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Screen test for America's first woman president
Struck down unexpectedly by an aneurysm, the president of the US is dying. His female vice-president is under pressure to resign and make way for a more rightwing man who the world would take more seriously. Even as her communications director writes her resignation speech, one of her male aides begs her to reconsider. "A female president," he says. "Can't you smell the history?"
Haitian children sold as cheap labourers and prostitutes for little more than £50
"You just ask around town," says Hilda Pe-a, who monitors border crossings for the Jesuit Refugee Service. "People know who the scouts are. You just tell them what kind of child you are looking for and they can bring across whatever it is that you want."
Hip-hop radio station accused of stoking fires between rival rappers to win listeners
The soundtrack of a New York summer day wafting from windows of cars and apartments often starts its journey at one of the city's most popular radio stations, Hot 97. Its lively blend of hip-hop, R & B and raucous phone-ins has been hailed as a huge success by the industry. But with shoot-outs between guests erupting on its doorstep over the past few years, this reputation owes more to the wild west than the West Village.
Please stop fetishising integration. Equality is what we really need
And so it is that it seems to make no difference how segregated their lives, white people rarely ever seem to live in ghettoes. When a group of white people gather, they call it a country club, boardroom or - for most of the last century - House of Commons. But when non-white people reach a critical mass in any area, they always hit the G-spot - the point at which policymakers scream.
Cruising for a bruising
Like a boxer bigging himself up before a fight, George Galloway said that he was not in the slightest bit nervous about his forthcoming debate with Christopher Hitchens on whether the Iraq war was justified and necessary. "He's all washed up, like Sonny Liston," said the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.


Frontispiece from the 1789 edition of Olaudah Equiano
Author casts shadow over slave hero
In his autobiography Olaudah Equiano, a former slave who bought his freedom and then became a leading voice in the movement to abolish slavery, claimed he was born in Essaka, Igboland in what is now southeastern Nigeria in 1745. Equiano (who also went by the name Gustava Vassa) described how he was taken by slave traders and shipped to the Caribbean. It was the first written account by an African in English of the slave journey.


Robert Fonteaine holds his puppy as he watches New Orleans firefighters try to save his house. Photograph: Eric Gay/AP
Still alive amid the chaos: rescuers arrive at last to discover the forgotten survivors
"There's a lady been lying dead for four days and some people just took her away," said Patricia Corie, her immaculately painted sky-blue nails resting on the car window on a corner of Magazine Street as she watched the fire engines arrive to tend to a blazing house. "Now they're coming to help but we've been here all the time.
Bush fails to stem anger
The president flew to Baton Rouge and visited a church relief centre to talk to survivors and relief workers.
Murder and rape - fact or fiction?
In a week filled with dreadful scenes of desperation and anger from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina some stories stood out.
Left to sink or swim
'Stuff happens," said the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, when called to respond to the looting taking place in Baghdad after the American invasion. "But in terms of what's going on in that country, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over and over and over again of some boy walking out with a vase and say, 'Oh, my goodness, you didn't have a plan' ... It's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here."


A dead body lies in Rampart Street, New Orleans. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP
Empty, ruined and desperate
Police shot dead at least five people who apparently opened fire on contractors on a city bridge, in a clear demonstration of the resolve to deal with the lawlessness that has beset New Orleans.
Only helicopters disturb the chilling calm
"They could see us and we could see them but they kept going for other people who I reckon were more desperate," Ms Smith said.


A woman outside New Orleans Convention Centre cries for help for a patient in her care. Photo: Melissa Phillip/AP
Criticism of Bush mounts as more than 10,000 feared dead
As thousands of people sat on the streets of New Orleans, having spent their fourth day waiting to be rescued, the city fell deeper into chaos, with gangs roaming the city and corpses rotting in the sun.
The long search for the missing
As one of the few family members, however distant, in the area, I too have started trying to help. But with the national guard preventing people going into the city, my proximity means little. Finding an actual person to talk to takes time and an extraordinary amount of patience. On the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) website there is a list of numbers to call for the Louisiana state office of Emergency Preparedness and the Louisiana state police. So I hit the phones repeatedly. All are jammed virtually all day.
Amid stench of death, poor bear the brunt
Along the way, the smell of damp in Mobile, Alabama, turns to the stench of death from the Gulf Coast. The radio dial flits from call-in shows fielding requests from beleaguered mayors of small hamlets for generators and ice to Baptist preachers promising God's wrath. But for many here, it seems as though his will has already been done.
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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