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.

105,591 ice hockey fans see Toronto Maple Leafs beat Detroit Red Wings in 2014 NHL Winter Classic

The open air Michigan Stadium was packed for the New Year's Day game, despite the conditions

Cold weather lifts H&M sales as retailer beats expectations

H&M, the Swedish fashion group and world’s second-biggest clothing retailer, beat expectations as it saw sales jump 21 per cent across its 3132 stores.

Ded Moroz (Father Frost) meets children in Moscow. The Russian equivalent of Father Christmas has been banned from state TV in Tajikistan

Father Christmas outlawed by Tajikistan TV

The country has banned Father Frost - the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas - from appearing on state TV as the character 'bears no relation to national traditions'

Fifth of spending online as the net really starts to click with customers

Nearly one in every five pounds spent on shopping in the UK is done online – the highest level recorded, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Rash headlines : Met Office denies predicting three months of exceptionally cold weather amid reports of Britain's 'coldest winter ever'

A number of newspapers this morning published articles warning of a 'killer three month freeze' that is expected to hit Britain in days

UK weather: Met Office issues severe weather warnings as ice, wind and snow sweep across Britain

Forecasters says cold snap will settle in for the next two weeks and warned of transport disruption

Cold weather brings warning of rise in dodgy plumbers

The number of callouts for boiler-related problems increased by 72 per cent from the first week of September to the first week of October, the AA reported this week.

Risk of electricity shortages could be 'highest in ten years' this winter

UK faces winter power rationing as risk of blackouts rises

Industrial users of electricity would be first to face usage restrictions

David Frost interviews Gael Garcia Bernal

Sir David Frost's final screen interview: Gael García Bernal lured into Arsenal admission

Bernal also quizzed on Che Guevara's legacy and the war on drugs

The Wasp Factory at the Linbury Theatre

Opera review: The Wasp Factory

A mind-numbingly pretentious 75 minutes

The Northampton clown spotted with some balloons

Northampton Clown sells merchandise to fund travel around the UK

Anonymous performer teams up with London printmakers to create branded T shirts and bags

How to get the look: Cape coats

Capes! I'll be swooshing around as if I'm on stage at the Globe all winter then.

Rare feat as online sales tumble at Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley managed to achieve a rare feat for the High Street today, recording a fall in online sales.

RIP David Frost: 'The Frostie I remember was mischievously funny, and he knew it'

The Independent's political correspondent James Cusick worked with David Frost on 'Frost on Sunday' in the late 80s. Here he remembers a remarkable man

Front Crawl: Frost, Pegg and Considine battle middle-age melancholia ... and killer robots

Jonathan Romney on The World's End: Invasion of the lager snatchers

Pegg, Frost and Wright end their 'Cornetto' trilogy with a clever, touching comedy

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Day In a Page

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
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