News Duccini, right, at the 75th anniversary celebrations of 'The Wizard of Oz'

Ruth Duccini was the last of the original female Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. Uncredited, Duccini, who was four feet tall, played one of 124 Munchkin townspeople in the 1939 classic. There is now only one surviving Munchkin, Jerry Maren.

Ex-nurse 'entered into false suicide pact with Briton'

American befriended at least 50 other vulnerable people by posing as woman on internet chatrooms

Former nurse charged with aiding Briton's suicide

A former nurse accused of encouraging dozens of people to kill themselves was charged with aiding a British man's suicide.

Abuse case priest will not fight extradition

A Roman Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting a teenage parishioner in Minnesota has said he would willingly leave his native India and try to clear his name in the courts if the United States tried to extradite him.

Peter Graves: Actor best known as Jim Phelps in 'Mission: Impossible' and the bungling Captain in 'Airplane!'

The silver-haired actor Peter Graves had the right name for his role as the stony-faced boss of an élite American government espionage agency in the television series Mission: Impossible. As Jim Phelps, he was in charge of the Impossible Missions Force's team of skilled operatives who carried out daring, top-secret assignments.

The great 'Dubya' debate starts here

The message passing drivers take from the roadside billboard will depend largely on their political leanings.

Americans redraw the map to erase 'offensive' names

California says goodbye to Negrohead mountain, but Intercourse, Pennsylvania survives – for now

Owl City, Komedia, Brighton

A sugar shock of schmaltz

The Lindsey Vonn phenomenon

America's sweetheart has taken Vancouver by storm – the legion of fans in her 'Vonntourage' have even renamed the Games in her honour. As the skier resumes her medal charge, James Lawton tells the remarkable story of her journey to the top

Report: Jaycee kidnap suspect improperly supervised

A state report released yesterday blasts corrections officials for missing chances to catch the sex offender accused of holding Jaycee Dugard captive in his backyard for 18 years.

Pilots who flew 150 miles past airport were using laptops

Two pilots who allowed their passenger jet to overshoot its destination by 150 miles last week have told investigators that they lost concentration because they were using their laptop computers in the cockpit.

Keanu Reeves - An A-list slacker grows up

His next role sees him playing the toy-boy next door. But is Keanu Reeves really the guitar-strumming, eternal teenager of popular repute? Kaleem Aftab finds out

Mother flees with son to elude treatment order





Police across the United States were on the look-out today for a mother and son who had fled their home in southern Minnesota to elude court-ordered chemotherapy for the boy, who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons From the Wild, By Mark Rowlands

The United States once pursued a policy of eradicating its wolves; shooting, poisoning and trapping them until there were almost no free wild wolves in the country, says Mark Rowlands. However, with the policy now abolished, they are again roaming through parts of Wyoming, Montana and Minnesota. They are also prowling in abundance through the pages of literature, in the strikingly vivid Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow and Joseph Smith's hauntingly beautiful debut, The Wolf.

Symbionese terrorist comrade of Patty Hearst to be released

After 25 years on the run and seven years in jail Sara Jane Olson set to walk free

Minnesota Orchestra/Vanska, Barbican Hall, London

Osmo Vanska is clearly a very good thing for Minnesota. You can sense when an orchestra is raising its game, pushing its boundaries, and playing to the limit of its possibilities. That was the feeling here: a decent orchestra made to sound a whole lot better by the sheer dynamism and musicality of its music director. I'll wager Minnesota will be a very different orchestra by the end of Vanska's existing contract in two years' time.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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