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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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...