Sport Didier Deschamps' France side face a tricky first leg in Ukraine

The clash of giant egos is in Lisbon, the romance in Reykjavik, and the only previous winner under threat plays in Kiev, but perhaps the most intriguing European World Cup play-off begins on Friday night in Athens.

Burns seeks poetic justice beneath the Great Wall

An English driver finally emerges from shadow of Colin McRae confident of China Rally success.

EMI plugs into Net venture

THE MUSIC group, EMI, yesterday unveiled a key plank in its strategy to build an Internet presence by acquiring a 50 per cent equity interest in musicmaker.com, a private US Internet supplier of compilation music, writes Bill McIntosh.

Letter: Kosovo: no lectures from China, please

Sir: A propos of embassies being accidentally bombed, the Austrian embassy, in Belgrave Square, London, was one of the early casualties of the Blitz - poetic justice! Not long before the war it had been completely redecorated by Harrods at enormous cost, which included yards of gold leaf. My father-in-law was foreman of the job.

Music: The righteous sister

Lauryn Hill is stealing hip hop back from the menace of gangsta. How? By steeping herself in the history of black female divas. It's not just about rap; it's a battle for the soul.

Author's pounds 5m bequest provides poetic justice for Oxford University

THE CONTROVERSIAL world of Oxford poetry received a pleasant shock yesterday with the news that an eccentric, and mostly unread, British author has bequeathed pounds 5m to an Oxford college, to endow a fellowship specifically devoted to teaching students how to write poetry.

Markets: Down

EMI, the world's third-largest recorded music company, said first- half profit from operations fell 22 per cent to pounds 39.8m as recession in parts of Asia and a slumping economy in Brazil hit sales. The shares fell 10 per cent last week.

Down

EMI GROUP, the world's third-largest recorded music company, said first-half profit from operations fell 22 per cent to pounds 39.8m as a recession in parts of Asia and a slumping economy in Brazil dragged down sales. The shares fell 10 per cent last week. EMI, whose recording artists include Garth Brooks, Janet Jackson and the Beastie Boys, has been seeking partners. Speculation has centred on Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Germany's Bertelsmann, which last week denied plans for a merger.

Pop: Red is the colour, bloodless the sound

REPUBLICA DINGWALLS LONDON

Books: Nice painting, shame about the wife

John Everett Millais, a Biography by G H Fleming, Constable pounds 20

American Times: Los Angeles - Rabbi of Venice Beach puts his faith in the stars

MOST SUNDAYS, you can find Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz among the tarot- card readers, fortune-tellers and incense-sellers on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles with a booth of his own: "Jewish Astrology".

Pop Music: Nice song - shame about the show

JANET JACKSON WEMBLEY ARENA LONDON

Rock music: Janet Jackson gets lost in her own limelight

ONE DAY, Janet Jackson may rearrange her songs for piano and voice and schedule an intimate tour of the country's jazz and blues clubs, but it's safe to say that that day won't arrive until Madonna, Kiss, Jean- Michel Jarre and the cast of Beauty and the Beast: The Musical have done the same thing. More than anyone else in pop, Janet - she and I aren't quite on first-name terms, but on some posters she has dropped the Jackson - can be relied upon to put on an enormous theatrical extravaganza. If pounds 22.50 seemed steep for a ticket to her performance at the SECC in Glasgow on Wednesday, once you'd seen the mobile video screens, the surreal stage sets, the dancing troupe, the many costumes and the pyrotechnics, you wondered how she managed to break even.

Technology strikes a worrying note

CD copying and the internet are wreaking havoc, says David Brierley

Music: More Than Music

Publisher, car designer, actor, musician, the ever-fruitful David Bowie has just finished Everybody Loves The Sunshine with Goldie. Already the cameras are rolling for Bowie to star alongside Harvey Keitel in a Spaghetti Western called My West.
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own