Arts and Entertainment Playing it by ear: Dan Skinner, Matt Berry, Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves in 'House of Fools'

Vic and Bob are back in BBC2's House of Fools. The duo explain why writing a sitcom was their biggest test yet

'It's an insult to see cattle given away'

Market day used to be the high point of the week for Tony Flintoft who farms 800 feet up on the North Yorkshire moors. He would take the beef cattle he had reared from birth down to Northallerton and stand in the auction ring as the product of a year or more's hard labour was judged by his fellow hill farmers and bid for by the meat traders. Then it was home with the cheque.

Letter:Safe cows Sane cows

The standards for organic beef and dairy herds do allow the use of a proportion of feed concentrates that are not of organic origin but these feedstuffs must still only contain plant protein. Since it is the Government's claim that it was animal protein which caused BSE, it cannot be right for you to suggest that organic cows might have eaten dangerous cattle feed too (Letters, 18 August).

Milk from cows fed on bracken 'carcinogenic'

Cows that eat bracken produce milk containing a potent carcinogen absorbed from the plant, according to new scientific research.

That old black magic

In St Lucia, people speak as freely about goblins as they do politics. The pantheon of Caribbean demons and demi-gods rivals even Hindu mythology

Danger: there's a risk of being consumed by it: Leading article

The world's a scary place. Hardly a day passes without another strange or tragic story of sudden unexpected disaster sprawled across the newspapers. Hapless holiday-makers are bombed at an airport in Spain. Language students are killed when their plane to Paris explodes. Saturday- morning shoppers in Manchester are injured by an IRA bomb. A woman walking home one afternoon with her children in peaceful Kent is beaten to death. Ordinary people doing ordinary things are struck unexpectedly by danger and disaster.

Farmers' BSE despair

Agriculture industry leaders are to set up a full-time counselling service to cope with of the rising number of farmers being driven to despair by the BSE crisis.

Junior minister defends Douglas Hogg

A junior minister yesterday rushed to defend Douglas Hogg, the embattled Minister of Agriculture, during a Commons debate on a motion censuring him for "mishandling" the beef crisis. Replying to a Liberal Democrat charge that 60,000 cows - the latest addition to the cull - would be "wantonly sacrificed, just to save Hogg's bacon", Tony Baldry said his minister had "worked flat out" to try and resolve the crisis and secure a future for the beef industry.

Leading Article: Not over the moon at Major's victory

Waiting for news of Major's "victory" in Florence, television news watchers will have been unable to avoid the following images: circular saws slicing through dead cows; spinal cords being teased out of carcasses and thrown into pails, and slopping skips of "specified bovine offal" being driven to specified bovine disposal sites. That this is interlaced with images of placid beasts being petted by worried farmers intensifies rather than dilutes the horror. Such footage usually concludes with a vision of bovine inferno, a hapless cow (rejected as unfit for what we now call the "human food chain"), legs in air, being fed into a glowing incinerator. This is a glimpse of what could end up as the cull of 1.2 million cattle: a cow city the size of Birmingham. Whimsical scruples, you might say. Cows die that we might eat them. It matters nothing to the cows that they will now die without our eating them.

Could this mean the mincer for Major?

The Florence meeting today will decide more than the future of British beef, says Paddy Ashdown

`Ludicrous' cull creates nightmare for farmers

Courtney Sampson, who farms a 60-cow dairy herd near Tiverton, Devon, thought the Government's agreement to extend the cull as "ludicrous".

EU demands could add 67,000 to cull

Beef crisis: Deal on lifting ban could bring higher death toll



It's not quite as easy as it looks

Even without the formula-milk scare, feeding a new baby can be a fraught experience

Letter: Publish the scientific facts on beef

Sir: Sir Andrew Aguecheek, in Act I scene III of Twelfth Night, says "Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has; but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit ..." Sir Toby Belch states there is no question about the harm: a pity he did not give details and so help our scientists. Since English cattle have survived the 400 years, one must assume that a cure was found; or was Aguecheek just another victim of a media panic?

Catastrophe est la faute des Rosbifs*

Paul Field, in western France, finds out who is to blame for the beef crisis
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