News Demonstrators protest against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the UN offices in Geneva during the talks on Friday

At first the talks were delayed for 24 hours, then Syria’s foreign minister threatened to walk out. But last night the two sides agreed to be in the same room. Kim Sengupta reports from Geneva on the UN mission to end the bloodshed

Simon Usborne: £50 premium saved me a bill for £10,000

The pain was bad enough – I'd broken my back in a fall while skiing off-piste – but it could have lasted much longer. The helicopter rescue didn't come cheap. Nor did the morphine, the Swiss hospital, the six seats converted as a stretcher on the flight from Geneva, or the fee for the doctor sent to bring me home.

A back door to beauty: Sion offers a surprising approach to some splendid Swiss skiing

The recorded welcome and safety-instruction message on National Express airport coaches ends with the invitation to "sit back and enjoy the ride". It occurred to me as the 7.05am service left Golders Green Tube station for Stansted that nobody wanting an enjoyable ride would head off around the eastern part of the North Circular Road, with its grim monoculture of retail-park architecture. Certainly it became evident on this trip that the only passengers having a good time were those whose eyes were closed and mouths open.

Airlines boosted by business fares

Airline balance sheets have improved this year in part because of a sharp increase in business class fares, the International Air Transport Association said yesterday.

Warning over 'superbug' strains of TB

A TB time bomb could explode on the world without major efforts to curb drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, experts warned today.

The science of gardening (as explained to renowned physicists)

It has been described as probably the most important garden in Europe but is open to the public on only one day a year. Now, however, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation developed by American-born landscape architect and historian Charles Jencks may be replicated at the Geneva-based centre of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Hadron Collider II planned for Circle Line

[ Added at noon on 1 April: Before you read, check the date! ]

London Underground is in talks with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) about the possibility of using the 23km tunnel of the Circle Line to house a new type of particle accelerator similar to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

Leading article: High maintenance

The search for the "God particle" will have to wait a while longer. The Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is to be switched off for a year at the end of 2011 in order to correct a design problem.

Skoda shows sporty Fabia vRS at Geneva

Skoda has introduced a new high-performance version of the Fabia. The vRS has a 1.4 litre petrol engine fitted with both an engine-driven supercharger and an exhaust-driven turbocharger, a combination that is good for some 180 horsepower. That's enough to propel the vRS, in either hatchback or estate form, to 100km/h (62mph) in just 7.3 seconds. VW's second-generation seven-speed DSG gearbox is fitted, and there are a variety of cosmetic tweaks that distinguish the vRS from other Fabias.

Cadillac expands CTS range

Cadillac introduced the new coupé version of its mid-range CTS to European customers at the Geneva Motor Show this week. The new car shares its wheelbase with the standard four-door saloon but has a lower roof-line and is slightly shorter overall; most of the bodywork is unique to the model. The coupé's standard engine is the 3.6-litre V6, which is the larger of the two options available on the saloon.

Nissan shows the new Micra at Geneva

Nissan has shown its fourth-generation Micra at the Geneva Motor Show. The new car is somewhat more conservative in design than the outgoing model and has echoes of the second-generation "bubble" Micra that was such a strong seller in the Nineties.

Alfa announces new Giulietta for Geneva

Alfa Romeo has released the first official pictures of the Giulietta, the replacement for the Golf-sized 147, which will be shown to the public for the first time at this week's Geneva Motor Show.

Porsche to unveil its new Cayenne at Geneva

Porsche has released details of its second-generation Cayenne SUV. This moved was expected as Volkswagen has already announced a new version of its Touareg, a sister model of the Cayenne. As in the case of the Touareg, the emphasis is on weight reduction, and improved performance and economy.

Vauxhall Ampera to be shown at Geneva

A prototype Vauxhall/Opel Ampera will be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show next week - that's if its electric drive train and range-extending petrol engine prove reliable, because it's being driven to the show from Opel's European headquarters in Rüsselsheim near Frankfurt, a distance of some 370 miles.

Audi to show off Mini rival at Geneva

Audi will launch its Mini-rivalling A1 at the Geneva Motor Show in early March. Unlike the Mini, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Beetle, though, Audi's new small car won't be a retro design – mainly, perhaps, because there isn't much of a tradition of distinctive small Audis to draw upon.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
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booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
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Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
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Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
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Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor