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5 November

In the headlines

Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi has apologised for the government’s botched effort to rewrite parliamentary rules to get Tory MP Owen Paterson out of a spiralling sleaze scandal. Zahawi told BBC Breakfast the rapid U-turn – resulting in Paterson’s resignation – was the “grown-up thing to do”. Pfizer has announced “a real game- changer” in the fight against Covid, after a new study showed the US pharma giant’s new antiviral pill, Paxlovid, cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by 89%. Abba may write the UK’s next Eurovision entry after a humiliating last place in this year’s contest. “What is the risk?” former Eurovision winners Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “You can’t be worse than last.”

Comment of the day


Don’t believe Boris’s doomsday clock

The “fatalistic flourishes” spouted at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow this week would make anyone switch off, says Simon Kelner in the I newspaper. Boris Johnson has us at “one minute to midnight” on the doomsday clock. What would you do if you were told you only had a minute to live? “I’ll bet it’s not to put the recycling bin out.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the BBC that if leaders failed to act now, they’d “allow a genocide on an infinitely greater scale” than the Nazis inflicted. Wisely, he apologised. If you’re trying to save the planet, an “idiomatic arms race” doesn’t help.

Inside politics

American populism is really run by elites, says Lexington in The Economist. The Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin is a “private-equity baron” who went to Harvard, as did Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Ted Cruz and Mike Pompeo. That’s exactly why they turn on those institutions later, says academic Yascha Mounk: “It’s much easier to hate people you’ve been around than people you don’t know.”

Tomorrow’s world

Scientists are hoping to chat with whales, says Christoph Droesser in Hakai magazine, using artificial intelligence to translate the clicking sounds the mammals make. The opportunity to find out what they are saying to each other is irresistible. “Do they give each other tips on the best fishing grounds?” wonder the project’s researchers. “Do whale mums exchange stories about raising their offspring, like their human counterparts?”


A London pied-à-terre

This elegant two-bedroom flat is on the ground floor of an Italianate villa on Highbury Crescent, one of the most desirable addresses in Islington. It has high ceilings, large bay windows and double doors to the communal garden. Upper Street and Highbury Fields are a short walk away. £1.275m.

On the way out

Irish cows, 1.3 million of which would have to be culled for the country’s farm industry to meet its climate targets, according to accountants KPMG. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has dismissed the report as “scaremongering” – but agriculture accounts for more than a third of Ireland’s greenhouse-gas emissions, the highest proportion in Europe.

Snapshot answer

It’s the world’s largest potato. Colin and Donna Craig-Brown unearthed the 7.8kg spud at their small farm near Hamilton, New Zealand. Doug, as they have named it, has become a local celebrity. The couple have been towing the giant potato around in a small cart but plan to turn it into vodka – it’s been more than two months since his discovery and Doug is “getting a bit pongy”, says Colin.


quoted 5.11

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”

Julia Child