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  • Ségolène Royal and Wikipedia duped by tale of anti-slavery activist
    Léon-Robert de L’Astran, an 18th-century shipowner, was praised for his noble refusal to participate in the slave trade. Sadly, however, it seems that he existed only as an internet hoax — duping Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, for three years, along with Ségolène Royal and others.



  • Blowing South Africa’s Trumpet
    Shame on the visiting footballers and coaches who, before the World Cup has even begun, are whining about the noise made by vuvuzelas, the metre-long plastic trumpets with which South African football fans serenade and spur on their team!



  • Propaganda war latest: Tehran 3 Israel 0
    As Iran’s leadership prepares to dispatch a Red Crescent flotilla to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, its propaganda organs are spreading one message throughout the Muslim world: the Jewish state, branded by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as “the Zionist stain of shame”, is heading for its inevitable destruction.



  • The punk prophet of Ing-er-land
    It’s amazing the reaction you get when you tell people that Mark E. Smith has done a World Cup song. It’s a shock, like the first time the fiercely independent singer and his band appeared on Top of the Pops. The Fall have been going for 33 years and 28 studio albums, never signing contracts, never allowing themselves to be grouped in with a particular scene. At 53, Smith is the only constant member and the undisputed boss, having sacked several of his former bandmates.



  • Mandelson declares new Labour dead and promises to ‘ruffle feathers’
    Video: watch Philip Webster on Peter Mandelson at www.thetimes.co.uk



  • Rachel Bilson models summer dresses
    At around this time each season, when the weather begins to turn and the shops fill up with new clothes, our minds start to wonder: shall I try sports utility, or deconstruction, or clear anything from my wardrobe that isn’t yellow?



  • British troops hand over command to the Americans — again




  • What the Swedes can teach Prince William and Kate
    There are rumours, and there are rumours so frothy, so evanescent and insubstantial that you wonder how they ever existed in the first place. Of these, the frothiest of all are royal wedding rumours, which pop up every few months only to disappear without trace a short while later.



  • Graham Norton is unsung hero of another Eurovision disaster for Britain
    It was a dreadful night, even for a nation so well accustomed to crushing defeats on the international stage.



  • ‘Difference of opinion’ on BP’s oil rig hours before explosion
    It was shortly before noon on April 20, only ten hours before a torrent of crude oil ripped through the Deepwater Horizon rig, that the quarrel broke out.



  • A bedbug epidemic bites New York
    At first May thought that her husband had heat rash. “We were staying at a smart hotel in Cape Cod. Then I developed these hive-like welts on my back and legs.” May (not her real name; she is terrified of giving me that) is middle class, in her late fifties and lives on the Upper West Side, New York, in a well-maintained four-room apartment. When she and her husband returned to the city, one doctor prescribed antihistamines, surmising the couple had reacted to shellfish. She called a dermatologist. “He took one look and said, ‘You both have bedbug bites’. My husband turned our mattress over and we saw them. That’s when — no joke, no exaggeration, however ridiculous it may sound — our nightmare began.”



  • Naked Swiss rambler seeks right to roam the Alps in the buff
    A Swiss rambler, 47, struck a blow for freedom yesterday when he went to court to uphold his right to roam the Alps in his birthday suit.



  • Nexus between politics and criminality lies behind Kingston chaos
    Kingston remains under a state of emergency, paralysed by a situation that Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister, has described as a “calculated assault on the State”.



  • Little people asking big questions: parties where French children eat up philosophy
    Fed up with musical chairs? Can’t afford an entertainer? Then maybe you should try a new fad sweeping France: children’s tea parties with cakes, fruit juice — and metaphysics.



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