Big Society needs an overseer, say MPs
David Cameron's flagship policy to revolutionise the role of charities and communities in the provision of services cannot succeed without the supervision of a dedicated minister, MPs warned. The Public Administration Select Committee said planned reforms could be "defeated by inertia".
Kyoto withdrawal blamed on the Right
The announcement by the Conservative government in Ottawa this week that it is withdrawing from the Kyoto Treaty on global emissions has triggered fresh charges that Canada, once seen as a force for social liberalism and environmental responsibility, is fast moving to the Right. MORE
Troop withdrawal 'would help Taliban'
Any large-scale withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan would help the Taliban, according to a confidential US military report. The drawdown should be avoided until as late as possible in time to meet the 2014 deadline for end of the combat operations, it advises. MORE
Accused 'disgusted' by filmed racist rant
One of the men accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence told the Old Bailey yesterday that he had harboured racist views. Gary Dobson, 36, admitted lying to the police on his arrest and said he felt "embarrassed" by a video in which he boasted of threatening to slash a black man. MORE
US calls for return of its spy drone
Iran yesterday shrugged off a US request for the return of the spy drone captured earlier this month by its armed forces and instead demanded an apology from Washington. MORE
Gunman kills five in city square rampage
The cobblestone streets of Liège were turned into a bloody battlefield yesterday as a gunman opened fire on Christmas shoppers, killing five people and wounding more than 70. The killer also died in the attack. Police named the attacker as Nordine Amrani, a 33-year-old convicted drug dealer with a passion for collecting illegal weapons. MORE
Men and boys held captive in madrassa
Police in Karachi yesterday found dozens of men and boys – some in chains – kept prisoner in a basement when they raided a religious seminary in the city. A number of them were drug addicts, sent to the madrassa by relatives in the hope they could be cured and rehabilitated. MORE
Rise in number of repossessed homes
The number of homes repossessed in 2011 has increased by 6 per cent on last year's figure. A total of 28,789 homes were repossessed in the UK between January and September of this year, with charities warning that high unemployment could mean worse to come. MORE
Child stolen as dad pops into takeaway
A man in Durham left a takeaway to find his car had been stolen – along with his daughter. Police found the young girl still asleep in the back seat ten minutes later. Four teenagers have been arrested and bailed in connection with the incident.
Number of children in poverty 'will rise'
If families at the bottom of the social ladder don't get more help, the number of children in poverty in Britain will rise, government adviser Alan Milburn has warned. He urged David Cameron to admit he won't be able to hit target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.
UN chief puts protest deaths at 5,000
Syria reacted furiously after the UN human rights chief estimated the death toll during the country's uprising at 5,000. Navi Pillay said the situation was "intolerable" and urged the Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. MORE
Liliane Bettencourt beneficiary accused
A celebrity photographer who received gifts worth €1bn from France's wealthiest woman, will be formally accused today of fraud, money-laundering and embezzlement. François-Marie Banier's friendship with Liliane Bettencourt spiralled into a financial and political scandal. MORE
Pensioner makes rare old discovery
A pensioner in Sunderland has discovered a dinosaur bone belonging to a 10m-long iguanodon in his back garden. Experts at the Natural History Museum are bemused as to how the vertebra bone came to be deposited in the north of England, as most iguanodon skeletons are unearthed in the East Sussex area.
Revellers urged not to cook at home
The London Fire Brigade has urged Christmas partygoers to get a takeaway on their way home rather than show off their culinary skills. LFB Commissioner Ron Dobson warned the young professionals who cause a quarter of London's house fires: "Don't go home thinking you're a contestant on MasterChef."
Female splits up 'gay' penguins
A female has come between one of Canada's celebrity gay couples. Toronto Zoo split up Buddy and Pedro, who had shared a nest, as the endangered species needs to breed. Buddy has now mated but Pedro is still on the market.
Standard of living in UK scores high
Britons who believe the grass is greener on the Continent should be dissuaded by an EU survey which shows the UK has the second-highest standard of living in Europe. Government spending on health and education means our lives are 21 per cent better than the average European's. Only Luxembourg scored higher.
Ban Angelina Jolie's film, say Serbs
A representative of Serbs held prisoner during Bosnia's 1992-95 war has said Angelina Jolie's directorial debut should be banned because it suggests Serbs were the only ones guilty of mass rape. In the Land of Blood and Honey is about a Serb who tracks down his Muslim lover.
Real reason why buttercups glow
Generations of children have speculated that if a buttercup glows yellow when held under someone's chin, that person must be a fan of the dairy spread that gives the flower its name. But Cambridge University scientists found they change colour to attract pollinating insects.
Blinded PC 'may see with his tongue'
The policeman blinded by Raoul Moat in Newcastle last year could have his sight restored – by "seeing" with his tongue. PC David Rathband needs £16,000 to pay for trials with a device which converts images from a camera into shapes for the user to feel on the surface of their tongue.
Retail giant in storm after pulling TV ads
There have been angry calls for a boycott after a US retail giant pulled ads from a reality TV show about American Muslims. Lowe's Home Improvement reacted after an evangelical Christian group said the TLC show was "a danger to American liberties and traditional values".