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It is approaching that time of the year when you take a backward look and think to yourself: what do I know now that I didn’t know a year ago?

Irving Brecher: Prolific comedy writer who scripted two films for the Marx Brothers

Known in comedy circles as the "undisputed king of all gag men, living or dead", Irving Brecher was admired by such figures as S.J. Perelman and Groucho Marx for his lightning wit. A prolific writer for radio and television, he also worked on classic screen musicals including Meet Me in St Louis, and wrote, unaided, two films for the Marx Brothers.

Yuvraj puts improving England in their place

India 292-9 England 238

Editor-At-Large: Where can we find Britain's Barack Obama?

It's hard not to feel energised by the euphoria surrounding Barack Obama's win. But what is the likelihood of anyone on this side of the Atlantic rekindling our interest in British politics? Zero, I would say. Commentators talked about the "Brown bounce" after Labour unexpectedly won a by-election in Scotland last week, but most of us remain profoundly turned off by politicians and the platitudes they spout. To be blunt, there are very few MPs and even fewer cabinet ministers who are able to connect with ordinary men and women in the way Obama does.

Security chief leaves job after workers hired without clearance

The chief executive of the body in charge of handing licences to security guards and club bouncers has lost his job after some of his employees were found to be working without proper security clearance.

Deborah Orr: The radical left's wet dream, or chaotic market logic?

It's the intellectual chaos that is the really frightening thing. Those who believe most fervently in the free market are the very people who hate most the spectacle of watching free-market favouring governments attempting to save it.

Pandora: Conspiracy theories abound over BBC's London bombings film

The BBC has found itself under siege from all sides over its decision to make a documentary about the bombings that took place in London on 7 July, 2005.

Murder inquiry opens after body of wife found at burnt-out mansion found shot

The investigation into an inferno at the home of a missing millionaire and his family officially became a murder hunt yesterday after one of the bodies found in the charred wreckage of the mansion was identified as the businessman's wife.

Convention Diary

* Assorted celebrities penetrated the Pepsi Centre for the dramas of Wednesday night including two African-American stars anxious to show their solidarity for Barack Obama, the rapper Kanye West and the actor Jamie Foxx. An invitation-only concert with West culminated with Foxx climbing on stage for a rap duet. Elsewhere in town, a luncheon for the Democratic Party featured two film stars with a long history of supporting liberal causes – Annette Bening and Susan Sarandon. And for those wondering how Ben Affleck's celebrity poker tournament turned out, it went on until 4am and he came out as the overall winner among no fewer than 100 players. Bravo Ben.

Pandora: Rushdie's former guard is being forced to apologise

Curious news from the Strand. We hear that Salman Rushdie and his former wife Elizabeth West are to be reunited at the High Court today. The pair will receive an official apology from a former bodyguard over allegations he made regarding their marriage.

Man who auctioned his life falls short of target

What's a man's life worth? More than £1m, it seemed, when bidding began for all of Ian Usher's worldly goods, plus his friends and job. But when the gavel went down in cyberspace yesterday, ending one of the world's most unusual auctions, the English expatriate's life was snapped up for a more modest £192,000.

At last: the Fall of the House of Clinton

Just as in the Edgar Allan Poe story, the great project hatched by Bill and Hillary is crumbling to dust

Howard Jacobson: The heart has its allegiances, to places as well as people. And a country is both

I think the recent suggestions about introducing oaths of fealty are fatuous, but then again I don't

For Sale: My life in Oz... including a house, job, motorbike, clothes, and, of course, a barbie!

Going, going, gone ... Six years after emigrating to Australia, a Briton is so upset by his divorce that he is putting his entire life up for auction on eBay, reveals Kathy Marks
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us