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.

Republican rivals Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann joust in debate

Minnesota rivals Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann sparred bitterly in a Republican presidential debate, trying to stand out ahead of an Iowa test vote with huge consequences.

Budget deadlock shuts Minnesota

Minnesota shut down its state government yesterday amid a budget showdown between the governor and lawmakers, leaving state parks closed at the start of the US Independence Day holiday weekend, halting road projects and forcing thousands of state worker layoffs.

Video book review: State of Wonder, By Ann Patchett

The book reads like a Dan Brown novel, with a plot line that dashes from one continent to another, with secret scientists working deep in the Amazon rainforest and remote tribes guarding ancient secrets.

James Arness: Actor who starred for 20 years as Marshal Matt Dillon in 'Gunsmoke'

For 20 years, and some 635 episodes, James Arness starred as Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, still the longest run of any star in American prime-time television drama. In the era when westerns ruled the airwaves, Gunsmoke was the most popular of them all. It débuted in 1955, and from 1957-61 was the top-rated show in the country – and, retitled Gun Law, was popular in the UK as well. As the genre declined Gunsmoke thrived, finally ending in 1975, having outlasted all its competition and setting longevity records that still stand.

Mike Huckabee 'listens to his heart' and quits the presidential race

Mike Huckabee has announced that he will not seek his party's US presidential nomination in 2012, adding uncertainty to the race to pick a Republican challenger to President Barack Obama.

Obama launches his bid for re-election

President barack Obama launched his re-election campaign yesterday in an email to 13 million supporters, calling on them to join forces behind his leadership and the changes he has battled for in a nation riven with hyperpartisan political divisions.

The Hold Steady, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Someone walking in off the street might wonder at first what this camply flapping, foggy-spectacled, middle-aged nerd is doing at the microphone. But Craig Finn crosses early Woody Allen with early Bruce Springsteen.

Album: Abigail Washburn, City of Refuge (Rounder)

Born in Illinois, educated in Minnesota, now living in Tennessee via time spent in Vermont and China, it should come as no surprise that Washburn sounds like no one else.

US lawyer specialising in lawsuits against Catholic Church sets up UK practice

For much of the past 25 years Jeff Anderson has been the American Catholic Church’s bête noire. Working out of a small office in St Paul, Minnesota, the 63-year-old US attorney has spearheaded more than 1,500 lawsuits against the Church, winning millions of dollars for his clients and forcing open one of the world’s most secretive institutions.

American Football: Legend Favre retires after a traumatic year

Brett Favre was the National Football League's ultimate iron man in a legendary 19-year career, inspiring coaches and team-mates with extraordinary toughness and thrilling fans with a daredevil's verve and a showman's sense of the moment.

Executed in haste, exonerated at leisure

Dakota Indian among victims of mass execution may be pardoned

American Football: Favre's 18-year run of starts ends

Brett Favre's record of consecutive NFL starts came to a halt at 297 late on Monday night when he failed to run out for the Minnesota Vikings against the New York Giants. His side subsequently fell to a 21-3 defeat.

Village People: The Potato Council survives, but it could soon be crunch time

Quango upon quango has been consigned to the bonfire, but the Potato Council lives on.

Prom 56: Minnesota Orchestra / Vanska, Royal Albert Hall, London

In a former life when the Minnesota Orchestra was the Minneapolis Symphony and “Living Presence” was a phrase on the tip of every record buff’s tongue, it would almost have come as a disappointment to hear the sophisticated beast the orchestra has now become in an acoustic as generous as the Royal Albert Hall.

Proms perfection: What to see at the biggest music festival on earth

The greatest classical music festival in the world is back – an unparalleled, gargantuan feast of bravura performance. Nicola Christie highlights this year's most enticing prospects and asks insiders for their pick of the Proms
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific