A protester outside the Kochs' ranch demonstrates against the involvement of big donors such as the billionaire brothers in shaping the political agenda

Rupert Cornwell: Big money takes aim at the heart of Washington

Out of America: Party political bankrollers are mounting a takeover of think tanks. If they succeed, US politics will become more partisan than ever

Children's obesity is a 'national emergency'

Labour's failure to tackle the "chips and PlayStation 3 culture" means one-fifth of primary-school leavers are now obese, the shadow health minister Diane Abbott has admitted, in a warning that the health of Britain's children is a national emergency.

Leading article: Sir Humphrey won't like it, but reform must come

Long before Yes Minister became a British, and then an international, television success, the terms Civil Service and reform, used together, were wont to raise scornful laughter. To this day, the senior levels of government service retain, not always justly, this image of institutional immutability. A report out today, couched as an open letter to the heads of the Civil Service, Sir Jeremy Heywood and Sir Bob Kerslake, wants to change that. It has much to commend it.

Whitehall 'needs radical reform' to avoid a crisis

A radical reform in Whitehall must be pushed through to head off a looming crisis in public services, David Cameron is warned today.

George Osborne leaves 11 Downing Street in London

New Tory right in call for deeper cuts to public spending

Measure would allow greater flexibility over tax thresholds and steal Lib Dems' thunder

Hospital wards for the elderly would close under Labour's social care plans

Hospital wards for the elderly would be closed to release funds for old people to be cared for in their own homes under plans to tackle the looming social care crisis being drawn up by Labour.

Ecotricity backs The Independent's energy price campaign with online film

Green energy company Ecotricity has backed The Independent’s campaign to highlight the high prices of the Big Six energy firms by producing an online film which is rapidly going viral.

Turkemenistani election victory labelled a sham

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov won a new five-year term by capturing 97 per cent of the vote, officials said yesterday, but a Western expert said the poll was a sham.

Leading article: More heat than light on lobbying

The launch yesterday of a 12-week consultation marks the latest stage in halting the advance of Government moves to rein in parliamentary lobbying. On the face of it, the proposals set out by the minister, Mark Harper, would, if introduced, represent a considerable improvement on the current state of affairs, which amounts to a scandalously opaque free-for-all.

Students blame poor teaching over degrees

Growing numbers of students are lodging official complaints against their universities if they fail to obtain a top-level degree.

US think-tank hails Hong Kong as 'world's most free economy'

Hong Kong has the most free economy in the world, thanks to a combination of light regulation and the embracing of laissez-faire economic policy, according to the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing, US-based think tank.

Money goes towards recruiting gunmen and to foreign investors in the pirates' lucrative enterprise

West plans new hi-tech crackdown on Somali pirate gangs

Satellite pictures reveal areas transformed by ransom riches

GDP grew 1 per cent in 2011, think-tank says

Britain's economic growth slowed in the three months ending in December, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said yesterday, boosting the case for the Bank of England to take further measures to support the economy.

Youssef Boutros-Ghali has been spotted at lectures hosted by the LSE and Chatham House

From fêted statesman to a fugitive from justice

A senior figure in the regime of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and a key International Monetary Fund adviser, Youssef Boutros-Ghali had grown used to being welcomed in some of Britain's most respected think-tanks and academic institutions, dispensing his views on economic and political reform to an array of opinion formers.

Pensioners 'will work into 70s'

Many of tomorrow's pensioners will become self-employed consultants, online traders or run odd-job businesses to make ends meet in retirement, according to research.

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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine