News

Olympus paid $2 billion (£1.3 billion) for Gyrus and ran up the world’s biggest takeover advisory fee

Attorney General hints BP's partners may face criminal investigation

Transocean, the Swiss owner of the doomed Gulf of Mexico rig, faces the wrath of Americans as the cost of oil catastrophe reaches $3bn

Birthday Honours: Sundries

Queen's Police Medal (QPM)

David Andrew Crompton. Deputy chief Constable, West Yorkshire Police.

On The Road: The marvels of modern rock art on Dorset's Jurassic Coast

I love a good pebble. Smooth to the touch and totally individual. They've become synonymous with calm: used in Zen gardens, wallpaper on iPhones and by designers on tablemats to bring the outside in. In Lyme Regis, there's a whole beach of them. And on this beach I found Adrian Gray (pictured above) engrossed in the fine art of stone balancing. Not just pebbles in this case, but huge, back-wrenching stones that he somehow rests on one another at incredible angles. It really is a case of "how does he do that?". Is it sticky tape, magic or spiritualism? Well none of these. As Adrian says: "It's a paradox of fragility and solidity. These are really heavy stones, balanced in a very, very fragile way. It's the illusionary quality that makes it so magical. Your brain is telling you that's not possible, while your eyes say it is."

Fraudster jailed for £34m Ponzi scheme

Conman who defrauded 8,500 investors lived lavish lifestyle

Billions in US public money 'spent in Iran'

Details emerge of billions awarded by the US to firms dealing with Tehran

Johann Hari: The worst thing about Ashcroft is that his behaviour is legal

Contrary to the claims of apologists, there is nothing inevitable about tax exiles

Dick Francis: Champion jockey and best-selling thriller writer

Dick Francis sampled vivid peril as a bomber pilot and steeplechase jockey. He then gave millions of readers a flavour of his experiences, as author of nearly 40 best-selling adventures – creating a fictional world that could not be dismissed as fanciful, so long as it was measured against his own life.

Dick Francis, champion jockey turned thriller-writer, dies at 89

Racing world remembers best-selling author who triumphed over adversity. Mark Hughes reports

Thriller writer Dick Francis dies aged 89

Dick Francis, the champion jockey turned best-selling thriller writer, has died at the age of 89, his family said today.

Leading article: Frozen fun

Squeeze into the Lycra, don that helmet and sharpen those skates, for the Winter Olympics are upon us. The frozen Games never get the same attention as their summer counterpart, which is very unfair considering the range of attractions on offer, from the psychotic madness of the skeleton and the bobsleigh, to the rather more relaxed (though no less competitive) charms of curling.

Best for island escapes: Cyprus

From up there, you can see everything," said the speedboat's grizzled captain, pointing skywards with a grin and a wink. And with that, he snapped me into my parachute, leant on the boat's throttle – and lifted me gently from the deck and into the air, attached only by the slenderest of ropes to the back of his craft as it bounced through the waves beneath me.

Kings of Convenience, Barbican, London

Easy pickings from lo-fi royalty

Pearl's listing delayed by accounts rules

Insurers' London float plan in doubt as financial reporting switch continues. Simon Evans reports

Alan Blinder: An absolute Blinder

An economist who says the US government has played its cards perfectly remains fully optimistic

Carragher's title aim may be wide of mark

Liverpool's defensive linchpin still has eyes on that elusive medal but the Reds squad doesn't look strong enough to finish on top.
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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: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
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