News

Temporary power firm Aggreko — responsible for keeping the lights on and the cameras rolling at the last World Cup in South Africa and at the London 2012 Olympics — has been chosen by FIFA to perform the same duties across 12 different venues in Brazil.

In the sticks: Just put your lips together and blow

DOUG IS getting restless, his empire is not expanding at the required rate. It's the fault of this nice weather really. While it was raining enough to provide Gene Kelly with a set to sing on in every field, Bob our neighbour (he with the licence to kill moles with his bare 12-bore) had nothing much better to do with his time but worry about the price of straw and how to sell us a bit of field for the price of three Seychellois islands. But now the sun has put on a Panama, he and all the other farmers round here have gone into hyper-drive like a classful of five-year-olds out of their trees on tartrazine, and Bob hasn't time to negotiate about land sales. So Doug's poly tunnel erection schedule is more than a little behind.

Creativity

Our request for things to do with a Panama hat, a tin of sardines and a packet of Polos has been met with some suspicion by AJ Brewer. "At first sight," he writes, "the Panama hat seems to be the odd one out. The sardines are wholesome, the Polos are holey - could it be that the Panama hat is in mint condition and therefore qualified to join the others to form this trinity?" On deeper reflection, however, he has decided that the polos are in fact Magic Circles to be used to pull rabbits out of the hat. The rabbits could then be bred, which, with the addition of an "a" from Panama (which has more than its fair share of them) would make bread to eat with the sardines.

Flight of the world's great dictators

As President Suharto contemplates life after dictatorship, his fellow despots show it is possible still to find a safe haven

Racing: Florazi can maintain his rise to the top

Simon Holt (right) of the Channel 4 Racing team gives a runner- by-runner analysis of today's Tote Credit Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock Park

Surviving Colombia's killing fields

Thousands have died as guerrillas fight paramilitaries, troops and each other. Phil Davison visits a nursery for children scarred by `la violencia'

El Nino helps wash away half a century of warfare

THE world knows that El Nino has been a very bad boy, changing weather patterns around the globe, causing storms, floods and tornados, killing hundreds and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. But "the Boy Child", named after the Christ child because the weather phenomenon first appeared during a past Christmas, may soon be credited with promoting a Christ-like act of peace.

A Dame's Demise: How homes for votes caused downfall of the Iron Lady of local politics

The homes for votes scandal has virtually driven Dame Shirley Porter into exile in Israel. A decade ago, says Ian Burrell, she was the publicity-hungry Iron Lady of local government, with a family fortune and friends in high places.

Anglian steps up foreign moves

Anglian Water is confident it can generate 10 per cent of its pre-tax profit from overseas by 2005, as it speeds up growth away from its regulated core water and sewerage business, writes Edward Orlebar.

Preview: listen butch hancock

Cults do not get much more cultish than Butch Hancock. Unjustly a complete unknown to the vast majority of the music-buying public, Butch Hancock is a hero to students of "alternative country". Having started out alongside Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore in the legendary Flatlanders in the 1970s, he went on to carve out an idiosyncratic solo career while pursuing his other interests, including photography, art and leading river- raft trips - pushing out tapes on his own Rainlight label. With unique takes on politics and life, such as "Talkin' About That Panama Canal" and "Smokin' In The Rain" taking their place alongside songs such as "West Texas Waltz" and "If You Were a Bluebird" that have been made - relatively - famous by Ely, much of this material now appears on two compilations. But as with the Austin, Texas scene's other oddball multi-talented genius, Terry Allen, Hancock has an independent attitude worthy of somebody often seen as the Lone Star State's answer to Dylan and has therefore enjoyed a career more stop-go than his devoted fans would like. Tuesday, however, sees a rare London appearance at The Weavers, and a new album, "You Coulda Walked Around The World", is imminent, too.

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Poor, poor Jonathan (not that he was a friend)

I See from my diary that I have, on occasion, found myself at Mr Jonathan Aitken's house in Lord North Street. But my visits have been infrequent: no more than a dozen times a year since the early 1970s, often fewer. Last year, for instance, I visited the building on only 10 occasions, and I have no record of having enjoyed myself at all.

A man, a plan, a canal

Panama was the engineering miracle that changed the world by dividing a continent.

British raider Sasuru lands Prix d'Ispahan

Geoff Wragg's Sasuru continued his relentless progress when landing a short-neck victory over fellow British raider Wixim in the Group One Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp yesterday.

Racing: Show time for Sangster

Sue Montgomery discovers there is a great deal at stake in today's Classic

Cruising into the future with the ship that dreams are made of

It is not a bird, nor a plane, but one man's vision of the future for luxury cruises.

Panama's mission to conquer Italy

Shergar, Henbit and Quest For Fame all emerged from the Chester Vase to win the Derby and there was another Classic tremor yesterday when Panama City was successful at the Roodeye. They are shaking in their boots at the Capannelle, where Peter Chapple-Hyam's colt is likely to appear next in the Italian Blue Riband.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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