Sport

Conventional racing wisdom has it that speed, rather than an abundance of stamina, is the most important attribute in a potential King George VI Chase winner, hence the proliferation of specialists over shorter distances than three miles lining up at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The odd twinge of regret, but no sign of <i>mea culpa</i>

In his memoirs, Donald Rumsfeld owns up to a few unfortunate jibes but refuses to take the flak for Iraq

Ballabriggs clears small obstacle on the way to Aintree for McCain

It tells you everything about the way his career is going that winning a race with the John Smith's Grand National favourite at Ayr yesterday was just a prelude to the main business of the week for Donald McCain. Ballabriggs, after all, was essentially just keeping out of trouble as he won his second novice hurdle of the campaign, pending a return to fences after the publication of the Aintree weights a fortnight today. And his flourishing trainer has a rather more earnest assignment in mind for the unbeaten Peddlers Cross, who warms up for the Stan James Champion Hurdle on Saturday.

Pandorama '50-50' for Gold Cup

A Gold Cup is the very least Noel Meade might consider sufficient redress for his misfortunes, over the years, at Cheltenham. With seven weeks to go to this year's Festival, however, there was an alarming sense yesterday that Pandorama must overcome the same malevolent forces that have confined one of Ireland's most accomplished trainers to just three winners at the meeting.

Palin limps in fourth in key Republican activists' poll

Sarah Palin may want to express-freight her sled and dogs over to New Hampshire where support for her as the Republican nominee for president turns out to be tepid verging on chilly, according to a first poll taken in the electorally critical state this weekend.

McCain challenges gays in military

A leading Republican senator yesterday claimed a US military study on gays was flawed and that letting them serve openly would be dangerous in a time of war.

Embattled McCain faces down family rebellion over gays in the military

John McCain, the recently re-elected US Senator, army veteran and former presidential runner, appears to have quashed a political mutiny – not in the ranks of the Republican party, but within his own family.

Rupert Cornwell: This civil war spells only bad news for the US in the long term

The US faces huge challenges best settled by compromise and bipartisanship. These are anathema to the Tea Party

Diary: Oprah hope for Franzen

Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom, this column's favourite Great American Novel of the past six months, had a famous falling-out with Oprah Winfrey in 2001. Winfrey invited Franzen to appear in her influential Book Club with his previous novel, The Corrections, but pointedly withdrew the offer when he was quoted elsewhere, saying he feared her endorsement would deter the male half of his desired audience, and sully his book with a "corporate logo". Oprah's ire didn't stop Franzen selling 2.85 million copies of The Corrections – in fact, it probably helped. Seasoned Winfrey-watchers assumed there was still bad blood between them when September's issue of her magazine, O, failed to feature Freedom in its "10 Titles To Pick Up Now". Yet it seems she might just have been delaying her forgiveness: citing "reliable sources", literary blogger Dennis Johnson claims Oprah has selected Freedom for her new Book Club list, due to be unveiled on Friday. Not that Franzen needs the help these days; the book already tops the New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists.

As Sarah Palin's star rises, critics expose her dark side

In public she is the family woman in touch with ordinary Americans. But two new accounts allege that in private she's a two faced, mean-spirited bully

Rupert Cornwell: Rage will not win the Republicans the White House

Out of America: US voters are in mutinous mood, but by fanning the flames now, the right risks missing the prize

McCain survives Arizona primary challenge

In the end, John McCain won handsomely. But another sitting Republican Senator was facing defeat yesterday, after another round of US primaries underlining the dangers facing incumbents in November's mid-term congressional elections.

Battler from Bow is clearing all obstacles

Perri Shakes-Drayton aims to continue her rapid progress at Crystal Palace with 2012 the long-term goal

Obama shares sofa with TV's daytime divas

With his approval ratings diving and the outlook for his party in November's mid-term elections dimming, President Barack Obama shifted into campaign mode yesterday as the guest on The View, a daytime talk show with five co-hosts including Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters. It went pretty well until the Jersey Shore question.

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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
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Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
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Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
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Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

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A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
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Marian Keyes

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Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

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Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick