7 Steps Toward a Better Website

Creating a website is one thing, making it better is another. Matt shares 7 steps to help you gain a better website.

1. Update your content. Stale content will certainly drive your regular visitors away. Add fresh content at least twice a week; couple relevant feed with ezine articles if you are not particularly adept at writing.

2. Swap out pictures. Freshen your photographs regularly. Add new pictures, toss old ones that are no longer relevant.

3. Overhaul your site. No, you need not gut your site, instead create a new template and move your current information over. Do this at least once per year.

4. Add a forum. If your site is geared toward one particular topic, consider adding a forum to generate additional traffic. Count the cost as forums can be real time eater.

5. Add a storefront. OS Commerce offers a free, easy to use storefront. Couple it with Paypal, hire a dropshipper, and you are ready to go.

6. Go after advertisers. Besides the usual PPC schemes, sell banner advertising space to companies. Make sure the ads are relevant to your visitors.

7. Run contests. Give something away on a regular basis and your guests will know that you have a "happening" site.

By being proactive with your site, you will gain a regular supply of new visitors, retain your regulars, and make some money in the process. Keep your site interesing, informative, and fun; grow what you own or risk getting beat out by someone much more motivated than you.

Matt regularly refreshens his 15+ sites and he constantly is looking for ways to generate new traffic. Samples of two of his sites are here:




Tens of thousands expected to turn out in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare for march organised by war veterans’ groups

Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Harare on Saturday to call for the resignation of Robert Mugabe, as moves to force the Zimbabwean president to stand down gather pace.

The army seized power four days ago but Mugabe has refused its demands to leave office. The military and senior officials within the ruling Zanu-PF party now appear set on forcing Mugabe out within 48 hours.

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Move means party will be led by generation without links to violence, but 69-year-old is still expected to wield influence

Gerry Adams will announce his plans to retire after 34 years as president of Sinn Féin on Saturday, marking a generational shift that will break the leadership’s last link with republican violence.

Adams will take to the stage of Dublin’s RDS conference hall to set out an exit that some analysts say will improve Sinn Féin’s electoral chances in the Irish Republic.

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Exclusive: EU to investigate claims disused fridges and adapted gas canisters were used to sneak whisky out of Afghan compound

EU investigators are examining claims that the organisation’s compound in Kabul is at the centre of an alleged alcohol-smuggling ring in Afghanistan.

Disused fridges and adapted gas canisters have been used to sneak bottles of alcohol brands such as Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker out of the official EU-designated area, it is alleged.

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One unit of the cryptocurrency now valued at more than six times an ounce of gold, after tenfold rise since start of 2017

The price of the virtual currency bitcoin has broken the $8,000 barrier for the first time, prompting speculation that it could soar past $10,000 by the end of the year.

The rise means one unit of the world’s first major cryptocurrency is now valued at more than six times an ounce of gold, traditionally seen as a safe-haven investment in times of economic turmoil.

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The San Juan has been missing off the coast of Patagonia for more than two days, and the navy denies that communication was lost after a fire on board

Argentina’s navy has launched a huge search-and-rescue operation for a military submarine with 44 crew members that has been missing off the coast of Patagonia for more than two days.

The last radio contact with the San Juan submarine was on Wednesday, when it was 430km off the coast of the southern province of Chubut, in the area of San Jorge bay, a naval spokesman said on Friday.

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Exclusive: Email links Wolfgang Kubicki – a candidate to be finance minister – to statement advocating potential of pipeline that critics say is opposed to EU interests

A candidate vying to be Germany’s next finance minister is facing questions over possible links to lobbying on behalf of Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project as his party enters crunch talks to form the next government.

An email seen by the Guardian links Nord Stream 2 lobbying to the deputy leader of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), Wolfgang Kubicki, throwing into doubt cross-party claims of a “more critical” attitude towards the contentious energy deal in a potential three-party coalition alongside Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Greens.

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One of Italy’s most feared mobsters, who led powerful Cosa Nostra, dies in hospital while serving multiple life sentences

Salvatore “Totò” Riina’s son was 17 years old when his father ordered him to strangle a kidnapped businessman in the countryside – a killing that would mark the boy’s formal entry into the Cosa Nostra.

It was just one example of the murderous reign of terror that Riina, who died in a prison hospital bed early on Friday morning, inflicted on Italy for nearly four decades as the “boss of bosses” of the Sicilian mafia.

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Court accepts plea from Katharina G Andresen, ranked world’s second-youngest billionaire, that she had no fixed income

Most students would feel a £20,000-plus fine for driving over the limit was a calamity, but Katharina G Andresen got off lightly.

Andresen, 22, was handed a NOK250,000 (£23,000) fine by an Oslo court this week after she failed a roadside breathalyser test while on her way to the family chalet in the ski resort of Hafjell, three hours north of the capital, for the Easter weekend.

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Dozens of parasites and corn kernels found in man shot as he fled to South Korea, hinting at extent of malnutrition in North

Parasitic worms have been found in a North Korean soldier critically injured while defecting to South Korea, highlighting nutrition and hygiene problems that observers believe have plagued the isolated country for decades.

Dozens of flesh-coloured parasites, one of which was 27cm (11 inches) long, were found in the man’s digestive tract during life-saving operations, according to the lead surgeon, Lee Cook-jong.

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  • Campaigners warn that a ‘killer robots’ arms race is already under way
  • Amandeep Gill warns against ‘emotionalising or dramatising this issue’

“Robots are not taking over the world,” the diplomat leading the first official talks on autonomous weapons assured on Friday, seeking to head off criticism over slow progress towards restricting the use of so-called “killer robots”.

The United Nations was wrapping up an initial five days of discussions on weapons systems that can identify and destroy targets without human control, which experts say will soon be battle ready.

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President criticises Democratic senator’s actions but remains silent on Roy Moore, prompting fresh scrutiny of his own behaviour towards women

Donald Trump attacked Al Franken for sexual misconduct on Thursday night on Twitter, reigniting the controversy around allegations made against the president himself by numerous women.

Related: A timeline of Donald Trump's alleged sexual misconduct: who, when and what

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Forensic voice experts tell court they are 99% sure suspect’s voice does not match that of kingpin Medhanie Yehdego Mered

Forensic voice experts have presented evidence to a Palermo court showing a man Italian prosecutors have claimed for 18 months to be one of the world’s most wanted people-smugglers is a victim of mistaken identity.

The voice of the Eritrean people-smuggling kingpin Medhanie Yehdego Mered, recorded in 2014, does not match that of the suspect arrested in Sudan last year and extradited to Sicily with the aid of Britain’s National Crime Agency, the experts said.

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Works by the enfants terribles of Britart form part of Spanish exhibition exploring enduring influence of Francisco de Goya

The sleep of reason produces monsters and, if you are Jake and Dinos Chapman at least, an enduring obsession with the works of Francisco de Goya.

Sixteen years after the brothers famously took their pens to 83 prints of the Spanish artist’s bleak and ultraviolent series The Disasters of War, the trio are to be reunited in an exhibition at the Goya museum in Zaragoza.

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In ‘unprecedented’ interview, Gen Gadi Eisenkot said moderate Arab states must collaborate to ‘deal with’ Tehran

Israel’s military chief has given an “unprecedented” interview to a Saudi newspaper underlining the ways in which the two countries could unite to counter Iran’s influence in the region.

Speaking to the Saudi newspaper Elaph, Gen Gadi Eisenkot described Iran as the “biggest threat to the region” and said Israel would be prepared to share intelligence with “moderate” Arab states like Saudi Arabia in order to “deal with” Tehran.

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Operator ‘deeply’ sorry for inconvenience to passengers after the 9.44.40am Tsukuba Express pulled away at 9.44.20am

It was an admission that would no doubt raise a sardonic smile among many commuters, and perhaps have them dreaming of relocating to Japan.

The operator of a private railway firm that serves the Tokyo suburbs has issued an apology after one of its trains departed 20 seconds ahead of schedule.

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With Lahore suffering from air pollution almost equal to that enveloping Delhi, joint action to tackle the problem is urgently needed, say environmentalists

Parts of Pakistan have been enveloped by deadly smog in recent weeks, with the city of Lahore suffering almost as badly as the Indian capital Delhi.

Pictures and video that show Lahore looking like an apocalyptic landscape have left people in shock. Some residents have said they can’t see beyond their outstretched arm.

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Speaking in UK, secretary general António Guterres said countries that suppress rights and deny opportunities are breeding ground of ‘unprecedented threat’

The world faces an unprecedented terrorist threat which finds its best breeding ground in countries that suppress human rights, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said in a major speech designed to put countering terrorism at the heart of the UN’s agenda.

Related: Will António Guterres be the UN's best ever secretary general?

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Bluegogo, China’s third largest bike sharing company, reported to be in financial trouble

China’s third largest bike sharing company has reportedly run into financial trouble, amid a wave of busts and consolidations in an industry that took the country by storm this year.

Bluegogo burned through 600m yuan (£68m) in investor funding in the year since it was founded by its youthful CEO Li Gang, deploying 700,000 bikes across cities in China.

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New Zealand prime minister describes lighthearted retort to US president after he ribbed her for ‘causing a lot of upset in her country’

New Zealand’s new prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described how she joked with Donald Trump when they first met, telling the US president “no one marched when I was elected”.

Revealing details about her first meeting with Trump at the east Asia summit in Vietnam last week, Ardern said the exchange was low-key and relaxed.

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After a crackdown by law enforcement, mafia clans have turned from violence and intimidation to corruption and collusion

“Riina was still the boss of Cosa Nostra when he died. No one had taken his place after his arrest. It is unprecedented for the position not to be filled when the boss is arrested,” said Roberto Saviano, the author of Gomorrah.

That Totò Riina held on to his position as “boss of bosses” while in isolation in prison for the last 24 years of his life is remarkable. But in mafia culture, symbolism is important, and Riina, who died on Friday, was able to make his views known via signals, messages and intermediaries. From prison, he issued threats against the anti-mafia prosecutor Nino Di Matteo, who now lives under armed protection. Riina’s sons, one of whom has been convicted of four murders, have allegedly found ways to communicate on behalf of their father.

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The share of trips taken by bike in Denmark’s capital has fallen. With ever more cars on the road and a new metro line about to open, can Copenhagen reach its target to have half of all journeys made by bike?

It’s 8am on a rainy weekday morning on Copenhagen’s Nørrebrogade street and the stream of cyclists making their way into city centre is already getting jammed.

Cyclists often have to wait through two or three rounds of green lights before they can get past. At Dronning Louise Bridge – one of the busiest cycle routes in the world, with 48,400 bikes crossing each day – newly installed information boards remind riders to pas på hinanden, or be aware of each other.

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Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes become valueless over time – but as the population shrinks, can its cities finally learn to slow down and refurb?

In the suburban neighbourhood of Midorigaoka, about an hour by train outside Kobe, Japan, all the houses were built by the same company in the same factory. Steel frames fitted out with panel walls and ceilings, these homes were clustered by the hundreds into what was once a brand new commuter town. But they weren’t built to last.

Daiwa House, one of the biggest prefabricated housing manufacturers in Japan, built this town in the 60s during a postwar housing boom. It’s not unlike the suburban subdivisions of the western world, with porches, balconies and rooflines that shift and repeat up and down blocks of gently curving roads. Most of those houses built in the 60s are no longer standing, having long since been replaced by newer models, finished with fake brick ceramic siding in beiges, pinks and browns. In the end, most of these prefabricated houses – and indeed most houses in Japan – have a lifespan of only about 30 years.

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It once hosted Captain Scott and serves as a jumping-off point for expeditions to the icy wastes to the south. Global investment lies ahead – and better housing for the city’s indigenous population

When Robert Scott’s frozen remains were recovered 105 years ago this week, Antarctic exploration was a European-only affair. Now it’s a bustling global concern, poised to open up even more as the ice caps recede. Chile’s southernmost city, Punta Arenas, a wind-bitten port of nearly 130,000 on the Strait of Magellan, is jostling for position as gateway city to the Antarctic.

It welcomed Scott himself in July 1904 when the Englishman sent 400 letters announcing the safe return of his Discovery expedition at the post office on Plaza Muñoz Gamero. One of his officers pronounced the city a “wretched-looking place”. Not so much now, with Punta Arenas hosting the national Antarctic programmes of 20 countries and becoming one of Chile’s fastest-growing cities in the process.

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Promising supervised flats, nursing homes and levelled streets, Valdivia’s Gerontological Hub project is tackling Chile’s ageing crisis head-on. Can it offset the country’s shockingly low privatised pensions?

Imagine a city that allows you to live your final years with grace and dignity. Where, if you’re alone and facing challenges but still physically and mentally independent, you can move into an apartment complex with a supervisor to provide support and organise workshops and gatherings in a community room. Where there’s an affordable transport system adapted to your needs, along with well-lit and maintained streets that won’t cause falls, as well as extended crossing times at traffic lights, roofs over the pavements to shelter you from the rain and attractive plazas and parks offering exercise equipment.

If your health is impaired, you can receive home visits from caregivers, priority healthcare at clinics and hospitals, and access to rehabilitation centres. Where there are flexible opportunities to re-enter the labour market if your pension isn’t enough. And if you can’t care for yourself and have no support network, there are well-equipped and staffed nursing homes.

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Bici Palermo Tuning – a group of teenagers from the Sicilian capital – spend anything up to €1,300 customising their bikes with car batteries and multiple speakers to develop thunderous sound systems. The police are not impressed

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Every district in Colombia’s capital is rated 1 to 6 for affluence, and its services subsidised accordingly. But is a laudable idea creating division and stigma?

“It’s good quality for the price,” says Carlos Jiménez, a construction worker, as he sips his coffee and leans against the polished counter in Tostao’, a coffee shop in Bogotá’s bustling working-class district of Tunjuelito.

Despite being one of the world’s biggest coffee producers, Colombia has traditionally exported its best beans, and the few chains that do sell it are expensive; Colombians have instead developed a taste for tinto, a sweet brew made out of leftover beans.

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US cities from Tucson to Atlanta have been vying to host the e-tailing giant’s new mega-complex. Few seem to have considered what they will get in return

The deadline has passed, but the competition has just begun. Since early September, US cities have been promoting their attributes, beautifying their reputations and putting on elaborate displays of civic seduction – all in an effort to convince Jeff Bezos and his team at Amazon to select them as the site of the e-tailing behemoth’s second headquarters.

Tucson sent a 21ft cactus. New York lit up the Empire State Building in the brand’s shade of orange. The mayor of the Atlanta suburb of Stonecrest said his city would use 345 acres of industrial land to create an entirely new city called Amazon.

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Having stood for decades as a relic of Nazi hubris, the immense site of the ‘Strength Through Joy’ camp at Prora is being redeveloped and will soon serve its original purpose – housing holidaymakers

“You’d have thought there would have been a big hall or something,” declares a disappointed American voice on leaving the Prora Documentation Centre, a museum on the edge of a half-disused, half-renovated holiday camp in north-east Germany. What he was hoping for, in the largest single surviving remnant of the Third Reich, is some hint of the past. But there is little of that here today.

The Third Reich destroyed many cities, but it never built one. It began some – notably the industrial city of Wolfsburg – and it planned many others. But mostly, its ideas about what they called the Volksgemeinschaft (“people’s community”) went unrealised. With one exception: the Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude) resort of Prora, on the Isle of Rügen.

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The Stockholm metro is sometimes called the longest art gallery in the world – but a new exhibit by Liv Strömquist is not to all commuters’ liking

The Swedish capital’s metro, or tunnelbana, has been described as the world’s longest gallery, with art permanently on display at 90 of the 100 stations along the 68-mile tunnel system. The decades-old permanent works grapple with issues from women’s rights to inclusivity and deforestation.

But a provocative new exhibit has proved particularly controversial among commuters, sparking debate about the role of public art – and whether the wait for the train is the right time for breaking taboos.

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A decade ago Amsterdam pumped money into tourism to recover from the global financial crisis but – even as the city bans ‘beer bikes’ – can it be saved from a monster industry of its own making?

Last weekend, Els Iping caught a group of male tourists ripping out the shrub in front of her house in the centre of Amsterdam. They were wearing pink dresses and they were very drunk. “These kind of things happen all the time,” she says matter-of-factly. “It’s worse when they throw up in your plant boxes, because you can’t rinse it away– you have to scoop it out.”

Over the last 10 years, Iping – a 64-year-old, stylishly dressed consultant – has witnessed her picturesque neighbourhood change due to an unparalleled growth in the number of visitors. “Every day throngs of tourists pass by my window. The weekend now starts on Thursday afternoon; the screaming and shouting of tourists boozing it up is deafening. And the rubbish they leave behind!”

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At Prospect Hill in Mississippi, people came from as far as Liberia for an unlikely gathering that led to a scene of visible emotion – with ‘a lot to talk about’

The gathering at Prospect Hill plantation that day could have been a casting call for a period drama set before the American civil war.

The location was remote, along a one-lane gravel road in sparsely populated Jefferson County, Mississippi. A group of about 50 people, black and white, stood in front of an archetypal southern Gothic home, chatting amiably about slave owners and slaves.

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Family of 20-year-old who died after arrest in east London criticise coroner’s decision as ‘outrageous’

A coroner has ruled that two police officers involved with the restraint and arrest of Rashan Charles shortly before he died have the right to remain anonymous at his inquest.

Charles, 20, from north London, who had a baby daughter, was chased into a Hackney shop by a police officer in July 2017 before being restrained and handcuffed. Within 70 minutes of his arrest he was dead.

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Milkham Inclosure, New Forest In the wartime effort of 1917 timber from this woodland fell to axes and became the battlefield planks trodden perhaps by the forest dwellers themselves

Today we wander through Milkham’s pines in an atmosphere of autumnal tranquillity. During the first world war the scene would have been very different. The ring of axes would have cut through the air as still more trees needed for the war effort were taken down. A few mother trees were spared to provide seedlings for regeneration.

