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.

Elmwood Village residents walk down Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, New York

Polar vortex: All 50 US states are below freezing – and even Hell's frozen over

Central Park breaks 118-year-old record when the temperature dropped to -15C

Judge rules Chicago's ban on the sale of firearms in the city is illegal

Officials in Chicago have vowed to fight a ruling by a federal district judge which threatens to lift a long-standing ban on the sale of firearms in the city, one of the last vestiges of the toughest crackdown on gun ownership in the US.

Sherlock Holmes portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series

Sherlock Holmes and the case of copyright

A long-running legal battle in the United States could change the way Sherlock Holmes and other characters are portrayed in future books and films

Allan Umscheid, owner of Yards By Al in Lawrence, Kan, feels the bitter wind and catches drifting snow on his face as he runs a snow blower early morning

'Polar vortex' snowstorm plunging America into record-breaking cold snap may bring coldest day of 21st century

With Arctic winds plummeting temperatures to  -50C, much of North America has shut down as authorities warn of the life-threatening freeze

US braced for record low temperatures as 'polar vortex' brings minus -51C wind chill

Extreme forecast in America with -31 Celsius in Fargo, North Dakota, -35 C in International Falls, Minnesota, and -26 C in Indianapolis and Chicago

US groom killed while helping a stranded motorist hours after his wedding

He and the stranded woman he helped both died in the incident

Martin Bashir hosted a regular afternoon news discussion show on the US TV channel MSNBC

Princess Diana made him, Sarah Palin destroyed him: the rise and fall of Martin Bashir

'I deeply regret what was said, and will always appreciate our viewers'

A heroin user prepares the drug in Zhukovsky, near Moscow

Krokodil in Canada? Ontario reports three potential cases of flesh-eating drug

Health workers have reported patients being hospitalised with gangrenous wounds

A series of tornadoes sweeping across Illinois and Indiana have killed at least two people and injured at least 40 while flattening large parts of the city of Washington in Illinois

US tornadoes: Storm sweeps through America’s Midwest leaving at least six dead

A series of tornadoes sweeping across Illinois and Indiana have killed at least six people and injured at least 40 while flattening large parts of the city of Washington in Illinois.

Joint Nobel prize goes to economists with rival theories: US trio Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller share award

Three Americans rewarded with $1.2 million prize for work on predicting global financial markets

Krokodil the flesh-eating drug spreads to Chicago suburbs with three cases in a week

Krokodil, which is considered more addictive that heroin, originated in Russia

Three-year-old boy in critical condition after 12 are injured in Chicago park shooting

Authorities say there are no reports of fatalities and that no one is in custody

Beanie Babies founder Ty Warner fined $53m for tax evasion

The billionaire founder of the 1990s toy craze Beanie Babies has admitted tax evasion after hiding more than £3 million of income in a secret Swiss bank account.

Suzann Pettersen celebrates her Evian win

Suzann Pettersen holds off teenage challenger Lydia Ko

How do you like your champagne moments? Suzann Pettersen posted her entry with victory at the Evian Championship to claim her second major championship. An eight-footer for par at the last to give her a two-shot victory over 16-year-old prodigy Lydia Ko triggered an avalanche of corks at the foot of the Alps.

Hard times: McIlroy admits this year has been a bit of a struggle

Rory McIlroy tries to get mind right after saving face 

In the context of what had gone before, a birdie was cause for letting off flares. After three in four holes around the turn yesterday and an eagle at the last for a 68 Rory McIlroy was pledging a round of drinks in the Conway Farms clubhouse.

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Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
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Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
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Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

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Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride