Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

UK to send £650,000's worth of equipment to help Syrian rebels with defences

Britain is to supply rebels in Syria with defences against chemical attacks, including protective hoods, after repeated claims that regime forces have been using  sarin gas.

Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes was jailed in 1994 for murder and burning down churches

Musician and 'Anders Breivik sympathiser' Kristian Vikernes arrested in France for 'plotting massacre'

Authorities 'intercepted violent comments' on messages transmitted by Vikernes on the internet

Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker calls snap elections amid secret service scandal – risking longest held office for any EU leader

Prime Minister bows to pressure from junior coalition partner but 'very much' hopes party will back him to seek re-election

Review: Between Friends, By Amos Oz. Chatto & Windus, £12.99

This novella of connected stories is set in the early years of Israel, on an agricultural kibbutz somewhere in Ben Gurion's socialist state.

El Mundo yesterday printed a picture of a ledger purporting to show Mariano Rajoy received €42,000 in 1997

Allegations of slush fund cash payments hit Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was allegedly paid from a slush fund operated by the governing People’s Party (PP) when he was a minister in the 1990s, according to documents published in the newspaper El Mundo. The accusations drew denials from the PP and calls for Mr Rajoy’s resignation, from opposition parties weary of austerity measures and an economy mired in recession.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's National Front

Marine Le Pen may face racial hatred charge after losing MEP immunity

The leader of France’s far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, was stripped of her parliamentary immunity, opening the way for charges of inciting racial hatred to be laid against her.

Gyula Horn: Politician who helped bring down the Iron Curtain

Gyula Horn: Politician who helped bring down the Iron Curtain

Gyula Horn was the last Communist Foreign Minister of Hungary, who started opening the Iron Curtain. On 27 June 1989 he joined Alois Mock, the Austrian Foreign Minister, to pull down a section of the barbed wire dividing their countries. During the following months thousands of East Germans used the route to emigrate to Austria and West Germany. It was the beginning of the end for East German Communism. In Hungary Horn is better known for a massive austerity programme when he was Prime Minister in 1995. The package sparked massive opposition.

Why is the left so blinkered to Islamic extremism?

A report calls out the left for embracing fundamentalists

The News Matrix: Wednesday 26 June 2013

Council bans payday loans on public PCs

Marine Le Pen faces prosecution

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen loses immunity to criminal prosecution

The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen faces prosecution for “inciting religious hatred” after a European Parliament committee decided to lift her parliamentary immunity.

Left-wing opposition leader Alexis Tsipras has demanded elections

Greek coalition averts collapse over closure of state broadcaster but court order ERT back on air

Greece’s governing coalition avoided collapse on Monday night in the wake of a dispute over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s decision to close the state television broadcaster.

Greek PM faces revolt over state TV closure as unions stage general strike

Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation shut down while on-air in move to curb ‘excesses’

Mauroy in 1989; after being ousted as PM, he continued his career as mayor of Lille

Pierre Mauroy: Socialist leader of France in the '80s

When Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were establishing the global mood music of the monetarist, greed-is-good 1980s, Pierre Mauroy sought to make France dance to a different tune. As the first Socialist Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic (1981-84) and first prime minister of the François Mitterrand era, Mauroy pursued a policy of nationalisation, taxation of the rich, increased minimum wages, retirement at 60 and a 39-hour working week.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has lost popularity

Fake votes mar France’s first electronic election

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s political party, already enfeebled by a chaotic national leadership election last year, faces further ridicule in a Paris town hall primary election which ends tonight.

Romario the Socialist MP and (below) as a World Cup winner in 1994

Romario sticks boot into the costly Fifa roadshow

One of Brazil’s most famous players is now outspoken critic of their attempts to host the finals

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Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?