One hundred years ago last week, after appalling cost, the Third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele, ended. Pictures taken at the time show Australian gunners walking on duckboards across seas of mud, heading for the frontline through stick-like trees. They could have been treading on planks cut from pines that once grew in Milkham. A sombre thought.

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The world’s worst humanitarian crisis is deteriorating as a Saudi blockade prevents desperately needed food, fuel and medicine from entering the country. London’s unstinting support for Riyadh makes the UK complicit

Twenty years ago, Tony Blair acknowledged the British government’s responsibility for the Irish famine that killed one million people: a healing gesture needed because, even after a century and a half, pain and anger endured and the responsibility of “those who governed in London” remained glaring. Now we are on the brink of another famine – perhaps the worst for decades, says a UN aid chief – and Britain must again bear blame. The UN called Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis even before Saudi Arabia decided to blockade the country a week and a half ago, shutting out food and medicine. Now the heads of three key agencies have warned that millions are on the brink of starvation. Unicef fears that 150,000 children could die by the end of the year. A cholera outbreak that has already affected 900,000 is expected to flare up again, as the lack of fuel shuts off water and sewage systems. Twenty million people, more than two-thirds of the population, are in urgent need of humanitarian supplies.

An impoverished country has been destroyed by what is both a civil and a proxy war. Houthi rebels, allied to Iran, drove out the internationally recognised president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, allying with his predecessor who had been ousted in the Arab spring. Since then, 10,000 lives have been lost, many to heavy bombing by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition, with arms and military support from the US, UK and others. The blockade has taken this terrible, futile conflict to a new depth. It seeks to starve a population into submission – a crime against humanity horrifically familiar from its ongoing use in Syria as well as elsewhere. Britain’s staunch support for Riyadh makes it complicit.

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Zimbabweans in their 20s have borne the brunt of years of economic mismanagement

When Sandra Musakasa visits her hometown, Zimbabwe’s second city, there are no childhood or college friends left for her to catch up with. They have all fled in search of jobs, an elusive pursuit in a country where up to 90% of young people are unemployed.

“If I go to Bulawayo, I can’t even find one friend I grew up beside or went to school with. Most people are going out to South Africa,” she says with a shrug. Being young and employed in Zimbabwe makes her a member of a tiny elite.

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Trump bemoans his inability to buddy up to the North Korean leader, as his son and son-in-law face more trouble in the Russia inquiry

  • Each week, Trump seems to make more news than most presidents do in a lifetime. The Guardian is keeping track of it all in this series, every Saturday

Do you remember coming home from school to tell your mother or father another kid had been nasty to you in the playground? And all you wanted was to be his friend?

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Australian Medical Association votes unanimously to lobby for access to hundreds in detention centre standoff

The Australian Medical Association called on Saturday for the government to allow independent doctors and other health experts to help more than 400 asylum seekers and refugees languishing inside a recently closed detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

The asylum seekers have shut themselves inside the Australian-run Manus Island centre for the past 18 days, defying attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea to close it in a standoff the United Nations describes as a “looming humanitarian crisis”.

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March for Independence may signal not a surge in support for far right but the seeping of its ideas into the mainstream

The presence of Islamophobic, homophobic, antisemitic and white supremacist chants and banners at last weekend’s March of Independence in Warsaw raised fears about the rise of the far right in Poland.

But interviews with nationalist and far-right leaders and their opponents reveal a more nuanced picture of a relatively marginal movement wrestling with its public image while hoping to seize the opportunities afforded to it by the success of the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) and popular opposition to immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

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Amadou Sumaila gives permission to share letter in which he explains how and why he left Mali and arrived in Sicily

Amadou Sumaila was one of 118 people rescued from an inflatable boat drifting 20 miles off the Libyan coast on a clear, calm morning in August last year. The kind of day for which people smugglers hope and their passengers pray.

The young Malian and more than 363,000 other migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2016. Like many of them, Sumaila had never seen the sea, never imagined that so many people could be crammed into a small boat and never thought it would be so hard to breathe.

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Xinhua has issued a lengthy hagiography of president Xi Jinping. Here are the essentials so you can pass the pub test

China’s official news agency, Xinhua, has released a titanic and oleaginous 8,000-word profile of the country’s leader, Xi Jinping. Pushed for time? Here’s a quick Xi-nopsis

Name: Xi Jinping.

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Turkey withdraws 40 soldiers from Nato drill at joint warfare centre in Norway, in protest at incident

Nato’s secretary general has apologised to Turkey over military exercises in Norway during which Turkey’s founding leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, were reportedly depicted as “enemies”.

