News A defiant George Osborne during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons

George Osborne refused to rule out a cut in the top rate of tax from 45p to 40p today as the Conservatives and Labour clashed over the economy.

Taxing times: The politics of Ed Balls’s pledge to reintroduce the 50p rate may be sound. But the economics are not

The 50p rate simply does not bring in enough money to justify its own existence

Thai anti-government protesters march as part of their ongoing rallies in downtown Bangkok

Thailand declares state of emergency in bid to quell Bangkok protests

Bangkok and its surrounding provinces will be subject to the decree for 60 days

Ursula von der Leyen, Politician

Page 3 Profile: Ursula von der Leyen, Politician

Another female German politician?

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has said he isn't 'playing a jammie dodger' over his department's biscuit budget

Eric Pickles: ‘I didn’t spend £10,000 extra on biscuits’

Tory MP defends his department’s refreshments record

Paul Flowers was questioned my MPs over the Co-operative Bank's losses on 6 November

PMQs review: High on Flowers power, David Cameron wipes the floor with Ed

Every one of Miliband’s six questions was cut off at the knees

Jeremy Hunt has said that there is a 'clear link' between the healthcare watchdog's failure to report and pressure from Mr Burnham's department in 2009

Jeremy Hunt stands firm after Andy Burnham issues legal threat over NHS 'cover up' row

The opposition party says the Health Secretary has engaged in a baseless smear campaign against shadow minister Andy Burnham

Identity of blue-chip hackers will stay secret for a month

The names on the list reportedly include the accountants Deloitte and Simon Cowell

Downing Street denied any security breach after Prime Minister David Cameron left his official ministerial box on a train table while he was travelling to a wedding

David Cameron accused of leaving confidential ministerial red box - with key in lock - on a train wile visiting buffet car

A fellow passenger took a photo of the well-worn red box - with the key in the lock - while the PM was reportedly in the buffet car

US jobs disappointment cuts chances of Fed easing stimulus

The US economy created fewer jobs than forecast in August, dampening expectations that the Federal Reserve will start weaning the US economy off its stimulus programme this month.

Egypt: Police arrest Muslim Brotherhood chiefs Mohammed el-Beltagy and Khaled Al-Azhari

Egyptian police have arrested two top Muslim Brotherhood figures, including an outspoken former politician who has made public appeals for protests against the new military-backed government.

Tony Abbott with his Liberal Party candidate, Fiona Scott

Vote for woman with sex appeal, says Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott

Liberal leader lives up to his reputation for sexism during poll campaign

Jobs growth in the US slows

Employers across the US hired fewer than expected people last month, according to new figures that showed a slow, if steady, recovery in the labour market that is likely to factor heavily in the Federal Reserve's calculations as it considers rolling back its stimulus measures.

The former minerals minister, Ian Macdonald, allegedly passed on inside information

A multi-million-dollar mining licence, a murder suspect and a prostitute called Tiffanie: Australia rocked by inquiry into ex-ministers

Two former New South Wales Labor Party ministers facing potential criminal charges and long jail sentences

Former Labour minister Denis MacShane charged over false expenses claims for almost £13,000

Former minister is accused of faking receipts totalling £12,900

Ed Miliband faced Conservative claims of 'hypocrisy'

Tories brand Ed Miliband a 'hypocrite' over Labour donor's tax avoidance

Party helped John Mills avoid tax of up to £1.5m by accepting a £1.65m donation in the form of shares in his JML shopping channel company rather than cash

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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