News Duccini, right, at the 75th anniversary celebrations of 'The Wizard of Oz'

Ruth Duccini was the last of the original female Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. Uncredited, Duccini, who was four feet tall, played one of 124 Munchkin townspeople in the 1939 classic. There is now only one surviving Munchkin, Jerry Maren.

Christian right splits the Republicans: Political mobilisation of religious radicals in America is sidelining moderates and threatening the party's ability to regain power

THE QUESTION should not have shocked. There is, after all, a civil war going on in the Minnesota Republican Party. Before acquiescing to the interview, Allen Quist, renegade candidate for state governor, wanted to check that I was not an agent of the enemy. 'They like to get journalists to do their dirty work for them, see,' he explains. 'They have them write distorted pieces about me and then they circulate them to their people.'

Education: Schools Inc takes charge: Lucy Hodges reports on a US city's radical attempt to place its whole education system in private hands

Schools in Britain are constantly being urged to further their links with business, and to include more industrialists on their governing bodies. Now, in the United States, the relationship between schools and business has been taken a dramatic stage further: the Minneapolis school board (education authority) has hired a private consulting firm to do the chief education officer's job of managing the city's 79 schools.

Health Update: Time to talk

AMERICAN researchers have identified the 'yak factor' - talking to your sexual partner - as crucial in protecting against diseases such as herpes and HIV infection. People who discussed their previous partners, Aids, condom use and other intimate matters, were three times less likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease, according to a survey of 550 teenagers in Minneapolis and St Paul. Dr Michael Resnick, who led the study for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the University of Minnesota, said: 'Talking implies that 'you look before you leap'.'

We'll pull your socks up for pounds 50

PERHAPS I should explain why the new announcement on my answering-machine says: 'Hallo, Chelsea Drugs. Please state your requirements after the bleep.'

Health Update: Stretch marks study

A POOR diet may make pregnant women more prone to stretch marks, according to US research. Dr Diane Madlon-Kay, from St Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, Minnesota, has found that women with abdominal stretch marks are more likely to be getting state medical assistance, presumably because they are from lower socioeconomic groups. She suggests these women also have a low-protein diet, which results in poorer connective tissue formation.

MUSIC / St Paul's hot gospel: The best little orchestra in Minnesota is here this week. Michael White talks to its charismatic music director

Minnesota is a land of lakes, loggers, loons (the State bird) and Garrison Keillor: the heartland of America and home to the disarming small-town affability known as Minnesota Nice. But it is also, less obviously, home to an emergent cultural citadel. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul are two squeaky- clean, compact metropolises joined by a few minutes of umbilical freeway, to form what is being called the 'hottest' urban district in the Union. Given that St Paul and Minneapolis have six-month winters, the accolade is a touch ironic, but it shows that they have become a Place To Be - alive, liberal, socially progressive, and blessed with resources such as the St Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), whose music director, Hugh Wolff, is on the way to being one of the most talked-about figures on the American conducting circuit.

Bookworm in a bind

A man described by his family as an avid reader has been arrested for stealing 30,000 library books, found in his home, car and two rented lockers, Reuter reports from Minnesota. Police said Gerald Lapre, 40, would be charged with theft. They said he smuggled the books in paper bags or used false library cards over a 10-year period. The books, ranging from Greek and Roman mythology to Garfield the Cat, were worth pounds 380,000.

Health Update: Post-natal blues

SEXUAL intercourse in the months after having a baby may be a greater problem than doctors think, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. They found that three months after childbirth, 40 per cent of women still had problems, including discomfort during intercourse and difficulty reaching orgasm.

Obituary: Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle, writer and teacher, born St Paul Minnesota 19 February 1902, Foreign Correspondent New Yorker 1946-53, Professor of English San Francisco State University 1963-79, publications include Plagued by the Nightingale 1931, Year Before Last 1932, My Next Bride 1934, Being Geniuses Together (with Robert McAlmon) 1968, Words That Must Somehow Be Said 1985, married 1922 Richard Brault (marriage dissolved; one daughter by Ernest Walsh), 1931 Laurence Vail (three daughters), 1943 Baron Joseph von Frankenstein (died 1963; one son, one daughter), died Oakland California 27 December 1992.

Clinton picks third black

WASHINGTON - President-elect Bill Clinton yesterday filled two more top positions, choosing a black woman as Energy Secretary and a former state governor as Education Secretary, writes David Usborne. In selecting Hazel O'Leary, who is an executive for a Minnesota power company, for the energy post, Mr Clinton brings to three the number of blacks in his future cabinet, the highest of any president in history.

Letter: 'Powdermilk cookie' takes the biscuit

Sir: I am in London with a contingent of 35 students and staff from Gustavus Adolphus College, St Peter, Minnesota, studying here for the autumn term. Your article on Garrison Keillor (3 October) and Lake Wobegon made us feel right at home, but your use of the term 'powdermilk cookie' struck a false note.

Arts: Chimes of freedom - It is now 30 years since the most influential songwriter of the rock'n'roll era released his first record. In a new illustrated biography, Richard Williams traces Bob Dylan's path from Nowhere, Minnesota, to the epicentre of a musical and social revolution

The Independent on Sunday IT HAPPENED this way. First there was the radio, picking up messages from the twilight zone. Then the record-player, and the small pile of 45s, each one committed to memory. Then a home-made guitar, or somebody's cast-off, or perhaps an old banjo with half of a set of war-surplus headphones taped under the bridge and plugged into the valve radio to simulate a pick-up and amp. Then a friend with a real guitar, and another with a junk-shop snare drum.

Columbus guilty

(First Edition)

Thousands flee in US toxic spill

DULUTH, Minnesota (AP) - A cloud of toxic vapour from a derailed tank car forced at least 50,000 people to flee homes and offices yesterday in Minnesota and Wisconsin, creating traffic jams and leaving central Duluth deserted.
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little