News Yes we can (fit it all in): Obama has come under fire for his fat-filled photo shoots

The POTUS has revealed his past as a pot-user. These days, says David Usborne, Barack Obama has other vices

Clean and serene: Platform beds were inspired by Japanese ryokans, while iPads add a hi-tech touch

Stay The Night: Hôtel Americano, New York

This addition to Manhattan's Chelsea district encapsulates the gentrification of a formerly commercial area

Tanker re-routed amid cracks fears

A tanker carrying more than 55,000 tonnes of gas oil off the north west of Ireland has been re-routed to Belfast amid fears over cracks to its body.

Meet Me in St. Louis (U)

Starring: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien

Meet Me in St. Louis (U)

Starring: Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien
Bidding was intense at the auction

Age of austerity? £74m spent on Taylor's bauble collection

Asian buyers fuel record bids for glittering array of Hollywood star's diamonds and pearls

Kreisler’s musical and verbal pyrotechnics have helped generate enduring interest in his songs

Georg Kreisler: Satirist and doyen of Viennese cabaret

Georg Kreisler was widely acknowledged in Germany and Austria as a master of the satirical songs for which Viennese cabaret is held in such esteem. Celebrated above all for his dazzling and provocative texts, his skill in setting them to music and his virtuoso stage performances at the piano, Kreisler was also a novelist, poet, dramatist, theatre director and composer. Almost as striking as his landmark creative career were his remarkable experiences during the Second World War.

Poisoning link threatens future of fracking

US study casts doubt on controversial shale gas extraction process – as Government considers allowing its widespread use here
Byrne says: 'People who say that travel is half the fun must be having really bad holidays'

My Life In Travel: Ed Byrne, comedian

'I would like to trek up to Everest Base Camp'

Light fantastic: Manhattan's Park Avenue

Last Weekend: New York's swagger can't be beaten

It sounds an extravagant solution to the pre-Christmas blues, but if you want to escape the relentless gloom on this side of the Atlantic try a weekend in New York.

Mull Historical Society, Bush Hall, London (4/5)

When Colin MacIntyre was a young man on Mull, he’d look out at the Atlantic dark and feel he was on the edge of the world.

Empty spaces, drifting lives: Night scene in Kreuzberg, Berlin

My Mother's Lover, By Urs Widmer, trans. Donal McLaughlin<br />The Shadow-Boxing Woman, By Inka Parei, trans. Katy Derbyshire<br />Summer Resort, By Esther Kinsky, trans. Martin Chalmers

When looking for an excellent translation of a work of fiction from Switzerland or Germany, a volume of philosophy from France, or narratives from the languages of the African continent, do your thoughts turn to Kolkata? Perhaps they should. Long regarded as a city of literature and learning, the metropolis by the Hooghly has another string to its erudite bow, still too well-kept a secret in Britain: Seagull Books.

One Day I Will Write About This Place, By Binyavanga Wainaina

December 1995, and three generations of Binyavanga Wainaina's family gather in Kisoro to celebrate Christmas. From this town at the tip of western Uganda you can see across the Mufumbiro mountains into Rwanda and Congo. The nationalities in the house reflect the geography. The Wainainas have arrived from Kenya, aunt Rosaria from Rwanda, cousins from Kampala and aunt Christine from the US. Warm in the enveloping arms of this multilingual, multinational song-singing family, Binyavanga decides, "one day, I will write about this place".

College Choir of St John's celebrates 500th anniversary

As a punt chauffeur and recent graduate, I spent a summer ferrying tourists up and down the River Cam, spinning ludicrous yarns about the University. Two things about this most beautiful of journeys will have stayed in the river-goers' minds: colliding with other punts and the chapel of King's College.

Dr James Hansen first raised the issue of global warming at a 1988 US Senate hearing

Father of climate change: 2C limit is not enough

Talks to limit global temperature rises to 2C will not prevent the possibility of dangerous climate change, warns the scientist who first raised the alarm over global warming.

Kim Kardashian's long-distance warnings

Kim Kardashian warned Kris Humphries their marriage would not work if they lived in separate states. 

Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
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A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
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exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
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booksThe best children's books for this summer
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Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
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'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
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Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
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Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
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News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
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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
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary