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Guardian (UK)


  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    In search of Shakespeare's dark lady

    On 20 May 1609, the publisher Thomas Thorpe stepped off Ludgate Hill into Stationers' Hall, and registered what was to become perhaps the most famous poetic works of all time: Shakespeare's Sonnets. It was a slim volume on publication, containing 154 poems over 67 pages, and the edition is now extremely rare: only 13 copies survive. But its influence has been all-encompassing, providing a template for language, for literature, for love, ever since. Recent years have seen the sonnets disseminated in ways that Shakespeare could never have imagined. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" is quoted 5m times on the internet. Apps have been created in which famous voices recite the poems, sonnets are tweeted, T-shirts are printed, and poetry that was once said to circulate only among Shakespeare's "private friends" is now stored for ever in the cloud.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Jon Kiriakou: Obama's Abuse of the Espionage Act is Modern-Day McCarthyism

    John Kiriakou is a former CIA analyst and whistleblower. He worked for the agency from 1990 to 2004, including as chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan. In an interview in 2009, he became the first former government official to confirm the use of waterboarding against al-Qaida suspects. From 2009 to 2011, John was a senior investigator for the US Senate foreign relations committee. In 2012, he was charged with leaking classified information to journalists; he is currently serving a 30-month prison sentence in Loretto, Pennsylvania

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Gibraltar frontier conflict causing frustration for locals

    Bobbing on the port captain's launch off the coast of Gibraltar on Tuesday there was no evidence of how this calm stretch of sea could have caused such an international storm. A handful of craft fishermen cast their nets, seemingly oblivious to the fact that 10 metres below their dinghies lay the unlikely catalyst for a political row that has embroiled David Cameron in the UK's bitterest battle with Spain over "the Rock" since Franco.Here, late last month, Gibraltar dumped an artificial reef on a fishing ground favoured by Spanish scallop dredgers. Now the ripples from those dozens of concrete blocks are rocking a 300 year old British enclave that for some is an emblematic imperial redoubt and for others an awkward colonial hangover.On Tuesday Gibraltar said it was preparing for legal action against Madrid over its retaliation for the reef, which has taken the form of a frontier control go-slow that has caused residents to queue for up to six hours in scorching summer temperatures. Gibraltar has accused Spain of inhumane behaviour and is gathering evidence that could be used at the European Court of Human Rights....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Ofcom urged to stop Bauer's radio takeover due to 'Nazi magazine'

    Ofcom has been drawn into the controversy over Bauer Media's publication of the German magazine Der Landser, which has been accused of whitewashing the history of the Waffen-SS, the Nazi party's armed wing.A letter has been sent to the broadcasting regulator by the media banker and analyst Bruce Fireman contesting Bauer's acquisition of Absolute Radio (formerly Virgin Radio) from the group that owns the Times Of India.Fireman contends that Ofcom should refuse permission for Bauer's takeover on the grounds that the company is not a fit and proper person, under terms of the broadcasting acts, to hold a broadcasting licence.He has set out his reasons in an online article headlined Nazi sympathisers allowed to run UK radio stations? It includes his full letter to Ofcom....

  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Woolly mammoth DNA may lead to a resurrection of the ancient beast

    The pioneering scientist who created Dolly the sheep has outlined how cells plucked from frozen woolly mammoth carcasses might one day help resurrect the ancient beasts.The notional procedure – bringing with it echoes of the Jurassic Park films – was spelled out by Sir Ian Wilmut, the Edinburgh-based stem-cell scientist, whose team unveiled Dolly as the world's first cloned mammal in 1996.Though it is unlikely that a mammoth could be cloned in the same way as Dolly, more modern techniques that convert tissue cells into stem cells could potentially achieve the feat, Wilmut says in an article today for the academic journalism website, The Conversation."I've always been very sceptical about the whole idea, but it dawned on me that if you could clear the first hurdle of getting viable cells from mammoths, you might be able to do something useful and interesting," Wilmut told the Guardian....

  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Stolen £1.2m Stradivarius found by police

    A riddle worthy of a detective novel – involving an internationally acclaimed violinist, her prized instrument stolen at a busy London station, and a false trail leading to Bulgaria – may be nearing its conclusion.The discovery by police of a 1696 Stradivarius worth £1.2m and two bows with a combined value of £67,000 taken by opportunist thieves in 2010 while Korean-born violinist Min-Jin Kym was eating at a Pret a Manger cafe at Euston station has, she said, left her "on cloud nine" with an "incredible feeling of elation".Kim, 35, said in a British Transport police video: "This had been the instrument I had been playing on since I was a teenager, so it was a huge part of my identity for very many years."...

  • Originally published 07/17/2013

    Stolen Picasso 'burned in stove' in Romania

    A Romanian museum is analysing ashes found in a stove to see if they are the remains of seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and others that were stolen last year from the Netherlands, an official has said.The prosecutor's spokeswoman, Gabriela Chiru, told Associated Press that Romania's National History Museum was examining the ashes found in the stove of Olga Dogaru. She is the mother of Radu Dogaru, one of three Romanian suspects charged with stealing the paintings from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery in a daytime heist.It was the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands. The stolen works have an estimated value of tens of millions of dollars if they were sold at auction....

  • Originally published 07/15/2013

    T. rex tooth found embedded in prey

    Threats to the fearsome reputation of Tyrannosaurs rex appeared to have been seen off on Monday by fresh evidence unearthed in the US.The dinosaur's feeding habits have long been debated by academics, with some claiming that T rex was less a ferocious hunter and more a lumbering slowcoach that scavenged the carcasses of beasts that had died at the claws of others.The latest evidence comes from palaeontologists who found remnants of a prehistoric skirmish in a slab of rock at the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota. The clash, which occurred around 66m years ago, involved a T rex and a large, plant-eating hadrosaur, and ended with the tooth of the former lodged firmly in the spine of the latter.Scans of the tooth and two surrounding tail vertebrae showed clear signs of bone healing around the wound, taken as proof that the hadrosaur was alive at the time of the attack and survived for several months or even years afterwards....

  • Originally published 07/14/2013

    Debt-ridden Harrisburg to auction Wild West memorabilia

    One of the world's largest collections of Wild West memorabilia, including a poker table that belonged to Wyatt Earp and weapons from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn, is to be auctioned off next week, to help pay down a Pennsylvania city's burgeoning debts.A former mayor of Harrisburg, Stephen Reed, amassed the artefacts with a view to displaying them in a museum he wanted to build, in order to draw in history-seeking visitors and help revitalise the fortunes of the economically depressed city. But with Harrisburg's debts passing $370m, city leaders voted to put the collection under the hammer. The auction represents an attempt to recover $8m in redevelopment funds that Reed spent on about 10,000 items, during a buying spree in western states."Every item you're able to purchase is an investment in our future," said Linda Thompson, the city's new mayor, who is a vocal opponent of Reed's museum project. "These artefacts had been in the city's archives for a very long time. Here we are at that important moment to see what Harrisburg's history looks like and the opportunities ahead."...

  • Originally published 07/14/2013

    Who edited Shakespeare?

    Sometime in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, the actors John Heminges and Henry Condell published Mr William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies – what we now know as the First Folio. It was the literary event of the century, recording for all time the sound of Shakespeare's English and the sweep of his imagination: Elsinore, Egypt and the Forest of Arden; a balcony, a spotted handkerchief and a skull.

  • Originally published 07/09/2013

    Richard D. Wolff: How Capitalism's Great Relocation Pauperised America's "Middle Class"

    Richard D Wolff is professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the graduate programme in international affairs of the New School University, New York City. Richard also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. His most recent book is Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It (2009). A full archive of Richard's work, including videos and podcasts, can be found on his site.Detroit's struggle with bankruptcy might find some relief, or at least distraction, by presenting its desperate economic and social conditions as a tourist attraction. "Visit Detroit," today's advertisement might begin, "see your region's future here and now: the streets, neighborhoods, abandoned buildings, and the desolation. Scary, yes, but more gripping than any imaginary ghost story."

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Rare Buddhist manuscript Lotus Sutra released

    A rare Buddhist manuscript, discovered by cattle grazers in 1931, has been released in book form in India.The Lotus Sutra was found in Gilgit region, now in Pakistan.The document, which dates back to 5th century, is perhaps the only Buddhist manuscript discovered in India.Believed to be one of the most revered Buddhist scriptures, it represents the discourse delivered by Buddha towards the end of his life.The Gilgit Lotus Sutra is kept at the National Archives of India in the capital, Delhi....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Tower of London's Line of Kings continues 400-year-old narrative

    William the Conqueror has been deposed, along with Edward III and Henry V, and Elizabeth I has kept her head but lost her horse, but the survivors of one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world, suited and booted in shining armour, their horses pawing the ground and tossing their wooden manes, are almost ready to ride out again.On Wednesday visitors to the White Tower, the oldest part of the Tower of London, will see the latest version of a display almost 400 years old, extolled in countless guide books, maps, journals and letters. In 1652 a Dutch diplomat, Lodewijck Huygens, wrote that he had been to see "wooden horses with armed men on them" – and the tall tales were also already in place, since he was shown not only the genuine armour of Henry VIII, but that of John of Gaunt, "a renowned warrior of a few hundred years ago"."It was the one sight any visitor to London worth his salt had to see," said Thom Richardson, curator of armour at the Royal Armouries, which runs the White Tower within the Historic Royal Palaces Tower of London site....

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Australian bushman claims to have footage of legendary night parrot

    An Australian bushman and naturalist claims to have captured video footage of the night parrot, a bird not seen alive for more than a century.John Young, who describes himself as a wildlife detective, showed the footage and a number of still photos of the bird to a packed room of enthusiasts and media at the Queensland Museum on Wednesday. The desert-dwelling night parrot, Pezoporus occidentalis, has never been photographed and the only evidence of its continued existence has been two dead birds found in 1990 and 2006.Wildlife authorities and birders responded to the sighting with excitement, saying the evidence supporting Young's claim was overwhelming....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Martha Bergmark: Remembering Medgar Evers

    Martha Bergmark is founding president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice, a nonprofit public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice.On this day, 50 years ago, I was a white teenager in Jackson, Mississippi, absorbed most of the time with the typical concerns of childhood. But I vividly remember 12 June 1963, because that night my family and I heard the news that Medgar Evers, a well-known civil rights leader in our state, had been shot and killed in the driveway of his home, just a few miles from where we lived.

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    Jacques Barzun's grandson nominated ambassador to the Court of St. James

    Washington is due to nominate the head of finance of Barack Obama's re-election campaign, Matthew Barzun, as the new US ambassador to London, according to diplomatic sources.Barzun's nomination has been delayed by the general backlog of personnel appointments at the state department as it looks around for new faces to fill critical roles in Obama's second administration, but it is said now to be imminent.Barzun, 42, is a Kentucky-based businessman who was made ambassador to Sweden in 2009 in recognition of his work on the 2008 Obama campaign, where he won praise for amassing large numbers of small scale contributors. But he was called back to the US two years later to lead the fundraising drive for the 2012 campaign, the most expensive in US history. The campaign Barzun ran raised $730m (£470m)....

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    Caroline Elkins: Britain Has Said Sorry to the Mau Mau. The Rest of the Empire is Still Waiting.

    Caroline Elkins is professor of history and African and African American studies at Harvard University and author of Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag, for which she was awarded a Pulitzer prize in 2006On Thursday nearly 200 elderly Kikuyu people travelled from their rural homesteads and sat before the British high commissioner in Nairobi. Over half a century had passed since many were last in front of a British official. It was a different era then in Kenya. The Mau Mau war was raging, and Britain was implementing coercive policies that left indelible scars on the bodies and minds of countless men and women suspected of subversive activities.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    A salute to the 'British Schindler' as he turns 104

    Nicholas Winton is famous because he did not turn over the page. While many British people tut-tutted when they read about the plight of Jews in central Europe under the Nazis in late 1938 and then turned to the next item of news, he took action. At the time, he was working as a broker at the London Stock Exchange and was about to go on a skiing trip as a Christmas break. Instead, he received an urgent call from a friend to come to Prague, where the latter was visiting a refugee camp. Winton cancelled his holiday, went over and saw the situation facing the Jews in the Nazi-occupied part of Czechoslovakia.

  • Originally published 05/12/2013

    Tristram Hunt: History is Where the Great Battles of Public Life are Now Being Fought

    Tristram Hunt is Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central. He is the author of The English Civil War: At First Hand and the critically acclaimed Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City. A regular history broadcaster, he has authored numerous radio and television series for the BBC and Channel 4. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund.The bullish Harvard historian Niall Ferguson cut an unfamiliar, almost meek figure last week. As reports of his ugly suggestion that John Maynard Keynes's homosexuality had made the great economist indifferent to the prospects of future generations surged across the blogosphere, Ferguson wisely went for a mea culpa.So, in a cringeing piece for Harvard University's student magazine, the professor, who usually so enjoys confronting political correctness, denied he was homophobic or, indeed, racist and antisemitic for good measure.

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Pankaj Mishra: Sun At Last Setting on Britain's Imperial Myth

    Pankaj Mishra is an Indian author and writer of literary and political essays. His books include Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond. His new work, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, is published in 2012.Scuttling away from India in 1947, after plunging the jewel in the crown into a catastrophic partition, "the British", the novelist Paul Scott famously wrote, "came to the end of themselves as they were". The legacy of British rule, and the manner of their departures – civil wars and impoverished nation states locked expensively into antagonism, whether in the Middle East, Africa or the Malay Peninsula – was clearer by the time Scott completed his Raj Quartet in the early 1970s. No more, he believed, could the British allow themselves any soothing illusions about the basis and consequences of their power.

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Mau Mau victims to be compensated

    The British government is negotiating payments to thousands of Kenyans who were detained and severely mistreated during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency in what would be the first compensation settlement resulting from official crimes committed under imperial rule.In a development that could pave the way for many other claims from around the world, government lawyers embarked upon the historic talks after suffering a series of defeats in their attempts to prevent elderly survivors of the prison camps from seeking redress through the British courts.

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    German Nazi-themed opera cancelled after deluge of complaints

    A controversial Nazi-themed production of Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser has been cancelled after it caused some audience members to seek medical help and prompted others to walk out in anger.The Rheinoper in Düsseldorf said it was in a state of shock after being deluged with complaints by members of the public who called the opera tasteless and unnecessarily provocative.The production, which opened last Saturday and was expected to be one of the highlights of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Wagner's birth later this month, has a Nazi storyline, and includes scenes of people dying in gas chambers, being shot and raped, and of members of a family having their heads shaved before their execution....

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Lee Donaghy: Writing Like a Historian -- Developing Students' Writing Skills

    Lee Donaghy is an assistant principal at a secondary school in Birmingham in the United Kingdom."Why are we doing English in history, sir?" came the question as I asked my year 9 history class what kind of word disarmament was. Having anticipated this kind of reaction I had an answer prepared: "Do we only use language in English lessons?"The question was anticipated because I have heard it from other classes, and indeed other teachers, since I began to include an explicit focus on language development in my history lessons 18 months ago. And the question goes to the heart of what I believe is a fundamental reason for the attainment gap between children eligible for free school meals and their non-free school meal counterparts in Britain; the misalignment of these pupils' language use with that which is needed for academic success and the need for teachers to explicitly address this misalignment in their teaching.

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    European and Asian languages traced back to single mother tongue

    Languages spoken by billions of people across Europe and Asia are descended from an ancient tongue uttered in southern Europe at the end of the last ice age, according to research.The claim, by scientists in Britain, points to a common origin for vocabularies as varied as English and Urdu, Japanese and Itelmen, a language spoken along the north-eastern edge of Russia.The ancestral language, spoken at least 15,000 years ago, gave rise to seven more that formed an ancient Eurasiatic "superfamily", the researchers say. These in turn split into languages now spoken all over Eurasia, from Portugal to Siberia."Everybody in Eurasia can trace their linguistic ancestry back to a group, or groups, of people living around 15,000 years ago, probably in southern Europe, as the ice sheets were retreating," said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at Reading University....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    93-year-old 'Auschwitz guard' arrested

    A 93-year-old man who was deported from the US for lying about his Nazi past was arrested by German authorities on Monday on allegations he served as an Auschwitz death camp guard, Stuttgart prosecutors said.Hans Lipschis was taken into custody after authorities concluded there was "compelling evidence" he was involved in crimes at Auschwitz while posted there from 1941 to 1945, prosecutor Claudia Krauth said.Lipschis has acknowledged being assigned to an SS guard unit at Auschwitz but maintains he only served as a cook and was not involved in any war crimes....

  • Originally published 05/05/2013

    Hollywood conservative unmasked as Holocaust revisionist

    To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood's political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.Over the past five years Stein's organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein's cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Joseph Harker: How a Black Briton's Murder Led to Change

    Joseph Harker is assistant comment editor at the Guardian newspaper and a former editor of Black Briton newspaper. Follow him on Twitter.(The Root) -- Exactly 20 years ago today, Stephen Lawrence woke up like a typical 18-year-old student. Studying technology and physics, he was hoping to go to college later that year to realize his dream of becoming an architect.By the end of the day he was dead, stabbed to death by a gang of white racists as he waited by a bus stop near his home in southeast London. But his story lives on: His tragic killing on April 22, 1993, and its aftermath, captured the attention of the nation and had a huge impact on policing, race relations and the country's biggest institutions and corporations.Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen, like any grieving family, wanted justice. The police, it seemed, were ambivalent. They treated Stephen's friend Duwayne Brooks -- who had fled for his life and managed to escape the gang -- as a suspect. And though, in the following hours and days, many local people pointed fingers toward the same group of five people, officers took no meaningful action....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Ken Livingstone: Throw Out the Myths about Margaret Thatcher

    Ken Livingstone is a former mayor of London.It is a truism that history is written by the victors. As Margaret Thatcher's economic policies were continued after she left office, culminating in economic catastrophe in 2008, it is necessary to throw out the myths peddled about her. The first is that she was popular. The second is that she delivered economic success.Unlike previous governments, Thatcher's never commanded anything close to a majority in a general election. The Tories' biggest share of the vote under her was less than 44% in 1979, after which her vote fell. The false assertions about her popularity are used to insist that Labour can only succeed by carrying out Tory policies. But this is untrue.The reason for the parliamentary landslide in 1983 was not Thatcher's popularity – her share of the vote fell to 42% – but the loss of votes to the defectors of the SDP and their alliance with the Liberals. Labour's voters did not defect to the Tories, whose long-term decline continued under Thatcher....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Amina Cachalia turned down Nelson Mandela's offer of marriage, son claims

    "I can't help it if the ladies take note of me," Nelson Mandela once said. "I am not going to protest."The thrice-married former president of South Africa is a celebrated charmer who, even in old age, has captivated celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and the Spice Girls. But one woman, it has been claimed, turned down a proposal of marriage from Mandela before he went on to wed his current wife, Graça Machel.Amina Cachalia, a distinguished activist in the anti-apartheid struggle, politely rebuffed the great statesman in the 1990s, according to her son, Ghaleb."She called me and my sister aside and said she wanted to tell us about this proposal and that she was not going to accept it," Ghaleb said on Monday. "She was very matter of fact about it."...

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Timothy Garton Ash: The Euro Survives, But Where are the Europeans?

    Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, political writer and Guardian columnist. His personal website is www.timothygartonash.com'We have made Italy, now we must make Italians" – thus the old saying. Today we have made the euro and the crisis of the euro is unmaking Europeans. People who felt enthusiastically European 10 years ago are reverting to angry national stereotypes.

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Berlin Wall section removed despite protests

    Construction workers backed by German police have removed a section of the Berlin Wall to make way for a building project, despite calls for the historic site to be preserved.Residents expressed shock at the removal of the East Side Gallery, as that section is known, which followed a series of protests, including one attended by the actor David Hasselhoff.A police spokesman, Alexander Tönnies, said there were no incidents as work had begun at about 5am to take down four sections of the wall, each about 1.2 metres wide, to make way for an access route to the planned high-rise luxury flats along the Spree river....

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Costas Douzinas: Europe's South Rises Up Against Those Who Act as Sadistic Colonial Masters

    Costas Douzinas is a law professor at Birkbeck, University of London. His books include The End of Human Rights and Human Rights and Empire. His Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis will be published in April 2013The "new world order" announced at the end of the 1980s was the shortest in history. Protest, riots and uprisings erupted all over the world after the 2008 crisis, leading to the Arab spring, the Indignados and Occupy. A former director of operations at MI6, quoted by Paul Mason, called it "a revolutionary wave, like 1848". Mason agreed: "There are strong parallels – above all with 1848, and with the wave of discontent that preceded 1914."

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    China's Cultural Revolution: son's guilt over the mother he sent to her death

    They beat her, bound her and led her from home. She knelt before the crowds as they denounced her. Then they loaded her on to a truck, drove her to the outskirts of town and shot her.Fang Zhongmou's execution for political crimes during the Cultural Revolution was commonplace in its brutality but more shocking to outsiders in one regard: her accusers were her husband and their 16-year-old child.More than four decades on, Fang's son is seeking to atone by telling her story and calling for the preservation of her grave in their home town of Guzhen, central Anhui province, as a cultural relic....

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Nelson's uniform on display in Paris

    As soon as the travelling crate was opened and the shroud of white tissue paper carefully peeled away, it was clear there was damage to the dark blue coat: a hole in the left shoulder, and some of the gold braid on the epaulette torn away. The damage happened more than two centuries ago, and the coat's arrival in France was one of the most unusual days in the history of the National Maritime Museum, in Greenwich, south London, and the Musée de l'Armée, at Les Invalides in Paris."I think it's a wonder," said Emelie Robbe, a curator of the Paris museum's new exhibition on Napoleon and Europe. "It is astonishing that it should be here."The coat, an undress uniform of the Royal Navy, already slightly old fashioned when it was made in the late 18th century, had never left England since 1805, when it came back in a sea chest on the same ship that carried the body of Horatio Nelson preserved in a barrel of brandy. It has now voyaged again, through the Channel tunnel, into the heart of his enemy's empire....

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    WWI poem wins UK poetry award

    A poem inspired by her late mother's stories of the first world war, which has drawn comparisons with Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, has won the poetry journal Agenda's editor Patricia McCarthy the National Poetry Competition.McCarthy, who has published several poetry collections of her own, beat 13,040 other entries to win the anonymously-judged prize. Her winning poem, "Clothes that escaped the Great War", tells of the plodding carthorse who would take boys away to war, and then return, later, with just their clothes. "These were the most scary, my mother recalled: clothes / piled high on the wobbly cart, their wearers gone," writes McCarthy.

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Nelson Mandela admitted to hospital

    Nelson Mandela has been admitted to hospital with a recurrence of a lung infection, the South African government said on Thursday.A statement said the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader and former president was admitted shortly before midnight. It gave no further details other than to say he was receiving the "best possible expert medical treatment and comfort". Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner....

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Martin Paul Eve: Open Access and the Humanities -- Reimagining Our Future

    Martin Paul Eve is a lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln. His work focuses on American 20th and 21st–century fiction in addition to thinking about mutations in scholarly publishing in the academic humanities. @martin_eveWhen it comes to open access in the humanities, it does not feel, to many, as though they were born open or are achieving openness but, rather, that they are having openness violently thrust upon them.Although the open access movement has been going strong for 10 years and has had good take-up in certain scientific disciplines, such as physics, the humanities currently lack the infrastructure and funding mechanisms needed to support the transition period triggered by RCUK's (Research Councils UK) mandate. Amid erroneous circulations of fear uncertainty and doubt surrounding open licensing, the whole setup appears anarchic and shambolic to many who just want to buckle down and write their research.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Republicans critical of Obama national monuments bill amid sequester cuts

    Congressional Republicans have condemned Barack Obama for designating five new national monuments at a time when sequester funding cuts are hitting existing national parks and landmarks.Doc Hastings, the Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement on Monday criticising the president for spending at a time when the sequester has forced the cancellation of White House tours.Obama signed proclamations on Monday establishing the five new monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act."These sites honour the pioneering heroes, spectacular landscapes and rich history that have shaped our extraordinary country," Obama said. "By designating these national monuments today, we will ensure they will continue to inspire and be enjoyed by generations of Americans to come."...

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    The dwarves of Auschwitz

    'I was saved by the grace of the devil," Holocaust survivor Perla Ovitz told us. Again and again, she recounted in detail how she and her family were taken to the gas chamber and ordered to strip naked. A heavy door opened and they were pushed inside. "It was almost dark and we stood in what looked like a large washing room, waiting for something to happen. We looked up to the ceiling to see why the water was not coming. Suddenly we smelled gas. We gasped heavily, some of us fainting on the floor. With our last breath we cried out. Minutes passed, or maybe just seconds, then we heard an angry voice from outside – 'Where is my dwarf family?' The door opened, and we saw Dr Mengele standing there. He ordered us to be carried out and had cold water poured on us to revive us."

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    What the sculpture of Pan reveals about sex and the Romans

    Nothing is more likely to inspire us to see for ourselves than a warning about the effects of looking. Take the media interest this month when it was revealed that the British Museum's exhibition, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, is to include a "parental guidance" notice. The reason? An ancient marble sculpture of the god Pan (a part-human, part-goat figure) having sex with a she-goat is not to be segregated, as it has been since its discovery in 1752, but displayed openly with the other exhibits – a liberal move by London, if also one which dulls the object's impact. Getting this story into the news ensures that centuries of censorship are not swept under the carpet, and that Pan, and the show he speaks for, remain "hot property".But the news story also exaggerates this censorship. Far from being forgotten in its first modern home in the royal palace at Portici on the Bay of Naples, the sculpture, which was part of a restricted collection in the cellars, was quickly a celebrity.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Historian: "Game of Thrones is more brutally realistic than most historical novels"

    Tom Holland is the author of numerous historical works, including "The Shadow of the Sword," and is the presenter of the BBC's Making History. Although Hilary Mantel is apparently yet to begin the third volume of her trilogy of novels about Thomas Cromwell, we can be confident of several plot twists that it will not feature. Cromwell will not precipitate a civil war. He will not betray the husband of his foster-sister, with whom he is in love. He will not escape the executioner's block. His downfall is scripted. The history books cannot be cheated. Mantel's Cromwell is as bound to the inevitability of his doom as any prisoner to a rack.

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    German anglers call Cold War truce

    They are known for nothing if not their patience – which may be one explanation as to why it has taken anglers from the former East and West Germany 23 years to call a cold war truce.What gymnasts, chess players, swimmers and footballers managed fairly soon after unification in 1990, Germany's anglers have finally achieved, but only after years of bitter recrimination, deep suspicion and copious amounts of cultural prejudice on both sides.From autumn, the West German Association of German Sport Fishers (VDSF) and the East German Anglers' Association (DAV) will come together to form the Deutsche Angelfischerverband (German Anglers' Association) or DAFV....

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Glossop battles over fate of town's historic gothic hall and new library

    It is probably the only town in Britain campaigning against a new library. But many in Glossop, nestled on the western edge of the Peak District, are very attached to their old one, Victoria Hall, a grand gothic revival hall purpose-built in 1888 on land donated by Francis Edward Howard, 2nd Lord Howard of Glossop.The hall, which is in need of major renovation after years of neglect, including to its unused upper floor with its retro-sprung dancefloor, is now at the centre of a complex and entrenched battle over a £4m pot of public money waiting to be spent.High Peak borough council is trustee of Victoria Hall but leases the ground floor for free to Derbyshire county council, the library service authority....

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Khadija Patel: The Unexamined Massacre of the Marikana Miners

    Khadija Patel is a journalist and columnist with The Daily Maverick, an online publication based in Johannesburg, South Africa.Fifty three years to the day of the Sharpeville massacre, when police gunned down 69 people outside a police station south of Johannesburg, it's a national holiday in South Africa. Like other countries, we have successfully confined the horrors of our past to museums and national holidays. Few complain about a day off. But the brutality, mindless violence, injustice and oppression that catalysed into the Sharpeville massacre is still echoed in the experience of South Africans to this day.

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Is the retired pope still infallible?

    The pope is infallible when, as head of the bishops of the church, he requires the faithful to believe a matter pertaining to faith or morals. This is the standard definition of infallibility. It goes no further. Should the pope stick his head out of doors and remark that it will be a nice day, he is just as liable to be snowed on as the next man.In practice, this means that the church debates a subject at great length and when the bishops and laity are in agreement, the pope makes an infallible pronouncement. The bishops' discussions before the announcement can take a long time; the doctrine of the immaculate conception was in debate for at least 1,300 years before being made official....

  • Originally published 03/12/2013

    July 20 plotter von Kleist dies

    Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the last surviving participant in the main plot to kill Adolf Hitler, has died aged 90.Von Kleist, who once volunteered to wear a suicide vest to assassinate the Nazi dictator, died at his home in Munich on Friday, said his wife, Gundula.Von Kleist was born on 10 July 1922, on his family estate Schmenzin in Pomerania, in an area of north-eastern Germany that is now part of Poland.The Von Kleist family was a long line of Prussian landowners, who had served the state for centuries in high-ranking military and administrative positions....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Tariq Ali: Hugo Chávez and Me

    Tariq Ali has been a leading figure of the international left since the 60s. He has been writing for the Guardian since the 70s. He is a long-standing editor of the New Left Review and a political commentator published on every continent. His books include The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power, and The Obama Syndrome

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Timbuktu mayor: Mali rebels torched library of ancient manuscripts

    Islamist insurgents retreating from the ancient Saharan city of Timbuktu have set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless ancient manuscripts, some dating back to the 13th century, in what the town's mayor described as a "devastating blow" to world heritage.Hallé Ousmani Cissé told the Guardian that al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings where the manuscripts were being kept. They also burned down the town hall and governor's office, and shot dead a man who was celebrating the arrival of the French military.French troops and the Malian army reached the gates of Timbuktu on Saturday and secured the town's airport. But they appear to have got there too late to save the leather-bound manuscripts, which were a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa's medieval history....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    George Monbiot: If You Think We're Done with Neoliberalism, Think Again

    George Monbiot is the author of the bestselling books The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order and Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain, as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man's Land. His latests books are Heat: how to stop the planet burning and Bring on the Apocalypse?How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world's 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments' refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.

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