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

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
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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
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas