Washington

Q&A: US shutdown - all you need to know about the crisis in America

Not all government functions will simply evaporate — Social Security cheques will still get mailed, and hospitals will stay open. But many federal agencies will send their employees home, from the Environmental Protection Agency to hundreds of national parks. Here’s a look at how a shutdown will work.

Helen Thomas: Fearless veteran White House correspondent

Each profession has a handful of ground-breakers, and for American journalism, Helen Thomas was one of them. When she set out, women were confined to writing about family, fashion and tips on cooking. By the end she was the uncontested doyenne of the White House press corps, traditionally the summit of the trade.

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Google challenges US surveillance gagging order

Google has asked the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court to allow it to publish details of the number of data requests made by a secretive body, invoking the first amendment in a legal challenge that is aimed at easing concern among users following recent revelations regarding the activities of the National Security Agency.