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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Mark Ravenhill rehearses with the RSC

Wooster Group and the RSC: Strange bedfellows...

New York experimentalists The Wooster Group are joining forces with the RSC for an unconventional Troilus and Cressida. Matt Trueman drops in on rehearsals

A lot of huffing and puffing but HuffPo has yet to find its niche

After the grand fanfare from Arianna Huffington, I've been slightly disappointed by the impact of her eponymous website since its arrival in the United Kingdom a year ago.

Comic strip for intellectuals: Gaiman announces surprise Sandman prequel

Neil Gaiman, the comic book writer, novelist and screenwriter, is to return to the series that helped launch his career with a new edition of The Sandman in time for the celebrated work’s 25th anniversary. 

Mitt Romney, 3rd from left, poses with other partners at Bain Capital during his tenure at the firm. He has been accused of staying on at Bain for three years longer than his claimed departure date

Was Romney's blighted spell at Bain three years longer than he admits?

Mitt Romney wants the election to be about the under-performing US economy. Alas however, the main topic on the campaign trail this week has been his business affairs, and yesterday brought more trouble: charges that he stayed on as head of Bain Capital, the private equity group where he made his fortune, for three years beyond his claimed departure date.

Lear, left, as Irina Arkadina in 'The Seagull' in Washington in 1978

Evelyn Lear: Soprano lauded for her ‘supreme’ portrayal of Berg’s Lulu

She sang more lyrical roles after a vocal crisis caused by too many modern, demanding parts

Former president Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter attacks Barack Obama over assassinations and drone attacks

Former president Jimmy Carter has blasted the United States for anti-terror strategies such as targeting individuals for assassination and using unmanned drones to bomb suspected targets, saying they directly flout the basic tenets of universal human rights and foment anti-US sentiment.

Hermione Eyre: Sex and drugs and folderol – this Jane Eyre mash-up gives me the vapours

No heroine of Victorian literature is safe. A steamed-up version of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece is going to be published in August, under the title Jane Eyre Laid Bare.

HBO's Girls - Here comes trouble

Critics loved Lena Dunham's new series – till they saw it, and all hell broke loose.

Paul Krugman

Interview with economist Paul Krugman: 'Greece will leave eurozone within 12 months'

At last year’s Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York a superhero made his debut. He was a bearded figure called “Krug man”, who set about vanquishing the minions of the evil financial services empire with his fearsome “macro mallet”. The unlikely cartoon champion was based on Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist.

Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman in 'Hemingway & Gellhorn'

Television: The importance of being Ernest (and Martha)

The reviews are in for Hemingway & Gellhorn, the racy HBO television movie that aired in the US this week, and they're almost as hotheaded as the films' subjects.

Terence Blacker: Time to put email, Twitter and texts in their place

The landline telephone rings only occasionally these days and, when it does, it often brings a call-centre hustle of some kind. Yet every day passes in a blur of staccato communication with the outside world: can you do this? Have you seen that? Nudge, link, like, follow. The rhythm of online correspondence provides an easy sort of company, and can sometimes – not always – make life more convenient, but there is a price to be paid. We are losing the art of conversation.

Terence Blacker: Don't confuse talk with genuine conversation

The landline telephone rings only occasionally these days and more often than not, when it does, it brings a call-centre hustle of some kind. Yet every day passes in a blur of sustained, staccato communication with the outside world: can you do this? Have you seen that? Nudge, link, like, follow.

Secret Service agents sacked over prostitutes

The US Secret Service is moving quickly to quell a prostitution scandal, sacking three agents less than a week after the embarrassing incident came to light.

The brand has quickly, and carefully, cultivated a following among downtown scenesters and fashion industry types

Any colour, as long as it's black

Johan Lindeberg brings decades of denim expertise to his latest label. Peter Lyle meets the designer

The Belgian-born designer, Raf Simons, was the creative director at Jil Sander

Simons steps into Galliano's shoes as new head of Dior

Belgian designer to take up 'poisoned chalice' after his predecessor left the label in disgrace

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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