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Republican politician won't give up his lifestyle to run for the White House

John Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, has become one of the most influential figures in the Obama administration's efforts to target al-Qaida militants.

John Brennan takes over as director of CIA

John Brennan took over as director of the CIA today, the finishing touch on president Barack Obama's national security team for his second term.

Barack Obama labelled the automatic budget cuts that came into effect in the US today as “unnecessary” and “dumb”

Barack Obama labels $85bn budget cuts 'dumb'

Barack Obama labelled the automatic budget cuts that came into effect in the US today as “unnecessary” and “dumb” after making little progress to avert them at a meeting with congressional Republicans.

Northern Ireland: Tensions rise as police find rocket launcher

A rocket launcher and warhead were discovered by police investigating possible action from dissident republicans in west Belfast as tensions escalated ahead of marching season.

Obama wants to raise the minimum wage. Where does this leave the GOP?

On these isles the Living Wage campaign - which proposes a minimum wage in line with the cost of living - has won support across Westminster, with Boris and Ed Miliband strident backers. Now there's some similar momentum in the US. President Obama announced in his State of the Union address an intention to lift the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour, and take thousands of workers out of poverty. So how's this playing out politically?

Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been in the right place at the right time

Page 3 Profile: Marco Rubio, the Republican Party Senator for Florida

Isn't he the next Republican presidential candidate?

Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been in the right place at the right time

Marco Rubio’s star rises as Republicans look for a renaissance candidate

If US presidential politics is largely about being in the right place at the right time, then Marco Rubio most certainly is.

Obama is expected to make class fairness the overarching theme in his address

Guns, immigration and climate change: Barack Obama is determined to deliver on the tricky issues this term

President to announce he will push ahead with his promises in State of the Union

Police fire tear gas at slain politician Chokri Belaid's funeral

Supporters of Tunisia's ruling moderate Islamist party are being called to attend a pro-government rally a day after clashes between protesters and police, following the funeral of the opposition politician Chokri Belaid, whose assassination this week tipped the country to the edge of revolt.

President Obama has made overhauling immigration a priority

Another step forward for US immigration reform as Obama embraces Senate plan

President Obama's ambition to reform immigration law and give America's 11 million illegal immigrants the chance to gain citizenship took a step forward yesterday, as the President embraced a plan cobbled together by a bi-partisan group of senators.

President Obama has made overhauling immigration a priority

Barack Obama opens the door for 11 million illegal immigrants to stay in US

President optimistic of progress as Republicans soften line

Denunciation: Protester at Friday’s prolife march in Washington

America is a nation still divided by a woman's right to choose

Out of America: Forty years after Roe vs Wade made abortion legal, the issue is more contentious than ever

Second inaugural addresses: fraught with difficulty and rarely memorable

The second inaugural address has rarely been memorable. Save for Abraham Lincoln’s, which struck a series of soaring notes, including “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty source of war may speedily pass away”, they are fraught with difficulty.

Obama must seize the chance to make history

Between the two inaugurations of Barack Obama, expectation and reality have been turned on their head. When America's first black president took the oath of office on that frigid, unforgettable 20 January 2009 in Washington, the mood was of exhilaration – but amid the deepest economic slump in three-quarters of a century and two unfinished wars, the prospects by any rational measure were sobering. How different now. His first term yielded much, including a stimulus package that probably warded off a depression, and a giant step towards universal US health coverage. Yet today the mood is downbeat, the dreaded term "lame duck" is on every lip. But the pessimism is misplaced. In fact, this is a moment of rare and real opportunity to tackle America's problems, and the Obama second term – in contrast to that of his predecessor George W Bush – could be one to remember for all the right reasons.

Ben Chu: The fiscal cliff fun is only just beginning

Outlook It doesn't appear to have dawned on the financial markets yet, but the frantic negotiations over the tax rises in the fiscal cliff were only the start of it.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the Queens neighborhood of Rockaway Park

Second blow for Hurricane Sandy's victims as Congress abandons recovery Bill

The fiscal cliff deal might have protected the American economy from another blow, but the last-minute agreement has left storm-hit communities in the north-east without billions of dollars in promised aid after  special measures put together following Hurricane Sandy were shelved by Congress.

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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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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

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
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