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The prison house is a tough school but it saved the young Maurice McIntyre and reconnected him with music. In the late 1960s McIntyre became one of the most passionate and articulate spokesmen of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and an exponent of fiery but spacious "spirit jazz".

The Willow Springs water park in Arkansas has closed after being linked to two cases of the deadly infection in three years

Girl fights for life after ingesting brain-eating parasite while swimming in water park

The deadly microscopic amoeba made its way up 12-year-old Kali Hardig's nose to her brain during a visit to the Willow Springs lake in Arkansas

Miller Barber: Golfer known as ‘Mr X’ who was famed for his unique swing

Miller Barber: Golfer known as ‘Mr X’ who was famed for his unique swing

Miller Barber, who died on 11 June at the age of 82, was a golfer with a unique swing who made the most combined starts on the PGA and Champions tours. Nicknamed “Mr X,” he played in 1,297 tournaments on the PGA Tour and the 50-and-over circuit. He won 11 times in 694 PGA Tour starts and added 24 victories in 603 events on the Champions Tour.

Chris Christie’s weight-loss surgery feeds talk he could run for the White House in 2016

When Chris Christie briefly considered a bid for the White House in 2011, many suggested the popular New Jersey Governor was too fat to be President. However, if he decides to run in 2016 his weight may be less of a burden; in an interview with the New York Post, Christie has revealed that he underwent secret gastric-band surgery earlier this year, and observers say it is already paying off.

Maya Angelou: Filling in the final blanks of her life story

Review: Mom & Me & Mom, By Maya Angelou

The latest typically clear-sighted instalment of Maya Angelou's memoirs includes beatings, guns and a celebration of the maternal bond

Troubled country singer Mindy McCready was found dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound

Mindy McCready suicide confirmed

Preliminary results of a post-mortem examination confirm that US country music star Mindy McCready's death was suicide, authorities in Arkansas said today.

Bill Clinton is 'a towering figure who remains a major voice in world issues,' according to Martin Scorsese

Raging Bill? Martin Scorsese to direct Clinton documentary

Scorsese is set to make a film for HBO about the former US president. Here, John Walsh imagines Clinton on camera

Album: Iris DeMent, Sing the Delta (Flariella)

There are moments on DeMent's first album of new material in 16 years when you wonder if the wait was worth it.

Observations: A unlikely quest across the US West

I still get a kick out of the look on people's faces when I tell them about my book Follow The Money.

Slim in 2007; he never retired, and said he would bet on anything 'as long as the odds are in my favour'

Amarillo Slim: Poker player in the vanguard of the game's surge in popularity since the 1970s

From fewer than 10 entrants in its first few years, the World Series of Poker now boasts thousands

Red Holloway: Jazz saxophonist who also played with John Mayall

Red Holloway, a tenor saxophone player who had a tone as big as the side of a house, made his name in jazz, but more quietly – or musically, more loudly – worked for John Mayall and a variety of rhythm'n'blues stars. "I enjoyed playing with Mayall," Holloway said. "He's a very good self-taught entertainer and I admire that. It takes an awful lot of nerve and perseverance to become successful like he did... We had a good working relationship."

Mike Huckabee has been presenting a weekly show on Fox News

Huckabee has Limbaugh radio crown in his sights

Rush Limbaugh, for two decades the undisputed king of conservative talk radio in the US, is suddenly faced with a potent pretender to his crown.

His master's voice: Blankley, left, with Newt Gingrich in 1995

Tony Blankley: Colourful adviser to Newt Gingrich

Unless you're the White House spokesman, opining daily on matters of war and peace, a press secretary normally doesn't become a public figure in a button-downed place like Washington, drenched in political correctness. The exception was Tony Blankley. For seven momentous years in the 1990s he was spokesman for Newt Gingrich, as the Georgia Congressman led the "Republican Revolution" that in 1994 gave the party control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. The turbulent and swaggering Speaker-to-be and his somewhat rotund, heavy-smoking aide with a British accent, a gift for soundbites and an unashamed taste for the good things of life, were made for each other.

Album: Various Artists, True Soul Vols 1&2 (Stone's Throw)

This labour of vinyl devotion rescues for posterity the best productions of Lee Anthony's True Soul label from Little Rock, Arkansas, a DIY enterprise specialising in Seventies psychedelic funk.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick