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.

Leading article: Time for Nato to fill in the blanks on Afghanistan

As if one insoluble problem were not enough, world leaders moved directly from discussing the woes of the eurozone at Camp David at the start of the weekend, to the equally intractable challenges of the Nato summit in Chicago at the end of it. Even without the thousands of protesters lining the streets, the meeting would not have been an easy one. And the issue at the top of the agenda is the most difficult of all: the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Five arrested on terrorism charges at Chicago Nato summit

One man was arrested on terrorism-related charges and another for possession of explosives, bringing the number of people arrested to five ahead of the NATO summit on Sunday in an alleged plot to target U.S. President Barack re-election headquarters.

Romanian director Cristian Mungiu (third from right), with the cast of Beyond the Hills in Cannes yesterday

Messy, dirty, rough. 'Lawless' in Cannes...

Violent gangster thriller fails to liven up film festival

Afghan forces will take sole control of security in the country after Nato forces pull out in 2014

Nato fears split over Afghan withdrawal will fuel bloodshed

Hollande’s pledge to pull out troops early will dominate Chicago talks as UK bill is set to hit £20bn

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan at Camp David in 1986

David Usborne: Leaders follow in the footsteps of FDR and Winston Churchill

Camp David is the presidential retreat where history is made

Chicago police had to deal with protesters at the city’s main immigration court

Police gear up for battle ahead of Nato summit in Chicago

Arrests made as city prepares for thousands of activists expected to target high-profile event

Revellers at last year's Glastonbury Festival

Festival fans take a swipe at the 'Big Brother' wristband

Privacy fears over microchip that would replace tickets – and cash

One World Trade Center towers above the Lower Manhattan skyline

Will building boffins knock the Freedom Tower down to size?

At a symbolic 1,776 feet high (1776 being the year the Declaration of Independence was issued) above the New York skyline, 1 World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, was to be the ultimate symbol of America's fightback from the 9/11 attacks – stood in the place of the Twin Towers, the tallest building in America, nay, the western hemisphere would emerge. Except that, oh...

High-energy: Seau with the New England Patriots in 2007

Junior Seau: American footballer beset by inner demons

The news that Junior Seau, for 20 seasons a star linebacker in the National Football League, had killed himself at the age of 42 with a gunshot to the chest, shocked America. Few played the game with such high-energy enthusiasm, and few played it with such physicality for so long.

Images of Taliban fighters giving up their weapons appear to contradict claims of a growing insurgency

The Taliban are divided and in retreat, insist top US officials

Two of the most powerful American officials in Afghanistan have insisted that the Taliban are in retreat with its leadership divided, contradicting claims by senior figures in Washington that the insurgency has actually grown stronger since Barack Obama authorised the surge of forces two years ago.

Conrad Black released from prison

Former media mogul Conrad Black was released from a federal prison in Miami today after serving about three years for defrauding investors.

Rebecca Tyrrel: 'The patriotic Olympic nappy has the Union Jack emblazoned upon its rear

Who knew that Paula Radcliffe had it in her to brazen out her new role as Olympic frontwoman for Pampers nappies while ignoring the obvious irony? Somehow she has done just that. Radcliffe has posed for photo-shoots and made promotional films with her infant son modelling the GB Design Active Fit nappy, without a single raised eyebrow or knowing smirk about her own legendary lavatory stop.

François Hollande says he will pull French troops out of Afghanistan by the year’s end

French election throws Afghan exit into disarray

François Hollande's promise to withdraw troops this year means Nato allies may have to fill the gap

US charges six Chinese citizens with insider trading

The US government froze the assets of six Chinese citizens and one company charged with trading on confidential information that a China-based pork processor, Zhongpin Inc, was about to go private.

Oprah Winfrey's network, OWN, has only 180,000 viewers a day, but hopes it will soon recover its balance

Oprah Winfrey admits mistakes in cable network launch

Oprah Winfrey, the once unassailable empress of talk show television, admitted for the first time today that she made “101 mistakes” in trying to launch her own cable network and that had she known then what she knows now she probably would never have tried.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones