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In a theatre in the central Javanese city of Solo, a troupe of performers are acting out a fight scene from Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. The god Gatutkaca is dispatching some long-haired bad guys to the delight of the audience.

Suharto: Former dictator of Indonesia who presided over three decades of growth – and a corrupt and brutal regime

Haji Mohamed Suharto, politician: born Kemusu, Java 8 June 1921; Acting President of Indonesia 1967-68, President 1968-98; Honorary GCB 1974; married 1947 Siti Hartinah (died 1996; three sons, three daughters); died Jakarta 27 January 2008.

Former Indonesian dictator Suharto again in 'very critical condition'

Family members said they would let doctors decide if former dictator Suharto should be removed from life support after almost all of his organ functions failed. Physicians described his condition as "very critical."

Hamish McRae: What makes a capital?

Most cities, though not all, are much older than the countries in which they are located. There has been a continuity of human endeavour in London, Rome and New York that pre-dates the existence of the United Kingdom and England, Italy and the United States. That will doubtless continue. Most great cities have become great cities not because they have been created as administrative centres (pace Brasilia, Washington DC and Canberra) but rather because they have long served fundamental human economic needs.

Sarah Sands: All you need is... a damn good lawyer

Yes, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills have a daughter to fight over. But when the super-rich divorce, there is one thing they want custody of more than any other: the money

How Shiloh Nouvel learnt art of celebrity endorsement from birth

As celebrity endorsements go, it comes no bigger than this. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, perhaps the most gilded of Hollywood's golden couples, stare down adoringly at their oh-so cute new arrival, Shiloh Nouvel, for Hello! magazine

Blisters from new football boots caused potentially fatal toxic shock

Young footballers dreaming of World Cup glory face an unexpected hazard on their journey to the top: the toxic boot.

Ailing US deserter risks arrest with trip to Japanese hospital

After nearly 40 years in North Korea, Charles Jenkins arrived yesterday in Japan, an enemy of Pyongyang during the Cold War, where he risks arrest and imprisonment for deserting the US army.

Spectre of militarism as Suharto generals join the battle for Indonesian presidency

It is midnight at an open-air restaurant in Jakarta, and Wiranto, Indonesia's former military commander, is addressing a rapt crowd on the myriad problems facing the nation. Suddenly he changes tack. "Let's sing together," says the would-be president. Cradling a microphone, he leads his adoring fans in a rendition of a 1970s hit, "Goodbye My Love".

Bali, Java in my Dreams, by Christine Jordis, trans. George Bland

A Parisian publisher lost her heart in Indonesia. Shusha Guppy can understand why
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