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 – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?