News Council tax set to rise by as much as five per cent

The amount paid by households towards the cost of policing looks set to rise by up to five per cent this year as the Government faces a potential show down with its flagship Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who are demanding above inflation increases in council tax to combat swingeing budget cuts.

On the floor: Houston's 30 licensed strip clubs will have to levy the fee

Strip joint patrons face $5 'pole tax'

Houston levies door fee to pay for the speedier analysis of rape case evidence

David Cameron confronted on visit to flood-hit Todmorden

Prime Minister David Cameron was confronted by a member of the public today as he visited one of the towns affected by the recent devastating floods.

Margaret Hodge: Public Accounts Committee chairman says the controls are not strict enough

Public bodies accused of abusing credit cards

Tougher checks to prevent fraud and abuse when public servants buy goods and services with special purchasing cards have been demanded by spending watchdogs.

Disabled man loses care cost appeal

Judges at the UK's highest court have dismissed a profoundly disabled man's appeal over his care package.

STIs: Diagnoses of increasingly antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea infections rise by 'unprecedented' 25 per cent

The number of diagnoses of the sexual transmitted infection gonorrhoea has increased by an “unprecedented” 25 per cent in the past year, the Health Protection Agency has revealed.

Parking tickets issued every 4.6 seconds

Local councils handed out an increased number of parking tickets last year despite cutting back on traffic wardens.

Chen's brother flees from home

Chen Guangcheng's brother has fled his closely guarded village in eastern China to seek legal advice in Beijing, his lawyer said.

EuroVegas complex plan spawns protest despite jobs boost

It sounds almost too good to be true: at a time when one in four Spaniards are out of work, for the last few months US casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson has been weighing up whether to build a $21bn (£13.3bn) tourist-cum-gambling resort, being dubbed EuroVegas, outside Madrid or Barcelona. And the chosen city may feel it has hit the jackpot: EuroVegas, it is said, will create up to 250,000 jobs.

Adoptees 'wait 20 months' for home

Children in care in England are forced to wait an average of 20 months to move in with adoptive parents, according to new figures.

The Queen's Speech: More rights for divorced fathers

Fathers look set to be given additional rights to see their children after family break-up or divorce, as long as it is in the child's best interests, under reforms set out in the Queen's Speech.

Thousands march in Tokyo as last atomic plant shuts

Activists celebrate as Japan is nuclear-free for first time in 42 years

Ken Livingstone on his way to hear the election results

Livingstone bows out. But can we believe him?

He has broken promises before. Ken Livingstone once said that being Mayor of London would be his last political job, before he made running for the office a long-term occupation.

Higher pay for academy heads

The average salary for a headteacher at an academy is £6,000 higher than that of a head at a local authority school, the Department for Education has revealed.

Simon Kelner: Local papers are the lifeblood of communities

My first job in journalism was as a trainee reporter in Neath in South Wales. Every Wednesday, when the paper was published, I couldn't walk down the main street without being stopped every few paces by someone eager to discuss – or, more likely, to take issue with – something in that day's paper.

The National Front is staging a comeback amid a rising tide of Islamophobia

National Front aims to revive 70s 'glory days'

In the febrile politics of the 1970s the National Front (NF) ruthlessly exploited working-class fears over immigration to create a far-right threat unseen in Britain since Sir Oswald Mosley.

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Barn owls are among species that could be affected
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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
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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'
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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
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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