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Westminster Outlook Michael Fallon is Westminster's – and the world's – first land-dwelling, four-limbed octopus, his tentacles wrapped around Whitehall, circular suckers incapable of being removed from powerful ministries of state.

65,000 towels... 8 trampolines... Olympic organisers go shopping

British businesses battle for contracts worth £1.7bn to kit out the 2012 Games

Drive for state control 'punishes' universities

Outgoing standards chief warns blueprint from MPs is like 'Spanish Inquisition'

Berbatov battles to win Old Trafford's affection

Manchester United 2 Blackburn Rovers 0

Brown's Baroness emerges from the shadows

Baroness Cathy Ashton is one of the lowest-profile ministers to have served in Gordon Brown's Cabinet. But she has impressed observers since moving to Brussels last year to replace Peter Mandelson as Trade Commissioner.

Simon Carr: Is Party support draining from a deflated PM?

The Sketch

It’s not so much a premiership as a medical condition. The poor fellow is sick. Look at him, he’s ill. It’s a self-inflicted illness but nonetheless deserving of sympathy. He was prepared to take the risk, he fought to take it, now he suffers the consequence of a wasting illness that saps his strength, his energy, his pleasure in life. He’s a brave heart, he’s a fighter, but the power of positive thinking is just prolonging the agony.

Postal workers fear 'revenge' plan

The postal workers leader today accused Royal Mail of having a "cynical" plan to sideline the union involved in a bitter dispute over jobs and pay as the company braces itself for a national strike.

Labour conference diary: Ainsworth listens to soldier's tale

"As I sit here, my legs are aching," Stuart Trow said. "I've got a bullet in my buttock and that's not comfortable."

King courtier: Lord Mandelson

He's made the most spectacular comeback in modern politics and kept his old rival in post. No wonder the First Secretary is on the march

Mandelson should face MPs, says Speaker

Lord Mandelson should be forced to face questions from MPs because of his growing influence over government policy, the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has said.

Derek Simpson: With friends like these, Gordon Brown has no need of enemies

Jane Merrick meets the joint leader of Unite, ahead of the TUC conference in Liverpool

Mandy leaves hospital all smiles

Peter Mandelson left hospital in good spirits yesterday after undergoing an operation for an enlarged prostate gland.

Brown must step down this summer, says Labour donor

PM who 'seems to slip on every banana skin' should give new leader time to settle in before next election

Leading article: An unsatisfactory public appointment

Three years ago the Government decided to merge the old Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission in a brand new body, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. The argument was that this quango would inaugurate a fresh era of opportunity for the dispossessed and marginalised. Three years later, that dream lies in tatters as the body's accounts have been rejected by the National Audit Office, six of its commissioners have resigned and its chairman, Trevor Phillips, is widely criticised as not up to the job.

Diane Abbott: Stop talking. Start delivering...

Black people have watched Phillips' interventions with mounting dismay

Mandelson admits Labour will make 'a decade of cuts'

Lord Mandelson has admitted that Britain faces a decade of public spending cuts even if Labour wins the next election.

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The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
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Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
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Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
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Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
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Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
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Ross Burden pictured in 2002
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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
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried