News

PM will be questioned by MPs and peers over UK relationship with US following the intelligence revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden

Forces left unable to launch ‘major’ missions overseas

Cameron axes 42,000 defence jobs including 25,000 at MoD as only 30,000 troops can be deployed in foreign operations. Savings total £3bn, but £3.6bn is written off by scrapping Nimrods

Clinton warns UK defence cuts may undermine Nato

US warns 'alliance must be maintained' as Government plan to hit RAF hardest

Obama loses the man McChrystal called a clown

President Barack Obama performed one more awkward hello-goodbye ritual at the White House last night when he confirmed that General James Jones, who had been his National Security Advisor since the start of his tenure, was clearing his desk.

Rahm Emanuel leading exodus of Obama aides from White House

The likely departure of the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, to run for Mayor of Chicago is part of a half-term reshuffle of top aides that will signal a new chapter in the history of Barack Obama's increasingly embattled presidency.

Karzai was 'diagnosed with manic depression', new book on war claims

President Obama's distrust for Afghan President and his agonising search for a way out are revealed by Bob Woodward

Republicans block repeal of 'Don't ask, Don't tell' policy

With the usual procedural stymieing and partisan politicking, the US Congress showed off its talent for inaction last night by failing to pass legislation to repeal the law that bars gays from serving openly in the military even though both the president and Pentagon leaders have voiced support for it.

Leading article: A small step back from mayhem

It is a measure of the interconnected nature of the world that a decision by a small-time Florida pastor could be met with relief around the globe. Terry Jones suspended his plan for a Koran-burning to mark today's anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 in response to a report, not subsequently confirmed, that the controversial Islamic Centre would be moved from its intended site near Ground Zero.

Suicide bomber kills five Afghan police and one civilian

A suicide bomber perched on the back of a motorcycle killed five Afghan policemen and one civilian in the increasingly violent northern province of Kunduz today.

Leading article: Only the start of the battle

One can only wish Robert Gates well in his latest effort to bring America's military spending under control. If they are approved by Congress – a very big if – the cuts the US Defence Secretary is outlining, notably the elimination of an entire military command and a thinning of the Pentagon's bloated parallel army of private contractors, will save around $20bn annually over the next five years. Set against the current defence budget of some $700bn a year, the reduction is less than breathtaking. But it is a step in the right direction.

Gates faces political battle over defence cuts

Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, faces a fierce political battle after announcing cuts in America's military spending of $100bn over the next five years, at the cost of thousands of outsourced civilian contracting jobs, and the elimination of an entire military command.

Rupert Cornwell: Does America need so many spooks?

I left town earlier this month for a holiday with the headlines full of one spy scandal. I returned this week to be greeted by another. The first of course was the uncovering of a network of Russian "illegals", operating in the US under deep cover as innocuous suburbanites, tasked to scoop up secrets for Moscow Centre. In reality they seem to have scooped up next to nothing, but no matter. It was a splendid tale, redolent of a simpler Cold War age.

It's fun to kill in Afghanistan, says top US commander

The US military, still recovering from the shock of the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, its top commander in Afghanistan – is facing fresh problems over revelations that another top commander declared that it was "fun to shoot people" in Afghanistan.

Petraeus: exit strategy is not a rushed withdrawal

General David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that Nato faces an "industrial strength insurgency" in Afghanistan and indicated that as the next top commander there he would consider "certain tweaks, refinements, perhaps significant changes" to get to the point where a withdrawal of US forces can begin.

Rupert Cornwell: President's message to allies, enemies and Pentagon brass

It is one thing to hold an uninhibited discussion in private. It is quite another for the argument to rage in public

Cameron offers cash – but not troops – to help fight the Taliban

David Cameron offered extra funds to combat roadside bombs taking a relentless toll on British lives during his first visit to Afghanistan as Prime Minister yesterday, but ruled out sending any extra troops to help turn the tide of the war against the Taliban.

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Day In a Page

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