The Loose Salute, Borderline, London

The Loose Salute are one of the few country-style UK bands who might leave a real Southern honky-tonk dive alive. Where most alt. country fellow-travellers favour songwriting styles of stark desolation, this band communicate pleasure at the sheer good luck of being alive, through danceable, steel guitar-heavy pop.

The 'Mother of the Blues' gets a museum at last

She was often called the "Mother of the Blues", her real name was Gertrude Pridgett, but she was much better known to her fans as "Ma" Rainey. A bisexual performer, she lived a life of whiskey-soaked controversy in the era of prohibition. She was also one of the earliest professional blues singers.

The Dream Maker, by Mikka Haugaard

Great Dane creates a rambling, playful novel of wit, flair and invention

Budget set to increase duty on spirits

The first increase in the excise duty on spirits since 1997 is expected to be announced in next week's Budget as part of the Government's attempts to combat binge drinking.

Diageo toasts growth in Guinness sales

Drinks giant Diageo today toasted a return to growth for Guinness in the UK and Ireland. The company said the turnaround of the iconic pint in a declining beer market followed a major advertising push in the second half of 2007.

India's new status symbol: a nation hits the bottle

As India's economy grows, the middle class is hunting for the latest waysto flaunt its affluence. Andrew Buncombe reports from Delhi on the growing popularity of the grape in a nation more famous for its tea

The Week Ahead: Diageo's spirit can see off chill winds from US

Diageo, the drinks giant behind some of the most iconic brands in the business, including Johnnie Walker whisky, Guinness and Baileys Irish cream, is due to publish its first-half results on Thursday. It has been a busy couple of weeks for the company: soon after swallowing Californian wine maker Rosenblum Cellars for $105m (£53m), Diageo paid $900m for half of Ketel One, the Netherlands-based premium vodka brand. Ketel, which sells more than half of its 1.9 million 12-bottle cases in the United States, will sit well beside the company's current collection of mass market and premium vodka.

Album: Drive-By Truckers

Brighter Than Creation's Dark, New West

Terence Blacker: Ken's thoughts on alcohol? I'll drink to that ...

It is absolutely pointless being censorious about this national affection for celebrity boozers

Mathew Norman: Ken: a hideous hybrid of Blair and Brown

Some eight years ago, I sat in an office and listened to the Prime Minister treat a newspaper conference to his thoughts on Ken Livingstone's London mayoral bid. Ken, so Mr Tony Blair assured us, would be a catastrophe for the city, the country, the continent, the planet and the galaxy (I exaggerate, but very slightly). His lethal brand of retrograde Marxist orthodoxy would bring us to our knees, he chided, and anyone who thought otherwise was naïve to the point of dementia.

Iran's denial of Holocaust harms Arab cause, Palestine activist tells president

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has come under attack for his views on the Holocaust from an unexpected quarter - a Palestinian activist recently freed after 18 years in an Israeli jail.

Preview: Duke Bluebeard's Castle/Erwartung, Royal Opera House, London

The dangers of digging into a soul's secrets

Jack Johnson: Beach boy

Jack Johnson provided a soundtrack for backpackers all over the world. And now he's America's Number 1. But there's a problem with selling so many millions of albums: like, when do you fit in surf time, dude?
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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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