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.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower