■ Maybe it was his inability to stop the world’s biggest economy from swerving dangerously close to default; perhaps it was prompted by a poll from NBC News showing all-time low approval ratings. Whatever the cause, Barack Obama’s place at the top of the celebrated Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people has been stolen by Russian President and celebrated bear-wrestler Vladimir Putin. Still, it could be worse: he could be David Cameron, who slipped quietly out of the top ten.
■ The coalition set out a stark choice this week: build HS2 or face 14 years of dreaded “planned engineering works”. But according to a YouGov poll yesterday, voters would much rather wait it out on rail replacement bus services than splash out on a new railway. Four in ten picked upgrades to existing tracks, while 27 per cent would go for HS2. In a blow to our Manchester readers (all three of them), 19 per cent said neither, as there is no need for better access to the north.