News North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (left) inspects the command of Korean People's Army. The country's Defence Commission has sent an open letter to South Korea calling for an end to

The letter comes ahead of military exercises between the US and South Korea that the North sees as provocative

Last Night's Viewing: Kids in the Middle, BBC4 - Our Food, BBC2

I thought of Tolstoy watching Kids in the Middle, Brian Hill's grim and engrossing account of the wreckage of a marriage, and specifically of those famous lines about how all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. It's one of the questions that hovers behind pretty much every documentary about a social issue: is this film representative of a common experience? Or is it representative only of what you see in front of you? To be able to answer "yes" to the first question is to armour your film against all kinds of accusations, or at least to offer a rationale for some invasions of privacy. But very often it's the second kind of film that really stays with you. By the end of Kids in the Middle, I'm not sure you'd learned a great deal about the kind of contact centres that were its notional subject. But you'd been given a painfully vivid picture of how a bad marriage can rot a family and hurt children.

Last Night's Viewing: I Never Said Yes, BBC3<br />The Apprentice, BBC1

I don't know what the demographic overlap is between Independent readers and the BBC3 audience, but if you haven't been watching you might be interested to learn that the Corporation's most frivolous channel has also built an impressive record for bringing serious social issues to a younger audience. It has produced reality formats that illuminate the true cost of the cheap goods we enjoy, it's used pop presenters to explore foreign affairs and it's done thoughtful documentaries about disability issues in which disabled people serve as reporters, not just the passive subject matter. This week alone you could have watched a drama documentary about an inner-city murder on Monday, Reggie Yates exploring the world of teen gangs on Tuesday and, last night, Pips Taylor's I Never Said Yes, a documentary about the worrying gap between reported rapes and convictions. And unfortunately the last of these was an example of how good intentions aren't all you need.

Zimbabwe court fines six activistsfor watching videos of Arab Spring

A court in Zimbabwe yesterday fined six activists $500 (£315) each and ordered them to do community service for conspiring to commit public violence during a meeting in which they watched video footage of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Nervous Duchess of Cambridge makes first public speech

The Duchess of Cambridge overcame self-confessed nerves to give her first public speech today as she granted the wish of a terminally-ill child's family and posed for a picture.

Don't reward teachers indiscriminately says Ofsted head

Teachers should be refused pay rises if they cannot inspire their pupils and improve their performance,  the chief inspector of schools said yesterday.

Religion for Atheists, By Alain de Botton

For English writers and thinkers, the urge to rescue the core values of a waning Christianity for secular culture drove literary explorations and educational ventures for over a hundred years. This aching nostalgia for an impossible faith and its masterworks has itself left some fine monuments, from Matthew Arnold in the 1860s listening to the "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" of the ebbing "Sea of Faith" on "Dover Beach", to Philip Larkin, "Church Going" as a respectful sceptic to "A serious house on serious earth... In whose blent air all our compulsions meet".

Damage remedy restructuring shampoo, £18.50, aveda.co.uk

How To Be Beautiful: Winter hair repair

So, one week in; how's detox-and-diet season going? Whether or not you've signed up for the annual asceticism championships, January is a mean month. In beauty terms, it's a time for retreating to the bathroom for some seasonal damage reparation – a reasonable way of killing a long, dark evening when more sociable activities are off the cards due to self-denial (whether your own or others').

Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters jam Khatiba Square in Gaza City yesterday

Emboldened Hamas renews call for the end of Israel

Gaza rulers stage show of strength, hailing Arab Spring and vowing to liberate 'all of Palestine'

Phone-hacking suspect released without charge

The former News of the World reporter who became a lecturer and was arrested in Northumbria last week in connection with phone hacking, was released yesterday with Scotland Yard saying "no further action" would be taken.

The Sketch: George lost his voice but he didn't lose the argument

Nick Clegg chewed his lip at the return of Right to buy... Ken Clarke fought against a pre-lunch nap

You Talkin' To Me?, By Sam Leith

Politics is pursued through rhetoric, which makes rhetoric just about the mightiest force on earth. Barack Obama is the contemporary case in point, because it is his rhetorical prowess that has made him the most important person around. Sam Leith analysed Obama's oratory for a newspaper feature before becoming fascinated by the broader territory of rhetoric, and this book is the result.

Parents urged to be proud of apprentices

Parents should be just as proud of their children securing a top apprenticeship as getting in to university, the new shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg, said yesterday.

The secret history of... The Chesterfield

By Kate Watson-Smyth

Tessa Jowell: The rhetoric is fine, but what about the action?

One year into the Big Society, David Cameron's big idea has stalled. Soaring political speeches may get headlines, but in practice this rhetoric is contradicted by his Government's actions.

The Whisperer, By Donato Carrisi

Literary thriller? More a grim tale from the shallow end
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General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
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11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

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Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
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How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power