This week's issue looks at the most polarising figure in US politics today -- Sarah Palin. In the week that she joined Fox News as a political commentator, Andrew Stephen  reports from Washington on her rise and on the right-wing Tea Party movement she has inspired. Elsewhere, Sarah Churchwell  turns in a stinging review of Palin's memoir, Going Rogue, and concludes: "Palin is a fan of free speech -- unless the speech criticises her."
Back home, our political correspondent James Macintyre has an exclusive interview  with the International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, who insists that despite press reports, he's still on good terms with Gordon Brown. But in a special diary for the NS Peter Watt  stands by his claim that Alexander said of Brown: "We have always thought the longer the British public had to get to know him, the less they would like him as well."
Elsewhere, John Pilger  heralds a new global movement challenging Israel over war crimes in Gaza; Isabel Hilton reports on rising tensions between India and China; and Gaby Hinsliff  looks at the downfall of Iris Robinson, "an unlikely latter-day Helen of Troy".
In The Critics, Margaret Drabble explores Vincent Van Gogh's haunting letters; Ryan Gilbey  is impressed by Hirokazu Kore-eda's Still Walking; and Will Self  declares his love for Pizza Express.
UPDATE: Our cover has made it to the heady heights of the Daily Mail . Its foreign service reports: "Sarah Palin has been portrayed as the devil -- with lipstick as horns -- on the cover of a left-wing British magazine."