News A defiant George Osborne during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons

George Osborne refused to rule out a cut in the top rate of tax from 45p to 40p today as the Conservatives and Labour clashed over the economy.

US jobless claims fall, but labour market stays weak

A better than feared report on US jobless claims sparked a rare bout of optimism about the American economy yesterday, though underlying data continued to underscore the weak state of the labour market.

Hospitals to face fines over mixed sex wards

Hospitals will face fines if they fail to end the "indignity" of mixed-sex wards, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said today.

Leading article: The pluses – and minuses – of the big tent

Alan Milburn's decision to accept an invitation to work for the coalition brings to three the number of prominent former Labour figures who have, in a sense, crossed the floor. He follows Frank Field and John Hutton in agreeing to place his expertise at the service of the Government. And there could be a fourth if it turns out that David Blunkett is also in line for a role. Mr Milburn, who produced a report on social mobility for the last government, will advise on improving the chances of the least well off; he will not be paid.

Village People: Spookily inefficient

The farcical tales we have been reading recently about Russian spies are a reminder that the spooks are always with us.

Election-funds inquiry edges nearer Sarkozy

French prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that the country's richest woman secretly funded President Nicolas Sarkozy's election campaign, a judicial official said yesterday.

Slowing services sector dents US recovery hopes

The recovery prospects of the US economy dimmed a little last night after new data pointed to a moderation in the pace of growth in the dominant services sector.

£1m severance payout for ex-Labour ministers

Former Labour ministers were handed more than £1 million in severance pay at the General Election, official figures showed today.

Leading article: Money alone is not the answer

This week Londoners will mark the fifth anniversary of the 7 July terror attacks, which killed 52 people and injured 750 in the capital. They will do so against the backdrop of a depressing political row about the funding of police operations designed to ensure that Britain never again suffers such an atrocity.

Signs of faltering growth as fears of 'jobless recovery' materialise

The global economic recovery is showing signs of losing momentum, according to the latest evidence.

BBC blames £2bn black hole as it slashes pension scheme benefits

The BBC yesterday became one of the first quasi-public sector bodies to take the axe to its final salary pension scheme, blaming a £2bn funding black hole. The final salary scheme will be closed to new staff from this December while existing staff will see their benefits sharply reduced.

Osborne eyes incapacity claimants for savings

A controversial drive to reduce the £12.5bn a year paid to sick and disabled people deemed unfit to work will be at the heart of the government-wide spending review this summer.

Blair's top appointees to quit schools inspectorate

The two most senior executives at the education standards watchdog, Ofsted, are leaving their jobs as the school inspectorate faces a major review of its operations.

John Rentoul: Why Labour should welcome the Budget

In the days after the general election, a former Labour minister said to me that it was “the perfectly wrong result"

Row as Labour minister joins 'pension cuts' body

John Hutton, a former Labour Cabinet minister, has been appointed to head a commission that will look for ways to cut the cost of pensions for public sector workers.

Move to keep weekly bin collections

The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is to order the local government watchdog to stop pressurising councils into abandoning weekly bin collections.

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Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin