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.

Oil rig explodes off US Gulf coast

A mile-long oil sheen spread from an offshore oil platform burning in the Gulf of Mexico today.

Obama joins New Orleans to remember Katrina’s victims

Barack Obama flew in to New Orleans to promise that the federal government would continue to help the city back on to its feet, after the twin ravages of Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

American graffiti: How New Orleans' residents used spray paint to voice their feelings about Hurricane Katrina

After Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans five years ago, photographer Richard Misrach toured the city to catalogue its residents' reactions, graffitied on cars, trees – anything, in fact, that hadn't blown away

The renaissance of New Orleans

Five years after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, the Big Easy is enjoying a cultural boom thanks to an influx of creative young talent from across the US

Ain't no city like New Orleans

Music is helping to revive the fortunes of this town five years after Hurricane Katrina. Richard Holledge reports

Voices from the Storm, Compiled by Lola Vollen and Chris Ying

Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana on 29 August 2005, devastating New Orleans. The Bush administration's woefully inadequate response and the chaos that ensued revealed a hidden America – one of poverty and injustice. Lola Vollen and Chris Ying report that when Katrina hit New Orleans, 67 per cent of its population were African-American and 22 per cent were living below the poverty line.

Hurricane Katrina: The storm that shamed America

It tarnished one president's tenure, left a million people homeless and exposed the racial disharmony at the heart of US society. Five years on from Hurricane Katrina, the brutal effects are still being felt, writes Rupert Cornwell

Gulf of Mexico spill has dissipated

The oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which threatened beaches and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, has largely vanished just two weeks after the crippled BP oil well was finally capped.

Hugh Laurie to sing the blues

Hugh Laurie, better known for his acting roles in television programmes including Blackadder and House, is now turning his hand to a different trade by starting work on his debut album.

Katrina: The crime that shocked the world

On 4 September 2005, New Orleans police opened fire on desperate survivors of the hurricane. Two people were killed and others were injured. Now, five years later, and after a shameful cover-up, four men are finally about to stand trial

The mayor who vowed to end city's 'culture of death'

Three days after taking office in May, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced he was replacing the chief of the city's corrupt and widely distrusted police force. His intention, he said, was to "transform the culture of death on the streets of New Orleans into a celebration of life".

Top New Orleans restaurateur sues BP over loss of seafood

Susan Spicer, one of New Orleans's most prominent and highly regarded chefs, has sued BP for damages to restaurants that have lost normal seafood supplies because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Failing schools 'should be closed and pupils moved elsewhere'

Children in failing schools would do better if the schools were closed and their pupils moved elsewhere, research suggests.

George Webb: Pianist whose work inspired the trad-jazz boom of the 1950s

The music that the pianist George Webb played in London in 1941 with his first band, Spider Webb and His Cobs, was the first "English" New Orleans-style jazz ever played in this country.

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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

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Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

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Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

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
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

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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

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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
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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

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