Postcard from... Brussels

A demonstrator stands firm outside a government building in China’s Yunnan province

Campaigners in China challenge authorities over environmental impact of planned petrochemical plant

Fears over proposed refinery in southern city of Kunming attracts thousands of protesters

GCSE and A-Level grading this summer could be as chaotic as last year because quality of marking is still poor, leading school heads warn

School headmaster says major issue of shoddy marking needs to be tackled

Michael Gove sought to criticise teaching standards

Dumbing down, Minister? Michael Gove gets his educational facts from marketing surveys for Premier Inn and UKTV Gold

Education Secretary’s attack on lack of pupils’ knowledge not based on any academic research

Peter Mandelson has warned Labour over trade union influence

Peter Mandelson warns Labour over trade union influence

Former minister says too many candidate selection processes are 'in the hands of one union at worst or a couple at best'

Ambulance queues have left thousands outside A&E for more than 30 minutes

Demand on A&E departments is 'out of control', warns health regulator

Demand on NHS accident and emergency departments is “out of control” and “totally unsustainable”, the head of the health and social care regulator has warned.

The majority of people surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34 support more housebuilding in the countryside

Grand designs for more homes in countryside leave public unconvinced

Poll for 'The Independent' shows half of voters reject Coalition initiative to solve housing crisis

Only one in five people expects to be better off in two years' time

Deep pessimism among the public about the length and depth of the economic downturn is revealed today by a poll which finds that only one person in five expects to be better off in two years’ time.

Ukip in chaos after leaked emails threaten to derail party on eve of election

Ukip’s ability to vet its own election candidates has come under intense questioning after a series of embarrassing leaked emails, campaign trail blunders, and allegedly racist and homophobic comments from their would-be councillors ahead of local elections this week.

Free school meals could soon be scrapped and people paid to look after elderly neighbours as councils take desperate measures to deliver a “tidal wave” of spending cuts

Free school meals may be scrapped by councils under 'tidal wave' of cuts

Think-tank warns of 'a tidal wave of cuts that makes the 1980s look like a day at the beach'

Lord Butler himself was asked to investigate two cases of potential ministerial misconduct

Lord Butler: 'Civil servants should not investigate MPs'

Britain’s most senior civil servants should no longer be asked to investigate accusations of ministerial misconduct because they do not have the “powers” to get to the truth, the former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Robin Butler, has suggested.

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove

School pupils will be taught too much politics under Michael Gove's new curriculum, says Cambridge professor

Proposed changes include more chronological approach to history and a more British perspective

Nicolas Maduro has a 10 point lead in the polls

Henrique Capriles accuses Venezuelan state media of bias in favouring political rival

Henrique Capriles has hit out at the overwhelming bias of the Venezuelan state media, claiming that the VTV channel alone has given 46 hours and 43 minutes of coverage to Nicolas Maduro since the former bus driver became acting President after the death of Hugo Chavez on 8 March. Over the same period, Mr Capriles claimed he received just one minute and 18 seconds of airtime.

Editorial: Enforce the minimum wage to make work pay

It was Bill Clinton who, as US President, summed up what he called the old idea of the American Dream that “if you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to have a decent life”. But that sentiment applies not only to America and not just to a dream. It should be the guiding principle of any government worth the name.

Postgrad diary: 'I gather perspectives on our recent history'

Until recently, the popular image of a postgraduate history student might have been a lone figure in a library, poring over weighty tomes. While that style of study still exists in many places – and with good reason – it's not what Peter Quigley is doing for his MA in public history at Royal Holloway, University of London. He's more likely to be seen on London's streets with a digital recorder in hand, interviewing people and then editing soundbites for a website providing eye-witness accounts of historical events.

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A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
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Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
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Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
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Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
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Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
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Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
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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
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?