News

Professor Robert Coe, from Durham University:  “This seems to underline the view that improvements in GCSEs and some other examinations have had more to do with grade inflation than real sustained improvements over time.”

Flipping outrage! Scandal of second homes is swept under carpet

Reforms of MPs' expenses will exclude one of the most serious and common abuses of the whole system

Michael Jackson: This Is It, Kenny Ortega, 112 mins, (PG)<br/>Fleetwood Mac, MEN Arena, Manchester

The biggest musical event this week isn't a concert at all, but it's coming to a popcorn pit near you. By the time I'm writing this and you're reading it, Michael Jackson was meant to have performed 27 dates of his This Is It farewell show at the O2 in London, with a further 23 to follow in the spring.

Fleetwood Mac, SECC, Glasgow

To those familiar with their patchwork history, the fact that this current incarnation of Fleetwood Mac has remained stable for a little over a decade is something approaching a miracle.

Bercow: pay back your expenses now

Speaker says that he will not be a 'shop steward' for MPs

Parents cleared to set up mutual child care

Parents who arrange to look after each other’s children no longer need to worry about breaking the law, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls ruled today.

Ofsted has 'lost the plot' over childminding case

Ofsted has “lost the plot” by telling two police officers they broke the law by caring for each other’s children, it was claimed today.

English Heritage to sell off historic house at &#163;5m loss

Falling property prices force the taxpayer to foot the bill for a multimillion-pound 'heritage deficit'

Terence Blacker: All this fuss over a misdirected joke

Universities should be where jokes can be made without misinterpretation

Senior academic calls female students 'a perk of the job'

Female students are a "perk" of the job for male university lecturers, a senior academic has suggested.

Terence Blacker: When politics takes the fun out of comedy

As the political parties square up to one another during conference season, we can expect the usual sugaring of carefully scripted political jokes among the policy statements. The Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather set the tone this week with a rather odd comic routine at the expense of Mark Oaten, the MP whose political career was ended after stories involving a rent boy. To understand the punchline, one apparently had to know the full unpleasant gossip about the affair.

Study in hostilities: A novel MA is pulling in the students by combining intellectual learning with fine dining and prominent speakers

If you want to take a degree which combines tales of derring-do, fine dining and meeting some of the country's most distinguished generals and academics, the University of Buckingham has the one for you. This month sees the private university launch an MA in military history. It is a canny move that taps into the huge and growing interest in a once unfashionable subject and into a restless willingness to pay to pursue intellectual interests.

UKIP leader Farage to stand down

Nigel Farage is to step down as leader of the UK Independence Party, it was revealed today.

Farage to stand against speaker Bercow

Ukip leader Nigel Farage is to stand against Commons Speaker John Bercow at the next election, the party said today.

Speaker orders grace-and-favour flat facelift

John Bercow has ordered &pound;20,000 worth of refurbishments for his rent-free residence, it was revealed today.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
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Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
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Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
newsJohn Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
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The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
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Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
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Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
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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
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Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit