Grounds people work in the gardens at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa

In pictures: South Africa prepares for Nelson Mandela's funeral

South African government announced that preparations for the funeral of former president Nelson Mandela are in full swing. Mandela's body is being prepared by the Military Health Service of the South African National Defense Force to lie in state at the Union Buildings.Works are also underway at various venues such as the Union Buildings in Pretoria, FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Mthatha and Qunu in the Eastern Cape, and at ports of entry to prepare for the events related to the State Funeral.

Ben Stokes and Mitchell Johnson confront each other on day four of the second Ashes Test

Ashes 2013-14: England and Australia all-rounders Ben Stokes and Mitchell Johnson cleared of misconduct after day four clash

The pair came face-to-face after colliding when the former ran for a single, hitting bowler Johnson as he ran up the pitch

Union-League cross-code fixture plan denied

The Rugby Football League is not planning to participate in a hybrid-code fixture with the Australian rugby union team.

Roy wonder: Hodgson considers the worst-case scenario draw of Manaus

World Cup 2014: Roy Hodgson happy with England-Italy time switch

The match will now start at 11pm BST, rather than 2am

There are 'huge disparities' in the quality of train services in different regions of Britain, according to a report for the Campaign for Better Transport

‘Huge disparities’ in train services across Britain

There are “huge disparities” in the quality of train services in different regions of Britain, according to a report for the Campaign for Better Transport.

Brad Haddin and Matt Prior have words at stumps in Adelaide on Sunday

Ashes 2013-14: Joe Root keeps smiling through heat of the sledging battle

No one is saying what is being said out in the middle as the Ashes sledging war rages. Safe to assume that the players are not asking for addresses to send Christmas cards.

Fighting talk: Aaron Cook (red hat) meets Lutalo Muhammad next week

Taekwondo: At last! Rivals get chance to settle Olympic scrap

Before London 2012, Aaron Cook and Lutalo Muhammad became embroiled in a bitter dispute which rocked Britain's preparations for the Games

High ideals: Labour has built around 400 homes in each of its local authority areas since the election

The great housing crisis: Labour beats Tories over new homes

Conservative councils build only half as much affordable and social housing

Roy wonder: Hodgson considers the worst-case scenario draw of Manaus

World Cup 2014: England promised hostile reception after Roy Hodgson gaffe

The mayor of Manaus, Artur Virgilio, has suggested that the hot reception awaiting England in the city may not be restricted to the sweltering local temperatures. "We are going to make England welcome in Manaus. But that won't stop us cheering for Italy. There are a lot of Italian fans in Brazil. Our connection with Italy goes way back," he said in reference to the large number of descendants of Italian immigrants.

Roy Hodgson at the World Cup draw

World Cup 2014: Roy Hodgson suffers first World Cup defeat

Fifa have bowed to pressure to bring forward England's match in Manaus with Italy

England batsman Ian Bell has said the team have

Ashes 2013-14: Ian Bell tells England they have 'no excuses' after embarrassing batting collapse in Second Test

Australia hold a mammoth 530-run lead over England with two days still to play

Rebecca Adlington denies pregnancy rumours

The Olympic swimmer has been the subject of speculation after being made exempt from some Bushtucker Trials on medical grounds

‘Small Business Saturday’ hopes to boost the UK high street in Black Friday style

It’s one American import that may find favour with even the most passionate opponent of the UK’s importation of US culture.

New NYPD chief was PM’s choice for Met

Bill Bratton, the former New York police commissioner credited with overseeing a sharp drop in crime in the mid-90s, has been named as the city’s next police chief by incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio, replacing Ray Kelley, who was criticised for the department’s stop-and-frisk policies

Video star: Olympic medal winner Tom Daley

Tom Daley: modern man

The revelation about the Olympian's sexuality, delivered on YouTube to a fascinated world, says more about the age we live in than Tom Daley's love life

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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there