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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Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project