Arts and Entertainment What a racket: Conor Woodman in 'Scam City'

It's not just that the National Geographic documentary series Scam City is a pointless programme, it's that it's also a uniquely irritating one. Whereas most consumer watchdogs investigate scams at the instigation of aggrieved parties, in Scam City presenter Conor Woodman, travels the world looking for trouble and – what's more pitiful – often fails to find it.

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, Edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey

In the depths of the last great depression Washington came to the assistance of struggling authors, funding the Federal Writers Project. Its greatest legacy was the 500-page-a-volume, 50 volumes, state by state, WPA guide to America. Almost 80 years later and here we are again. A new democratic President faces a global economic meltdown and intractable security problems. This time around we have a smaller, leaner literary response to this American moment; just one volume, a private sector publisher and 50 writers on the 50 states. But it is a bold and ambitious response by editors Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey.

Luderin Darbone: Fiddle player and bandleader at the forefront of Cajun music

The leader of the Hackberry Ramblers for more than six decades, Luderin Darbone was a fine fiddle player and, more importantly, one of the great innovators in Cajun music.

Texas faces major damage from Ike

Hurricane Ike gathered strength as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico's warm waters today on a track that would skirt the heart of the US offshore oil patch before hitting the Texas coast late tomorrow or early on Saturday.

New Orleans prepares for mass return after Gustav

Workers mopped up New Orleans after Hurricane Gustav and officials told residents they could come home on Thursday to a darkened city still struggling to restore power and basic services.

Braced for disaster: the city that fears the worst – again

Those who ignored warnings to flee are under lockdown as they await 'the mother of all storms'

New Orleans evacuated as "storm of the century" rolls in

Residents were ordered to flee an only partially rebuilt New Orleans today as another monster storm bore down on Louisiana nearly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina wiped out entire swathes of the city.

New Orleans braces itself for category five Hurricane Gustav

Strengthening storm heads for a city still recovering from the devastation of Katrina exactly three years ago

Album: Various Artists, The Essential Guide to New Orleans (Union Square)

Retailing for well under a tenner, this has to be the bargain of the year: a three-CD set doing exactly what it says on the sleeve, tracking the development of America's most fertile music city, from the hot jazz of Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, through the classic rock and R&B of the Fifties and Sixties, to the swamp-funk that has defined New Orleans' subsequent output.

Album: Tony Joe White, Deep Cuts (Munich)

Swamp-rock auteur Tony Joe White is best known for "Polk Salad Annie", so it's surprising it's not on this set of revisitations.

Paperbacks: The Tin Roof Blowdown, by James Lee Burke

When Hurricane Katrina struck Burke's New Orleans patch, it was fated that the social disaster in its wake would breed a Dave Robicheaux mystery.

Crayfish bisque Louisiana-style

Serves 6-8

A man who sounds like a winner already

It was the power of his smile. It shone a beam all the way to the back of the arena at Tulane University in New Orleans yesterday that none of us inside – all 4,000 seats filled – could miss. Outside, the overflow crowd of many more hundreds surely felt it too, even if they couldn't see it with their own eyes.

Album: The Blind Boys of Alabama, Down in New Orleans (Proper)

Despite having been in existence since the days when music revolved at 78rpm, The Blind Boys of Alabama have never before recorded in New Orleans – and sadly, listening to this latest album, it's no surprise.

Sri Lanka 231 & 332 England 229 & 190: Muralitharan wizardry makes mockery of Ashes ambitions

The scenes at Trent Bridge yesterday were far removed from those nine months ago, when Ashley Giles clipped Shane Warne through mid-wicket for two to secure a remarkable three-wicket victory over Australia. At the end of that unforgettable series, and after regaining the Ashes, England held ambitions of becoming the best side in the world.

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