks him for turning it on its side. Watch more here.


At the 1939 Academy Awards, Walt Disney received an honorary gong for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It consisted of one normal-sized Oscar statuette, and seven miniature ones.


A letter to The Guardian:

I have an additional rule for our fridge, and that is to store my eclectic collection of out-of-date worldwide condiments on the top shelf, where my shorter wife cannot reach to cull them.

Ron Jacob, London


It’s Sumplete, an online puzzle created by ChatGPT. Dundee-based software developer Daniel Tait asked the AI bot to “invent a logic puzzle similar to Sudoku that doesn’t currently exist”. After a bit of back and forth, the computer complied – and even wrote the code for him. The game, which had more than 50,000 plays in its first week, involves removing numbers from a grid until each row and column adds up to a given total. Give it a go here.


Quoted 17.3.23

“Middle age is when you’ve met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.”

Ogden Nash