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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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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss