News

Why sloths descend from the safety of the trees once a week to go to the toilet has baffled scientists - but one specialist thinks he has the answer

The British Association for the Advancement of Science: First photographs of 'impossible' crystal

A CRYSTAL with a five-fold symmetry, a structure scientists had thought was impossible, photographed by a team from the Natural History Museum in London, which made the discovery. It believes the photographs of the structure are a first.

Wimpey builds profit on housing recovery

A SHARP recovery in profits from the housing division helped Wimpey back into the black in the six months to June. Confirmation of persistently difficult construction markets and a flat dividend, however, pushed the shares 2p lower to 163p.

Asbestos verdict

AN inquest returned an open verdict on Mary Herridge, 76, of Ryde, Isle of Wight, who died from the asbestos related disease mesothelioma, 70 years after she was exposed to the dust when she played outside the Roberts asbestos textile factory in Armley, Leeds.

T&N welcomes American ruling on asbestos deal

T&N, the engineering and motor components group, said a US court ruling on settlement of asbestos illness claims would cause a fall of about 50 per cent in the charges it has been making to cover asbestos-related costs over the next five years.

Where Shall We Meet?: Sherlock Holmes Hotel

Two and a half million people go to Madame Tussauds every year. Why is their business. Assuming that you will not be joining your pet tourist on this particular jaunt you had better take not the first, not the second but the third cab you see to Dr Watson's bar in the nearby Sherlock Holmes Hotel in Baker Street. The walls are decorated with gushing letters from satisfied customers. They can't have used the bar is all I can say. Service is elementary. Spirits pounds 2.50, minerals pounds 1. No wine: 'This isn't a wine bar. The nuts may well be very nice. They never arrived. They are, however, very liberal with the bookmatches which are adorned with a silhouette of the Great Detective and make nice kitsch souvenirs. Pub hours.

Bottom Line: McAlpine plays safe

RAISING pounds 25m for housing land makes sense for McAlpine - it is the only area of the business showing life. The company is also right not to push its luck with a bigger issue, although its high gearing suggests it ought to, with the sector so out of favour.

Chatset more optimistic

CHATSET, the Lloyd's of London insurance market analyst, today will announce revised predictions for the market's 1991 year of account losses to be announced next week. Instead of a pounds 3bn loss Chatset is now expecting nearer to pounds 2.5bn.

Bottom Line: Little power in Wimpey's bounce

A BOUNCE from losses of pounds 112m to a pounds 26m profit looked impressive, but it included almost pounds 10m of non-repeatable items, and an initial 5p rise in Wimpey's shares was soon replaced by a 9p fall to 209p.

Wimpey reverses three-year downturn

George Wimpey, Britain's second- biggest housebuilder, returned to the black in the year to December, benefiting from a 41 per cent increase in house sales and a reduction in costs in construction and minerals.

Bottom Line: ECC confidence looks well placed

ANDREW TEARE, chief executive of English China Clays, is clearly wary of making himself a hostage to fortune. He eschews promises of unlocking shareholder value in his explanation of the planned demerger of the building materials business. Instead, he says, the rationale is to create two more focused businesses.

Health Update: Asthma linked to poor diet

DIET, rather than pollution, could be the chief cause of the increase in asthma among children over the past 20 years, claim researchers from the University Medical School and Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen. Between 1961 and 1985 the consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat fell significantly, they say. These foods are valuable sources of vitamins and minerals essential for the lungs' defence mechanisms, the researchers argue in Thorax, and low intake raises susceptibility to pollutants and allergens.

Alfred McAlpine shares leap on boost for housing: Disappointing results from minerals and US

SHARES in Alfred McAlpine continued their recent surge, closing 35p higher at 329p after the housebuilder and construction company announced a 43 per cent rise in underlying profits.

SCIENCE / The Great Unsolved Mysteries - Out of the black smoker: 5. The origins of life: Life began on Earth between 3.5 and four billion years ago - but how? Primitive forms probably originated in undersea volcanoes, but what actually got them going? Steve Connor follows the theories from primordial soup to outer space to crystals

GO BACK in time to the dawn of creation, more than four billion years ago, when the Earth was a vast cauldron of volcanic matter. The planet was under intense and destructive bombardment from giant meteorites. There were no oceans and no life.

Staveley sounds growth warning as profits slip

STAVELEY, the measuring equipment and engineering group that also owns British Salt, announced an 18 per cent fall in pre-tax profits for the six months to October and warned that the full-year result is unlikely to be up on last year, writes Tom Stevenson.

City File: Dia Met and Lytton Minerals

AMONG the victims of the great gold ramp earlier this year were Dia Met and Lytton Minerals, two of the smaller companies in the diamond rush in the Canadian Arctic. This is no pipe-dream, for it already involves RTZ, De Beers and Dia Met's backer, the Australian mining giant BHP. First results were highly promising but the gold-share rush cooled enthusiasm.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 12 March 2015
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing