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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No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor