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Revelling in the latest growth figures, George Osborne lifted Balls-baiting to a new plane. He was asked an unusually long list of super-friendly questions by euphoric Tory backbenchers. Ones that in the secret dreams of the MPs involved, invite the answer: “Yes. My honourable friend has absolutely hit the nail on the head with that spiffing question correctly mentioning our long-term economic plan, allowing me to lay into the Opposition, and qualifying him for early promotion.”

Michael McCarthy: A summer this wet and windy just isn't natural

I once arrived in Finland on May Day. As I walked into my Helsinki hotel, a big Finnish bloke attacked me. Luckily, it was with a balloon. However, the fear flashed through my panicking brain that even though he was not a gunman or a knifeman, merely a balloonman, he still meant to do me harm, and it was with some difficulty that I extricated myself – only to find that everyone in the whole damn city was in the same damn state. They were all pie-eyed. I'd never seen anything like it.

In the footsteps of the yeti: the hunt for Mande Burung

The discovery of two unidentifiable hairs in the far north-east of India has fuelled the belief that the yeti is more than a myth. Andrew Buncombe ventured to the Garo Hills to get to the bottom of the mystery

Ask Martha: How do I get my colleague to change her slovenly ways?

Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...

Life after Ghost: Tanya Sarne is back with a new line in her signature style

When Tanya Sarne, founder of the Ghost label, announced last year that she was launching a new line called handwritten, her legions of fans were delighted. The first collection, created in collaboration with the New York designer Gary Graham, is just as relaxed, pretty and wearer-friendly as might be expected, given the motivating force behind it. Having sold her remaining shares in Ghost to Kevin Stanford and the Icelandic retail investment company Arev, in 2006, Sarne had agreed not to work for a year. By then, while many might have just basked in the glory of past successes – and, it is hoped, considerable means – this irrepressible character had decidedly itchy feet. And that is good news for women the world over.

The English Year: The nation's customs and festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night, By Steve Roud

The origins of our national festivals are both more and less arcane than we had imagined: Mother's Day is as much of an import as Hallowe'en. "Rough Music", the custom of raising hell beneath the windows of malefactors, may have represented mob rule, but at least it was aimed mainly at wife-beaters. Padstow's 'Obby 'Oss is well known, but, if the locals don't watch out, it faces a serious rival in "Darkie Day". This curious relic of the minstrel tradition, so the local MP claimed in 2006, is quite innocent, and the blacked-faces part of "mumming" have nothing to do with racism. A shame the "mummers" sing minstrel songs, then.

Supermarkets discover shoppers hate excess packaging as waste campaign gathers force

Supermarkets have detected considerable annoyance among their customers about excessive packaging, as The Independent's campaign against waste gathers support from politicians and stores.

1898 and all that

Giggs left to feel like an exile on home soil

Manchester United's Welsh marauder finds Old Trafford turning into a theatre of broken dreams

The Dew Breakers by Edwidge Danticat

Close shaves from Haiti to Brooklyn

Open Replay: 18-21 July 1985

Sport as it was: the week Sandy Lyle triumphed at Royal St George's

Hull create folklore by winning with 11 men

Hull 24 Halifax 16

The shock of the snow

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Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London