Sport A snowboarder flies through the center ring of the Olympic Rings, triggering an explosion of snow and ice off the rings during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Almaty, Krakow, Lviv and Oslo are the others hoping to stage the games

Philippine Muslim rebel faction rejects talks

A rogue Muslim rebel commander in the Philippines has formed a separate faction of several hundred fighters and rejected peace talks to end the decades-long secessionist rebellion, leaders of the guerrillas today.

Joseph Conrad's Malaysia: Cruise exotic cross-currents of food and culture

My purest Joseph Conrad moment in Malaysia came after a dawn flight from the island of Penang down the coast of the peninsula to Kuala Lumpur. Half-awake, I stumbled into the KL arrivals hall to find it a sea of white robes. The crowd trailed cardboard monoliths of baggage tied in string: they were hajjis, just returned from Mecca.

Unveiled: Work by Anthony Burgess suppressed for years

The exclusive Malaysian school where the author taught finally allows his ode to be performed

Deborah Ross: Office workers have the things I yearn for

If you ask me... I yearn to use the post and the telephone and the photocopier for personal reasons.

Base-jumping Austrian to break sound barrier – if he can take off

In a world that has been comprehensively conquered from Pole to Pole, where younger explorers successfully scale our tallest peaks each year, and where satellites have mapped every last square kilometre of our planet, there are few truly outrageous challenges left to overcome.

Halal cosmetics scent the sweet smell of success

Beauty products produced without alcohol or pork are beginning to appeal to women who want Islamic ethics with their eyeliner

Base jumpers hurl themselves off Kuala Lumpur Tower

Leaping off the Kuala Lumpur Tower from more than 1,000 feet off the ground isn't for everyone but for Daniel Witchalls it's pretty much just another day at the office.

Open Jaw: Alan Whicker at 84

Where readers write back

Nathan Robertson: 'I'm going to the Games – it's not ideal but I've seen this before'

I have never had any doubts about going to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games. I've seen things like this happen before. At the Athens Olympics in 2004 venues were still being finished and painted. I remember walls were being put up during the competition.

Reality show concludes hunt for 'ultimate young imam'

An Islamic reality TV show that made its contestants counsel promiscuous teenagers and bury corpses has named a mosque prayer leader as Malaysia's top role model for young Muslims.

Malaysia: Discover Asia's secret shores

Far from the cosmopolitan bustle of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's east coast offers secluded islands, tranquil beaches and dramatic rainforest – all at bargain prices

300 tortoises seized at airport

Tortoises may move slowly, but even a little movement can be a lifesaver. Customs staff at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport noticed something stirring in two bags and discovered 301 tortoises hidden amid shredded paper.

Before I Sleep, Old Co-op Building, Brighton Festival

There's a sign at the end of Dreamthinkspeak's new work, a promenade piece in a defunct department store, which implores the departing audience not to tell others about the contents of the show lest they give too much away.

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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
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