Erdoğan said Turkey withdrew 40 soldiers participating in the drills at Nato’s joint warfare centre in Stavanger, Norway, in protest at the incident and criticised the alliance. “There can be no such unity, no such alliance,” he said in an address to his ruling party’s provincial leaders.

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There have been reports that some case managers, sport and recreation staff, and teachers were flown out on Friday with little explanation

Staff at the Nauru detention centre have been flown off the island in a confusing and sudden apparent end to their employment, detention sources have said.

Sources on Nauru told the Guardian dozens of staff had already been deported, with more expected to leave the island on Saturday. The reason for the departure was not clear.

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Police say two occupants of helicopter have died and two people in two-seater plane after crash near village of Waddesdon

Four people have died after a helicopter and a two-seater plane crashed in mid-air over Buckinghamshire.

Police said it was “too early to tell” what might have caused the collision, and were focusing on identifying the victims and informing their next of kin. Two people were killed in each aircraft.

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Labour peer Margaret Prosser on fashion photographers portraying women as objects, Mari Peacock on her menstrual art and Clare Hale on school uniforms

There has been much reporting over recent weeks of the disrespect and harassment of women across a variety of workplaces and areas where women are trying to make their way into their chosen careers. This is a multilayered subject, but at its most plain it is almost always about power and influence versus a desire to get a foot in the door and a great uncertainty as to how to be your own person without messing up future chances to a career, fame or just a job and an income.

Images such as the photograph of five women modelling for AllSaints (Financial, 30 October) reinforce, as have many fashion photographers over recent years, the impression that women are bodies and not people. Vacant faces, faraway looks and dead eyes all conspire to conjure a view of woman as image/object, not a human being at all.
Margaret Prosser
Labour, House of Lords 

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In the 1980 Zimbabwe election campaign, Robert Mugabe asked the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to help his opponent Joshua Nkomo, says the Liberal Democrat peer Trevor Smith. Plus, a palindrome by Fr Alec Mitchell

Simon Tisdall’s profile of Robert Mugabe (Rise and fall of intellectual, autocratic lord of misrule, 16 November) provides a very balanced account of the man.

It may be worth adding that Mugabe’s election campaign in 1980, which led him to become president of Zimbabwe, was masterminded by Pratap Chitnis. Previously, Chitnis had organised the 1962 Orpington byelection for the Liberals which resulted in Eric Lubbock’s spectacular victory. The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, of which both Chitnis and I were directors, had supported Bishop Abel Muzorewa when he led the opposition to Ian Smith’s universal declaration of independence by Rhodesia. The trust transferred its help to the Zanu party and its leader. Mugabe himself was deeply aware of the very fractious nature of the rivalry between Zanu and its opponent Zapu, led by Joshua Nkomo. He did not want the result to be a rout for Zanu, which he thought would be too divisive for the country. He therefore asked if the reform trust would also pay for a chief agent to mobilise the campaignNkomo’s campaign, which was agreed.

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Cash handouts bring major benefits to world’s poorest people, allowing them to live with greater dignity, claims international study

Foreign aid in the form of cash transfers with no strings attached can improve health and increase school attendance, a study has found.

Earlier this year, Downing Street was forced to defend the use of controversial cash transfers when press reports claimed £300m had been spent on a poverty reduction scheme in Pakistan dogged by claims of corruption.

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As friends and followers of the late Honduran activist continue her battle for indigenous land rights, their cause has been boosted by a damning legal report

María Santos Domínguez heard about the death of her good friend Berta Cáceres on the radio. She had just given birth to her youngest daughter, so she wasn’t with Cáceres the week she was murdered.

“It was a double blow because we were very close, we worked together in the communities,” said Santos Domínguez, a coordinator for the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Copinh), the organisation Cáceres co-founded 24 years ago to stop the state selling off the country’s ancestral lands to multinational companies.

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In crushing the party of which I was vice-president, Cambodia’s prime minister has revealed himself as a brutal dictator intent on prolonging his oppressive rule

Democracy was on trial this week in Cambodia, and it lost. Demonstrating its complete subservience to Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Cambodian supreme court ruled to dissolve my political party, the Cambodia National Rescue party (CNRP). It also banned me and more than 100 of my colleagues from politics for the next five years.

As the only opposition party capable of mounting a serious challenge to the ruling party in national elections – scheduled for July – the CNRP posed a threat to the continuance of more than three decades of Hun Sen’s brutal, strongman rule.

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Aid experts speak out after official statistics reveal that about a quarter of UK aid budget was spent outside Department for International Development in 2016

The proportion of Britain’s £13.4bn aid budget spent by government ministries other than the Department for International Development rose by almost 50% last year, sparking concerns about transparency and poverty reduction.

Roughly a quarter of the aid budget, which met the 0.7% target set by the government, was spent by non-DfID departments, official figures show.

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Government failure to address low pay and lack of medical supplies drives staff to walk out, as patients’ groups warn that lives of most vulnerable are at risk

Public health services across Uganda have been brought to a standstill as doctors strike over pay and poor working conditions.

Members of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) began nationwide action on 6 November over the government’s failure to meet their demands for salary and allowance increases, as well as for a review of the supply of medicines and other equipment in health centres.

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UN warns that conflict, cholera and internal tumult have forced 4 million people and counting from their homes, with aid increasingly hard to deliver

Violence and ethnic and political unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have propelled the country to the same level of crisis as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Cholera is raging at a rate never before seen in DRC and nearly 4 million people have been displaced from their homes by fighting, a quarter of them from the conflict-hit Kasai region alone. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, which revealed last month that the situation had been declared a “level-three emergency”, the highest grade of crisis, has warned that those numbers are likely to rise in the coming weeks.

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Rigid gender norms in Nigeria’s religiously conservative society are being challenged by a website dedicated to documenting unconventional lives

Richard Akuson, a lawyer whose online magazine is questioning rigid gender norms in Nigeria’s religiously conservative society, understands the nature of the challenge all too well. He has lived it.

“In Nigeria, as in many other places, people treat a very narrow version of masculinity as if it is sacred, as if to challenge it is immoral,” says the 23-year-old.

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Inequality and vulnerability of technology-based voting systems to corruption also identified by researchers as factors in slowing spread of democracy

The spread of democracy around the world has slowed over the past decade, according to a report warning that governments are at a “critical juncture”.

Since 1975, the number of countries with fair democratic systems has more than doubled, from 46 (30% of countries) to 132 (68% of counties). More nations now hold elections than ever before.

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For decades, guns and imprisonment have been the hallmarks of Brazil’s war against the drug trafficking. But the only way to beat the gangs is to stop creating criminals, says a top Brazilian judge

The war raging in Rocinha, Latin America’s largest favela, has already been lost. Rooted in a dispute between gangs for control of drug trafficking, it has disrupted the daily life of the community in Rio de Janeiro since mid-September. With the sound of shots coming from all sides, schools and shops are constantly forced to close. Recently, a stray bullet killed a Spanish tourist. The war is not the only thing being lost.

For decades, Brazil has had the same drug policy approach. Police, weapons and numerous arrests. It does not take an expert to conclude the obvious: the strategy has failed. Drug trafficking and consumption have only increased. Einstein is credited with a saying – though apparently it is not his – that applies well to the case: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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Rights groups urge UK government and international community to consider Nobel laureate ‘part of the problem’ over atrocities in Rakhine state

Aung San Suu Kyi is implicated in the “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, UK MPs heard on Tuesday.

Giving evidence before a parliamentary committee, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Burma Campaign UK and other rights groups urged the government and the international community to see the Nobel laureate as “part of the problem”. They said the bloody military crackdown in Rakhine state had left “thousands” of Rohingya Muslims dead, with others subjected to “appalling rape”, and 600,000 people driven from their homes.

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The 21st century’s new global superpower is not just Zimbabwe’s ‘all-weather friend’ and top trade partner, close ties go back to the 1970s liberation era

A visit to Beijing last Friday by Zimbabwe’s military chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, has fuelled suspicions that China may have given the green light to this week’s army takeover in Harare.

If so, the world may just have witnessed the first example of a covert coup d’etat of the kind once favoured by the CIA and Britain’s MI6, but conceived and executed with the tacit support of the 21st century’s new global superpower.

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Zimbabwe’s leader is said to have assets of £1bn – but since an EU crackdown in 2002, there has been little sign of extravagant spending outside the country

Mugabe makes first public appearance since military takeover

When Grace Mugabe summoned a number of supporters to her sprawling private compound at Mazowe, north of Harare, in 2014 – she told them that all suggestions her husband was a wealthy man were wide of the mark.

Standing in front of the 30 or so luxury villas that she has had built on the property, she insisted that the truth was that Mugabe was the poorest head of state in the world.

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Legislation adds accountability measures for entering proper records into the background-check system – which was already a requirement passed in 2008

Ten years ago, after a mass shooting that could have been prevented, Congress passed a bipartisan law to fix America’s gun background check system. A decade later, a bipartisan group of senators is introducing new legislation to try to fix it again.

The gun legislation the senators announced on Thursday morning would not require a background check on every single gun sale, despite new polling data showing that 95% of Americans – a record high – support these universal background checks.

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Under house arrest, the longtime leader could resist, negotiate, or follow the instructions of Zimbabwe’s new masters

The final unravelling of the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe began with an uncharacteristic tactical error. To clear the way to power for his wife, Grace, and her increasingly influential faction, the 93-year-old autocrat sought a decisive confrontation with the only man in the former British colony who had the power to mount a successful challenge to his authority – and he lost.

Emerson Mnangagwa, the former vice-president whose cunning, longevity and toughness earned him the nickname “the Crocodile”, was unceremoniously stripped of his office by Mugabe nine days ago.

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Estimated number of Russian state-sponsored accounts on Twitter and Facebook vary wildly between 50 and 150,000

It is impossible to accurately estimate the number of Russian state-sponsored accounts operating on Twitter and Facebook. Researchers come up with a wide range of possibilities, suggesting that Russian interference in British political and cultural life could come from anywhere between 50 and 150,000 accounts.

The explanation for this is not because the Russians are particularly secretive or expert at covering their tracks, but the attitude of Twitter and Facebook who fight attempts by independent researchers to come up with an answer. As a result, academics and analysts attempting to come up with a definitive answer often produce wildly divergent estimates.

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Many blame him for the economic chaos and political repression, but the truth of his descent from freedom fighter to dictator is not quite so black and white

Mugabe in detention after military takes control of Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe, who first came to power in Zimbabwe in 1980, is a man of many faces: idealistic young Marxist-Leninist, political prisoner, freedom fighter, lauded icon of pan-African nationalism, would-be reformer, and ruthless, ageing dictator steeped in corruption and sleaze.

However, for his many critics in Zimbabwe and in the west, who blame him for the economic chaos and political repression of recent years, Mugabe is a one-dimensional study. His is the face of failure, and for them he is the lord of misrule.

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Communities across the US want action to prevent yet more senseless deaths. The commonsense legislation I have proposed would do just that

The Sunday before last, a convicted domestic abuser used an illegally obtained AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to murder 25 parishioners worshipping at the First Baptist church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The Sutherland Springs shooter was far from the first killer to have a history of domestic violence. According to a July report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of female homicide victims are murdered by their intimate partners. Women are five times more likely to die as a result of domestic violence when there is a gun in the home.

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The Guardian’s picture editors bring you a selection of photo highlights from around the world, including a miniature Shetland and a hair-raising Fiat

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Drone footage shows the aftermath of flash floods that killed at least 15 people on Wednesday in two coastal towns west of Athens after a night of heavy rain. In the industrial towns of Nea Peramos and Mandra, west of Athens, crumpled cars and mangled furniture are strewn across roads coated in the thick mud left behind by a raging torrent that washed through homes on Wednesday morning

• Deadly flash floods cause 'biblical damage' in Athens

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The Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, is under house arrest in Harare following a military takeover. The 93-year-old has led Zimbabwe's since independence from Britain. In recent years disastrous policies have led to hyperinflation, international sanctions and economic ruin

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The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party, Morgan Tsvangirai, has called on Robert Mugabe to step down as president of Zimbabwe. Speaking on Thursday from Harare, Tsvangirai said Mugabe should resign in the interests of the country after the military seized power 

• Zimbabwe: Mugabe and military talks continue amid political limbo

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On the 2016 presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump often made fun of Senator Marco Rubio's water breaks. But on Wednesday the president had an awkward water bottle moment of his own while talking about his recent trip to Asia  

*Senator Marco Rubio's in-speech water break - video

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At a news conference on Wednesday, Tehama County assistant sheriff Phil Johnston identified the northern California gunman suspect as Kevin Janson Neal and said his wife’s dead body was found under the floorboards in their home

Wife of northern California gunman found dead inside their home

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At least 15 people have died in Greece after the worst flash flooding in years forced a torrent of red mud to sweep through towns west of Athens. The industrial towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara were the worst-affected. Many of the dead were elderly people whose bodies were found inside their homes, reports say.

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Zimbabwe army spokesman Maj Gen SB Moyo has addressed the nation after taking control of the state broadcaster. Moyo said President Mugabe was 'safe and sound' and the army was only targeting 'criminals' around him. He insisted this was not a military takeover of the country but a move to avoid violent conflict

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Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct by a fifth woman. Beverly Young Nelson says Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, after he offered her a lift. Moore denies any wrongdoing and says the accusations are politically motivated. Moore is a Republican candidate running for a special election in Alabama next month

• Roy Moore: new woman comes forward, claiming sexual assault when she was 16 

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A 7.3-magnitude earthquake has struck the region along the border between Iran and Iraq, killing at least 400 people and injuring thousands

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