News

The stellar explosion is the closest to be spotted since 1987 and will provide a 'galactic yardstick' for astronomers judging distances across the universe

Album: Seasick Steve, Man from Another Time (Atlantic)

Recorded live on old-style analogue equipment, Man from Another Time is typically enjoyable, though not quite as potent as the quarter-million-selling I Started Out with Nothing and I've Still Got Most of It Left – despite Steve's lo-fi ringing of the changes, with his trusty "three-string trance wonder" guitar set aside occasionally in favour of slide licks played on a homemade cigar-box guitar ("Happy"), and more primitive still, the single-string device whose construction is explained and demonstrated in "Diddley Bo".

David Prosser: Recessionary woes flatten the Footsie

Outlook: Close, but no cigar. For much of yesterday morning, the FTSE 100 flirted with its 2009 high, only for disappointing economic data from the US to prompt a modest sell-off.

Letters: Anger at proposed vetting procedures

Authors angered by vetting for child abuse

Alice Jones: High rollers and the fate of fat cigars

Havana Notebook

Were the Seventies the Golden Age of television?

My children are probably fed up with me telling them that there were no means of recording TV programmes when I was their age: no video recorders or DVD players or Sky+. When I add that until I was 13 I also watched everything in black-and-white, they look at me sympathetically, as if I was telling them that I was brought up in a workhouse on one bowl of gruel a day. But that's how it was. If circumstances prevented you from missing your favourite programme, circumstances sometimes as prosaic as your dad wanting to watch whatever was on the other "side" (we never said "channel" in those days), then you were stuffed. There were programmes I missed in the 1970s that I'm only catching up on now, thanks to UK Gold and ITV4.

My Mentor: Clive Aslet on Max Hastings

'Max could write leaders while smoking a cigar and speaking to cabinet ministers'

Paperbacks: The Essential Groucho, edited by Stephen Kanfer

This addition to Penguin Modern Classics may be a startling choice but Woody Allen is in favour: "[He] will be equally funny a thousand years from now."

Paperbacks: Churchill's Cigar, by Stephen McGinty

An ingenious idea brilliantly realised, this is a book-length footnote, but it is far more readable and enjoyable than the massive tomes it annotates.

Off Duty: Tampa

Why the capital of Florida cool is coming into its own

Paperback: A Florentine Death, By Michele Giuttari, trans Howard Curtis

Sicilian-born Michele Giuttari turned to crime writing when his day job, running Flo- rence's Anti-Mafia Squad, led to more death threats than was sensible. His best-selling debut is grounded in authentic police procedure and the seedier realities of Florentine life. Like his creator, Chief Superintendent Ferrara is a fiftysomething Sicilian with black hair and a weakness for cigars and Montalcino red. As head of the Squadra Mobile he is faced with solving a series of random murders linked to the antiques trade. Howard Curtis's sleek translation complements Giuttari's capable prose.

Cigar case pilfered from Iraq returns to haunt Johnson

Boris Johnson is fuming about a police investigation into how he became the owner of a red leather cigar case that once belonged to Saddam Hussein's former deputy Tariq Aziz.

Weird and wonderful: the facts about Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro is retiring after almost half a century as leader of Cuba, leaving in his wake some fascinating facts:

Nick Foulkes: The ultimate status symbol – a cigar you can't smoke

Today's trophy-hunting a laborious affair

Man in the Chair (12A)

Christopher Plummer's performance as an alcoholic stumblebum and one-time Hollywood gaffer has been hailed, though it could hardly be in acknowledgement of its realism.

Ukraine accuses Russia of inciting new 'Crimean war'

Ukraine has accused Russia of stirring up anti-US and anti-Nato protests on the Crimean peninsula where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project