Clear conflict

A plan to drain water from the Ebro in the north-east of Spain to supply tourism and agriculture in the arid south-east has given rise to mass protests in support of a vital wetland.

Last month a small group of protesters set out to walk 1,000 kilometres from Reinosa near the source of the Ebro river to Valencia in time for a demo at last week’s Ramsar Convention on wetlands. In every town they came to, thousands joined them. By Valencia on Sunday there were 100,000 protesters, including those who had walked a different route from the Pyrenees.

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The beauty myth

As contestants flee and Nigeria counts its dead, it is now impossible to argue that Miss World is harmless fun

What an irony that fundamentalist Muslims managed to do what feminism ultimately failed to do: make Miss World a global political issue. As contestants flee to London, and Nigeria counts its dead, it is almost impossible to retain the idea that an annual parade of female flesh is just an innocent quest for universal beauty acceptable to all reasonable people.

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Mr Al Fayed: an apology

Of all the unlikely and unpleasant people claiming attention in the wake of royal butler Paul Burrell’s revelations, who would have thought Mohamed Al Fayed might emerge as vaguely plausible? But his conspiracy theories have certainly received a boost.

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Regeneration games

While housebuilders circle the greenbelt like sharks, vast tracts of urban land lie derelict

It is fortunate that tomorrow’s urban summit, evaluating “urban renaissance” in the UK, will be held in Birmingham. Because the city, along with Manchester and Newcastle, is one of the few places in the country where there are any signs of urban renewal at all. Most other cities are still in crisis. In the north-west, vast tracts of urban land lie derelict, while in the south-east the failure to transform cities, especially London, into places worth living in means our countryside is under ever-increasing threat. Housebuilders catering for city escapees are grabbing ever-larger chunks of countryside.

Ulrika has the last word

Those who thought the main interest of Ulrika Jonsson’s autobiography would be Sven-Goran Eriksson’s tangled love life were in for a surprise. Sven isn’t the only famous man whose career is being shaken by her revelations. Indeed he must be sighing with relief now attention has shifted to her accusation of rape against a television personality. Everyone in the media knows this man’s identity. His career “is now over”, one senior executive is quoted as saying, “whether his name is out or not”.

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Milly’s fearful legacy

Along with grief about the death of Milly Dowler has come anger. Anger that any family has to go through such suffering, and especially that such an ordinary loving family should be robbed in this terrible way. There’s another anger too, expressed by residents of Milly’s home town, that a young girl was not safe walking home from school in broad daylight.

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Reasons to be tearful

Like Christmas and most other anniversaries these days, the fifth anniversary of Diana’s death came early. Tabloids have been full of Diana pictures and there have been desperate attempts to stimulate interest in new old gossip. Even erstwhile Diana fans like myself are thinking perhaps it’s time to let go.

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Wreckers of the landscape

The EU has ruined the west’s environment. Now it’s moving east

On environmental matters, most of us believe, the European Union is a progressive force. We think of it as an environmental version of the international court of justice, a place of appeal where higher standards of protection are applied. Yet the EU is also implicated in some of Europe’s worse acts of environmental vandalism, in pristine areas of eastern Europe as well as the west.

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Teacher abuse

Hard-pressed schools should be helped to detect ill-treatment of children, not punished for failing to report it

It’s easy to understand why politicians wanted action in the wake of Lauren Wright’s death. The six year old was, in effect, tortured by her stepmother and finally killed without her suffering being recognised.

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EU-funded road set to ruin Poland’s wildlife paradise

It’s a haven for elk, wolf, bears, lynx and bird life. But it’s about to be destroyed by a motorway. Ros Coward reports from Biebrza in Poland on the threat to one of Europe’s last wild places

May in the Biebrza marshes of north-east Poland is as near to a nature lover’s paradise as Europe has to offer. It’s an immense, complex area with 250 kilometres of river, rare raised bogs, and water meadows surrounded by the remnants of ancient forests which provide cover for migrating bears, wolves and lynxes.

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