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chances are that you have spent the past two weeks wrapping, unwrapping and wolfing down the stuff brought to you by people like the cheerful rating whom Horatio Clare calls "N".

Get me out of here - Mauritius, Madeira, cruising the Arctic Circle

Now... Grab some winter sun in Mauritius

Depart on 5 December for a week in Mauritius. Western & Oriental's offer on the Indian Ocean island is £1,159pp for seven nights at the Veranda Paul & Virginie resort, with all meals, transfers and Emirates flights from Heathrow via Dubai included. westernoriental.com

Families of former British soldiers held in Indian jail call on government for help

The families of six former British soldiers imprisoned in India after being arrested during “anti-piracy operations” have demanded the UK government intervene to secure their safe return.

Scientists attached GPS trackers to a group of 16 albatrosses in the Indian Ocean. They recorded the birds flying at speeds of up to 67mph using a ‘dynamic soaring’ technique, which enables them to fly thousands of miles depending on the wind

How the unflappable albatross can travel 10,000 miles in a single journey

Scientists believe they have finally worked out how the mighty albatross – a seabird capable of travelling 10,000 miles in a single journey and circumnavigating the globe in 46 days – manages to fly without expending almost  any energy.

Maldivians finally vote to elect new president

After two months of political bickering and repeated failure to hold an election, Maldives voters headed to the polls today to elect a new president for their vulnerable new democracy.

Supporters of former Maldivian president and presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed staged a protest in Male recently

Maldives to finally hold election after two failed attempts as archipelago island nation rocked by series of crises

After two failed attempts, the Maldives likely will hold its presidential election on Saturday as the three candidates have agreed on a voters' register, the president said today.

People affected by Cyclone Phailin wait to be rescued and receive relief supplies in the Balasore district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha

Cyclone Phailin survivors still await rescue as aid workers warn a million will need help

A mass evacuation saved thousands of people from India’s fiercest cyclone in 14 years, but aid workers warned a million would need help after their homes and livelihoods were destroyed.

Fresh turmoil in The Maldives as election results are annulled

Supreme Court says poll in which Mohamed Nasheed won highest number of votes suffered irregularities

Supporters of former president Mohamed Nasheed face police officers during a protest demanding that election be held as scheduled Saturday

Maldives: Protests and violence on streets, yet there’s nothing to worry about

Tour operators are apparently oblivious to reality

Tourism, the Maldives’ lifeblood, threatens to shut down over election

Result of the first round was overturned by the country’s Supreme Court after it was challenged by third-placed candidate

Zanzibar acid attack: Catholic priest in hospital

Incident comes after assailants threw acid over two British teenage girls on the island in August

A survey by Avaaz found that 92 per cent of Maldivians want a reform of national laws to protect women from sexual assault, while 73 per cent are opposed to punishments for women for 'sexual crimes'

Maldives rape victim spared the lash after global anger

Girl’s ‘fornication’ sentence commuted after IoS highlights case

Efforts to aid British victim of Zanzibar acid attack made injuries worse

Parents release pictures of injuries as volunteer teachers arrive in the UK to be seen by surgeons for ‘horrendous’ burns

Family handout photo of one of the two British teenagers attacked with acid on Zanzibar.

Acid attack victims Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup
return home as Zanzibar police hold five men

Parents release pictures of injuries as volunteer teachers arrive in the UK to be seen by surgeons for ‘horrendous’ burns

A Hindu devotee, whose body is pierced with skewers, takes part in the religious festival of Panguni Uthiram in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 26, 2013. The festival is observed in the Tamil month of Panguni and is celebrated in honour of the Hindu god Muruga. The devotees make offerings to lord Muruga with sacrificial feats they believe will keep them away from evil spirits. REUTERS/Babu

New study shows how inflicting pain in religious festivals increases charitable giving

Researchers compared two rituals - one involving only praying and singing, the other requiring participants to pierce their bodies with hooks, skewers and needles

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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen