News A pedestrian makes their way along a snow packed street in Indianapolis

Much of the United States is currently in the grip of a polar vortex, a system of dense air producing plummeting temperatures and swathes of freezing weather, bringing some parts of the country to a halt and causing chaos in others.

Canada vows to defend Santa Claus from Russian troops as row over territory escalates

Vladimir Putin told a defence ministry meeting that he wished to see the military bolster its presence in the territory

Olympic Sochi 2014 Winter Games torch makes history in first spacewalk

Flight engineers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy left their base at the International Space Station today carrying the torch

2014 Sochi Olympic torch relay blasts off to space for historic walk

Unlit torch will tour International Space Station before being taken on its first ever trip outside the base

Greenpeace activists hold a banner in front of the Gazprom office in Paris

‘Only drug on Greenpeace ship was medical morphine’: Wives of two men held in Russia claim innocent husbands are being kept in inhumane conditions

The men’s relatives describe the conditions in the prison as worse than the North Pole

Hill and Dale: The lofty view from Errington

Tales from the Trees: Errington Wood, North Yorks - Take to the high ground for a look back over the millennia

Even before you've consulted the car park signs, you just know this hump-backed wood heaves with history. There's something about its location that speaks of ancient concerns: positioning, clear lines of vision, the importance of higher ground. Then, as my wife dons a pack and I lift my son on to my shoulders, we pass information boards that confirm it. Stone Age man quarried here; by the Bronze Age, it had been re-imagined as a resting spot for chieftains. One look around and you understand why.

Ben Saunders, explorer
Parker Liautaud outside the Antarctic chamber, where the temperature is -25C

-25C on the Thames? Young explorer Parker Liautaud lives in pop-up South Pole to prepare for trip

The explorer and climate change campaigner Parker Liautaud puts most other 19-year-olds to shame.

InRealLife gives a perverse account of how digital technologies are changing the lives of teenagers

Establishment figures still fail to portray the Internet in a balanced light

Increasingly unusual weather patterns in recent years have led climate scientists and meteorologists to hold a meeting about concerns over climate change

Stand by for another DECADE of wet summers, say Met Office meteorologists

Climate change may be intensifying the natural cycle and may prolong it, says expert, but it is too early to say

Sterling's silver lining

The chances of incoming Bank of England Governor Mark Carney finding a triple-dip recession in his in-tray this summer could fall on Tuesday as manufacturers attempt to bounce back from a January slump.

Arctic ice-melt will bring frosty relations as nations navigate across North Pole

The loss if sea ice in the Arctic will allow ships to navigate freely across the North Pole by the middle of the century and could lead to unprecedented geo-political tensions between countries that have territorial claims in the region, scientists said.

Builders lighten UK economic gloom

The UK's post-Olympic hangover is likely to be less painful than first feared this week, as the latest figures on the economy's performance at the end of 2012 gives some respite for the Chancellor.

Editorial: We must not talk ourselves into a 'triple dip'

Yesterday's keenly awaited GDP figures allowed the doom-mongers to forecast that the UK was headed for a "triple-dip" recession, if we were not in one already. The Chancellor, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, professed himself disappointed with the news, even as he vowed to press on with Plan A.

MPs attack Government 'hypocrisy' over refusal to ban Arctic drilling

An influential cross-party committee of MPs accused the Government of environmental hypocrisy for refusing to push for a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic.

A cosmic collision: Two satellites due to smash into surface of the moon… but don't worry, it was all planned by Nasa

NASA has deliberately guided the twin satellites into a cliff close to the moon’s northern pole

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage