Sport Jan Vertonghen celebrates his goal for Belgium against South Korea

We look ahead to the last match of the round of 16, with the much-fancied Belgium taking on surprise package USA

Office politics: Mr Ortikov’s troubles began as a British embassy employee

Man tortured for Britain finds asylum – in the US

Guard who refused to be a spy says UK turned its back on him

'What's it like to defend someone you strongly believe to be guilty?'

Morally speaking, I don't have any problem with representing someone who I personally believe is guilty.

Anthony Hilton: Pompous and smug, Davos has lost the plot

My Week We can expect the papers next week to be filled with musings from Davos, where the business and political elite are about to have their annual shindig in the Alps, so it was particularly satisfying on Thursday to record a piece for National Public Radio in the United States on why the whole gathering had long since lost the plot.

Tom Brady will go up against arch-rival Peyton Manning on Saturday

American Football: Cream rises to top as final battle for Super Bowl begins

It's Conference Championship weekend, and the four best teams in the NFL lock horns for a shot at the sport's ultimate prize

Amber McGuire, left, recounts the execution of her father, Dennis McGuire, as her sister-in-law Missie McGuire cries at a news conference Friday in Dayton, Ohio

‘People should be ashamed’: Family speaks out on Ohio's 25-minute 'experimental' execution for convicted murderer and rapist

As more ghastly details emerge of the slow death of Dennis McGuire, anger is growing at the inhumanity of the US’s approach to capital punishment – and relatives of the dead man are seeking legal redress

In today's relaxed Tehran, headscarves are being worn back from the face

Jack Straw: In Hasan Rouhani’s Iran, you can feel the winds of change

Ex-home secretary Jack Straw returns from a visit to Tehran convinced that it’s time for the West to rethink its relationship with the regime

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks at his annual press conference in Moscow on 19 December 2013

Vladimir Putin: Gay people at Sochi Winter Olympics must 'leave children in peace'

The Russian president has told volunteers gay people can feel "at ease" but said they must leave children alone

NSA surveillance revelations: Barack Obama announces reforms to bulk data collection and spying on heads of states

Long-awaited speech unveiled some restrictions to America's surveillance policy, but Obama remained largely unapologetic

US authorities stuck with $25m bitcoin hoard, seized from the Silk Road

The stash was taken from the servers of the Silk Road - a website for selling illegal wares that traded in bitcoin and was shut down last October

US woman cleared over using Google Glass while driving

The court ruled that there was no definitive proof that the device had been turned on whilst Abadie was driving

NASCAR team owner Gene Haas could launch a bid for a place on the F1 grid

F1: America could have a place on the grid for 2015 as NASCAR team owner Gene Haas declares interest in potential entry

Haas is one half of the successful Stewart-Haas Racing team currently plying their trade in the American motorsport

South Korea snubs North's offer to cancel military drills

South Korea rejected North Korea's offer to take a series of steps to ease tension that included cancelling Seoul's regular military drills with Washington, saying Friday that Pyongyang must take nuclear disarmament steps first.

Head of under-fire prisons firm paid £3.6m

The head of the prisons operator criticised after an 84-year-old dementia sufferer died in handcuffs in one of its immigration centres earned $6m (£3.6m) last year, The Independent has learnt.

Murderer Dennis McGuire took more than 15 minutes to die, according to witnesses in the Ohio prison

Convicted murderer and rapist ‘gasped and took 15 minutes to die’ in Ohio drug trial execution

The new method was adopted after the maker of the state’s previous drug put it off limits for capital punishment

Those looking after the missiles have been re-tested

US Air Force suspend 34 airman manning critical nuclear missile launch sites after discovering they cheated on proficiency tests by text

In the wake of the finding at the Malstrom base in Montana, the Air Force has begun re-testing all of those still assigned to the nuclear arsenal

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Barn owls are among species that could be affected
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After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
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British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
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The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
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food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
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Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
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The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
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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
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas