Student

Matthew Wood, on a year abroad at the University of Alabama, discusses what life is like today in one of the major battlegrounds of the 60s

The secret history of Michelle Obama

Family tree suggests an ancestor was raped by white slave owner

Barry Beckett: Musician who helped form the Muscles Shoals Rhythm Section

The record producer and keyboard player Barry Beckett was involved in many classic singles and albums from the 1960s to the 1990s in a variety of genres but especially rhythm'n'blues, Southern soul, rock and country music. Starting out as a session musician at Rick Hall's FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1967, he teamed up with drummer David Hawkins, bassist David Hood and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Johnson to form the Muscles Shoals Rhythm Section and recorded with Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Candi Staton, Percy Sledge, Otis Rush and Arthur Conley.

How we saw off Brüno

Murray Echols was a 75-year-old Alabama pensioner innocently indulging his passion for ballroom dancing. Then along came Sacha Baron Cohen and his film crew ...

Guilty of manslaughter – man who drowned wife on their honeymoon

Newlywed died while diving at Great Barrier Reef / Victim's family furious at one-year prison term for killer

Album: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, (Lightning Rod)

The strangely fruited tree on the cover gives a clue: this is southern rock rich in the mythology and ambiguous morality of its region.

US captain held by Somali pirates is freed

US cargo ship captain Richard Phillips has been freed from captivity at the hands of Somali pirates in a dramatic ending to a five-day standoff with American naval forces, the US Navy said today.

Might of the US Navy circles pirate kidnappers

Warships deployed to try to save sailor held by Somalis after attack on cargo vessel

11 dead in Alabama shooting spree

Authorities grappled today for the reason a 27-year-old Alabama man shot dead 10 people, including his mother, before killing himself after a gun battle with police and a car chase down a rural highway.

Ernie Ashworth: Country singer and member of the 'Grand Ole Opry'

A long-time member of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry country music radio show, the singer Ernie Ashworth was best known for his 1963 chart-topper, "Talk Back Trembling Lips". Written by the veteran songwriter John D. Loudermilk, it spent over 30 weeks in the charts and remains one of the most enduring country hits of its era.

Father threw children off bridge

A man accused of throwing his four young children to their deaths from an Alabama bridge unexpectedly pleaded guilty, telling a judge he wanted to be put to death.

Candi Staton, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

'You're looking at the genuine article tonight," Candi Staton politely boasts before her rich, honey-tinged voice caresses the Elvis Presley hit "Suspicious Minds". The 65-year-old country-soul diva refuses to belt out songs, and has no time for the vocal gymnastics of an X Factor automaton or even for the brassiness of, say, her near contemporary Tina Turner. Staton's exquisite voice is a sweeter, more vulnerable, instrument and her act is a tender, more soothing experience. It's little wonder that the dance act The Source used her comforting timbre for the 1991 chill-out tune "You Got the Love". The dance anthem provides a cosy embrace at the end of the night and evokes a euphoric response here, particularly from a gaggle of suited gentlemen of a certain age.

Arlo Guthrie, 100 Club, London

This dude can still cut the mustard

US freezes as Arctic air blasts in from Canada

America is not unfamiliar with low temperatures, but the present cold snap is exceptional by any standards

Fugitive pilot caught after apparent suicide bid

With his world crumbling around him, investment adviser Marcus Schrenker opted for a bailout. However, his plan to escape personal turmoil was short-lived.

Obama's first power play: College football leagues

They're corrupt and over-complicated – but if the President-elect thinks he can shake-up America's college football leagues, he's picking a fight he can't win. Rupert Cornwell on a multi-billion-dollar minefield
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003