News

From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.

Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’

Two Saudi rapists beheaded

TWO SAUDI men were beheaded yesterday for kidnapping and raping a young boy.

Clashes tested Indonesian army's patience

HOURS before last night's confrontation between the Indonesian army and students started, there was a worrying portent of trouble to come, as thousands of Islamic supporters of Indonesia's President Habibie threw stones and scuffled with demonstrating students in Jakarta.

Cinema: If you go down to the Tube today...

THERE ARE parallel universes out there where Rome never fell, where Hitler won the war and where Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow lived happily ever after. In Sliding Doors (15), writer-director Peter Howitt brushes up his quantum physics to demonstrate that the tiniest events can generate a variety of different futures. Navigating the sort of inter- dimensional anomaly that regularly plagues the cast of Star Trek, he pursues two possible versions of the life of his heroine Helen (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). In the first version of events, she misses her Tube, and so returns home too late to catch her boyfriend, Gerry (a beetle-browned John Lynch), in bed with old flame Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn, a terrifying woman with neck sinews as tight and prominent as Deirdre Barlow's). Or maybe it doesn't happen at all ...

Grim task in Mecca

FAMILY, friends and diplomats combed hospitals and mortuaries in Mecca, Saudi Arabia yesterday to identify 118 Muslim pilgrims killed in a stampede on the last day of the annual haj.

India's new rulers enter with a whiff of fascism

The BJP nationalists' victory has made little stir, writes Peter Popham. But the world may soon have reason to take notice

Nephew of King Fahd dies

Prince Abdullah bin Saud bin Abdul-Aziz, a nephew of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, died on Saturday, a Royal Court statement said. He was 65. The statement said Prince Abdullah had suffered for a long time from an incurable illness, but it did not say what the illness was. The Prince was governor of the holy city of Mecca during the reign of his late father, King Saud, King Fahd's brother, who ruled from 1953 to 1964.

The best vacations are not an escape, but a liberation

holidays of the mind

Middle East: Septuplets born in Saudi Arabia

A Saudi woman has given birth to seven babies - four boys and three girls. It is only the third set of septuplets known to be born alive.

Muslim was unfairly treated over headscarf

A Muslim woman who returned to her job wearing a headscarf after a pilgrimage to Mecca was sacked after her foreman claimed it was a safety hazard.

Mecca bingo hall outrages Muslims

A change of name at a Luton bingo hall has met with violent protest from the town's Muslim population - who object to it being called "Mecca".

Letter: Faith and blame

Sir: Robert Fisk's "Religion in the Middle East: the fundamental problem" (3 Dec 1997) was very thought-provoking, and I must congratulate him for his courage in highlighting the threat from fundamentalists belonging to Judaism and Christianity. The media in the West goes out of its way to tarnish the image of Islam by associating "terrorism" and "fundamentalism" to it, while ignoring the militant and terrorist activities associated with other religions. Robert Fisk has a more enlightened outlook.

Travel was once about pilgrimage. It is again

It Almost seems facetious to talk about holidays and travel after this strange week through which we have lived - except perhaps to cogitate on the rum old fact that travel was never supposed to be a joyful experience.

A match made in Mecca - we hope

Dodi Fayed is one of `us' and he has got hold of the most famous and feted of all of `them', writes Fuad Nahdi

The fine art of drinking coffee

Connoisseurs can buy art with their espresso.

Letter: Saudis reform trial procedure

Saudis reform trial procedure
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Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
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