Rupert Cornwell: Merry Christmas for the President (believe it or not)

Out of America: After the mid-term rout, Obama looked down and out – but a run of successes has changed the game

Johann Hari: The under-appreciated heroes of 2010

The endless whirr of 24/7 corporate news ignores the people who actually make a difference

Hague welcomes US signing of nuclear treaty

Britain today welcomed the ratification of a US-Russian nuclear arms control treaty by the American Senate and urged Moscow to follow suit.

Obama gets his way on gay troops and nuclear treaty

Barack Obama had double cause for cheer as he celebrated a burst of accomplishment which included the Senate ratification of a nuclear-arms treaty with Russia and congressional repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Obama signs bill ending ban on gays in US military

Declaring that members of the US military will no longer be asked to lie, President Barack Obama fulfilled a campaign promise today and signed a landmark law repealing the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the armed services.

Obama closes in on nuclear treaty

President Barack Obama's strategic nuclear arms treaty with Russia secured enough votes on Tuesday to clear a Republican procedural hurdle and appeared headed toward ratification in the US Senate this week.

Senators urged to back Russia treaty

President Barack Obama lobbied senators by phone yesterday to back an arms treaty with Russia that he has called a national security imperative, as a top Senate Democrat conceded "house-by-house combat" would be needed to win enough Republican votes to prevail.

David Usborne: Look beyond this vote and Congress is little changed

Has a new era of enlightenment descended on Capitol Hill? In just a few days, furiously debated bills to extend tax cuts and finally abolish sexuality discrimination in the military have been passed with almost heady bipartisan co-operation. Barack Obama is signing laws more quickly than Christmas cards.

Chavez 'would expel US ambassador'

Tension flared between the US and Venezuela over Washington's nominee for ambassador on Saturday. President Hugo Chavez warned the diplomat would be detained and put on the next flight home if he sets foot in the country.

Joy as 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy repealed

After 17 years and 14,000 expulsions, US Senate finally rejects controversial ruling

US Senate lifts gay soldier ban

The Senate voted to end the 17-year ban on openly gay troops, overturning the Clinton-era policy known as "don't ask, don't tell."

Executed in haste, exonerated at leisure

Dakota Indian among victims of mass execution may be pardoned

Berlusconi: getting rid of me would risk financial meltdown

Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi yesterday warned parliamentary rebels that they risked plunging the country into financial meltdown should they vote down his government in today's no-confidence motion.

Silvio Berlusconi: A leader who has eroded Italian democracy

The reign of il Cavaliere hangs in the balance. The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, faces a vote of no confidence in the Italian Senate and lower house today. The vote has been prompted by the defection of Mr Berlusconi's one-time ally, Gianfranco Fini, from the governing centre-right coalition.

President Obama in Bush-era tax cuts climbdown

US president Barack Obama brushed aside opposition in his own party today and announced an agreement with Republicans on a plan to extend expiring income tax cuts for all Americans, renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and grant a one-year reduction in payroll taxes.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
A cupboard on sale for £7,500 in London
lifeAnother baffling example of the capital’s housing crisis
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Day In a Page

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
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home