Sisters who will share kidney released from prison

Sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott left prison yesterday for the first time in 16 years, yelling, "We're free!" and "God bless y'all!" as they pulled away in a silver sport utility vehicle. That freedom, though, comes with an unusual condition: Gladys has one year to donate a kidney to her ailing sister.

The Man Who Recorded the World: A Biography of Alan Lomax, By John Szwed

In 1950, the Weavers, a quartet which included Pete Seeger, took "Goodnight, Irene" to the top of the American "hit parade". With strings and background vocals arranged by Gordon Jenkins, it was a long way from the song as originally recorded – captured on field equipment by the father-and-son team of John and Alan Lomax at the Central Convict Sugar Plantation, Louisiana. The singer was Huddie Ledbetter, nicknamed Lead Belly on account of his toughness – and the bullet lodged in his stomach.

Kidney donation sisters to be freed

Two sisters whose life sentences for armed robbery were suspended last week on the condition that one donate a kidney to the other will be released today.

American Football: Favre slips off stage as his legacy takes a hit

Retirement looks permanent this time but scandals mean eulogies are in short supply

Civil War message found in a bottle

A glass vial stopped with a cork during the Civil War has been opened, revealing a coded message to the desperate Confederate commander in Vicksburg on the day the Mississippi city fell to Union forces 147 years ago.

Albert Smothers

Albert "Little Smokey" Smothers, who died on 20 November aged 71, was a veteran Chicago blues guitarist and singer, a versatile sideman and influential teacher of younger bluesmen.

Rupert Cornwell: A last, desperate throw of the dice for Illinois

Out of America: All along the Mississippi, riverboat casinos are helping deficit-hit states to balance the books

'Dead' man charged with kidnapping girl

A man declared legally dead 16 years ago has been arrested for the kidnapping of a girl whose body was found in some woods.

48 Hours In: New Orleans

The most charismatic city in the US is back in business, delivering great food, architecture and music. Samantha Cook is your guide

Hank Cochran: Country songwriter best known for Patsy Cline's hit 'I Fall to Pieces'

With over 500 recorded songs, Hank Cochran was a prolific and successful country-music writer. He rarely strayed from country music but "I Fall to Pieces" and "Make the World Go Away" became standards known the world over. He had considerable integrity and he would say, "I would rather have a friend than a hit."

Lissie - A little bit country and a whole lot rock'n'roll

The 27-year-old Illinois singer Lissie has drawn much acclaim for her debut album and Lady Gaga cover – and she can drink you under the table. Gillian Orr meets her

Robert Plant: 'I feel so far away from heavy rock'

Ahead of the release of his new album, Band of Joy, Robert Plant talks to Andy Gill about the move from fronting the biggest band in the world to his success in exploring a diverse range of styles, from vocal harmony and country to North African and Arabic

The renaissance of New Orleans

Five years after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, the Big Easy is enjoying a cultural boom thanks to an influx of creative young talent from across the US

American Football: Favre joins Vikings for final voyage

Minnesota Vikings veteran quarterback Brett Favre has confirmed he will return to the NFL for one more season to try to lead his team to the Super Bowl.

Payout for lesbian barred from prom

A lesbian teenager who was banned from taking her girlfriend to her high school prom will receive $35,000 (£23,000) to settle a discrimination lawsuit.

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Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
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John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

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Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

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An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

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Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

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