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16 killed in stampede for government jobs

Postcard from... Madrid

For some strange reason, wedging a car into an unnervingingly small underground carpark space has always seemed to be as integral to the average Spanish travel experience as drinking sangria or eating a tortilla de patatas omelette . But now the mystery has been solved.

Postcard from... Bordeaux

The other day I observed the formal induction of the new intake of students at a prestigious college in Bordeaux. Of the 268 students in the hall, 195 of them – more than 72 per cent – were young women, who were about to begin a rigorous 30-month training programme to become judges in the École Nationale de Magistrature.

Postcard from... Barcelona

It is World Cup year, and that can mean only two things: crushing disappointment for England fans (our own fault for believing the impossible) and taxi drivers everywhere displaying faux patriotism by attaching plastic St George’s crosses to their cabs.

Postcard from... Beijing

A state TV exposé on prostitution in China’s “sex capital” and an ensuing police crackdown have drawn criticism from the public, who expressed sympathy for the sex workers.

Postcard from... Paris

What on earth are they smoking in northern France? Hydrangeas, apparently. Police in the Pas de Calais are on the trail of a “hydrangea gang”, which is presumably a direct descendant of the Lavender Hill Mob. Residents of several villages have filed complaints that their prized hydrangeas have been systematically stripped of buds or growing tips. Carefully placed in soil or compost, these buds can develop into new plants.

Postcard from... Mitrovica

They’ve been roughing each other for a century, but now Serbs and Albanians in this ethnically divided city in Kosovo are learning to work together through a sport all about gaining territory: rugby.

Postcard from... Kolkata

There are surely grander places to eat in Kolkata, but there are few where the food is so delicious. Or where the simple pleasure of eating benefits such a worthy cause.

A young woman jumps on a stationary freight train in 'moment of madness' before hitting live overhead cables

Young woman hit by 25,000-volt shock after climbing on a freight train in east London

The 22-year-old is being treated in hospital after the incident on Wednesday night

The War Behind the Wire by John Lewis-Stempel; book review

Colditz; the Great Escape; Bridge on the River Kwai and, recently, the Railway Man. Parodies of them by everyone from Beyond the Fringe to Russ Abbott. All second world war. Memoir after memoir. And yet with the single, powerful exception of the French classic La Grande Illusion, the prisoners of the Great War have gone largely unchronicled.

Postcard from... Berlin

In the Germany the “British Bobby” is still regarded as a model of gentlemanly policing, so Boris Johnson’s proposals to equip the London Met with German-manufactured water cannons has come as a shock.

Postcard from... Madrid

The News Matrix: Monday 27 January 2014

Pregnant woman is taken off life support

The Channel Tunnel connects Folkestone and Calais

Channel Tunnel workers suffer carbon monoxide poisoning while changing tracks

60 people were working in the tunnel overnight when the incident happened, one is in a serious condition

The Grill Room at the Grand, restaurant review: First-class dining in a fantastic heritage setting

For all the cuddly Thomas the Tank Engine nostalgia that surrounds Britain's railway history, it should never be forgotten that this was the story of capitalism in the raw. In the 19th century, fortunes were made but more typically lost and the winners were only too keen to signal their grand ambitions to the world.

Travel special 2014: Soak in the scenery on a train journey from Newcastle to Carlisle

The train between Newcastle and Carlisle runs parallel to Hadrian's Wall and offers a window on some of the most spectacular scenery in England. But the 60-mile Tyne Valley Line is itself a part of history, built in the 1830s during the first era of nationwide railway expansion. Following the path of the Tyne inland from Newcastle, the line passes over two listed viaducts and through five listed stations, including Hexham, which dates to 1835, making it one of the world's oldest purpose-built railway stations.

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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