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It is approaching that time of the year when you take a backward look and think to yourself: what do I know now that I didn’t know a year ago?

Irving Brecher: Prolific comedy writer who scripted two films for the Marx Brothers

Known in comedy circles as the "undisputed king of all gag men, living or dead", Irving Brecher was admired by such figures as S.J. Perelman and Groucho Marx for his lightning wit. A prolific writer for radio and television, he also worked on classic screen musicals including Meet Me in St Louis, and wrote, unaided, two films for the Marx Brothers.

Yuvraj puts improving England in their place

India 292-9 England 238

Editor-At-Large: Where can we find Britain's Barack Obama?

It's hard not to feel energised by the euphoria surrounding Barack Obama's win. But what is the likelihood of anyone on this side of the Atlantic rekindling our interest in British politics? Zero, I would say. Commentators talked about the "Brown bounce" after Labour unexpectedly won a by-election in Scotland last week, but most of us remain profoundly turned off by politicians and the platitudes they spout. To be blunt, there are very few MPs and even fewer cabinet ministers who are able to connect with ordinary men and women in the way Obama does.

Security chief leaves job after workers hired without clearance

The chief executive of the body in charge of handing licences to security guards and club bouncers has lost his job after some of his employees were found to be working without proper security clearance.

Deborah Orr: The radical left's wet dream, or chaotic market logic?

It's the intellectual chaos that is the really frightening thing. Those who believe most fervently in the free market are the very people who hate most the spectacle of watching free-market favouring governments attempting to save it.

Pandora: Conspiracy theories abound over BBC's London bombings film

The BBC has found itself under siege from all sides over its decision to make a documentary about the bombings that took place in London on 7 July, 2005.

Murder inquiry opens after body of wife found at burnt-out mansion found shot

The investigation into an inferno at the home of a missing millionaire and his family officially became a murder hunt yesterday after one of the bodies found in the charred wreckage of the mansion was identified as the businessman's wife.

Convention Diary

* Assorted celebrities penetrated the Pepsi Centre for the dramas of Wednesday night including two African-American stars anxious to show their solidarity for Barack Obama, the rapper Kanye West and the actor Jamie Foxx. An invitation-only concert with West culminated with Foxx climbing on stage for a rap duet. Elsewhere in town, a luncheon for the Democratic Party featured two film stars with a long history of supporting liberal causes – Annette Bening and Susan Sarandon. And for those wondering how Ben Affleck's celebrity poker tournament turned out, it went on until 4am and he came out as the overall winner among no fewer than 100 players. Bravo Ben.

Pandora: Rushdie's former guard is being forced to apologise

Curious news from the Strand. We hear that Salman Rushdie and his former wife Elizabeth West are to be reunited at the High Court today. The pair will receive an official apology from a former bodyguard over allegations he made regarding their marriage.

Man who auctioned his life falls short of target

What's a man's life worth? More than £1m, it seemed, when bidding began for all of Ian Usher's worldly goods, plus his friends and job. But when the gavel went down in cyberspace yesterday, ending one of the world's most unusual auctions, the English expatriate's life was snapped up for a more modest £192,000.

At last: the Fall of the House of Clinton

Just as in the Edgar Allan Poe story, the great project hatched by Bill and Hillary is crumbling to dust

Howard Jacobson: The heart has its allegiances, to places as well as people. And a country is both

I think the recent suggestions about introducing oaths of fealty are fatuous, but then again I don't

For Sale: My life in Oz... including a house, job, motorbike, clothes, and, of course, a barbie!

Going, going, gone ... Six years after emigrating to Australia, a Briton is so upset by his divorce that he is putting his entire life up for auction on eBay, reveals Kathy Marks
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Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones