News New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie visited Florida this weekend, on a trip likely intended to boost his profile as a potential presidential candidate. Instead, the scandal-plagued Republican arrived in the Sunshine State under a cloud. On Saturday Dawn Zimmer, the Democrat mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, claimed in a television interview that two of Christie’s close aides had threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds from her city if she continued to oppose a major property development plan backed by the Governor.

Trainer Willie Mullins and rider Paul Townend put the finishing touches to Hurricane Fly’s preparations at Cheltenham yesterday

Take Hurricane to lead Mullins one-two

After he teed up a record 13 winners in 2011, the Irish once again send their best National Hunt performer of recent seasons to lead the assault on the opening day of the Festival. Hurricane Fly appealed as a good bet for the Stan James Champion Hurdle last year; and, for any who heeded the counsel of his jockey, he briefly became good value when eased in the betting on account of a delayed reappearance. After that breathtaking resumption at Leopardstown in January, however, he is a short price to retain his crown today. Anyone having a bet must either be comfortable with those odds, then, or seek out some each-way value.

Small blessings: Look out for the tiny buds of spring

Spring’s big-hitters are around the corner. For now, it’s the turn of the mini marvels

UK enjoys unseasonably mild weather

The recent cold snap was a distant memory for parts of England today as temperatures reached more than 18C.

Beazley upbeat despite profit dive

Profits tumbled at the Lloyd's of London insurer Beazley last year, but its chief executive Andrew Horton still reckons it was a "strong performance in the worst year on record for insured natural catastrophes".

Grands Crus is unbeaten in three starts over fences this season

Grands Crus to test Gold Cup terrain on Festival trials day

On the day when British horseracing measured its resilience against recession, publishing record attendances in 2011, racegoers were given every incentive to get the turnstiles clicking again at Cheltenham on Saturday. Entries made yesterday for the Festival trials card appear to guarantee at least one new favourite for the real thing, in March, with the three horses sharing the top of the JCB Triumph Hurdle market all lined up for a dress rehearsal. Even so, no race will be more instructive than the Argento Chase, perhaps the last opportunity to prevent the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup becoming another straight duel between Kauto Star and Long Run.

Album: Portico Quartet, Portico Quartet (Real World)

Following the excellent Isla and the replacement of their hang-player (looks like a wok, sounds like a steel drum) by keyboardist and new hang-man Keir Vine, Portico move even further away from conventional notions of jazz into full-on Ravey Davey Gravy-land.

City of the Dead, By Sara Gran

A damp squib down on the bayou

Album: Spotlight Kid, Disaster Tourist (Tri-Tone/PIAS)

If you're going to name your band after a Captain Beefheart album, you'd better make sure you're pretty damn good - or pretty damn weird, at least.

UN predicts more rainfall and heatwaves

Heatwaves will be longer, hotter and occur more often, and rainfall will be heavier during the 21st century because of global warming, a new UN report on climatic "extreme events" said yesterday.

Mark Leftly: Weak coalition ducks decision on bank reform

What neither advocates of banking reforms nor those that oppose them wanted, or needed, was for the detail of the next regulatory framework to be uncertain.

Louisiana prepares for 20 inches of rain as Lee storms in

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Lee were falling in southern Louisiana and pelting the US Gulf Coast yesterday as the storm's centre trudged slowly towards land, where businesses were already beginning to suffer on what would normally be a bustling holiday weekend. With floods from the storms of last weekend's Hurricane Irene still evident in New England, Lee could bring up to 20 inches of rain to some areas.

100,000 flee as storm reaches Chinese coast

More than 100,000 people have been evacuated and hundreds have had their homes destroyed after Tropical Storm Nanmadol reached land in China early yesterday. Water surged past tidal barriers to bring the Qiantang River in Zhejiang province to its highest level in 10 years.

UK has its coolest summer since 1993

This summer has been the UK's coolest since 1993, provisional Met Office figures indicate.

Christina Patterson: Let's keep 'faith' out of politics

People who are keen to bring faith groups into politics are often the ones who don't know all that much about faith

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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