Arts and Entertainment What a racket: Conor Woodman in 'Scam City'

It's not just that the National Geographic documentary series Scam City is a pointless programme, it's that it's also a uniquely irritating one. Whereas most consumer watchdogs investigate scams at the instigation of aggrieved parties, in Scam City presenter Conor Woodman, travels the world looking for trouble and – what's more pitiful – often fails to find it.

American Football: Mardi Gras in Miami as Saints win first Super Bowl



The New Orleans Saints completed their long-awaited transformation from chumps to champions by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl to claim their first NFL title.

American Football: A local boy out to end New Orleans' dream run

Rupert Cornwell on Peyton Manning, the Colts quarterback hoping to upset the folks back home in Sunday's Super Bowl

The Princess and the Frog (u)

This is a risk for Disney, returning to hand-drawn animation, to old-fashioned musical and to even older-fashioned fairy tale.

American Football: Bush puts New Orleans on brink of Super Bowl

Reggie Bush contributed two touchdowns and more than 200 yards as the New Orleans Saints brushed aside the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Saturday 45-14 to reach the NFC Conference Championship game.

American Football: Saints hope 'Breesus' can bring deliverance to New Orleans

Four years on from Hurricane Katrina, the city is counting on a star quarterback to inspire their NFL team to their first ever Super Bowl

Frantic search for survivors begins after El Salvador floods

130 dead and 7,000 living in shelters as storm heads towards US coast

Hurricane Ida aims for Gulf of Mexico oil fields

Hurricane Ida roared through the Gulf of Mexico yesterday, where important oil fields are located, after triggering floods and mudslides that killed 124 people in El Salvador.

Mississippi turning: A river with a life of its own

It is a river with a life of its own and attempts to domesticate it for the good of industry have so far failed. Now, says Daniel Howden, the stakes are higher than ever

Judge blocks mixed-race marriage, then says I'm not racist

Calls for US official to be removed from office after he tells couple their offspring would be shunned by both communities

My life after death row, by man cleared of murder

The twentieth of May 1999 is a date that will haunt John Thompson forever. It was the day he was going to die. Convicted in 1985 of first degree murder and an attempted carjacking three weeks later, the father-of-two from New Orleans was 24 when he arrived on death row in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Over the course of his incarceration seven execution dates came and went, and as the final sweltering Deep South summer of the millennium approached he believed it would he his last.

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, By Rebecca Wells

There's a bit of a vogue for these six/seven-word titles in upmarket women's fiction right now, a fashion which Rebecca Wells might have begun with The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Targeting intelligent women who want something relaxing to read without feeling they're being patronised, Wells's novels have the right mix of love and pain, told in a sparky yet sympathetic voice.

Observations: New play aims to take audiences on a journey through the heart of New Orleans

It is 40 degrees in New Orleans and the air is like steam. The young woman dodging debris on what was once her street is on the brink of tears. "How can it be?" she gulps. "Supposedly the richest country in the world, where we can be in Sri Lanka after the tsunami in less than 48 hours, yet the government could not make it to New Orleans in a week?" Her question encapsulates the tragedy of the city, while its implications have yet to register with those in power.

Album: JD Souther, If The World Was You (Slow Curve)

This is one-time Cocaine Cowboy (see Barney Hoskyns' book Hotel California) and Eagles-associate Souther's first album in 30 years and if he looks a little battered on the cover, that mournful, semi-yodel catch in the voice sounds as good as it did on Black Rose, his semi-masterpiece from 1976. The opener, "I'll Be Here at Closing Time", is a song so miraculously simple that it's hard to get beyond it. When you do, there are jazzy horn arrangements, Louisiana shuffles, and more of that world-weary voice.

Snooks Eaglin: New Orleans guitarist and singer known as 'the human jukebox'

The New Orleans guitarist and singer Snooks Eaglin displayed a breathtaking dexterity, combined with an amazing ability to remember over 2,000 tunes that earned him the nickname "the human jukebox". This endeared him both to local audiences in the Crescent City and to many of the rock musicians visiting the area; Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Bonnie Raitt and Robert Plant admired his inimitable playing style and sought him out.

Republicans turn to a new boy wonder in reply to Obama

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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'