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20 November

In the headlines

Israel and Hamas may be edging towards a deal that would see some of the estimated 240 Israeli hostages freed, potentially in exchange for a temporary ceasefire. Michael Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to the US, says he is hopeful an agreement will be reached “in the coming days”. Javier Milei, a self-described “anarcho-capitalist”, has won Argentina’s presidential election. The far-right libertarian outsider, who has vowed to “exterminate” inflation and take a chainsaw to the state, secured 56% of the vote in a run-off against the centre-left candidate Sergio Massa. Rosalynn Carter, wife of former US president Jimmy Carter, has died aged 96. The couple, who grew up in the same rural town in Georgia, were married for 77 years. “As long as Rosalynn was in the world,” Carter said in a statement, “I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”


The finalists and winners of this year’s Nature Photographer of the Year awards, which received more than 21,000 entries from around the world, include a spectacled bear in a canopy of Spanish moss in the Andes; a mob of rays shot through with sunbeams in Mexico; a perfectly camouflaged chameleon in Madagascar; and a close-up of an endangered jaguar in the Mayan Jungle. See more here.


At many American colleges, the parents of students have set up Facebook and WhatsApp groups, says Juno DeMelo in The Cut. These are sometimes used for reasonable things – “to get details on graduation or crowdsource the name of a doctor”. But more often they’re filled with extreme over-parenting: asking where their “Dear Daughter” should get a haircut; arranging playdates for their adult children; or recommending the use of a pool noodle in the gap between the wall and their bed, to stop their phone falling on the floor. It’s “the final frontier for helicopter parents”.


Nigel Farage made his debut on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! last night, says Ben Dowell in The Times, and he “came across rather well”. Deploying his best “pub landlord” persona, the former UKIP leader brushed off quips about Brexit and helped secure some food for everyone by completing a task in a van full of snakes (above). What many of Farage’s critics forget is that he can be “intensely smart, affable and charming”. It’d be a brave man to bet against him going the distance in the Australian jungle. “Being underestimated is what he does.”

Food and drink

As seems to happen every year, a couple of supermarket own-brand champagnes have beaten the big-name competition in Which? magazine’s Christmas taste tests. Top of the rankings was Co-op’s £22.75-a-bottle Les Pionniers, which wowed judges with its “smoky notes” and “smooth creaminess”, followed by Aldi’s £22 Veuve Monsigny Premier Cru (“fresh fruit flavours against a savoury backbone”). The panel also praised the most expensive fizz they tasted, the £47-a-bottle Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, but concluded that plenty of cheaper options were “just as, if not more, delicious”.

Gone viral

This decade-old video of a wall of fog rolling over a mountain on the Canadian island of Newfoundland has resurfaced on X (formerly Twitter), racking up more than 650,000 views. “That would scare the living s*** out of me,” says one user, while another adds that from this distance, it’s virtually “indistinguishable from a tsunami”.


It’s a planet where it rains sand, says The Guardian. The celestial body, named Wasp-107b, lies about 200 light-years from Earth. Data from Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope shows that the off-putting orb has 1,000C temperatures, raging winds, and silicate sand clouds which fall like precipitation. There’s also evidence of water vapour and sulphur dioxide, which would give the whole place a rather distinctive smell of burnt matches.


Quoted 20-11-23

“I’m proud to pay taxes in the United States. The only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money.”

American broadcaster Arthur Godfrey