News Pope Francis appears to have been captured on video performing an exorcism in St Peter’s Square

The diocese in Italy is training priests to meet increasing demand for exorcisms

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D (12A)

Starring: Nicolas Cage

The Dreyfus Affair, By Piers Paul Read

Anne Sinclair recently compared her husband, Dominic Strauss-Kahn, to Alfred Dreyfus as victims of injustice. This absurdity at least confirms the centrality of Dreyfus in the French public memory, over 100 years on. The verdict against him was disgraceful. An army officer, he was accused of espionage, on the basis of forged documents and scraps of waste paper from the German embassy. He was court-martialled and sentenced at a show trial staged by the French army. The very absence of evidence was taken as confirming the guilt of this modern Judas.

Rushdie described what had happened as a 'black farce' and blamed politicians

Rushdie hits out at extremists after video link is cut

India's reputation for upholding free speech suffered a blow yesterday when a video appearance by Salman Rushdie at a literary festival was cancelled just minutes before it was due to start, amid protests and fears of violence.

Rushdie described what had happened as a 'black farce' and blamed politicians

Satanic Verses, part 2: Rushdie falls victim to Indian politics

Was the author really at risk of attack at the Jaipur literary festival, or was he absent for a more cynical reason?

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Those out to murder Rushdie will never learn

On Wednesday, I was drinking Indian chai with the writer William Dalrymple at his beautiful farmhouse outside Delhi. I was interviewing him for a book I am writing on England and the East. He is well settled out there and rightly admired for his magnificent books on India and for starting the Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF), now the equivalent of Cannes for writers and celebs.

Pair 'accused girl of witchcraft'

A couple on trial for murdering a 15-year-old because they thought he was a sorcerer previously accused a young woman of practising witchcraft, the Old Bailey heard today.

Teenager 'murdered for practising witchcraft', court hears

A British Congolese couple tortured a teenage boy to death on Christmas Day because they believed he was practising witchcraft in a “staggering act of depravity and cruelty”, a court heard today.

Lady Gaga left 'blood' in hotel bath

Lady Gaga allegedly left "large amounts of blood" in a hotel bath. 

By the 1920s, toasts were being written for every event from christening to funeral

To health, prosperity and settled hearts! Raising a glass to the hearty toast

Fans of A Christmas Carol will recall that the story ends with a slap-up dinner at the Cratchit household, a half-circle around the hearth and the salutation: "God bless us every one!" from the crippled-but-plucky Tiny Tim. Modern-day parishioners of the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, know that his usual Christmas card salutation is "Health, prosperity and settled hearts." In Scotland, every household on New Year's Eve promises to "take a cup of kindness yet" in memory of long ago.

Album: Ry Cooder, Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down (Nonesuch)

Since the mighty Chavez Ravine, Ry Cooder's albums have struggled to reach equivalent heights, as if their themes – and with Cooder, there is always some over-arching theme – just didn't provide the fire-power required.

Last Night's TV: The Pendle Witch Child/BBC4<br />Who Do You Think You Are?/BBC1

As hills go, Pendle, in Lancashire, surely punches above its weight when it comes to looming. A long un-risen loaf of moorland, it isn't particularly high or particularly distinctive in shape. And yet it has an undeniably foreboding presence in the landscape, accentuated on screen by the fact that it's very rarely depicted without a heavily filtered sky. They got so carried away with the effect in The Pendle Witch Child, in fact, that there were times when it looked as if it was wearing a black cap of overcast – not inappropriate given the fact that quite a few of the film's subjects ended up dangling from the end of a rope.

David Prosser: Standard &amp; Poor's is still feeling the heat

Outlook There is confusion over exactly what the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating in relation to the downgrading of the US by credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's (and no one will say on the record). Some reportssuggest the SEC is conducting an insider dealing inquiry. Others think the regulator is looking into the decision itself.

Rural panic sets in over 'grease devils'

Panic over night-time assaults blamed on "grease devils" has gripped rural Sri Lanka, leading to the deaths of at least three people this week, prompting women to stay indoors and men to arm themselves, police and local media said.

The Devil Walks, By Anne Fine

A malevolent manikin casts a spell

Album: Transglobal Underground, The Stone Turntable (Mule Satellite)

Once again London's original global fusionists have come up with a dizzyingly diverse bunch of tunes.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
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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
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

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
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas