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The cost of insuring against a catastrophic US default jumped to its  highest level in more than two years today after talks to prevent a breach of the nation’s $16.7 trillion (£10.5 trillion) debt ceiling faltered.

Sean O'Grady: A bailout is on the way, if the markets are to be believed

When it comes to bewildering financial crises it is usually best to start with the crisp wisdom of Nouriel Roubini, the man who called the credit crunch right. Mr Roubini said this week, bluntly, that Ireland is "on a path to near or complete insolvency". In response, Irish ministers bleat that "we're fully funded until mid-2011". Big deal. If you'd lent someone money to buy a house and they'd said that they were OK for cash until next summer, but after that things might get a bit hairy, how reassured would you be?

Botched cabinet reshuffle gives Sarkozy's rivals new strength

President Nicolas Sarkozy last night announced a new government largely restricted to his own tribe of the centre-right, abandoning his policy of "ouverture" to the left, centre and racial minorities.

French strikes ease as unions move towards talks

Oil refinery strikes in France against an unpopular pension reform lost steam yesterday, with walkouts ending at several plants and unions sounding keener on talks with employers than pursuing the showdown.

More strikes ramp up pressure on Sarkozy

French truck drivers said they planned to block key roads from yesterday evening and rail unions announced new strikes from today, putting fresh pressure on President Nicolas Sarkozy over his unpopular pension reforms.

How French regime sealed takeover of British utility giant

Turning International Power into a global leader should have been straightforward – instead it became a drama

Sarkozy steps into France's Anelka row

The president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, has asked his sports minister Roselyne Bachelot to meet with the key people involved in the bitter national team row which has wrecked their World Cup chances.

Cracks appear in EU unity as fears spread for future of the eurozone

Europe's governments struggled to mask sharp differences yesterday even as they backed new sanctions for indebted countries in the battle to prevent a debt crisis from spiralling into an emergency that threatens the very survival of the euro.

The Sketch: There's one thing we can teach the French: 'results-based' rhetoric

There is no word for "grandeur" in English. That's what we're up against over here. They have Versailles, we have Buckingham Palace. They have the Louvre, we have the National Gallery. They have the Elysée Palace, we have Downing Street. They have Christine Lagarde, we have (to cheat a bit) Vince Cable.

SocGen beats forecasts with €1.1bn profit

Société Généerale announced forecast-beating net profits of €1.1bn (£940m) for the first-quarter yesterday, helped by its investment banking division and fewer provisions on bad loans. The French banking giant said it anticipated a "sustainable rebound" this year and was "confident" that it could meet profits forecasts of €3bn for 2010.

Implicit German guarantee helps Greece raise €1.5bn from investors

The Greek rescue package passed its first test easily yesterday when the latest auction of that country's government debt was heavily oversubscribed.

Darling stakes his claim to proceeds of levy on banks

Chancellor backs calls for tax on banking assets but rejects insurance fund

Ministers to pay price for Sarkozy's woes

President likely to ask for new government to be formed after poll results

Sarkozy's cronies make song and dance of it

Political video by youth wing of President's party spawns internet spoofs

Investment banks set for bonus curb talks

Lord Myners to call in global groups to follow UK banks' lead over pay
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
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Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
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The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
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Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
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Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
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Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
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Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
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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
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
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
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
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

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, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
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?