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In annual address, the President says 'too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead'

Independent Appeal: A woman's passion to put the disabled first

Rosa Salgado's campaign is backed by one of our charities

Wilson 'may have had Alzheimer's when he resigned'

Harold Wilson may have been suffering the early stages of Alzheimer's disease when he stunned Britain by resigning as Prime Minister, new research suggests.

Sketch: The First Puppy and Nancy Reagan provide light relief

Will there be one mutt or two in the White House come 20 January? The First Puppy which President-elect, Barack Obama, promised his children on election night is now "the most pressing issue for the Obama household".

Sean O'Grady: A speech with echoes of Lincoln and Nixon

It seems a strange thing to say about such a fresh figure, but the President-elect's victory speech was vintage Obama. On one level it was an entirely predictable mix of patriotism, populism and schmaltz: "all things are possible", "summon a new spirit", "the American dream", that sort of thing. The remarks about the girls' puppy coming to the White House were the cheesiest in over 50 years. They inevitably reminded one of Richard Nixon's notorious "Chequers speech", in which he pledged, in answers to allegations of corruption as early as 1952, that his two daughters would keep a cocker spaniel puppy called Chequers that they had been given. Some of the soundbites and phrases sounded just a little like they had travelled directly from focus groups of swing voters. As always, Obama's efforts were classy and confident; he marries the folksy and the statesmanlike in a way we haven't really seen since the Clinton era – but he did not say anything surprising.

Michael Brown: Under Reagan's gaze the faithful despaired

The Capitol Hill Club, Washington DC

White House Trivia: Would ya believe it?

From phoney fishing trips to hanging chads, the election of America's presidents is a feast for fans of trivia and intrigue. John Walsh separates truth from fiction

As voting begins, Obama plans transition to the White House

Veteran of Clinton era is given task of arranging smooth changeover between election and inauguration

Dylan Jones: View from the West Wing

If you ask me: America has to choose between the world's oldest white guy and an arrogant black rock star

Val Kilmer, aka Batman, the next governor of New Mexico?

Ronald Reagan made it all the way to White House, Clint Eastwood managed a term as Mayor of Carmel-by-Sea, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is still, just about, Governor of California. Now Val Kilmer could be the next "big-name" to jollify the colourful world of celebrity politics.

Have we misunderestimated George W Bush?

We may think we've got the measure of the 43rd President of the United States, the most unpopular man to have occupied the White House in modern times. But we'd be wrong, argues Rupert Cornwell. At home and abroad, the Bush years have seen real achievements – and history may judge him far more kindly than his critics would have us believe

The Week In Radio: How The Monkees kick-started Easy Rider

The one thing conspiracy theorists get right is that history is never quite as simple as it seems; there's always something – some happenstance, a hidden motive – rumbling under the surface. A couple of instances of this cropped up yesterday. Movie Outcasts: the Making of 'Easy Rider' (Radio 4) showed how Seventies counterculture and modern Hollywood were, in fact, by-products of the success of The Monkees, whose drummer, Mickey Dolenz, got to narrate.

Charles Z. Wick: USIA director whose task was to 'tell America's story to the world'

Charles Z. Wick was the key figure in the revival of America's public diplomacy during the Reagan years. A close friend of the president, from 1981 to 1989 he directed the United States Information Agency (USIA) which was the home for the American government's international information and broadcasting from 1953 to 1999.

Obama to visit Berlin for foreign policy speech

Barack Obama is expected to make a major foreign policy speech at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate at the end of July in which he promises a sharp break with the gung-ho foreign policies of George Bush, if elected President in November.

Banned! The statues they won't let you see

A little-known committee is keeping top artists out of public spaces. Richard Osley reports

Obscenity trial halted as judge admits putting porn on his website

An obscenity trial judge who insisted it was "part of the job" to sit through five hours of hardcore pornography with the jury has been forced to halt proceedings after it emerged that his personal website contains sexually explicit material.

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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?