Ex-footballer's son James Francis denies burglary

The son of former England footballer Trevor Francis has denied stealing ladies' shoes and souvenir football shirts from a cottage belonging to ex-Aston Villa player Lee Hendrie.

Children paddle against the backdrop of Wastwater in the Lake District

Timeless fells, hosts of golden daffodils...and piles of ashes: Lake District Park Authority urge mourners to dispose of remains carefully

Mourners who scatter the ashes of relatives or beloved pets are being asked to be more considerate

Classical review: Don Carlo, Royal Opera House, London

The reason for the buzz surrounding this revival became clear as Jonas Kaufmann launched into his rapturous opening aria. His phrasing was exquisite, and his projection - underscored by distant horn-calls - was perfect, with its gentle falls into half-voice; his whole being radiated ardent nobility.

Pressed cuttlefish with parsley salad

Pressed cuttlefish with parsley salad

Serves 6-8

'Severe' blaze hits Birmingham's Smurfit Kappa paper mill

Ten thousand tons of cardboard has been burning through the night in a “severe” fire at a paper mill.

I agree with Mr Gove - learning by rote can be the basis of a good education

A hundred eminent educationalists have written to The Independent to complain about the new national curriculum. I may sound like an old fart, but I think they're wrong

Filtrona wraps up £160m deal

Reckitt Benckiser's former finance director Colin Day has wasted little time in his new role as the chief executive of plastic products supplier Filtrona.

Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme

Wolves goalkeeper suffers freak injury after punching tactics board

Carl Ikeme hurt himself in frustration after an uncharacteristic mistake

A viewers’ survival guide during the BBC strike

No Today? No worries. A viewers' survival guide

Yesterday, fans of Bill Turnbull et al were alarmed upon turning on their televisions to discover Bargain Hunt, while Today was switched for The Kitchen Cabinet. Of course, it was due to an NUJ strike.

Amit Drori’s Savanna: A Possible Landscape as part of the London International Mime Festival

Savanna, A Possible Landscape, Barbican Pit, London

Amit Drori’s Savanna looks like a mechanical Eden. Enchanting robot creatures nose the air and investigate the stage: a trundling tortoise, a springbok made of springs. There are “ohhhs” of wonder and delight as each new animal emerges.

IoS book review: Gun Machine, By Warren Ellis

A cop with your throat in his sights

President Chavez had a fourth round of cancer surgery last month

Venezuela forced to face prospect of life without president Hugo Chavez

Under the constitution, new elections must be held if the President is too ill to be sworn in

Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates,
Birmingham Hippodrome

Brian Conley goes from the I'm A Celebrity... jungle to a Caribbean island in Birmingham

Hammer and tickle

Two satirical shows of Soviet art at the Saatchi Gallery mock past and present regimes. Michael Glover delights in their dark humour

Rents rise slowly to record levels

The average rent in England and Wales is now £744 per month

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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
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas