Sport Seattle, led by Russell Wilson, are favourites to win next month's Super Bowl

For devotees of the NFL, this is as good as it gets – the divisional round of the play-offs, four games pitting the regular season’s finest against four challengers already battle-hardened by victory in last weekend’s ever-treacherous wild-card round. And in 2014 there’s an extra twist: the prospect that one of the longest, most painful droughts in US sport might be near an end.

Woods refuses to have hang up with AT&T

Perhaps this really is a new Tiger Woods. Not only did the world No 1 break the habit of a career yesterday and commit to two events weeks before their entries deadline, but one of the sponsors of those tournaments dropped him in the wake of his sex scandal.

Trail of the unexpected: Street art in Pennsylvania

Chris Coplans takes a tour of the striking murals that are transforming this vibrant city

Album: Dr Dog, Shame, Shame (Anti)

This Philadelphia band's loyal followers have always claimed that, studio-wise, their best is yet to come.

Americans get a kick out of facing England

As the World Cup approaches, the start of the Major League Soccer season has ushered in a crucial year Stateside. Simon Hart reports

Oprah Winfrey settles defamation lawsuit

Oprah Winfrey settled a defamation lawsuit filed by a headmistress she accused of performing poorly at her South African girls school, where some students claimed they were abused, lawyers said.

'Jihad Jane' denies terror charges

A Pennsylvania woman who called herself "Jihad Jane" pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to kill in a foreign country.

America confronts its worst nightmare: blonde 'Jihad Jane'

White terrorist suspect never gave any clue of pro-Muslim sympathies

'Jihad Jane' held in plot to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks

An indictment against a woman from suburban Philadelphia accused of recruiting jihadist fighters online and moving to Europe to try to kill a Swedish artist is a rare case of an American woman aiding foreign terrorists, authorities say, and shows the evolution of the threat of terrorism.

Album: Peter Gabriel, Scratch My Back (Virgin/Real World)

The covers album as we know it dates back to 1973, when David Bowie's Pin Ups and Bryan Ferry's These Foolish Things were released.

Val Avery: Character actor best known for his work with John Cassavetes

Val Avery, a versatile character actor with a bulky persona and craggy, pock-marked features, played in over 100 films and 200 television shows in a career that spanned 50 years.

Todd Rundgren, Hammersmith Apollo, London

To a certain generation of former furry freaks, now bald retro-rockers, Todd Rundgren inspires fierce devotion. The American eccentric's success as a producer, supervising sessions for the Ramones, Meat Loaf, etc, gave him financial independence. Hence, if he wanted to make something as off-kilter as A Wizard, A True Star, a concept album with no concept, he could. Now he's touring the LP for the first time – 37 years late. Rundgren may be an oddball, but there are 3,500 elders here who see him as a True Star. And they have a point.

Teddy Pendergrass: Philadelphia soul singer who had hits with 'If You Don't Know Me by Now' and 'Close the Door'

At his best, Teddy Pendergrass was an unsurpassable soul singer and such performances as "If You Don't Know Me by Now", "Don't Leave Me This Way" (both made with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes), "Close the Door" and "Love T.K.O." will endure as long as records are made. Unfortunately, he often recorded mediocre material and spent too much time cultivating his "ladies only" repertoire.

R&B love crooner Teddy Pendergrass dead at 59

Teddy Pendergrass, the seductive American rhythm-and-blues singer who continued his recording career after he was paralyzed in a 1982 car accident, has died at the age of 59, media reports said today.

NBA All Star suspended for gun incident

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended without pay by NBA commissioner David Stern on Wednesday for behavior that made him "not currently fit to take the court."

Blizzard-like storm slams US East Coast

A blizzard-like storm rocked the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US states on yesterday, crippling travel across the region and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
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people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
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Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
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Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
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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
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?