News David Cameron visited East Anglia at the times of the floods to see the damage and meet members of the local emergency services

Repairing or improving flood defences is so expensive that areas of countryside which are still under water could be deserted, says Environment Agency

Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, BBC1 - TV review

The second episode of nature documentary Dolphins: Spy in the Pod (BBC1) was like the visual equivalent of one of those "Sounds of the Ocean" CDs that insomniacs use to drift off. Nothing but calm blue seas as far as the eye can see, and the soothing Scots coo of narrator David Tennant. Well, that and the dolphins, of course.

The site of the rock arch at Porthcothan Bay before (L) and after it was destroyed by the recent storms

Storms destroy Porthcothan Bay rock arch formation at Cornwall beach

The landmark arches have been demolished by high tides and 70mph winds

Best of 2014: Books

Arifa Akbar picks this year’s must-read book releases

Down to the Sea in Ships, By Horatio Clare: Book review - excellent look at ocean-bound trade and exploitation

chances are that you have spent the past two weeks wrapping, unwrapping and wolfing down the stuff brought to you by people like the cheerful rating whom Horatio Clare calls "N".

Women carry offerings at a ceremony honoring Iemanja, Goddess of the Sea, as part of traditional New Year's celebrations on the sands of Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Coast Guard Captain Gregorio De Falco, right, arrives at the Grosseto court - the court was told hundreds of people were still aboard the shipwrecked Costa Concordia when the commander abandoned the cruise liner in a lifeboat

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino 'fled packed ship', court told

'You saved yourself, but I will make a lot of trouble for you,' Coast Official told the captain after he left the ship

UK weather: People urged to remain vigilant as high tides and strong winds continue through the night

Houses been swept into the sea over night as the biggest tidal surge in 60 years hit the east coast. The Environment Agency has urged people to remain vigilant as the high tides continue through the night

Quade Cooper was at his mercurial best for Australia against Wales in Cardiff

Quade Cooper and Aussies show World Cup class in abundance

It remains nothing more than a dot on the rugby horizon – the 2015 World Cup, that is – and pretty much anything could happen in the 664 days between here and there. The club-versus-union conflict could send the whole of the European game into meltdown (perfectly possible); New Zealand could hit a bad patch (it has to happen sometime, surely); the Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie could decide that his predecessor was right all along and chuck Quade Cooper out on his ear (barely conceivable on latest evidence, admittedly).

Book Review: Offshore, By Penelope Fitzgerald

Perhaps a surprise Booker Prize winner in 1979, Fitzgerald’s novel might seem slightly out of date now with regards to its popular culture references, but its focus on the alternative families we create when our biological ones just won’t do is still relevant.

In his image from the European Space Agency ESA, research satellite GOCE flies above earth

GOCE 'space Ferrari' satellite safely re-enters Earth's atmosphere

The satellite has been in operation since March 2009, with its re-entry planned for by scientists and described as only a "small fraction" of annual pace debris

One-tonne satellite hurtling towards earth - but don't panic just yet

Debris from the European Space Agency spacecraft is most likely to fall harmlessly in oceans

Book review: The Profligate Son, by Nicola Phillips

A wealthy gentleman’s son, William Jackson (1791-1828), went seriously to the bad. His short life was one long round of drink, women, and debt – which meant debtors’ prisons and then transportation to Australia where, despite considerable luck, he eventually died, drunk and alone, on a Sydney street aged 38.

Review - Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, By Gaiutra Bahadur. Hurst £20

The plantations of the British Empire around the world faced a serious problem in the 19th century after the abolitionists succeeded in outlawing the slave trade. Where would the labourers come from? India's vast population offered hope. But British public opinion would not tolerate a repetition of slavery.

People affected by Cyclone Phailin wait to be rescued and receive relief supplies in the Balasore district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha

Cyclone Phailin survivors still await rescue as aid workers warn a million will need help

A mass evacuation saved thousands of people from India’s fiercest cyclone in 14 years, but aid workers warned a million would need help after their homes and livelihoods were destroyed.

Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for one-day international caps and centuries

Sachin Tendulkar to retire from international cricket later this year after playing 200th Test for India

The multi-record holding batsman is to call time on his first class career at international level

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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
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Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific