News

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says ‘fighting has set Syria back decades’

Lisa Markwell: Why making a meal out of lists is a bad idea

You know what I never say to myself? Mmmmn, what I really fancy to eat tonight is an edible stone. Or crispy milk skin. Or some soil. This week – when the awards for the World's 50 Best Restaurants were announced – it's this kind of food that has been deemed most worthy of our attention. The winner of the No 1 slot (for a third year running) is Noma, the Danish paean to extraordinary, challenging dishes that look more like works of art than anything you'd put in your mouth. Coming up on the outside is Mugaritz, home of the stones (in actuality, potatoes made to look like stones. Go figure).

More children go to school hungry, warn teachers

Recession has caused a worrying rise in malnutrition among pupils, survey reveals

Aid crisis as children face starvation

Aid groups say they are nearly $200m short of the money needed to fight a growing hunger crisis threatening more than a million children across western and central Africa.

Going solo: Charlotte McDonald-Gibson at Spuntino in Soho, where lone diners are welcomed

A table for one, please: Why dining alone has never been easier

The trend for no-reservation restaurants has a happy side-effect, says Charlotte McDonald-Gibson.

A table for one, please

The trend for no-reservation restaurants has a happy side-effect: dining alone has never been easier, says Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

Charlie Creed-Miles (Bill) and Sammy Williams (Jimmy) break the cliched mould in <i>Wild Bill</i>

Wild Bill, Dexter Fletcher, 96 mins (15)
The Hunger Games, Gary Ross, 146 mins (12A)

Dexter Fletcher does the miraculous and breathes real life into the mouldering corpse of the gangster Britflick – but a much-touted dystopian fantasy is dead on arrival

Shaolin Soccer
The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (12A)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) with Gale (Liam Hemsworth)

The Hunger Games: A mums' and dads' guide

It's the forthcoming movie the kids are all talking about - and you don't want to be left looking a square. Let Genevieve Roberts and Kate Youde guide you through this cultural minefield

Opinion polls predict that Vladimir Putin will win the election easily

Politicians stage hunger strike for right to stand in Russian election

Protest in provincial town highlights growing sense of frustration with corrupt officials. Shaun Walker reports from Lermontov

The main food sponsors, Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s may, respectively, be using only fair-trade cocoa, reducing their packaging waste, locally sourcing beef and sustainable fish but some question their presence at a festival of athletic excellence altogether

Winners' dinners: how we will feed the Olympic crowds

The past may very well be a foreign country, but when Britain last held the Olympic Games in 1948 it might as well have been on another planet. Back then we spent a mere £700,000 on the games and every British male competitor got a free pair of Y-fronts and a cup of Horlicks. Today the games costs closer to £9bn, Horlicks is off the menu and the only pants given to athletes are from sponsors, and some even get a hefty cheque for donning them.

The main food sponsors, Cadbury, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s may, respectively, be using only fair-trade cocoa, reducing their packaging waste, locally sourcing beef and sustainable fish but some question their presence at a festival of athletic excellence altogether

Winners' dinners: How will hordes of hungry Olympic athletes – and crowds of spectators – be fed?

The past may very well be a foreign country, but when Britain last held the Olympic Games in 1948 it might as well have been on another planet. Back then we spent a mere £700,000 on the games. Scouts carried messages between officials, and brought cups of tea for the runners. Everyone still had a ration book, and every British male competitor got a free pair of Y-fronts and a cup of Horlicks. Today the games costs closer to £9bn, Horlicks is off the menu and the only pants given to athletes are from sponsors, and some even get a hefty cheque for donning them.

Last Night's Viewing: Bees, Butterflies and Blooms, BBC2<br />My Life: Home Grown Boys, BBC1

"I'm on a campaign to wake people up," said Sarah Raven at the beginning of Bees, Butterflies and Blooms. She was on a mission, she explained, to prevent "a quiet catastrophe", namely the declining numbers of bees and pollinators in the ecosystem, a decline that might eventually have a direct impact on our ability to feed ourselves. It all sounded quite serious to me, entirely justifying her use of the word "crisis" at the very top of the programme. And it was at that point that I wondered whether Raven had really chosen the best title for her series. Bees, Butterflies and Blooms sounds like the title of a parish calendar, a bucolically cosy affair that sounds as if decoration is its highest goal. Looking at it in the schedules, you could easily dismiss it as a bit of natural history infill, designed to plug a gap in the mixed planting of the schedule's municipal flowerbed. It should really have been called "Don't You Get It You Fools, All the Bees Are Dying!"

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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
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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick