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21 November

In the headlines

Rishi Sunak will use tomorrow’s Autumn Statement to “kickstart a Thatcherite tax-cutting drive”, says The Daily Telegraph. The PM is considering plans to raise the 40% income tax threshold, cut rates for National Insurance, and reduce inheritance tax and business taxes. An Italian court has convicted more than 200 mafiosi in one of the country’s largest organised crime trials in decades. Law enforcement officials and high-ranking politicians were among those found guilty of working with the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate, which controls more than 80% of Europe’s cocaine trade. A tool bag dropped in space by butterfingered Nasa astronauts earlier this month (pictured) will be visible in British skies this evening, says the Evening Standard. Stargazers in the south should be able to spot the surprisingly shiny DIY debris with a telescope or binoculars between 6.24pm and 6.34pm.


The Guardian has compiled a list of 40 “outrageous photos that changed fashion”, including Jean Shrimpton clutching a teddy bear on the streets of New York, photographed by David Bailey in 1962; Twiggy wearing a Mary Quant minidress in 1966; an 18-year-old Jerry Hall wearing a red swimsuit on a plinth in the Soviet Union in 1975; a 19-year-old Kate Moss in see-through tights on an unmade bed in 1993; and Princess Diana in an oversized “Fly Virgin Atlantic” sweatshirt and cycling shorts in 1995. See the rest here.


You’ll soon be able to order a car on Amazon, says Axios. Starting next year, Hyundai dealers in the US will be able to list vehicles on the e-commerce platform, with customers specifying model, trim and colour – and whether they want delivery or collection. The tech giant’s auto plans are currently confined to new cars, but the announcement still sent the share prices of several major used car sellers plunging.

On the way out

The French are going off red wine. Back in the 1980s, vin rouge accounted for 80% of the domestic market. But sales have fallen by 32% over the past decade; one research group found that 629,000 households stopped buying the stuff between 2019 and 2022, while 192,000 started buying white. Jacques Dupont, wine critic at Le Point magazine, says one factor is global warming. “We always wanted red wines in the winter to accompany dishes with sauces,” he tells The Times. “But now even the winters are warm, and you don’t feel like having a red wine with a heavy meal.”

Quirk of language

The word “dude” has a surprising origin, says Art of Manliness. In 1883, a poem in The New York World described the “dude” as a new type of “foppish young man” living in cities. These dandies were “overly fastidious about their clothing, professed an interest in avant-garde art, and smoked tiny cigarettes” – 19th-century hipsters, basically. When holiday ranches opened in the American West catering to city slickers who wanted to experience the “rough-and-tumble frontier” in comfort, they became known, disparagingly, as “dude ranches”. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Californian surfers adopted the term and gave it its modern meaning: a laid-back kind of guy.

Gone viral

There are six weeks left in the year, but the “impatient souls of social media” are already posting their new year’s resolutions, says The New York Times. On TikTok, Carter Kale published his list – which includes reading 10 books, getting 200,000 followers and buying a house – in October, while Jodie Taylor provides “businesslike” tips for making an “official plan of action to glow up” by the end of “Q4”. The early arrival of New Year’s Day is typical of the internet, “where it’s never too early to celebrate the next season”. And if your 2024 plans don’t work out, there’s always 2025. “Which is almost here.”


It’s the daughter of President Putin’s spokesman, who has been ridiculed for claiming she endured “Spartan conditions” during a spell in Paris. Dmitry Peskov told an interviewer that Elizaveta Peskova, 25, had never been a mazhor – a derogatory term for a young person who lives a decadent lifestyle – despite social media posts in which she poses in expensive clothes and takes private jets. Peskova wrote on Instagram earlier this year that she had returned from Paris to Moscow and was “working and earning a lot, engaging in various projects”.


Quoted 21-11-23

“The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.”

Robert Graves