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Diary: Hannah makes a splash

Daryl Hannah was arrested in DC this week at a rally against a proposed oil pipeline. Yet despite her history of campaigning for trees, air and fluffy animals, Hannah didn't always live up to her own high standards. While dating JFK Jr, she enjoyed heli-skiing: skiing on slopes accessible only by helicopter. The practice is banned in some countries due to complaints about its carbon footprint, noise pollution and disruption of wilderness areas. One practitioner tells me she accompanied the Kennedy party to the Canadian Rockies in the 1990s, even sharing a bathroom with Hannah and "her mountainous wash-kit". The actress, says my source, often returned to the lodge early as she was tired, forcing the chopper to make two fuel-guzzling round trips: "She was in Splash, so the guys would snigger about meeting the mermaid in the jacuzzi." Jacuzzis are deeply eco-unfriendly, though it's unclear whether Hannah joined the lads for a soak.

Another minister snapped in No 10 document trap

Papers make explicit the delight of government at the impending departure of Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Miliband wins power to select Shadow Cabinet

Ed Miliband won the first round of his battle to modernise Labour's traditional practices last night when the party's MPs voted overwhelmingly to allow him to choose his own Shadow Cabinet.

Shadow play: Who's that Labour frontbencher?

The public is struggling to recognise the Opposition's big beasts

Ed Miliband moves to abolish party elections for Shadow Cabinet

Ed Miliband is to move to get rid of underperforming members of his Shadow Cabinet by asking the Labour MPs to revoke their historic power to elect the party's top team.

David Miliband denies leadership plot

David Miliband was forced to deny plotting against his brother today amid claims of an ongoing feud over the Labour leadership.

Nick Clegg slams anti-AV 'falsehoods'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hit out today at "distractions and falsehoods" being used by campaigners against a change in the electoral system.

AV poll 'not a referendum on Nick Clegg'

Ed Miliband today urged people not to make the forthcoming referendum on voting reform for Westminster elections a referendum on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Shadow Cabinet revolt as Miliband launches AV bid

Ed Miliband has been hit by a growing Labour revolt against his support for a change in the voting system as more than 200 Labour MPs and peers back the existing first-past-the-post process.

Diary: Flint's friends a fickle bunch

It gives me no pleasure to admit that Labour frontbencher Caroline Flint rather burned bridges when she made a point of not thanking me for highlighting the news she was among the leading contenders for 2011's Rear of the Year award. For those of you who don't keep up with current affairs in the way you should, I reported back in January that Caroline was among the early frontrunners for this year's "prestigious" gong, due to be handed out to the lucky winner at The Dorchester hotel this June. Supporters who had helpfully nominated the Shadow Communities Secretary pointed out at the time that Ms Flint would join an esteemed list including Babs Windsor and Graham Norton, should she emerge victorious. Alas, awards organiser Tony Edwards now informs me: "The nominations for Caroline seemed to peak quite quickly, confirming my suspicion they originated from Commons-based computers. Much the same happened last year with Harriet Harman – basically a flurry of voting activity, then nothing." Fickle, fickle world.

Cuts threaten 2,000 Manchester council jobs

One of the country's biggest local authorities warned today of 2,000 redundancies, sparking threats of industrial action and taking the council jobs cull caused by the Government's spending cuts to almost 114,000.

'114 Labour MPs oppose voting change'

Campaigners against a change in the Westminster voting system claimed the support of 114 Labour MPs today in their bid to secure a "no" vote in next May's referendum.

Poor areas hit hardest in cuts to council funds

The biggest cuts to police and local councils "in living memory" were yesterday unveiled by ministers with some parts of the country losing almost 10 per cent of their budget in a single year.

Local councils 'face average 4.4% cut'

Town halls in England will face no more than an 8.9% reduction in their spending power next year, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said today

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'