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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

Weir drops Ludowici bid

Weir has walked away from a £260m takeover battle for the Australian mining equipment maker Ludowici after being repeatedly outbid by a Danish rival, FLSmidth.

Kazakhstan voters go to the polls

Voters go to the polls today in the oil-rich Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan in elections that are expected to slightly broaden democratic representation in parliament's rubber-stamp lower house.

The sea's rapid disappearance, coupled with an unstable terrain, has become a major concern for environmentalists

Now you Dead Sea it...

Israel would like the salt lake to be declared a wonder of nature. But years of neglect and exploitation mean it is shrinking before our eyes, Donald Macintyre reports from Ein Gedi

Small Talk: Strategic Minerals puts tax concerns aside in Queensland

It has now been a week since the announcement by the Australian government of sweeping plans to curb carbon emissions, with Canberra unveiling a levy on the country's biggest polluters. The continent boasts a vast mining industry, and the news has been met with disappointment among industry groups. Some big- name miners also weighed in, agreeing with the principle of tackling climate change, but not so receptive to the idea of the planned tax on their operations.

Rare-earth metals not so rare after big Pacific find

China's dominance of the production of rare-earth metals, which are used in everything from iPods and flat-screen TVs to missiles, could soon be at an end after Japanese researchers said they had found massive deposits of the minerals on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

Earth matters: Anna Pavord's mulching masterclass

You can shower it in fertiliser and TLC, but a plant is nothing without decent soil

Al Fayed threatens to 'take council to hell'

Mohamed al Fayed today vowed to take Surrey County Council to court if plans to extend a sand quarry on greenbelt land are successful.

Leading article: Better off with the United Nations

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) appears to have disgraced itself once again. In 2004 the reputation of peacekeepers in the country was blackened by reports of UN soldiers sexually exploiting underage local girls. And this week it emerged that UN forces did nothing while as many as 150 civilians – including babies – were raped and assaulted by rebels just 19 miles from their base in the east of the country.

FD quits Timis mining group

Craig Smith is to step down as the chief financial officer of African Minerals, an Aim-listed miner which struck a $1.5bn investment deal with China last month.

Business Diary: The incompetent insider dealers

To succeed at insider dealing – not that we condone it, mind – you need someone to whom you have no obvious link to trade on the secret information you're supplying. This seemed to slip the mind of Jeremy Burley, the managing director of BMS Minerals, a Ugandan company that supplied equipment to the UK's Tower Resources. When he discovered Tower was about to announce a setback on one of its oil fields, Mr Burley told his contact back home to sell his considerable shareholding in the company. They were caught – and fined yesterday by the Financial Services Authority – possibly because the pair were just a little bit linked: Mr Burley's UK share trader was one Jeffery Burley, his dear old dad.

Timis's African Minerals agrees $1.5bn Chinese deal

African Minerals, the mining group with assets in West Africa, has signed a deal with a Chinese steel-maker for a $1.5bn (£989m) investment that will help to develop what its controversial chairman, Frank Timis, says could be the biggest iron ore mine in the world.

Bureau Veritas buys Inspectorate from 3i

The French certification company Bureau Veritas is to buy the British commodities testing and inspection company Inspectorate for £450m in a deal that it predicts will boost its earnings from this year.

Afghanistan's untapped minerals 'worth $3 trillion'

Afghanistan's untapped mineral wealth is worth at least $3 trillion – triple a US estimate, according to the government's top mining official, who is going to Britain next week to attract investors to mine one of the world's largest iron ore deposits.

Afghanistan's resources could make it the richest mining region on earth

Afghanistan, often dismissed in the West as an impoverished and failed state, is sitting on $1 trillion of untapped minerals, according to new calculations from surveys conducted jointly by the Pentagon and the US Geological Survey.

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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
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions