News Allan Umscheid, owner of Yards By Al in Lawrence, Kan, feels the bitter wind and catches drifting snow on his face as he runs a snow blower early morning

With Arctic winds plummeting temperatures to  -50C, much of North America has shut down as authorities warn of the life-threatening freeze

Obituary: Claude Manceron

AT SCHOOL, I could never believe what I read in my very tedious, pictureless history textbooks, until my interest was awakened in fourth form French by one of our "set books", Jules Michelet's 19th- century life of Louis IX (Saint Louis) whose adventurous and admirable life (1215-70) culminated in canonisation by Pope Boniface VIII. I believed every word of it. Part of my fascination sprang from the initial difficulties I experienced in reading the text, then from my gradual realisation that I was not just understanding it, but also enjoying the graceful literary style as well as the story. I wonder if fourth formers read such works today. I doubt it.

Obituary: Lee Falk

"LOTHAR! WE'RE here! Another dimension!" cried Mandrake the Magician without moving his lips. "A world entirely different from our own!" Lothar grinned, holding hard to his fez. "Well, anyhow, it didn't hurt!"

Music: Some guys have all the luck

Robert Palmer is the boy from Batley who made it big. A new album, a wardrobe full of smart suits and a sumptuous international lifestyle - his only worry is whether he'll have to loosen his belt.

American Football: LA gets nod as NFL expands

LOS ANGELES has been awarded the NFL's 32nd franchise over Houston, providing it can come up with a viable stadium plan by 15 September. If not, Houston will get the franchise, which the league hopes can begin playing in 2002.

Manchester's space effort is launched

A FORMER toothpaste technician said he believed his team was on course to blast a human being into space after the launch of a 14ft rocket called The Tempest.

Monitor: Warren Beatty's `Bulworth' divided America. Here is what the papers said

VIEWERS OF every political stripe - from froth-mouthed fiscal conservatives to pork-barrel pinkos - may all squirm equally at the uncomfortable humour and hard-edge wit of Bulworth, the splendid and splenetic political satire from director, producer, co-writer and star Warren Beatty. The film, while radical in its own way, drives so far beyond "leftist" - which some have dubbed it - that political labels are no longer discernible in the rearview mirror. It's daring, deliberately offensive and, for a comedy, it has far more ideas in it than actual laughs, but Beatty manages to pull it off by sheer force of will, clarity of vision and an effervescent performance that rivals his best work. Beneath its astringent and cynical exterior beats a pure and idealistic heart that is almost biblical in its corniness. Love one another. The love of money is the root of all evil. The gods help them that help themselves. These are some of the root revolutionary notions that Bulworth espouses. Beatty's character even comes across as a quasi-Christ figure, shepherding the societal lepers and outcasts to salvation.

America's prickly exorcist

Capitalism has felt the ire of the Pope.

Podium: John Paul II: Resist the culture of death

Taken from a speech given by the Pope at Lambert Airport, St Louis during his visit to the US

Most famous sinner greets his Holiness

AMERICAN CATHOLICS flocked from across the Midwest to St Louis on the banks of the Mississippi yesterday for a glimpse of their spiritual leader on earth, John Paul II, the 263rd successor to the fisherman, St Peter. One Southern Baptist was there too, a Protestant who may yet have had special hopes for redemption. He was Bill Clinton. The world's most famous sinner had come to meet its most famous forgiver of sins.

Monitor: The late Naomi Mitchison - as remembered by the world's newspapers

FROM THE late 1930s she held court at Carradale, her home on the Mull of Kintyre. In general, visitors enjoyed themselves enormously. A girl of 12, however, having sat silent and watchful through several meals, wrote in the visitors' book: "The conversation here is obsessive and obscene." Her friendships could be fiery; she had a tendency to lash out at people physically in the course of an argument. This happened with Liz Belloc, with whom she differed on religion; with Hugh Gaitskell, at whom she once threw a half-plucked partridge after a political argument.

No business like snow business

Hollywood loves snow, and so do the rest of us. And in the movies the snow comes in colour.

Monday Book: Down-to-earth tale of a flying hero

LINDBERGH BY A SCOTT BERG MACMILLAN, pounds 25

Baseball: Sosa so happy to make play-off

SAMMY SOSA was unable to match Mark McGwire's all-time home run record but went one better than his St Louis rival in another way - by booking a play-off berth with his Chicago Cubs side.

Baseball: McGwire expands his record collection

MARK McGWIRE put his name in the record books yet again when the St Louis Cardinals scored seven times in the fifth innings to edge the Cincinnati Reds 8-7. McGwire drew two walks to match Barry Bonds' 1996 National League record of 151 in a season. But he also struck out twice and popped to first, finishing just 3 for 28 with a homer and two RBIs against Cincinnati pitching during this season.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
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'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick