Voices Ice forms on the shore of the East River due to unusually low temperatures caused by a polar vortex in New York

All 50 US states are below freezing as the polar vortex sworls around North America, shattering temperature records and causing a collective shudder across the continent.

Pregnancy: are test accurate?

How accurate are home pregnancy tests? Is it possible to be pregnant even though the test is negative on the day my period is due? And is it possible that a positive pregnancy test could be wrong?

Fill your tank with the fuels from Formula 1

Formula One cars are subject to even more scrutiny than Olympic athletes. And the results are supposed to help us, says Timandra Harkness

Letter: Leukaemia children

Sir: The Leukaemia Research Fund has been greatly saddened to learn of the death of Georgina Horlick. Despite all the pressures on her time, Georgina's mother, Nicola, has given selfless and invaluable support to the fundraising efforts of the Leukaemia Research Fund.

Brothers wait on leukaemia test

Brothers wait on leukaemia test

Letter: A pest to whom exactly?

GEOFFREY LEAN calls the badger "a positive menace" ("Watch out, Mr Badger", 23 August). But it is not a pest species. It is not in competition with agriculture. And the theory concerning a connection with TB is thrown into increasing doubt by results of the culling programme. The presence of the badger indicates that we have not yet crossed the Rubicon, that there is still British countryside outside of the scientised, sanitised, production process. Anyone who sees a badger in the wild can feel only honoured; many older country people have never seen one. Established sets often have a history in an area not of decades but of centuries. These creatures have a right to remain unmolested.

Ailing Jordan carries Bulls

Basketball

Little relief in lift convictions

Little relief in lift convictions

SIGNIFICANT SHORTS : SIGNIFICANT SHORTS : HIV virus bite transmit

The first documented case of the HIV virus being transmitted by a human bite is reported today in the Lancet. It involved a Slovenian man who was accidentally bitten by a neighbour who had Aids. The man went to help the Aids patient, who was having a fit, and to help him breathe, stuck his fingers in his neighbour's mouth.

Test failures

Tests on Dancing Dove, second to Chadwick's Ginger at Carlisle on 6 October, and High Five, tailed-off behind Unchanged at Folkestone on 7 September, have proved positive to prohibited substances.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there