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Mikhail Kalashnikov: Soviet general whose design for a cheap and

With his stocky frame, and his general's uniform smothered with medals, Mikhail Kalashnikov looked the quintessential Soviet military veteran. But he was a veteran with a difference. For one thing he was a keen and lifelong poet. For another, having been badly wounded fighting the German invader around Bryansk in October 1941, early in what Russians still call the Great Patriotic War, he conceived what would become the most famous assault rifle in the world.

Boy discovers 30,000-year-old mammoth

An 11 year-old Russian boy made one of the discoveries of the century when he stumbled across the remains of a 30,000-year-old woolly mammoth, the New Scientist reports.

Tiksi: A Siberian fairy tale in pictures

A modern-day fairy tale from the small Siberian town of Tiksi, told through the lens of Evgenia Arbugaeva, is one of the highlights of the upcoming London Festival of Photography.

Trending: You should come out of your shell, you're beautiful...

In the never-ending search for eternal youth, nothing is considered too extreme or, in light of a new treatment from Siberia, too unnervingly gross. The snail facial (a Snaicial?) is said to restore weather-beaten skin to its luminescent best, thanks to an active ingredient in the snotty snail slime that beats wrinkles and helps to heal scars and burns.

Olympic Velodrome proves up to speed on opening day

The first person to ride around the Velodrome, one of the Olympic Park's signature constructions with its sweeping roof and wood-panelled exterior, was appropriately enough Sir Chris Hoy. The second, slightly less appropriately, was Boris Johnson. That was nearly two years ago, which only goes to show how far ahead of the game the entire project has been.

BMW in hot water over naming cold front

It sounded like a brilliant marketing move by BMW: pay to have the name of its Mini Cooper Roadster associated with the cold snap currently engulfing Europe and everyone would be talking about it. But the car manufacturer is regretting the decision after the freezing weather was blamed for the deaths of more than 70 people.

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Cultural Life: Hilary Spurling, writer

Books: I'm reading slowly and with great pleasure 'The Hare with Amber Eyes' by the ceramicist, Edmund de Waal – part family memoir, part Proustian confession, subtle, spare and elegant, like his pots. The one I most want to read is Candia McWilliam's new book, another memoir, still not quite finished, but I heard her talk about it so brilliantly that I've been on tenterhooks ever since.