Environment

Critics like to cite research showing the rise in the world’s average surface temperatures has slowed down since 1998. But is it true?

New El Niño threatens world with weather woe

Forecasters say this one is brewing up to be the second-strongest on record

Five luxury escapes in Polynesia

Astonishing beauty comes as standard at these island lodgings.

Trail Of The Unexpected: Christmas card

From Lent (the Netherlands) to Trinity Peninsula (Antarctica) via Jesus Island (Quebec), Christianity can take you around the world – to islands where it is Christmas every day: one in the Pacific Ocean, the other in the Indian Ocean.

Michael McCarthy: Enjoy cold winters while they last

Nature Notebook

Pitcairn abuse victims can claim UK compensation

Victims of child sex abuse on Pitcairn Island will be able to apply for compensation, the Foreign Office said today.

Michael McCarthy: Another summer of sodden misery. Is it bad luck – or worse?

It's getting wearisomely familiar, isn't it? Last summer's toll of sodden misery is with us again as people are flooded out of their homes from one end of the land to the other and, for the second year running, a famous medieval abbey is an island. You could be forgiven for thinking, is this really all just coincidence?

Robinson seeking a ruthless streak

The Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson yesterday looked back on last season's encounters with Munster with mixed emotions – his side had the European champions in trouble in both matches, which is something to be proud of, but lost twice, which is not. The clubs meet again in the new Magners League season at Murrayfield tomorrow and Robinson is desperate for similar effort from his players but different results.

Dylan Jones: I have been having a lot of acupuncture

If you ask me: 'I'm used to lying in small dark rooms as men and women work their magic'

The last king of Tonga?

Tongans have traditionally worshipped their kings. But the incumbent's subjects are increasingly disaffected – and revolution is in the air. Kathy Marks reports

Album: Dennis Wilson, Pacific Ocean Blue (Sony BMG)

His fellow Beach Boys were shocked when, in 1977, their feckless drummer boy became the first Wilson brother to release a solo album: shocked not just that he had found time in his tomcat-hedonist schedule to write and record it, but that it should be so darn good.

A party fit for a king – but not needy Tonga

It will be the party of the century when George Tupou V is crowned King of Tonga in August – and it will be his impoverished countrymen in the tiny South Pacific nation who will bear the expense.

New GSK boss reshuffles his top teams

GlaxoSmithKline's incoming chief executive Andrew Witty took the first step to stamp his authority on the top level of management yesterday by reshuffling the group's senior team.Mr Witty, who takes over from Jean-Pierre Garnier on 22 May, announced the creation of new regional divisions, particularly in the emerging markets, which, he said, "contribute close to 25 per cent of today's market growth".

Threat of development casts a shadow over Hollywood mountain

The Hollywood sign may be the closest thing Los Angeles has to a signature landmark but now the mountaintop directly above the 50ft-high white letters faces the prospect of a multi-million dollar property development that is causing consternation among civic leaders and city residents.

Middlesbrough to go for Curbishley if O'Neill declines

The Middlesbrough chairman, Steve Gibson, will target Alan Curbishley as his new manager if Martin O'Neill turns down the job.

Days Out: London Aquarium

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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
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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'