Japan picks Olympic stadium design to replace Zaha Hadid plan

Kengo Kuma’s design is for a steel and wood structure, with the track and field below ground level. Photograph: Japan Sport Council/EPA Japan has chosen a scaled-down design for the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, five months after scrapping the initial design and construction plan for being too costly. The new model, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, will ... Read More »

Belligerent Japan to send whale fleet for minke meat

On the hunt … Japan’s research whaling vessel Nisshinmaru bid farewell as the ship departs a port in Shimonoseki, western Japan, for the Antarctic Ocean. Source: AFP JAPAN has declared it will send a whaling fleet to the Antarctic, defying international criticism and a UN legal ruling that the “research” expedition is a commercial hunt in disguise. And now Malcolm ... Read More »

Besieged Afghan forces in Sangin receive airdrops as UK sends troops

Afghan army soldiers patrol in Helmand on Monday. Much of the town of Sangin has been taken over by Taliban forces. Photograph: Noor Mohammad/AFP/Getty Images Ammunition, military equipment and food is being airdropped to besieged Afghan forces battling to prevent the complete fall of Sangin, in Helmand province, according to government officials in Kabul. Analysis Afghanistan highlights a history of ... Read More »

Putin salutes Russia’s intelligence agencies on national ‘spies’ day’

President Putin speaks during an event celebrating ‘security agency workers’ day’ in Moscow.   Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB agent, has honoured members and veterans of the Russian security services on their annual professional holiday – which marks the day that the dreaded Cheka secret police was formed in 1917. “We’re honouring courageous people of strong spirit, true professionals,” ... Read More »

Qatari sheikh accused of running hotel while claiming diplomatic immunity

Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.   A former prime minister of Qatar has been accused of running a landmark London hotel and doing business deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds while claiming diplomatic immunity under the Vienna convention, which forbids commercial activity for personal profit. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani is at ... Read More »

Exclusive: Iran to match stance with Russia in push for Syria deal

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L), who arrived to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), meets with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, November 23, 2015. Iran has decided to unify its stance with Russia’s in the push for a political deal to end Syria’s civil war, Iranian officials said, in a sign it could ease its ... Read More »

135 jobs in two-and-a-half years: the plight of Spain’s new working poor

Unemployment, the key issue defining the election on Sunday, stands at 21.6% , the highest in the EU after Greece. Photograph: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez He has taken on stints as a stable hand, been a door-to-door salesman and set up stages for local concerts: rarely does David Pena turn down a job. “In the past two a half years, I’ve ... Read More »

David Cameron’s savvy speech to EU leaders offers hope of referendum win

The prime minister was given the floor at a closed session to outline to the European Union’s heads of state why Britain needs a new deal with the EU. Photograph: Isopix When David Cameron was given the floor at a dinner of European heads of government on Thursday evening, it was a form of accolade unusual in EU summitry. According ... Read More »

Swiss city buys Ikea shelters to house refugees, then ditches them over fire risk

A safety test revealed the Ikea shelters do not live up to Swiss fire protection requirements. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images Agence France-Presse The Swiss city of Zurich has announced it will not use the 62 Ikea refugee shelters it has purchased to house asylum-seekers after a test showed they constituted a fire hazard. Amid growing numbers of refugees and other migrants ... Read More »

Hitler really did have only one testicle, German researcher claims

Speculation over Hitler’s private parts has been raging in Britain for decades. Photograph: Popperfoto The song sung in schoolyards by generations of British children mocking Adolf Hitler for only having “one ball” might be accurate after all. A German historian has unearthed the Nazi leader’s long-lost medical records, which seem to confirm the urban legend that he only had one ... Read More »