Sport Didier Deschamps' France side face a tricky first leg in Ukraine

The clash of giant egos is in Lisbon, the romance in Reykjavik, and the only previous winner under threat plays in Kiev, but perhaps the most intriguing European World Cup play-off begins on Friday night in Athens.

Burns seeks poetic justice beneath the Great Wall

An English driver finally emerges from shadow of Colin McRae confident of China Rally success.

EMI plugs into Net venture

THE MUSIC group, EMI, yesterday unveiled a key plank in its strategy to build an Internet presence by acquiring a 50 per cent equity interest in musicmaker.com, a private US Internet supplier of compilation music, writes Bill McIntosh.

Letter: Kosovo: no lectures from China, please

Sir: A propos of embassies being accidentally bombed, the Austrian embassy, in Belgrave Square, London, was one of the early casualties of the Blitz - poetic justice! Not long before the war it had been completely redecorated by Harrods at enormous cost, which included yards of gold leaf. My father-in-law was foreman of the job.

Music: The righteous sister

Lauryn Hill is stealing hip hop back from the menace of gangsta. How? By steeping herself in the history of black female divas. It's not just about rap; it's a battle for the soul.

Author's pounds 5m bequest provides poetic justice for Oxford University

THE CONTROVERSIAL world of Oxford poetry received a pleasant shock yesterday with the news that an eccentric, and mostly unread, British author has bequeathed pounds 5m to an Oxford college, to endow a fellowship specifically devoted to teaching students how to write poetry.

Markets: Down

EMI, the world's third-largest recorded music company, said first- half profit from operations fell 22 per cent to pounds 39.8m as recession in parts of Asia and a slumping economy in Brazil hit sales. The shares fell 10 per cent last week.

Down

EMI GROUP, the world's third-largest recorded music company, said first-half profit from operations fell 22 per cent to pounds 39.8m as a recession in parts of Asia and a slumping economy in Brazil dragged down sales. The shares fell 10 per cent last week. EMI, whose recording artists include Garth Brooks, Janet Jackson and the Beastie Boys, has been seeking partners. Speculation has centred on Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Germany's Bertelsmann, which last week denied plans for a merger.

Pop: Red is the colour, bloodless the sound

REPUBLICA DINGWALLS LONDON

Books: Nice painting, shame about the wife

John Everett Millais, a Biography by G H Fleming, Constable pounds 20

American Times: Los Angeles - Rabbi of Venice Beach puts his faith in the stars

MOST SUNDAYS, you can find Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz among the tarot- card readers, fortune-tellers and incense-sellers on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles with a booth of his own: "Jewish Astrology".

Pop Music: Nice song - shame about the show

JANET JACKSON WEMBLEY ARENA LONDON

Rock music: Janet Jackson gets lost in her own limelight

ONE DAY, Janet Jackson may rearrange her songs for piano and voice and schedule an intimate tour of the country's jazz and blues clubs, but it's safe to say that that day won't arrive until Madonna, Kiss, Jean- Michel Jarre and the cast of Beauty and the Beast: The Musical have done the same thing. More than anyone else in pop, Janet - she and I aren't quite on first-name terms, but on some posters she has dropped the Jackson - can be relied upon to put on an enormous theatrical extravaganza. If pounds 22.50 seemed steep for a ticket to her performance at the SECC in Glasgow on Wednesday, once you'd seen the mobile video screens, the surreal stage sets, the dancing troupe, the many costumes and the pyrotechnics, you wondered how she managed to break even.

Technology strikes a worrying note

CD copying and the internet are wreaking havoc, says David Brierley

Music: More Than Music

Publisher, car designer, actor, musician, the ever-fruitful David Bowie has just finished Everybody Loves The Sunshine with Goldie. Already the cameras are rolling for Bowie to star alongside Harvey Keitel in a Spaghetti Western called My West.
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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
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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