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.

Album: The Iguanas, If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times, (Yep Roc)

Another post-Katrina New Orleans record. Yes, but it's a good one. The Iguanas are impossible to nail.

Paperbacks: Passage, by John David Morley

This sweeping but pacey "palimpsest" of a novel wraps up the past of an entire hemisphere in one mesmerising voice.

New Orleans prepares for mass return after Gustav

Workers mopped up New Orleans after Hurricane Gustav and officials told residents they could come home on Thursday to a darkened city still struggling to restore power and basic services.

Fred Crane: Actor in 'Gone with the Wind'

Fred Crane has a part in cinema history for playing Brent Tarleton, one of the red-headed twins who woo Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). Crane utters the first words of the classic movie, still considered by many to be Hollywood's finest drama.

Hurricane weakens as it nears New Orleans

Hurricane Gustav weakened slightly to a Category 2 storm as it headed towards New Orleans today, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

The eye of the storm : Leaving New Orleans is not an easy choice

In the wee hours of yesterday morning, as we looked at computer models that put Hurricane Gustav closer and closer to New Orleans, my husband and I finally made the firm decision to leave the city. To go or not to go was not an easy choice because the act of leaving is sheer physical and emotional torture.

Theatrical turn from the heroic lead

If Hurricane Gustav is turning into a real-life version of a Hollywood disaster movie then Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, has cast himself firmly in the role of heroic lead male.

Braced for disaster: the city that fears the worst – again

Those who ignored warnings to flee are under lockdown as they await 'the mother of all storms'

New Orleans evacuated as "storm of the century" rolls in

Residents were ordered to flee an only partially rebuilt New Orleans today as another monster storm bore down on Louisiana nearly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina wiped out entire swathes of the city.

New Orleans braces itself for category five Hurricane Gustav

Strengthening storm heads for a city still recovering from the devastation of Katrina exactly three years ago

How we forgot the city of jazz and jambalaya

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the world’s media has lost sight of the ongoing misery in New Orleans. Richard Holledge picks up the story

Album: Irma Thomas, Simply Grand (Decca/Rounder)

The punning album title – this collection of songs pairs the Soul Queen of New Orleans with a series of solo piano accompanists – implies both the strengths and occasional weaknesses of Irma Thomas's voice. A powerful and authoritative instrument, it has undeniable grandeur on the best tracks, such as John Fogerty's "River Is Waiting", but sometimes it's too statuesque to animate the material, as on the ill-fitting new Bacharach composition "What Can I Do". Such failures are rare here, particularly when Thomas is supported by hometown pianists such as Dr John, Henry Butler and Tom McDermott, and her control of expression in the service of emotion is best demonstrated alongside Randy Newman, bringing a regal dignity to "I Think It's Going To Rain Today".

Album: Various Artists, The Essential Guide to New Orleans (Union Square)

Retailing for well under a tenner, this has to be the bargain of the year: a three-CD set doing exactly what it says on the sleeve, tracking the development of America's most fertile music city, from the hot jazz of Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, through the classic rock and R&B of the Fifties and Sixties, to the swamp-funk that has defined New Orleans' subsequent output.

Allen Toussaint, Roundhouse, London

Allen Toussaint talks of his sporadic, unbought solo work and the royalties from the hits he's created for others with equal affection.

Paperbacks: The Tin Roof Blowdown, by James Lee Burke

When Hurricane Katrina struck Burke's New Orleans patch, it was fated that the social disaster in its wake would breed a Dave Robicheaux mystery.

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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
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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