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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says ‘fighting has set Syria back decades’

The dogs of Littlefield, By Suzanne Berne - Review

The Orange Prize winner Suzanne Berne is on familiar ground with her fifth novel examining life in an affluent American village. Littlefield, Massachusetts, is named one of the 10 best places to live in America. Curiously, it also houses an unusually high number of psychotherapists. Clarice Watkins, a sociologist from the University of Chicago, decides to study Littlefield to find out exactly what makes it such a good place to live. She arrives to find a town at war, split between those who want their dogs to be off the leash in the local park and those who object. Opinions become more polarised when someone starts poisoning dogs and an undercurrent of fear pulses through the community.

Owen Paterson has not met any representatives of a food charity since becoming Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Owen Paterson has met Rupert Murdoch, Alan Titchmarsh and E.On – but no food charities since becoming Environment Secretary

 Labour says failure to meet charities was alarming at a time when half a million people have received emergency food aid since April this year

Are you snarky or smarmy? Too much sunny side up will fry the brain

A Gawker essay has ignited a culture war on the value of niceness

A group of Christian vigilantes in the capital Bangui act out what they would do if they caught members of the Seleka Muslim militia

France to ask allies for help in Central Africa

It wants troops or logistical aid to head off a possible genocidal civil war

French President Francois Hollande speaks with French soldiers after he paid tribute to two French soldiers who were killed overnight, in Bangui

Mission will continue, says François Hollande as he flies in to war-torn Central African Republic

Five hundred have died in clashes between Muslims and Christians over the last week

Rescue centre overrun by adorable seal pups in wake of record flood surge

A rescue centre in Norfolk is full to capacity with 100 adorable seal pups following the recent record flood surge that hit Britain.

A French soldier patrols the streets of Bangui in the Central African Republic

After days of sectarian violence, French troops bring calm to the Central African Republic

Fighting between rival militias and random attacks on civilians has killed at least 400 people in three days

A boy carries relief goods, walking past the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan: As aid agencies mount mission to help victims of monster storm, how can you help in the relief effort?

Agencies across the world are taking donations to support the estimated two million people impacted

Too late: Four-year-old Hamzah Khan died at the hands of his mother

Special report: Elite social-worker course attracts 1,000 graduates, but Frontline will take only the best 100

Rigorous government-backed tests modelled on MI5 recruitment to create robust child-protection teams

Amanda Hutton starved four-year-old son to death then ordered pizza, court hears

Mother with history of alcohol and drug abuse let her son starve to death, court told

Andy McSmith's Diary: PM’s slip of the tongue was more like Putin his foot in it

David Cameron made an unfortunate slip of the tongue at Prime Minister’s Questions when he referred to “the Russian regime” – at a time when he is striving to improve relations with Vladimir Putin, whom he will meet in Belfast at the weekend, in the honourable hope that he can be persuaded to stop arming the Syrian regime. When he met Putin in Sochi last month, he did not so much as mention Alexander Litvinenko, who was murdered on British soil.

A malnourished Somali baby at the Banadir hospital in Mogadishu. Almost 260,000 Somali people, half of them children, died of dire hunger from 2010 to 2012, greatly more than was feared at the time

Somalia: UN’s late declaration of famine in 2011 cost lives

The United Nations has admitted that a delay in declaring a famine in Somalia in 2011 cost additional lives, after a new report revealed that more than a quarter of a million people died, half of them young children.

The Rohingyas are fall guys in Burma's race to harness chauvinism

Sittwe, the capital of Arakan state, is little more than a sleepy, dusty, overgrown village. Time appears to have stopped not long after the British left in 1948. Opposite the town’s golden zeydi, its Buddhist stupa, are the green-painted ruins of a mosque, but today there are few other obvious signs of last year’s violence. The great bulk of the town’s Muslim population has been banished to the outskirts: fishermen’s shacks and a sprawling camp where 7,000 men, women and children live under canvas.

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Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada