Travel Agenda: Okinawa Day; Hotel Le Seven; Britain to Rio de Janeiro

Today: Find out about Japan's southern islands at Okinawa Day in London's Spitalfields, which celebrates art, music and food from this sub-tropical archipelago (okinawaday.org.uk). From Asia to Iberia ... the capital is also celebrating Spanish food in Potters Fields Park next to City Hall with Tapas Fantasticas. The event, which runs over the weekend, celebrates wines from Rioja and the country's venerated food ( winesfromrioja.co.uk/tapasfantasticas ).

Istanbul bomb marks end of Kurdish ceasefire

Suspected Kurdish rebels blew up a military bus in Istanbul, killing four people in an attack likely to lead to an intensification of the conflict between the Turkish authorities and the country's Kurdish minority.

Roadside bomb kills four in Istanbul

A roadside bomb rocked a bus carrying military personnel and their families in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul today, killing four, after the Turkish army stepped up operations against Kurdish rebels.

Turkey: Pillars of wisdom

A family holiday to Turkey is a chance to explore ancient remains and fairytale landscapes, but it can also prompt some awkward questions from your children

New face of power in the Middle East

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's handling of the Gaza crisis has brought him into the spotlight – and his country into the centre of regional politics. Patrick Cockburn reports

Israel seizes second aid ship as protests grow

No shots fired as forces take control of vessel laden with medical supplies

Hamilton tames terrors of Istanbul's Turn 8

The drivers might only negotiate it for seven seconds, but at speeds between 153mph and 170mph they have to thread a needle that takes them through three apexes and more than 180 degrees, with forces greater than 3G.

Why buying in Istanbul now could bring Turkish delight tomorrow

While uncertainty remains in the property market at home – many are looking abroad for short and long-term returns

Forgotten authors No. 47: Nevil Shute & Eric Ambler

I sometimes wonder if this column's title is entirely right; perhaps it should be called 'Invisible Ink' because, while neither Nevil Shute nor Eric Ambler is truly forgotten, their words have faded to a faintness only discerned by loyal fans. Reprints are available and second-hand copies lie in Oxfam shops, but both authors have been caught out by the passage of time.

British banks hired to help list Turkish gold firm in Istanbul

London bankers are marketing the flotation of Koza Gold in a move that could value the Turkish miningcompany at around $2bn.

Che Committed Suicide, By Petros Markaris

Euro-crime buffs who have yet to meet the dictionary-loving Inspector Costas Haritos have an Athenian treat in store. Markaris is no formula-bound hack but a versatile author who, in his mysteries, turns the hero's sleuthing into a spotlight on a fast-changing Greek society.

WIN! A weekend for two in Istanbul

Prize Draw

Four Seasons Hotel, The Bosphorus, Istanbul

East meets west in dazzling splendour

The Museum of Innocence, By Orhan Pamuk, trs Maureen Freely

There's a tryst in this tale – but it badly lacks pace

Travel Agenda: Istanbul culture; Parisian cooking; Australian day out

Today...

This year's European Capital of Culture, Istanbul, has just been inaugurated. A year of cultural events, including an exhibition on Iranian civilisation at the Topkapi Palace, below, is underway (en.istanbul2010.org).

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

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Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

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French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

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Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

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Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

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Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

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Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

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Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

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