News Mother Teresa: Skopje also has plans for a huge statue of the nun, who was born in the city

Not content with four-storey statues of Alexander the Great and Mother Teresa, city planners in Skopje are now inviting bids for a version of Rome’s Spanish Steps, part of a beautification campaign that has divided residents.

The Big Picture: Precious rice harvest makes India's winter turn gold

On the death of his wife, Mumtaz, the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan presented her with the Taj Mahal. While she was still alive his gifts were less elaborate but equally precious and pearly white; he gave her basmati, the prince of rice.

Andy Gill on albums

Taj Mahal Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues

Cricket: Nasser feels pull of the main stage

Andrew Longmore says Hussain's winter may be even more glorious than summer

Film: Call him the maharaja, not the super-cripple

Firdaus Kanga is disabled, gay and a devotee of the `wrong' religion in Bombay. But on the set of `Sixth Happiness', the film about his upbringing in which he was persuaded to star as himself, he is getting the full celebrity treatment. James Rampton finds him making a nuisance of himself.

The knack; How to build a sandcastle

You need a bucket and spade and a landscape expert, says architect John Pawson

BLUE-EYED BOYS

In a bumper week for the blues, the possible highlight is a chance to compare and contrast Eric Bibb, star of the current vogue for acoustic blues, with Taj Mahal, old master and one of the younger man's inspirations when the two play together at the Shepherd's Bush Empire on 17 July. Though Mahal's latest, "Senor Blues" is winning ecstatic praise after a lean period, life just seems to get better for Bibb. On the strength of two records largely composed of country blues and gospel released by an obscure Swedish label, he is the toast of just about everybody. Bibb, who returns to the UK for the Cambridge Folk Festival on 25 July, is not the only young performer ploughing the acoustic blues furrow these days. But what distinguishes him is his ability to appeal to folks who would normally run a mile from the blues. Which is pretty much the case with Robert Cray (above), who starts a short UK tour in Glasgow tomorrow (Manchester on Monday, Shepherd's Bush Empire on Tuesday). Purists berate him for sounding too soft, but there is little doubt that he almost single-handedly rejuvenated the blues market in the early 1980s. The latest Cray offering, "Sweet Potato Pie" offers no real surprises, but, like most of its predecessors, it is a hugely-accomplished set that should do wonders for anybody still mourning the end of Stax. While Cray's audiences will no doubt find themselves nostalgic for a particular era, those listening to Bibb are liable to find themselves bounced about from time to time and style to style. Be prepared for anything from a man who has managed to make two of the most authentic-sounding downhome records of recent years - in Sweden with European musicians.

THEATRE: She's a drag act

Marlene Lyric Shaftesbury, London

SIMPLY THE BEST?

"If Ike Turner had fallen under a bus sometime in 1959," wrote the critic Charles Shaar Murray, "he would have gone down in cultural history as one of the most important figures in the development of 1950s rhythm and blues." Even before he enjoyed his first hit with 1960's "A Fool In Love", he had made his mark as a guitarist, pianist, band leader, arranger/producer and talent scout.

Architecture: The Taj Mahal at sunrise, Brighton Pavilion, Didcot Power Station... ahh, those great monuments to love

Readers will be the first to put me right, but I do not know of a British church dedicated to St Valentine, the third-century Christian martyr associated, by historical accident, with the sending of valentines. If there is, I wonder what it looks like? Can the idea of love be represented or sublimated successfully in stone or bricks and mortar? I don't mean happy suburban homes with roses around the Kentucky Fried Georgian door, but monuments to grand passion.

Games: The 1997 Olympian Games

William Hartston found plenty to play with at the International Toy & Hobby Fair at Olympia

India looks to Taj Mahal

India's Supreme Court, cracking down on chemical and carbon fumes threatening the Taj Mahal, ordered almost 300 coal-based industries in its vicinity to close by the end of 1997.

Rank passes up Trump deal

Rank, the Mecca bingo halls to Butlin's holidays group, yesterday pulled out of talks to invest $50m (pounds 30m) in Donald Trump's Castle casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Sharon Stone in bad hair nightmare

also showing: LAST DANCE Bruce Beresford (18) THE SILENCE OF THE HAMS Ezio Greggio (15)

Letter: Islam's contribution to world civilisation and culture

Sir: Perhaps Robert Fisk ("Burying the Crusader's sword", 1 August) can explain why the 800-year occupation of Spain, the 400-year occupation of Greece and the Balkans, the 200-year occupation of Sicily, and the 100-year occupation of Corsica (longer than the occupation of Iraq by the British) by Arabs or Turks are not seen for the acts of aggression, colonialism and imperialism that they were. Add for good measure, the three-year siege of Malta, the siege of Vienna in 1683, the capture of Taranto, the yearly raiding parties along the French and Italian coasts and it becomes quite difficult to see these events as merely the actions of uninvited and over-boisterous guests whom the police have been unable to control.
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The Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain village is the largest tiger captivity centre, or ‘tiger farm’, in China
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz