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Obama picks up split Flordia

The last state in the 2012 presidential race has been called, with Florida going narrowly to President Obama.

Dick McBride: One of the last of the Beat poets

Dick McBride was a poet of the Beat Generation who acted as a literary bridge between the United States and Britain, bringing the writings and spirit of the Beats to this country. In books and in performances of his own works and those of fellow writers, he sought to broaden awareness of the poets who had made such an impact on American writing.

National Review Editors defend Richard Mourdock on abortion

When Bill Buckley, the late and legendary conservative writer, founded the National Review in 1955, he said he wanted it to "stand athwart History, yelling Stop!". His successors at the magazine have today published an editorial in which they defend Richard Mourdock, the Republican nominee from Indiana, said this week: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Inventions: Heath Robinson, eat your heart out

A team of geeks has devoted 5,000 man hours over six months to building a van-sized contraption designed to do nothing more complicated than pop a single balloon. Because, well, why not?

28 killed as storms ravage US

Powerful storms stretching from the US Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes in the north wrecked two small towns and killed at least 28 people as the system tore roofs off schools and homes and damaged a maximum-security prison. It was the second deadly tornado outbreak this week.

On holiday with Indiana Jones

Thirty years since Raiders of the Lost Ark came to the big screen, the intrepid archaeologist with the bullwhip is still inspiring travellers, says Matt Barr

Governor's ultimatum to Wisconsin unions tests Republican power

The showdown between Wisconsin's Republican governor and his Democratic and public employee opponents has grown only fiercer in a state budget battle that has turned into the biggest national controversy over unions and their rights since Ronald Reagan sacked striking federal air-traffic controllers in 1981.

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IoS letters special: News photography (4 January 2009)

As the full extent of the casualties in Gaza emerged last week, we invited readers to comment on our picture coverage. Some photographs were, we believed, too graphic to publish. We asked you if we should never publish pictures of the dead, or make each judgement on its merits. The overwhelming majority of readers argued for pictures to be used, however horrific their content. Extracts from some of these letters and emails are published here.