Voices Rant and everyone soon tends to ignore you (a 1936 orator seeking a crowd at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park)

Favoured topics are matters of practical morality, dress sense, litter – that sort of thing

Postcard from... Montejo de la Sierra

Locals sometimes claim that the centuries-old grove of beech trees in Montejo de la Sierra in Spain is the most southerly in Europe or indeed the world. Not true – that honour goes to a beechwood on the slopes of Mount Etna. But even so there is little doubt the  beech grove running alongside the edge of the River Jarama just north of Madrid is among Spain’s most beautiful and ancient, as well as being very rare for these latitudes.

A British Shorthair kitten plays with a toy mouse

People who write about their cats used to make my eyes roll. How things change

The hidden philosophical appeal of cat literature

Badgers being vaccinated against TB near Stroud

Farm minister resolute about badger cull despite death threats

Farming minister David Heath has vowed not to be intimidated by opponents of the badger cull after revealing he has received death threats for his part in the controversial scheme.

Badgers being vaccinated against TB near Stroud

How do you vaccinate a badger? Very, very carefully

A curious Tom Bawden joins David Heath, the Farming minister, on the front line of the battle against bovine tuberculosis

Good hair day: Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman: A whisker away from a superhero

Hugh Jackman's X-Men alter-ego is about to get a solo outing. The Australian actor tells Gill Pringle how he became the Wolverine

Bovine TB has risen dramatically over the past few decades and badgers have been implicated in the rapid spread of the disease

As well as cull, contraceptives lined up for badgers in battle against farm TB

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson pledged to eradicate disease from English cattle within 25 years

Eddie practises in his training pool

Eddie the basketball-playing otter fights arthritis one hoop at a time

Keepers at Oregon Zoo have come up with a novel way for an arthritic otter to improve the movements in his joints - basketball.

Facts that prove life is beautiful

So January's over: and here's why it's now OK to feel chipper. Spring is coming. Maybe tonight's the night you'll break a month long detox. It's Friday. And these facts, collected by Ink Tank blog, will (temporarily) make you feel like the world is a brain-meltingly wonderful place (which it might be).

Jack Harvey, winner of the 2012 World's Biggest Liar contest spins his tale at the Santon Bridge Inn, Wasdale

The World's Biggest Liar: the art of fibbing

“Now you're not going to believe this,” said Glenn Boylan as he took to the stage at the Santon Bridge Inn in the Lake District valley of Wasdale. But, of course, that was the whole point. Glenn was defending his title of World's Biggest Liar in the competition that is held annually in the pub.

July 30, 2012: Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka is pictured after competing in the men's single sculls semi-finals of the rowing event during the London 2012 Olympic Games, at Eton Dorney. He finished last by a distance.

'Issaka the Otter' receives huge roar as he finishes 33rd and last in rowing event at Eton Dorney

Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka received the roar of a home gold medallist from the Eton Dorney crowd as he finished 33rd and last in the men's single sculls.

Badger cull to halt rise of TB in cattle 'will in fact spread the disease'

Caroline Spelman’s proposed badger cull to halt the rise of TB in cattle will in fact spread the disease, campaigners will tell the High Court tomorrow.

I've been made a pariah says Cairns

Chris Cairns' lawyer has called on the International Cricket Council to censure Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi over "defamatory" comments which he claims have jeopardised Cairns' future earnings.

The incredible journey of an intrepid otter

Discovery on Northumbrian island means animal swam three miles in North Sea, to amazement of naturalists
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In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible