News

Retailers enjoyed a "spectacular" Christmas, official data showed, with total sales growing at their fastest rate in years.

The News Matrix: Wednesday 3 October 2012

Plan for 'poor' to go to private schools

The Jimmy Savile abuse scandal means men across Britain will sleep uneasily, remembering past 'conquests'

Instead of faux-outrage and arse-covering about history, I’d be happier to hear strident plans to protect and listen to young women in the future. More of that, please

The Metro front page showing women removed from Ikea images

Ikea airbrushes women from its Saudi catalogue

Swedish furniture giant criticised for removing images in bid not to upset Arab customers

Winckler's Wacky World: All ears

Did Deep Blue have a bug?; why men bond with 007, bin head, magic allergy-curing cow, holocaust tattoos and Ikea: not so ethical, after all.

Step into my office

More of us are working from home than ever before, but it doesn't have to mean documents on the dining table or conference calls over the cornflakes.

My Edinburgh: Mark Watson, Comedian

I've been to the past thirteen Edinburgh Fringes as a punter, student, director, aspiring stand-up, actual stand-up, 24-hour marathon man and - my current incarnation - jaded old veteran. There are various tricks you learn, when you've been in the game as long as I have.

Ikea to launch budget hotel chain in Europe

Best known for its budget flat-pack furniture, Scandinavian retailer Ikea is planning to launch a chain of budget hotels in Europe.

'Are you a Gypsy?' Ikea tells camper van owner that Travellers are barred from its car parks

Furniture giant Ikea has been caught up in a racism row after insisting it was lawful to employ security guards to stop Gypsies entering its car parks.

Ikea aims to provide all the features of a home entertainment system, but without the fuss

Design: Tangled cables be damned

Ikea's foray into the world of home entertainment is not just an attempt to change the market, but it could also spell an end for that most modern of problems – dastardly cable tangle.

<p>1. GLTC Fire Engine Toddler Bed</p>
<p>£124, gltc.co.uk</p>
<p>Few toddlers can resist a fire engine, so what better way to persuade them that bedtime is fun?</p>

The 10 Best children's beds

Sweet dreams, whether they're in a bunk cot or with an MP3 docking system

Ikea accused of using East German political prisoners to manufacture furniture

The Swedish flat-pack giant Ikea is today reeling from potentially scandalous allegations that it used scores of political prisoners in former communist East Germany to manufacture its affordable furniture products in the years leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Julian Baggini: Is Osborne's dad worth a £19,000 desk?

The one thing you would never do at the desk Sir Peter Osborne has his eye on is write at it

Ghostly: The dining-room is a whiter shade of pale

Adam Simmonds, Danesfield House Hotel and Spa, Henley Road, Marlow-on-Thames, Bucks

Late-night visitors to Marlow have often been shocked by the chilling apparition of the Grey Lady of Danesfield Park, a solemn-faced ghost holding a lantern, who glides around where the chapel once stood, before disappearing. We had a broadly similar experience on driving into the hotel grounds – seeing the chilling apparition of Danesfield House, a great white whale of a late-Victorian Gothic folly looming in front of you like Moby Dick. It's an extraordinary sight, with its tall chimneys, its clock tower and elaborately terraced gardens, and it carries an air of melancholy – the result, perhaps, of too many owners, speculators and changes of use. It was built in 1899 by the heir to the Sunlight soap fortune, who sold it the moment it was finished. It housed evacuees in the war and was requisitioned by the RAF. It was once home to the Hellfire Club of Medmenham, a bunch of crazed desperadoes from the nearby village. Since 1991 it's been a hotel. And in the past four years, it's picked up a reputation as home to one of the country's finest chefs, Adam Simmonds.

From Pasty Tax to Bubbly Tax: After a strange week in the news it wouldn't be at all surprising if readers fell for this Daily Mail effort. It claims: 'The Government is planning to mitigate the damage caused by adding VAT to pasties by introducing a new ‘green’ tax on chilled champagne.' - and quotes, amongst others 'Frank Beers', MP for Theakston South...

Were you fooled? The best of the April Fools' Day jokes

The newspapers have outdone themselves with an eclectic collection of April Fools' Day japes, but were you taken in?

<p>1. John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down</p>
<p>£150, johnlewis.com</p>
<p>A supremely comfortable pillow using down from geese native to Russia's glacial mountains.</p>

The 10 Best pillows

1. John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down

£150, johnlewis.com

A supremely comfortable pillow using down from geese native to Russia's glacial mountains.

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Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London