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Place your bets ahead of tomorrow when Betfair reports its half-year results.

Kate Ladner is lured into danger in Buxton's double-bill

The Maiden in the Tower/Kaschei the Immortal/Too Hot to Handel, Buxton Festival Opera, Derbyshire
The 1915 Concert, Cheltenham Festival of Music, Gloucestershire

Buxton unearths some operatic rarities, while a programme of wartime music sounds otherworldly

McKillen apologies to court for 'colourful' language in texts

Irish property developer Paddy McKillen faced embarrassment in his battle with the billionaire Barclay brothers over three top London hotels yesterday as a court heard how he labelled as "scum" the Qatari royalty he is hoping to seek financial backing from.

Barclays accused of 'obvious attempt to seize control of hotels'

The billionaire Barclay brothers were accused of an "obvious and transparent" attempt to illegally win control of three of London's most prestigious hotels yesterday, as a £1.1bn battle kicked off in the High Court.

Massive boilers stop traffic

A village came to a standstill today as the first of five massive boilers - each weighing more than 25 buses - trundled slowly through the streets to be shipped off for recycling.

Battle looms over £1.1bn control of top UK hotels

A £1.1bn battle royal over three of London's most exclusive hotels kicks off today as the secretive billionaire Barclay brothers square up to Belfast property developer Paddy McKillen in a clash at the High Court.

£1bn battle over hotels heads for court showdown

Barclay brothers take on property developer in tug-of-war over three five-star landmarks

Mary Ann Sieghart: The Tories will need more blue-skies thinking to win the next election

Years ago, back when Boris still needed a surname, a young Steve Hilton hoped to run for Mayor of London. But the Tories were nowhere near ready to choose a shaven-headed, tieless iconoclast as their candidate. Later, Hilton tried to be selected as an MP, but although he looked like many a metropolitan media professional, he was far too modern for the Conservative local associations. They preferred the throwback of a good-looking, public-school banker in pin-stripes.

Album: Civil Wars, Barton Hollow (Columbia)

The recent Grammys awarded them Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo, which tells you that Joy Williams and John Paul White need no introduction (or genre) in the US.

Wildlife official shoots lion

Singin' in the Rain, Palace Theatre, London

When Jonathan Church's production of Singin' in the Rain opened in Chichester last summer it brought the reviewers out in a fevered rash of five star raves.

Occupy protesters leave Barbican

Occupy London protesters who took over an office building in the City have left the site just hours after they occupied it.

Johnny Otis: Singer, songwriter and bandleader who popularised the hand jive

Johnny Otis was one of the most important figures in American black music, working as a songwriter, pianist, drummer, arranger and bandleader. He discovered many of the best rhythm and blues stars, including Little Willie John, Etta James and Esther Phillips. He was an extraordinary personality, all the more extraordinary for not being black.

A school for Burma: Amadeo Bennetta and Daniel Larossa's winning design

Wanted: one school, must be prepared to travel

How did an article in The Independent lead to the creation of a portable school for Burmese refugee children?

Berkeley defies the downturn as housebuilder's profits surge 64%

Mortgage indemnity plan will help many get on to the property ladder, says Tony Pidgley

Video: Californian highway collapses

Part of California's famous Highway 1 route has crumbled into the Pacific Ocean.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

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Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game