Casey Kearney killer jailed for life

The father of a 13-year-old girl who was stabbed to death in a park has said her murder “means we will never have the privilege of her in our lives again”.

$4,000 golden vibrator stolen in Brazil armed robbery

An armed man in Brazil has stolen an 18-carat gold-plated vibrator selling for $4,000 (£2,600) at a luxury sex shop.

Start a new chapter in your love life

Literary speed-dating is big in the US. Miranda Kiek meets bookish London singles and hopes for a happy ending
Happy ending: literary speed-dating is on the rise

Is this how to start a new chapter in your love life?

Literary speed-dating is big in the US. Miranda Kiek tries it out in London

Sweetheart deals boost midweek sales at Domino's Pizza

Domino's Pizza UK enjoyed its best ever Tuesday this week after it enticed love-struck couples to spend Valentine's Day enjoying a cut-price pizza and a chocolate dessert.

Amol Rajan: Love really is all you need so, go on, buy those roses

Everybody knows that Valentine's Day is a giant orgy of commercial exploitation and a cynical distraction from our romantic failures over the rest of the year. It's traumatic for those people not in relationships, and hypocritical for those people in them, who pretend they fancy their partners when what they're really thinking about in bed is the company secretary.

Thai couples face off in Valentine's Day kissing marathon

Lips locked at all times - including for bathroom breaks and meals - is the less than romantic challenge facing Thai couples trying for the kiss to blow away all kisses at a Valentine's Day marathon.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Love... and other things well worth treasuring

At the supermarket on Friday night, my beloved said a red, heart-shaped candle was tat and a total rip-off at £8.99. Guess he won't be buying me the latest big thing for Valentine's day, then, made of a new metal amalgam, rubedo and created by Tiffany. Love costs, in some circles. And therefore is worth nothing. Real love is priceless. I went to see the disturbing, touching George Clooney film, The Descendants, about grief, loss and marital betrayal. All the while I was thinking about how much my man and marriage mean to me; the strength of our mutual love; how lucky we are. Oh there have been terrible moments: times I've driven away, wanting out. But we never gave up on our promise. More than 22 years on we are best friends and lovers. Love between couples should be about resilience, fidelity, trust, a steady entwining of hearts and minds, slow-cooked sexual intimacy. But these days, relationships come and go like the colours of fashion. A big wedding, followed by a short marriage and the next big wedding, is how the story goes. Divorce rates (though stabilising) remain high. I have just finished a series on the devastating effect divorce has on individuals for BBC Radio 4, to be broadcast later this month. Yet recent studies show the public is intensely relaxed about adultery. Tomorrow is a day of brisk trade in romantic frivolities – kitsch, insistent candlelit dinners, overpriced bubbly and lots of hot sex too. In his book on postmodernism, Ziauddin Sardar writes: "The sheer quantity of sex around us is unprecedented in history. We are the first generation ever to be constantly watching, listening to, thinking about, preparing for, engaging in and recovering from sex." There can be no doubt that sex is better today for most Westerners than it was even half a century back. With love, however, the news is only bad. Too many people are rubbish at it; it's causing chronic heartache and is now just another shopping opportunity, an off-the-shelf commodity. Eva Illouz, an Israeli sociologist explores the tragedy in a new book, Why Love Hurts. The causes are found in the capitalist culture which has consumed us all. Also responsible are non-committal men who want it all – several partners, serial families, affairs, both freedom and cheap comfort. To lose faith in love is a seismic sign of total pessimism. Not everybody finds the real thing, but we used to believe in the possibility. That is why so many are now turning to more practical measures like arranged dating. The unexpected can happen. One friend found a man online and they clicked. Something, she says, is growing: "It's not like I hear bells and see rainbows or stars when he touches me. But I look forward to him coming home. I feel cherished. But I haven't said anything to him." That's love, I say.

Absent Friends, Harold Pinter, London
The Way of the World, Crucible, Sheffield
The Devil and Mr Punch, Barbican Pit, London

Alan Ayckbourn's drama is painfully good when the knot of comedy and tragedy is pulled tight

The traditional: Taittinger Prestige Rose NV

We still love the shops

Despite reports of the high street's 'death spiral', young people still want to go out shopping. Gideon Spanier reports

Travel Agenda: Animated Exeter Festival; W Hotels; Melbourne in full festival swing

Today: The Animated Exeter Festival gets started, with more than 100 films, by novice and established comics, showing at venues across the city. During half term there are six free exhibitions and educational workshops for children , which include model making and how to create 3D characters (animatedexeter.co.uk).

Harriet Walker: 'February is the best month to detox'

If you're a normal person, and I like to think that most of our readers are (although I can vouch for a few of you not being, I must say – Man Who Once Sent Me a Lewd Cartoon, I'm looking at you here), then you've probably reached the point in the year when your good post-Christmas intentions have melted away and faded to nothing, just as the brandy butter did when you slathered it over your steaming-hot pudding all those many weeks ago.

Travel Agenda: Long Night of the Museums; Zurich's Art on Ice; Verona in Love; The Park Hyatt Sydney

Today: The Long Night of the Museums gets under way tonight in Berlin. Between 6pm and 2am, more than 100 galleries and cultural institutions will open late throughout the German capital, with a host of concerts, readings and performances. Tickets are €15 (lange-nacht-der-museen.de).

Spirit: Revellers gather in Caffè Florian

Trail of the unexpected: Casanova's Venice

With a month to go until Valentine's Day, Nick Boulos traces the path of Italy's legendary lover

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Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
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Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
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footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
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Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
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Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
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New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

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Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

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Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

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Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities