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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWith one of the best comic roles around, it's no wonder she rarely bothers with films
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Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
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A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
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Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
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Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
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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
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup