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Poignant letter is filled with words of encouragement for her 22-year-old self

Interview: Caitlin Rose - 2010's honky tonk heroine

The first time you hear Caitlin Rose, the Nashville-born singer-songwriter whose country-tinged arrangements are threatening to make a big impression in 2010, you'll thank your lucky stars that she chose to pursue a career in music rather than go to college.

Why it's getting easier to carry a gun in the US

In the past two years, firearm restrictions have been relaxed in 24 states

Worldwide record-breaking mania strikes

More than 200,000 people around the world came together today to break some wacky and wonderful records on the fifth annual Guinness World Records Day, which commemorates the day in 2004 when Guinness World Records became the world's bestselling copyright book.

Album: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Speed of Life (Sugar Hill)

The Nitties were one of those happy aggregations that spent the late 1960s alloying the American folk tradition with new-fangled West Coast rock, to no discernable impact on the drift of Western culture – even when Jackson Browne was briefly a member.

Album: John Hammond, Rough and Tough, (Chesky)

An umptysquillionth album by the son of the man who discovered Bob Dylan, a veteran bluesman with all the payable dues duly signed and docketed except for the unfixable fact of his whiteness.

Apple boss Jobs admits to liver transplant

But the talismanic CEO kept fans guessing over the revolutionary touch-screen 'Tablet'

Album: Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power, Fever (Fire Records)

Nashville's resident "garage-rock lounge lizard extraordinaire", Dave Cloud looks like Jim Royle readying himself for a "tom tit" trip to the loo, and sounds like something nasty lurking in the undergrowth waiting to scare small children.

How we saw off Brüno

Murray Echols was a 75-year-old Alabama pensioner innocently indulging his passion for ballroom dancing. Then along came Sacha Baron Cohen and his film crew ...

American Football: McNair was murdered say police

Former American football player Steve McNair's shooting death was a homicide, police said yesterday, but authorities stopped short of saying it was a murder-suicide committed by the 20-year-old girlfriend found dead by his side.

Album: Levon Helm, Electric Dirt, (Vanguard)

Dirt Farmer revisited. Perhaps Son of Dirt Farmer would be more idiomatic. Or just Son of the Dirt. Either way it continues the former Band singer/drummer's impressive return as the grand old man of soulful Southern-ness.

Album: Levon Helm, Electric Dirt (Vanguard)

On his 2007 comeback album, Dirt Farmer, Levon Helm's distinctive weather-beaten vocal tones animated the plight of the rural underclass as vividly as any documentary.

Hannah Montana: The Movie (U)

Surprisingly entertaining, feature-length treatment of the smash-hit TV series, in which Miley Cyrus plays ordinary high-school student Miley Stewart, transformed by night into rock super-star Hannah.

Two dead, dozens injured in Tennessee tornadoes

Two people were killed and dozens more injured yesterday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, when a series of tornadoes ripped through the state, causing extensive property damage in several communities.

Stroke victim's 'deathbed' confession to 32-year-old murder proves premature

Lying in his bed for what he was convinced were his final moments, James Brewer, a stroke victim, felt compelled to confess to a crime that had weighed on his conscience for more than three decades.

Album: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Beware (Domino)

What the hell to make of Will Oldham's umpteenth record in his guise as Bonnie "Prince" Billy?

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
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peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
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Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
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Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
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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
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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