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3 November

In the headlines

Sam Bankman-Fried has been convicted of fraud and money-laundering by a New York court. The 31-year-old former billionaire, who founded the now-collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, faces up to 110 years in prison. Elon Musk has told Rishi Sunak artificial intelligence will be “the most disruptive force in history”, and will one day remove the need for people to work. Speaking to the PM in London at the AI Safety Summit, the Tesla boss also said humanoid robots could become “real friends” to people, but would need a physical “off switch” in case they turned evil. The number of jellyfish seen in British waters increased by 32% over the past year, according to the Marine Conservation Society. The most commonly spotted were barrel jellyfish (known as the “dustbin-lid”), but warmer waters also tempted in crystal, compass and lion’s mane, and the odd Portuguese man o’ war.


The finalists and winners of this year’s Dog Photography Awards, which received more than 1,400 entries from around the world, include a border collie leaping for his frisbee; an Australian shepherd relaxing in the snow; a collie jumping into a river; and a pair of three-week-old great dane puppies. See more here.


More than 100 of China’s generals were arrested by anti-corruption investigators between 2013 and 2017, says Bloomberg – that’s more than the number of senior commanders lost on the battlefield since 1949. The main reason for the widespread graft is that the People’s Liberation Army is linked to the Chinese Communist Party, not the state, so personal ties “play a crucial role in promotions”. This encourages bribery – when General Xu Caihou was investigated in 2013, officials found “more than a ton of cash, jade, and valuable antiques” in his basement.


Don’t worry if you can’t be bothered to clear leaves as they pile up in your garden, says The Washington Post – you’re doing wildlife a world of good. Fallen foliage provides an important habitat over winter for “critical pollinating species” including bees, butterflies and moths. Similarly, a “light scattering” of leaves on your lawn can keep the grass healthy. But don’t go overboard: too thick a layer will “smother the turf”.

Quirk of language

There’s no shortage of words for our bottoms, says Mental Floss, but there are many enjoyable terms that have “slipped through the crack” of lexical history. Some, such as suburbs and west side, are geographical. Others are more descriptive: the likes of downstairs, latter end, and back porch. In the 1940s, you might have talked about someone’s rusty-dusty (from all that sitting) or their labonza. Some even have “Shakespearean pedigree”: the line “I’ll tickle your catastrophe” in Henry IV loosely translates to “I’ll kick your ass”.

Inside politics

Clallam County in Washington State is America’s “last political bellwether”, says The Run-Up podcast. Of the more than 3,000 counties in the US, it is the only one that has voted for the winner of every presidential election since 1980. When we visited, we spoke to a range of people: “committed Biden voters, committed Trump voters, people who were hoping for anyone but Biden or Trump”. But every one of them thought Biden would win the county again in 2024 – and the election itself.


It’s Nidelven Blå, winner of the 2023 World Cheese Awards. The semi-solid blue is made not far from the Norwegian city of Trondheim – where, coincidentally or not, this year’s tasting ceremony was held. It beat more than 4,000 other fromages to take the top spot, says Time Out, including a Belgian hard cows’ cheese that came second and a Swiss hard cheese that finished third. Shockingly, neither France nor the UK – “two very proudly cheesy nations” – had any entries in the top 10. See the others here.



“I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions – the curtain was up.”

Groucho Marx