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The Australian author of this lively collection of essays about language is an amiable guide to his subject. "Amiable" is, however, a stiff adjective to use when describing Julian Burnside, QC, who praises HW Fowler, author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), and Samuel Johnson for allowing their personalities to colour their writings about words. He mocks philologists for their dryness, dismisses "cherished superstitions" that remain popular with conservative querulists and describes an attempt to ban the use of "mate" from the Australian parliament in appropriately matey style.

Jerome Taylor: Religious freedom is not an absolute right

At the heart of this  legal and moral debate is the question of  competing rights

The shocking truth about Ukip? There's nothing remotely shocking about the overdue implosion of these frothing, neo-feudalist cowboys

A party that's always been a coalition of turbo-Thatcherite libertarians and swivel-eyed little Englanders is finally being exposed to public ridicule - and inevitably so

Another Ukip public figure leaves party amid same sex marriage row

Another Ukip public figure has been forced out of the party after expressing support for gay marriage, days after the party sacked their youth leader, who spoke out on the issue on national radio.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage

Exclusive: So much for the libertarians! How Ukip sacked me after I said I support equal marriage

The former leader of the youth wing of Nigel Farage's party has left his post after disagreeing with party policy. They say he's trouble. Here's his version of events

Nigel Farage

Ukip are by no means libertarian

"Right-wing" is the only appropriate description for Nigel Farage's party

Sex for tuition fees: Beware the student sponsors after a dirty bargain

Higher fees mean students have to go to extraordinary lengths to raise money. This will be a step too far for most, however

I used to be a libertarian. But then someone stole my gold clubs.

Wanting the state to intrude less in our personal lives is all well and good until a lack of CCTV cameras lets a man walk off with your prized belongings

Postcard from... San Francisco

“Excuse me, do you have a light?” To a European, such a question asked in crowded bar, does not compute.

How did an ethical issue become a political one?

There is no obvious reason why so many Conservative MPs should be committed to restricting access to abortion. But they are, and there have been numerous attempts by Tory backbenchers to weaken the 1967 Abortion Act. In recent years, Nadine Dorries and Ann Winterton have been the standard-bearers in a campaign which goes back to 1977, when William Benyon introduced a Bill that would have significantly undermined the 10-year-old Act.

Ann Romney meets the press on the campaign flight to Tampa: she also gave them biscuits

Ann Romney gets to work… with home-baked cookies

Republicans hope wife can 'humanise' their candidate as she reveals his softer side

Diary: Why are we drowning in rivers of praise for Powell?

There is a campaign under way to rescue the reputation of Enoch Powell, whose centenary it is today. In the Daily Mail, Powell's biographer, Simon Heffer, calls him "a man of conspicuous moral greatness". To Peter Oborne, in The Daily Telegraph, he was "a man of extraordinary integrity". The former MP Paul Goodman, on ConservativeHome, hails Powell, as "the finest political writer of my lifetime". Even Iain Duncan Smith joined in to praise him for battling against the UK's membership of the EU.

Mitt Romney's last rival's campaign is 'effectively over'

Ron Paul, Mitt Romney's only remaining rival for the Republican nomination in the US presidential race, said last night he would stop spending money on the 11 remaining primary elections, prompting speculation that his campaign is, effectively, over.

Rick Santorum wins crucial primaries in the deep south

Rick Santorum scored an upset double primary triumph in the deep south last night, guaranteeing that the Republican presidential race will drag on for weeks if not months yet. His victories in Alabama and Mississippi deliver a fresh jolt to the limping front runner Mitt Romney, and raise pressure on Newt Gingrich, his rival for the conservative vote, to drop out and thus set up a one-on-one Santorum-Romney battle for the Republican nomination to face president Obama in the autumn.

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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...