George Osborne during a visit to AW Hainsworth and Sons textile manufacturer in October.

UK GDP: British economy growing at fastest rate since 2007

Official figures show UK economy grew 0.7% in the fourth quarter bringing the annual growth rate to 1.9%

Andy McSmith's Westminster Diary: David Cameron’s legal objection to 'third-party harassment' would make an old racist comic smile

If Silvester is right about the floods, the Almighty must be very cross

As attention turns to Geneva, Assad is starving millions of Syrians

6.3 million people are now in critical need of food

Hamish McRae: There has always been tension between France and the UK – but we face the same practical difficulties

Economic View: The only comparable region in terms of overall spending is Scandinavia

Large breeding snails of the 'gros gris' variety in Helen Howard's production unit

Snails? Farmers just can’t keep up with demand from British diners

Heliculturists have increased production 25-fold since 2000. Cahal Milmo meets some and finds out why more home cooks and chefs are shelling out

Beyoncé and Jay-Z publicly reneged on their vegan efforts in a seafood restaurant

No meat, no dairy, no problem: is 2014 the year vegans become mainstream?

As a German vegan supermarket opens its doors in Britain for the first time, veganism comes in from the cold

Detail of breast cancer cells - the new treatment uses body's own immune defences to seek out and destroy tumour cells

Potential revolution in cancer treatment voted breakthrough of the year by scientists

New treatment uses body’s own immune defences to seek out and destroy tumour cells wherever they appear

5,000 years of scrounging: Scientists discover world’s earliest evidence of cats living off humans

New study reveals proof for first time of how cats became ‘domesticated’

The frequent killings of top predators, such as wolves, bears and coyotes, benefit 'a small proportion of the nation's private agriculture' and other interests

Wildlife Services: Critics target America's ‘rogue’ assassins who kill 3 million animals a year

A US government  programme to control wildlife is under fire for being inhumane

Scientists ‘incredibly concerned’ for fate of banana as plagues and fungus infections spread across world’s supplies

Warning comes as Costa Rica declares 'national emergency' over state of crop

Tesco said customers avoided ugly or misshapen fruit, meaning it ended up going to waste

Tesco to combat fussy customers with discounts on ‘ugly’ fruit and veg

Supermarket tells MPs people must be ‘educated’ about waste and fresh food

2,000 dead mice dropped on Guam by US helicopters to kill snakes

Brown tree snakes have caused numerous costly problems

A dramatic increase in the number of people who enjoy the taste of reindeer is putting pressure on stocks in Finland

Demand for Dasher and Dancer at dinner tables strains Finland's reindeer stocks

Suppliers are turning down requests for the exotic meat for fear of depleting the forests

Pilgrims visit the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf

In magical Najaf the old stories are still the best

World View: The Shia record of governance here is not good, but the city's ancient heroes remain untarnished

Cats recognise their owners' voices but never evolved to care, says study

Japanese researchers tested cats' reactions to their owners, suggesting that because cats "domesticated themselves" they never needed to take notice

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness