News Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his special address at the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos

Japan’s trade deficit has hit an all-time high as imports were swollen by higher energy prices and a weak yen.

Bending Adversity, By David Pilling - Review

From the outside, Japan can seem like an enigmatic and mysterious country. Historically closed off to foreign influence until relatively recently, the island nation can seem to Western eyes to be almost incomprehensible in its outlook – culturally, politically and even economically.

2013 - the year in review: Carbon emissions, badger culls and extreme weather made for a terrible year for the environment

The climate change summit was the worst since 1992. All we got was a ‘roadmap’ to an ambitious new deal in 2015

The UK-based charity Practical Action has given British urban landmarks 'make-unders' to highlight the plight of the world's slums

Slum Britain: UK cities given ‘make-unders’ to show what life would be like if Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament were in shanty towns

Government pledges support to Practical Action campaign for sanitation in world’s poorest cities

Camping in 2002; by then the world had only nine more years to go

Rev Harold Camping: Preacher

Evangelist who provoked a media frenzy by predicting that the end of the world was nigh – three times

Why animal charity matters: Helping livestock victims of natural disasters helps people too

Despite possible appearances some animal charities have got their priorities right

Jacob Ostreicher, right, with Sean Penn last year

Sean Penn rescues American businessman Jacob Ostreicher from violent Bolivian jail

The actor released a statement to confirm he was with a New York  businessman who had been spirited out of Bolivia after spending over two years in captivity for crimes he claims he did not commit

View of the 'Grand Prismatic' hot spring in the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming on 1 June 2011

Yellowstone Supervolcano 2.5 times bigger than previously thought

Researchers claim it could be 2,000 times more powerful than Mount St Helens

Are you snarky or smarmy? Too much sunny side up will fry the brain

A Gawker essay has ignited a culture war on the value of niceness

Aggreko wins Brazil World Cup power contract

Temporary power firm Aggreko — responsible for keeping the lights on and the cameras rolling at the last World Cup in South Africa and at the London 2012 Olympics — has been chosen by FIFA to perform the same duties across 12 different venues in Brazil.

Yellowstone supervolcano a ‘much larger system’ than scientists had thought

Experts say new findings don’t necessarily increase the ‘Yellowstone hazard’ – despite claims it could be due a catastrophic eruption

Scientists solve bizarre mystery of Mima mounds – they are not the work of aliens…

New research suggests geological anomalies are not Native American burial sites but are created by gophers over hundreds of years

Hundreds of seal pups which had been feared dead after a tidal surge hit the east coast of Britain have been found alive and well

Seals found in Norfolk which were feared lost after storm

Hundreds of seal pups which had been feared dead after a tidal surge hit the east coast of Britain have been found alive and well.

UK weather: People urged to remain vigilant as high tides and strong winds continue through the night

Houses been swept into the sea over night as the biggest tidal surge in 60 years hit the east coast. The Environment Agency has urged people to remain vigilant as the high tides continue through the night

Microsoft brands governments a 'persistent threat' alongside malware and cyber attacks

Maker of the world's most popular operating system joins Yahoo and Google in offering encryption as default for customers and their data

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?