Weekend edition: The best of the week's reads

A post-it note from Georges Wolinski

A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.

"If you're wondering what romantic love is, this might help," tweets Shelagh Fogarty. She is talking about a story on dealing with grief. Maryse Wolinski's husband of 45 years was a cartoonist before he was killed in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January. So she has filled her apartment with post-it notes he used to leave her if he didn't see her that day. His notes mixed the everyday with tenderness. One says: "21:40 I have bought your books. I have given my drawing to Cabu. I have eaten Chinese. I am thinking of you and your courage. I love you. Georges." Another: "I love you. I have eaten some foie gras, some soup, a bit of galette. I am thinking of you. Until tomorrow my dear. I kiss you Maryse, darling. Georges." And the last one she sees each night wishes her good night. This left Natalie Sowa sobbing.

Post-its from Georges

The murder gene

Image caption Prof Jim Fallon has genes linked with violence but is not violent

Jim Fallon discovered a surprisingly large number of murderers in his family tree. He had himself genetically tested and discovered he had an awful lot of genes linked to violent psychopathic behaviour. Jim isn't a murderer - he's a respected professor. His explanation is that he was protected from a potentially violent legacy by a happy childhood. About 30% of men have this so-called warrior gene, but whether the gene is triggered or not depends crucially on what happens to you in childhood. Or, as David Andress puts it, "Oh look, it's nature AND nurture, what a surprise..."

Are murderers born or made?

Epic job

The shipping industry has undergone what some call an "arms race" in the last couple of decades. The Chinese-owned Globe was the biggest vessel but only held the title for 53 days before it was overtaken. This ship that now holds the title, the Oscar, can hold 19,224 standard 20ft-long containers. Thirty years ago, no ship could carry more than 5,000 containers. But big ships need big ports. US ports have not upgraded, meaning the Oscar cannot dock there, while the Panama canal would have to be widened to let her through. What struck a few tweeters, like David Kemper, was the sheer size of this thing - all picked out that it is more or less as long as the Empire State Building.

On board the world's biggest ship

The one-man state

Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption President Eli Avivi, photographed in Achzivland in 2006

Achzivland is perhaps the most unusual piece of territory in the Middle East. For the last 40 years it's been ruled by one man, a former hippy with a huge collection of nude photographs he snapped in his younger days. It has the trappings of a state - a flag (of a mermaid), a national anthem (the sound of the sea) and a constitution declaring the president democratically elected by his own vote (never actually cast). President Eli Avivi seceded from Israel in 1971 but has occupied his land since the 1950s. Sophia Loren was once a frequent visitor.

One-man rule in Israel's hippy micro-state

The kindness of crows

Image copyright Lynn Witte

Many readers contacted us with stories of birds bringing them gifts. It came as a response to our story about the eight-year-old girl who has a deal with the crows in her back garden. Gabi feeds them, they bring her shiny things, she files them meticulously. This has been happening for four years. Lynn Witte emailed us to say she is the adoptive mother of a crow she calls Sheryl (think about it). Lynn adopted the injured crow as a baby and hand-fed her. Sheryl the crow eventually learned to fly. Lynn says Sheryl splays her wings and bows her head when presenting gifts, such as the Santa figurine in the photograph. Alistair Hardy commented on Facebook that one guy takes this a step further. Joshua Klein shows in his Ted talk how he made a vending machine and trained crows to bring it coins they found in return for peanuts. He thinks we should think about getting crows to pick up rubbish after stadium events or find expensive components from discarded electronics.

Birds that bring gifts and do the gardening

A parent's right

Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption Paternal logic: 'Papa, papa, I didn't mean to do it!' 'Well then, you'll get spanked without wanting it.' (1902)

A radio commentator on French radio in 1951 claimed "Slapping can harm the ears and the eyes, especially if it's violent. But everybody knows that smacking the bottom is excellent for the circulation of the blood." Go forward a few years to 1979 and the French found it funny when Sweden outlawed smacking, according to childhood historian Marie-France Morel. Fast forward to today and Lucy Williamson in Paris writes that a parent's right to discipline children is still held dear. The smacking debate has been reignited because of a Council of Europe ruling that the French law on violence against children is not sufficiently clear. But France is far from the only country in Europe that has have stopped short of banning all corporal punishment. In a tweet, Hartford Nursery asks if it is like doing 80mph on the motorway: "A lot more do it than admit to it!?"

France holds back the anti-smacking tide

Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:

Where the world's migrants go, in one map - Vox

The great escape that changed Africa's future - Guardian

A path to ISIS, through a porous Turkish border - New York Times

The List: Four phone calls that rang the changes - Financial Times

In the memory ward - New Yorker

Mapping the Global Super-Rich - City Lab

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