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The First Lady on confidence, achievement and the all-important issue plaguing the female face of a nation: plastic surgery

Michelle to the rescue as Democrats flounder

For nearly two years she has nurtured the executive mansion's vegetable patch, steered a campaign for healthier eating and played the good host on Pennsylvania Avenue. But yesterday America's first lady, Michelle Obama, was plunging back into the muckier business of retail politics.

Michelle beats Hillary in 'most powerful woman' list

Michelle Obama has been named as the world's most powerful woman, ahead of the likes of Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel and Oprah Winfrey. The Queen, however, did not even make the top 10.

Julie Burchill: Forget about romance and you might just get yourself a decent marriage

Romance is surely the greatest capitalist cash-cow ever invented, the gift that truly does keep on giving

DVD: Good Hair, For retail & rental (Icon)

What does it say about black pride when so many African-American women, up to and including Michelle Obama, have their hair straightened with scalp-melting chemical "relaxers", and many more of them wear "weaves" of long, straight, primarily Asian off-cuts?

Carla Bruni books reveal there are two sides to every story

A much-awaited "unauthorised" biography of the French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, published yesterday, paints a scathing picture of a vain and selfish woman who neglects her official and charitable work.

President goes for a swim in the Gulf – or does he?

President Barack Obama wanted to convince America that the Gulf of Mexico remains open for business. But perhaps he didn't want the world to catch another glimpse of his hairless chest.

Sophie Morris: I'm with Michelle

When did holidays metamorphose from straightforward stretches of R&R into highly politicised statements? I ask this because Michelle Obama's jaunt to Spain with her youngest daughter, Sasha, and a few friends is being attacked by anyone with an audience, as if it had the significance of the Magna Carta.

Let them eat tapas? Mrs Obama faces holiday fury

First lady returns from trip to Spain in midst of economic strife to find Republicans painting her as a modern Marie Antoinette

Carola Long: Why the Obama seal of approval really counts

For an up-and-coming designer, publicity doesn't come much better than having Michelle Obama wear your clothes. "First wife" or celebrity endorsement can be a mixed blessing but Mrs Obama's popularity and fashion credentials make her a dream ambassador for any brand, especially a new one.

A dream that led from dolls to the First Lady

Breaking into an industry as cutthroat and fickle as the competitive world of fashion was never going to be easy but the rise to prominence of a young fashion design graduate from West Africa via East London shows that, with talent, a stroke of luck and a contact as highly placed as Nelson Mandela or Michelle Obama, anything is possible.

Kate Simon: You'll have to be quick to book for Christmas

There may be 146 shopping days left till Christmas but it's never too early to get those presents sorted if you follow the logic of Selfridges, which opens a special festive concession in its London store tomorrow.

As You Like It / The Tempest, Old Vic, London <br/>Welcome to Thebes, NT Olivier, London <br/>Sucker Punch, Royal Court Downstairs, London

In Sam Mendes' triumphant double dose of the Bard, the comedy is packed with subtle revelations about human nature

Terence Blacker: Unmarried couples are people too

The sickly scent of marital smugness is in the air. Helen Mirren has said the secret of her marriage is loyalty rather than romance. BBC Women's Hour has been solemnly discussing Michelle Obama's idea of "date nights" as a matrimonial freshener. A touching but inconsequential interview with an old couple who had been together for 70 years was run on the Today programme, followed by a discussion with Catherine Blyth, author of The Art of Marriage, who explained how healthily married couples would prioritise "we" before "I".

Sarah Sands: Toxic Bush's better half is his best advert

Laura Bush's old-world style will win us over
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Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor