News Education Secretary Michael Gove

Ministers must try harder, declares organisation

Economy casts long shadow over local elections

Three weeks from today, Gordon Brown will face his first electoral test as Labour leader and the backdrop could hardly be more gloomy as the economic clouds darken.

National Youth Orchestra, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

The rehearsals in Nottingham are over, and for a taste of orchestral life the young musicians of the National Youth Orchestra are hitting the road from Gateshead to London. In celebration of its 60th birthday, the NYO commissioned a work from one of its alumni to open the spring programme. Threads for Orchestra is by Mark Simpson, who played principal clarinet and, remarkably, won both the BBC Young Musician of the Year and the Guardian/BBC Proms Young Composers award. After a strident brass fanfare, Simpson weaves a melody in the violins through the blank canvas of the orchestra. Chinese opera gongs and steel drums give it a weird colouring, as strands of the melody are pulled between sections in a kind of furious cross-stitching that gathers momentum towards a sudden, squealing stop. Just as Simpson, at 19, can "feel something emerging" so could the audience for, despite the piece being a fraction long, it is impressively well-structured.

Osborne: Tax cuts might be difficult

Shadow chancellor George Osborne acknowledged today that a Conservative government might find it difficult to cut taxes if it wins power at the next general election.

Tories to offer extra leave for new fathers

David Cameron has tried to outflank Labour by proposing that fathers be allowed more paid leave to look after babies if mothers want to return to work.

Short sellers take a big hit as Liberty merger talks revealed

Shares in Liberty International soared almost 10 per cent yesterday, after talks were revealed that could lead to the group merging with a major rival to create the largest shopping mall owner in the world.

Gascoigne: Turbulent life of football genius

Paul Gascoigne has featured almost as much on the front pages of newspapers for his rollercoaster private life as he has on the back pages for his sporting prowess.

Gascoigne sectioned after hotel 'incident'

Former England soccer star Paul Gascoigne has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, sources said today. He was detained after Northumbria Police were called last night to a hotel in Gateshead.

You write the reviews: Northern Sinfonia with H K Gruber, The Sage, Gateshead

An evening with H K Gruber is unlike most concerts. Gruber, whose musical career began in the Vienna Boys Choir, has moved a long way since then, but he remains steeped in a Germanic heritage encompassing Weimar Republic cabaret, nasty tales and songs to scare children, and the fierce energy of the great classical conductors. He composes, conducts, sings and plays a variety of odd and customised instruments, including an artfully prepared plastic penny whistle and toy saxophone.

The king's new court: Norman Foster is taking on the home of America's national collection

The poet Walt Whitman described the former United States Patent Building – the scene of Abraham Lincoln's inaugural ball – as "the noblest of Washington buildings". So when Norman Foster set about renovating its courtyard – it is now the Smithsonian Institute and houses the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery – he was determined to preserve the historical integrity of the building, while bringing the space back to life.

One in five hospital trusts found to be putting mothers and babies at risk

London is the worst place in the country to have a baby, according to the first review of maternity units in England.

Soaring commodity prices drive mining and power stocks to biggest FTSE gains

As the year draws to a close, the number of gainers in the FTSE100 far outstrips the losers

US pressured Blair into arms bribery inquiry

A bribery investigation threatening the future of 50,000 British jobs followed heavy pressure on Tony Blair from George Bush's administration, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

20 things everyone needs to know

Ever felt you were slightly lacking in the life skills department? Let's face it, there's so much to master - and so little time in which to do it. But worry no more. Expert help is at hand. From building a fire to asking for a rise, this guide means you'll never be at a loss again

Westwood enlists Big Sam to rediscover form

Desperate golfers will resort to all sorts of remedies to rediscover their game; those such as Paul McGinley join in events such as this Wales Open, while others such as Lee Westwood simply join Bolton Wanderers.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
Novak Djokovic has been attending the Buddhapadipa Temple for quiet contemplation for several years
wimbledonBuddhapadipa Temple is regular refuge for the world No 1
Life and Style
Kissing
life
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
News
i100
Sport
Lewis Hamilton takes pole on front of his home fans
f1
Arts and Entertainment
British singer 'Lonelady' performing in Bourges (Getty)
musicMONEY, Lonelady, Dr Meaker... Which ones have you heard of?
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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 15 May 2015
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'