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In annual address, the President says 'too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead'

Man of the hour? 'Genius strategist' Lynton Crosby

If the Tories want a majority at the next election, they should hurry up and sign Lynton Crosby

The Australian political strategist was a proven winner with John Howard and Boris Johnson. His politics are populist, negative and ugly - but above all effective

Amol Rajan: The man who might get the Tories back on track

This may be the week that an Australian you've probably never heard of becomes the third most powerful man in government, after David Cameron and George Osborne. So today I thought I'd tell you a bit about Lynton Crosby.

Editorial: How scared should we be of a Romney presidency?

Less than a month ago, the prospect seemed remote – but there is now a very real possibility that Mitt Romney could win the US presidency on 6 November. The intricate electoral college mathematics of the eight or nine all-important swing states still slightly favours Barack Obama. The momentum, too, could shift in the last 10 days. But as matters now stand, that momentum is unarguably with the Republican challenger, who now holds a slight lead in national polls.

Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds'

From Nazi colonel to glasnost, Waltz to star as Gorbachev in 'Reykjavik'

He won an Oscar for his portrayal of a brutal colonel in the SS, and now Christoph Waltz is heading to the other end of the political spectrum as he steps into the shoes of the former leader of the Soviet Union.

Ronald Reagan raises Specter's hand at a fund-raising party for Specter in 1980

Arlen Specter: Influential Senator for the Democrats and Republicans

Maverick" is an overworked word in the political lexicon, but it applies perfectly to Arlen Specter, a giant of the US Senate, a moderate in views if not in manner, who over his three decades on Capitol Hill career would constantly infuriate liberals and conservatives in equal measure. He began his career in public life in 1965 by running – and winning – as a registered Democrat on the Republican ticket for district attorney for the city of Philadelphia. He ended it, to all intents and purposes, in 2009 when, his Pennsylvania seat under dire threat from a far-right challenger, he switched back from the Republicans to the Democrats. This time he was less successful, losing in the Democratic primary to a challenger from the left.

The universal panning he received will have stung Mr Obama’s pride

Romney was heading for disaster – but now it's the President hanging by a thread

The universal panning he received will have stung Mr Obama's pride

The four most important televised debates in US presidential history

Televised debates have been around for more than half a century. Rarely do they alone determine an election’s result. But they can shift a campaign’s momentum and seal an impression of a candidate in voters’ minds. Here are four of the most important.

Getty Images

The greatest political showdown on earth

It's make-or-break time in the world's most important, and expensive, election. On the eve of tomorrow's televised debate between the presidential candidates (the first of three), Rupert Cornwell looks forward to a momentous month

Journalist Brian Crozier dies aged 94

Tributes have been paid to journalist and activist Brian Crozier who has died.

Stephen Foley: These banking watchdogs are off the leash and can now make a difference

Our band of outlaw regulators arrives at the right moment

Rupert Cornwell: The rust belt punishes a tactical blunder... and Barack Obama could be the real loser

The recall was meant to be a show of strength for the unions. The outcome was exactly the opposite

Ronald Reagan blood vial auction cancelled after outrage

The online auction of a vial of Ronald Reagan’s blood has been terminated following outrage from the former US President’s foundation in California.

The seller claims their mother 'did the blood work' on President Ronald Reagan

Auction site offers blood from Ronald Reagan assassination bid

Ex-President's foundation threatens legal action to prevent Guernsey firm selling grisly souvenir

Ronald Reagan's foundation objects to auction of vial of the former US president's blood

Ronald Reagan's foundation expressed outrage yesterday at a British company's auction of what it says is a vial of the late US president's blood taken at the hospital where he was treated after a 1981 assassination attempt.

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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
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
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