News The scene outside Shenfield station this morning, after a 44-year-old City worker was shot in the leg on his way into London

Police are appealing for witnesses after a balaclava-wearing gunman fled from the scene

Two schools shut in protest over academies

Two schools were shut yesterday as teachers' leaders escalated their strike action against proposals to set up new privately sponsored academies.

Standing up for the gypsies

The largest illegal travellers' camp in Britain has found a divine ally in its survival battle. Jerome Taylor reports

Child's hospital death probed in sabotage scare

Essex police are investigating the death of a three-year-old in hospital amid fears that intravenous fluid bags had been sabotaged, it was reported today.

Workers stage sit-in after shock redundancies

Angry workers were staging sit- ins at three car parts plants yesterday after suddenly being told that they had all lost their jobs.

Basildon Peta: Susan Tsvangirai - An ordinary woman with extraordinary charm

What I most admired about Susan Tsvangirai was that she knew that the success of your family was dependent on the success of your country. She never moaned about what life was like for her and her children and the risks that came from living with Robert Mugabe's nemesis. It was always about the children of Zimbabwe. It was a typical caring and motherly attitude that Zimbabwe had always wanted from its First Lady but never got.

Zimbabwe: A beautiful land in need of a change of fortune

Visitors once flocked to Zimbabwe, but abhorrence for President Mugabe's regime has all but destroyed tourism in the country. When will the tourists be tempted back?

Steve Richards: At last, some healthy rows in cabinet

With the surfacing of differences within Government, normal politics has returned

Basildon Peta: Today is a monumental tragedy, the prostitution of democracy

It was a joyous moment for some, but I saw no reason of joining in any of the celebratory parties.

Court defeat spells eviction for travellers

Hundreds of travellers, many with small children, were left "desperate" and dismayed today after being told they face being moved forcibly from their homes after a ruling by the Court of Appeal.

Basildon Peta: It should be the tipping point for the tyrant – but this is Zimbabwe

Until it happened, the sight of Robert Mugabe's loyal soldiers rampaging against his regime was unthinkable. So surely their unprecedented actions ought to be the tipping point for the 84-year-old tyrant. But in the weird world that cynics call Mugabeland, things are never straight forward.

My secret life: Jo Wood, Businesswoman & former model, 53

The home I grew up in ... was a council house in Basildon, Essex, until I was nine. Then we moved into an old vicarage my dad had bought that was in serious need of renovation; we stayed there until I was 16. It was wonderful: 300 years old and full of character.

Basildon Peta: Call this progress? Not if you care about Zimbabwe

I am desperately homesick after six years of exile from Zimbabwe. Yet yesterday's power-sharing deal between Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara has not brought me any relief that I can re-enter a new democratic country in which the rights of citizens are respected.

Basildon Peta: No, Tsvangirai was not right to pull out

Mugabe could not have won even a rigged election

Nigel Morris: A result that puts Cameron on course for Downing Street

The Tories claimed early today that they were on course to evict Gordon Brown from power after they won a steady series of local election victories across England.

Basildon Peta: Mass protests are needed to force Mugabe’s hand

Will he or won't he? It has been nearly a week since the polls closed, and still no word from Robert Mugabe on when he will begin his journey into political oblivion.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas