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Rick Perry, suddenly the front-runner in the Republican nomination stakes, last month described Washington as a "seedy place" he didn't care for.

Texans refuse to beef about Oprah's slur

OPRAH WINFREY, the empress of TV talk shows, was described last year by Life magazine as the most powerful woman in America. She has a couple of challengers now in Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky but neither possesses anything like the influence over the hearts and minds of American women that la Winfrey does.

No mercy for killer

A woman on death row had her bid to stay her execution rejected by a court in Texas last night.

Perils and pitfalls that await the unwary on the World Wide Web

If, after much tweaking of wires and banging of keys, you've finally got the computer you bought for Christmas connected to the Internet, congratulations - your problems are just beginning. Charles Arthur, Science Editor, on what to beware when you're surfing.

Preview: listen butch hancock

Cults do not get much more cultish than Butch Hancock. Unjustly a complete unknown to the vast majority of the music-buying public, Butch Hancock is a hero to students of "alternative country". Having started out alongside Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore in the legendary Flatlanders in the 1970s, he went on to carve out an idiosyncratic solo career while pursuing his other interests, including photography, art and leading river- raft trips - pushing out tapes on his own Rainlight label. With unique takes on politics and life, such as "Talkin' About That Panama Canal" and "Smokin' In The Rain" taking their place alongside songs such as "West Texas Waltz" and "If You Were a Bluebird" that have been made - relatively - famous by Ely, much of this material now appears on two compilations. But as with the Austin, Texas scene's other oddball multi-talented genius, Terry Allen, Hancock has an independent attitude worthy of somebody often seen as the Lone Star State's answer to Dylan and has therefore enjoyed a career more stop-go than his devoted fans would like. Tuesday, however, sees a rare London appearance at The Weavers, and a new album, "You Coulda Walked Around The World", is imminent, too.

Obituary: James Michener

James Albert Michener, writer: born New York 3 October 1907; married 1935 Patti Koon (marriage dissolved 1948), 1948 Vange Nord (marriaged dissolved 1955), 1955 Mari Yoriko Sabusawa (died 1994); died Austin, Texas 17 October 1997.

Interview: Young, screwed up? His films are made for you

Richard Linklater is a rarity, and a flaming brilliant one. His films are about restless, troubled and troublesome kids - people he respects. After `Slacker' and `Dazed and Confused' he's headed for the yet meaner streets of `SubUrbia'. Ryan Gilbey is glad to go with him.

From masking tape to cable

The inventor of Post-It notes is playing for big stakes in fibre optics, writes Roger Trapp

Straight down the middle: a formula for success

After concentrating on personal consumers and big corporations, computer companies are going after the middle market. Roger Trapp talks to two direct suppliers about their strategies

US colleges fear turning colour blind

As the academic year draws to an end on campuses across the United States, there is a growing - and slightly shocked - recognition that an era is also coming to a close. Affirmative action, the policy that discriminated in favour of applicants from ethnic minority groups, is being abolished in two of America's largest state university systems, and the effect has startled friends and enemies of the policy alike.

Texas tornadoes kill 32

Central Texas was trying to pick itself up yesterday after suffering a string of powerful tornadoes on Tuesday that left at least 32 people dead and wide swaths of devastation.

Texas, Royal Albert Hall, London

Ignored since the late 1980s everywhere except the far-flung corners of independent local radio, Texas continued to exist long after their record company was expected to put them out of their misery. It was solely the infectious slide guitar of their first single, "I Don't Want a Lover", that fuelled them through the fallow period that was the rest of their career. Until now.

Texas siege continues

A group of 13 besieged Texas secessionists broke off negotiations last night, just as the authorities thought they were close to a surrender.

Pop: South by Southwest '97 Austin, Texas

Forget New York and LA, the laid-back Texan city of Austin is the live music capital of the USA, and each March it goes into aural overdrive with the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival - the biggest music industry gathering in the country. The 11th SXSW held last week brought a circus of around 6,000 industry movers and journalists to the city to see some 800 acts playing at over 40 different venues.

The rock critic with the bus pass and ear plugs

It is 1.20am at the Atomic Cafe, and a mega-decibel rock band called Iodine is in full roar. A few dozen fans line the black-painted walls, their heads thrashing with the music. But sitting on the floor right up front, just feet from the blast of the amplifiers, is a small old lady. Incredibly, she has fallen asleep.

The sheep that shook the world

Dolly the clone is the story of the decade, maybe even the century. Why? Because she embodies our greatest fears and hopes, says Peter Popham
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Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past