News America’s rise and fall: Occupy Wall Street protesers march through New York City in 2011

Individual debts collectively worth millions are abolished for just $400,000

'I will never give up', says missing Claudia's father

The father of missing chef Claudia Lawrence said the new year will bring no let up in his campaign to find his daughter, adding: "I will never give this up."

Talent 2010: The film-maker, Zeina Durra

Usually, British directors will wait until they've made a movie or two before trying to crack America. But Londoner Zeina Durra is cut from a different cloth. The New York University Graduate Film Program alumnus has been rewarded for making her debut film, The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, across the pond with a place in the coveted US Dramatic Competition at Sundance, which has been the launch-pad for the Coen brothers, Todd Haynes and Todd Solondz.

Andrew Martin: Here we go again. Now surprise me...

I like the rituals of the season. Up to a point...

Bernard Birnbaum: Television producer

Bernard Birnbaum, who died on 26 November aged 89, was a CBS News producer who helped shape the American public's view of issues ranging from poverty to the Watergate scandal while working alongside Walter Cronkite and Charles Kuralt. His CBS career won him seven Emmy Awards and took him to places ranging from Vietnam to small-town America.

Christina Patterson: Why negative thinking makes the world better

Who started the Iraq war? A man who picked out a rug to reflect his 'optimism'

Astor's son guilty of stealing her £125m fortune

The son of Brooke Astor, the late socialite and doyenne of the New York arts who died in 2007 aged 105, was found guilty by a Manhattan jury yesterday of taking advantage of her declining faculties to plunder her almost $200m (£125m) fortune.

Prophets of doom see new bubbles

Two of the world's most influential investment gurus warned yesterday that financial markets were turning into "bubbles".

Student finance: 'Just smile and enjoy it'

Advice from fellow students can help to relieve the anxiety of your first week at university, says Charlotte Bailey

Letters: Chinese civilisation

Judge China by our standards? We have none

Harold Norse: Last of the major Beat poets whose idiomatic works became landmarks of gay writing

As one reviewer of Harold Norse's Carnivorous Saint: Gay Poems 1941-1976 put it, "he was beat before the Beats, hip before the hippies, and out of the closet long before gay liberation."

Rupert Cornwell: Go on, take a trip to the Cockroach Hall of Fame

Out of America: Some are majestic, others weird, but halls of fame in the US are a great excuse to get off the freeway

Today Norwich, tomorrow the world for rising star of Tories

Fears that 27-year-old set for by-election win will be promoted too fast by Cameron

Frank McCourt: Late-flowering writer whose book 'Angela's Ashes' set in train the genre of 'misery memoirs'

To sell four million copies of a memoir which might usefully have carried the health warning: "Can induce nausea", is some achievement. But that's what Frank McCourt did with Angela's Ashes, his account, published in 1996, of an utterly miserable childhood survived in Catholic Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s.

Frank McCourt, author of 'Angela's Ashes', dies

Irish writer won the Pulitzer Prize – and millions of fans

Missing chef - appeal to trace bus passenger

Detectives searching for missing chef Claudia Lawrence today released images of a man they want to talk to who was seen getting on a bus near her home.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning