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.

View from City Road: Chesterton may have the answer

There is a poetic justice in the Government's choice of Sir Alastair Morton as its chief project hustler, or, in Whitehall parlance, chairman of the working group on the private finance initiative. The Channel tunnel would probably never have been built without his persistence and cussedness. Not only is he fed up with Britain's laggardly attitudes to big projects, as he told his Nottingham audience yesterday, but he has the expertise to deal with it.

Street-Porter to leave youth post at BBC after six years

JANET Street-Porter's six-year reign as head of youth and entertainment programmes at the BBC is coming to an end.

Interview: Clever being stupid: William Leith meets Danny Baker, a chat show host whose secret is that he risks looking like an idiot but doesn't - most of the time

IT'S HARD to catch everything Danny Baker says in his late night Saturday chat show, Danny Baker After All, because he says it so fast, burbling most things off the top of his head. It looks like he's unprepared, like he's making it up on the spot. With its house band and its mildly anarchic humour, it looks like a more off-the-cuff version of Jonathan Ross's The Last Resort, which, in its turn, resembles the prototype of its kind, the US show Late Night With David Letterman.

PolyGram stakes future on golden oldies: Larry Black looks at the legendary label started by Berry Gordy in a dollars 700 studio

THE SALE of Motown, arguably the most successful black business enterprise of all time, marks the end of an era in pop music.

Japan's 'Don' set to ensnare political allies

JAPAN'S arch political fixer, Shin Kanemaru, is to go on trial today and, like Al Capone before him, the charge is the apparently trifling one of income tax evasion. But in Mr Kanemaru's case the unpaid tax amounts to pounds 6m, according to prosecutors, and it could ensnare an unknown number of other politicians just as Japan's political system has enough problems.

Alpert and Moss play out at A&M Records: End of an era as co-founders resign three years after PolyGram bought firm

THE music business saw the end of an era yesterday with the resignation of the legendary trumpeter Herb Alpert and his colleague Jerry Moss from A&M Records, the company they established in 1962.

ROCK / Back to life with a blast from the rocket man

THE MAN who plunged London into traffic chaos by threatening to jump into the Euston underpass on Thursday night may have done me a favour. Arriving late at Earls Court, I was impressed by the extent to which Elton John's new hair has settled (he no longer looks like the object of a vicious assault by a flying squirrel), but the crowd was subdued enough to suggest that he had been playing songs from his latest album.

'Classic' Virgin takes on Radio 1: National commercial pop station launched

BRITAIN'S first national commercial pop station, Virgin 1215, was launched by Richard Branson yesterday. The first two tracks were announced by Richard Skinner as world exclusives: a specially recorded version of Steppenwolf's 'Born to be Wild' by INXS, and a specially recorded cover of Jimi Hendrix's 'Hey Joe' by The Cure. This was a double world exclusive - the station's first mistake. The track was actually Hendrix's 'Purple Haze'.

Keep your head to the sky: It's gospel and then some. Giles Smith catches a bus with the 26-strong Sounds of Blackness

IN the afternoon before their show at the Hammersmith Apollo, the Sounds of Blackness gather in the hotel lobby. All of them. At home in Minneapolis, the band goes out at around 40-strong, but this is the touring unit, slimmed down to a snug 26 - 15 singers, a 10-piece band and Gary Hines. Everyone wears black T- shirts and track pants with big white logos: 'The Blackness - Keep . . . Keep On'. The lobby heaves.

OPERA / Hints of summer: Edward Seckerson on Janacek's Jenufa at Covent Garden

Autumn and winter - the seasons of decay - predominate in Jenufa. Spring arrives under duress, summer never comes at all. But we feel its proximity in the bountiful final pages of the score.

Michael and Janet Jackson

The singer Michael Jackson kisses his sister Janet after receiving the Grammy Living Legend Award at the 35th award ceremony in Los Angeles. Eric Clapton, the British rock star, won six Grammys, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
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Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent