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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'

Simon Cowell is my inspiration, says Palin as she faces public vote

For a woman who has declared her heroes to be the authors of the US constitution, Ronald Reagan, and members of the Tea Party, the most obvious role model is not Simon Cowell. But in the new book that some observers see as the launching pad for a putative presidential bid, Sarah Palin has cited the brusque X-Factor judge as an inspiration.

Gavin Kelly and James Plunkett: Rising prices will give the Coalition a political headache

On Wednesday, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King forecast that inflation would remain above its 2% target until at least the end of 2011. Yesterday saw British Gas announce a 7% price hike. It all bodes ill for the Coalition. For now, each day still starts to headlines screaming about cuts. But come 2015, it’s unlikely that cuts will be the defining issue of the election. Instead, the framing will be closer to that of the 1980 Presidential campaign: “ask yourself: are you better off now than you were four years ago?", as Ronald Reagan put it to the American people.

Adrift cruise liner towed to safety

The former fun-seekers of the Carnival Splendor are cruising again – but just barely.

Mary Ann Sieghart: Obama's strength is now his weakness

The charisma he once displayed so powerfully has dried up. Voters now complain of the President's coolness

Merchants of Doubt, By Naomi Oreskes & Erik M Conway

A lot of hot air from the sceptics

League of gentlemen: How to get the effortlessly cool style of Paul Newman and Steve McQueen

Aspire to the effortlessly cool style of Steve McQueen? As the authors of a new book explain, there's a lot of detail to obsess over before you can get the Ivy League look today

Leading article: Body talk

The secrets of the dance have been unlocked. Researchers at Northumbria University claim to have identified what makes a male dancer attractive to a member of the opposite sex.

Party spirit in short supply as Obama turns 49

Possibly wiser, unarguably greyer, and temporarily a bachelor, Barack Obama celebrated his 49th birthday yesterday doing what has long been a way of life for US presidents of every stripe: stumping for his party's candidates, and raising money.

Business Diary: Shore swallows pride at Ocado

Sounds like someone has a chip on their shoulder. "Shore Capital is today attending a visit organised by Ocado to its Hatfield facility, the second time that our company will have visited the heart of its organisation," the brokers' analysts tell us. "The 'premier league' of investment banks could not, seemingly, 'get the company away' at the desired original valuation and so the 'cavalry' in the form of 'the championship' brokers has been duly brought in to try and do the job." Come, come chaps – don't do yourselves down.

Leading article: Ready or not?

The news that the singer and philanthropist, Wyclef Jean, is contemplating a run for the Haitian presidency prompts thoughts about those from the world of entertainment who attempt to cross over into the realm of politics. The record is a mixed one. Ronald Reagan did well. And Arnold Schwarzenegger made it to the governor's mansion in California. Clint Eastwood had a brief spell as a Californian town mayor in the 1980s, but soon (thankfully) returned to films. Jerry Springer went the other way, becoming a talk show host after being a politician in Cincinnati. Here in Britain, we have Glenda Jackson in the House of Commons. The former AC Milan striker and world footballer of the year, George Weah, has been active in Liberian politics, but missed out in the 2005 presidential elections.

Hopes and Prospects, By Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is one of the most hysterically abused figures in the world today. Even his critics have to concede that his work in the field of linguistics – beginning to decode the structure of how language is formed in the human brain – makes him one of the most important intellectuals alive. But when he applies the same rigorous method to figuring out how power – especially the American government's – works, he is pepper-sprayed with smears. He is a self-hating Holocaust denier, a jihad-loving traitor, a Pol Pot-licking communist, and on and on.

Tracie Washington: This crime was a symptom of a wider sickness in the police

These charges have been a long time coming. I was in New Orleans throughout the floods and in the days after, and I still remember the sense that something had gone amiss when we first heard of the incident on Danziger Bridge, the way our anger grew.

Friedrich Hayek: Darling of the right is reborn in the USA

The uncompromising anti-statism of Friedrich Hayek has won a new following among Republicans. Stephen Foley reports

Revelations in the dark: Stars reveal the film that changed their life

From the Lumière brothers to Star Wars and beyond, cinema has long had the capacity to shape imaginations. Geoffrey Macnab assesses its transformative power

24-hour room service: The Colonnade Hotel, Boston, US

A grand city stay with star quality
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filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
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Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
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Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
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Apparently McDonald’s has trouble making sausage and eggs at the same time as burgers and chicken
newsNo Was fast food chain was aiming for the munchies market?
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Kevin Spacey and artistic director Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic party to honour Spacey
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders