Voices Germany’s ‘Bild am Sonntag’ newspaper claims that President Obama knew that Ms Merkel’s phone had been tapped as early as 2010

About a year ago, I began to recieve a wonderful series of calls from America and London

The Miracle at Speedy Motors, by Alexander McCall Smith

Sense and kindness under an African sky

Janet Street-Porter: Welcome to Botswana – the sanitised version

I've read every book about Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's No.1 Lady Detective, and this weekend I will be tuning in to the BBC film based on the books. But listening to the emollient tones of author Alexander McCall Smith on the radio yesterday, I felt queasy. Over the years, his rose-tinted view of life in this corner of Africa has become increasingly hard to stomach, the exploits of traditionally built Precious and her sidekick the plain, bespectacled Mma Makutsi going from whimsically charming to morally dubious – the literary equivalent of eating a can of Delia-approved tinned mince.

Best-selling author attacked over 'tribal stereotypes'

Portrayal of infanticide by 'No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' writer is condemned

Jill Scott in Africa

The singer and actress, Jill Scott, hadn't visited Africa before she went on location to Botswana for the new film of 'The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency'. She tells Nick Boulos why she will always treasure the experience

Pandora: Breakfast with Soames

Yesterday's breakfasters at the Goring Hotel, by Buckingham Palace, were treated to a dining spectacle worthy of Sir David Attenborough's hushed commentary. On one undersized table for two sat Little and Large: the slim-Jim prospective Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, and his spherical right-wing ally, Nicholas "Fatty" Soames, whose eating habits concern marine conservationists, and whose acclaimed love-making technique is, in the words of one beneficiary, akin to "having a fully loaded wardrobe fall on you with the key still in".

Small Talk: Indian firms put in a hot performance

Indian companies have outperformed on the Alternative Investment Market in the past year, with more set to arrive in London in 2008 as they look for international investment and recognition.

Safari: Kanana camp, Botswana

Anyone who has been on safari in an African game park knows the problem: word goes out that a leopard has been spotted feasting on a springbok, and the next thing you know every Land Rover within 25 miles turns up.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Al-Qa'ida leader in Iraq who propagated his message by beheading hostages on video

Jersey Royal and Arbroath smokie salad

Serves 4

GOLF: Transsexual to play in the British Open

THE TRANSSEXUAL golfer Mianne Bagger will be able to compete in the women's British Open at Royal Birkdale this summer.

Stephen Corry: Development must respect indigenous people's rights

From a speech to the Royal Society of Arts by the Director of Survival International

Loss of diamond licence could cost Anglo American $500m

The upcoming expiry of a key diamond licence in Botswana could wipe more than $500m (£285m) from Anglo American's profits, according to City analysts.

Curse of Zimbabwe hits southern Africa

Mugabe's regime is damaging the tourist trade in neighbouring countries, says Joanne Watson
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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness