Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

Dr Rachel Frosh's website

Police boss resigns after Hitler tweet

A deputy police and crime commissioner has resigned after a row sparked when she retweeted a quote by Hitler.

French intervention in Mali is not colonialism. The Islamists really are our enemies

Too often commentators do not weigh the human cost of Western inaction

Spanish corruption scandal further dents support for Rajoy government

Spain's opposition Socialist Party called yesterday for the resignation of the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, over a corruption scandal as a poll showed the lowest support on record for his centre-right People's Party (PP).

'France is totally bankrupt': French jobs minister Michel Sapin embarrasses Francois Hollande with shocking statement on state of the country's economy

Unexpected news came during a radio interview yesterday and calls into further question Hollande's controversial 'tax and spend' policies

By-election boost for Tories on Merseyside

Tories were boosted by a rare council by-election gain from Labour in the first contests of the new year.

12-year-old boy found criminally responsible for murdering neo-Nazi father

Joseph Hall was just 10 years-old when he shot and killed his white supremacist father

Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party are split over handling of rape allegation

Trotskyist group exonerated official because it doesn’t believe in ‘bourgeois court system’ to deliver justice

Hugo Chavez is suffering from a respiratory infection

Unrest brews as swearing-in for Hugo Chavez delayed

The Supreme Court of Venezuela announced tonight that a government decision to postpone the inauguration of Hugo Chavez for a fourth term as President was legal and that his swearing-in could take place later.

Jérôme Cahuzac welcomed news of the investigation

French tax-the-rich minister 'hid money in Swiss bank'

The French minister responsible for enforcing new taxes on the rich is to be investigated for tax evasion.

Pope Benedict appears willing to forge alliances with other faiths over same-sex marriages

Pope: gay marriage threatens foundations of family life and destroys the 'very essence of the human creature'

Pope Benedict has used the beginning of the Christmas period to ramp up his assault on gay marriage, stating that the very foundations of the family were threatened by same sex partnerships.

Julie Waterson: Inspirational socialist and political activist

Julie Waterson, who has died after a long and painful fight against cancer, was an outstanding representative of a generation of fine and dedicated activists who became revolutionary socialists in the late 1970s. Inspired by the game-changing impact of 1968, which brought together a strong anti-Stalinism with a revived workers' movement across Europe, she quickly became a resolute and utterly committed fighter for her class.

David Cameron puts his case to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Brussels yesterday

'Europe isn't à la carte' – Hollande sounds warning to dent Cameron hopes for repatriation of powers

Prime Minister met with strong French objections over campaign to win new deal on opt-outs

Speculation had grown during his three-week absence from public view

Chavez names successor as he admits cancer has returned

Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, was due to return to Cuba today for more surgery after a recurrence of cancer led him to name a successor for the first time, in a sign the disease may force an end to his 14-year rule.

Newly-elected President of the right-wing UMP opposition party, Jean-Francois Cope(l), who beat former Prime Minister, Francois Fillon (r) in a shambolic battle to lead France's right-wing opposition.

Sarkozy steps in to stabilise dispute between French centre-right rivals

After two weeks of fraternal menaces, insults and accusations, peace appears to be breaking out on the French centre-right.

Hugo Chávez (left) said on television that Maria Lourdes Afinui’s (right) should get 30 years

Judge who upset Chávez claims she was raped in prison

The trial of Maria Afiuni, who has been in detention for three years, could begin today

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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