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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Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities