Washington

Stop sticking cotton buds in your ears!

Their makers have printed the caution on every packet for more than 40 years - but their biggest use is still the exact one we're warned against. Roberto A Ferdman looks into things best left alone

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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