Arts and Entertainment

Mohammed Ali  used to boast that when boxing,  he would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. So it is with Germiane Greer. She writes lightly, gracefully even when agitating for a cause. But the words still sting. And unsettle. Here she consciously creates a quasi-religious epic out of a part of her remarkable life when she decided to restore a small, wrecked rainforest in Australia, her homeland. The tone is apocalyptic, themes existential and critical: (wo)man not against, but ardently for wondrous, pitiless and predatory nature. She, the Lionheart, is awed, meets devastation, fears cataclysms, intuits prophecies, bears historical and biological guilt,  seeks redemption and takes stupendous, fervent  action. It really is some story.

Palm oil deal 'a threat to the rainforest'

EC's Renewable Energy Directive will allow greater mix in petrol and diesel

Leading article: Sceptics have their uses

The climate change sceptics have done us all a favour. This may seem a curious view for a newspaper so committed to the cause of environmental sustainability. But, by challenging the consensus view of global warming, the sceptics have tested the flabbier assumptions of that consensus and forced the proponents of the majority view to sharpen their arguments.

Best for Harley heaven: California

There comes a time in life, normally when hair starts thinning and waistbands begin to stretch, when a man's thoughts turn towards a motorbike. Specifically, they turn towards a Harley Davidson, those roaring kings of the open road upon which we can deludedly dream of being transported back to free-spirited days of our youth.

My Week: Lucy Hawley

One of the keepers at London Zoo reveals how the small furry animals in her care reacted to the snow that gripped the country this week

Review of the Year 2009: Climate change

The heat of the moment

Queensland: The Sunshine State offers a taste of sun, sea, sand - and the Outback

Australia's most diverse territory has it all

Swann the shining light as pace men struggle

England 329-8 dec South Africa XI 167-7 <i>(Match drawn)</i>

Best children's books for Christmas

Composing new nursery rhymes that actually work is no easy matter, but Faustin Charles has done so in The Selfish Crocodile Book of Nursery Rhymes (Bloomsbury, £6.99). With a CD included, the book has characters that range from Little Jack Zebra to Twinkle Twinkle Butterfly, all riotously illustrated by Michael Terry. Joanna Skipwith's I Choose You! (Silver Jungle, £5.99) also comes off well. Illustrated by Lisa Jones, each of its creatures has its own rhyme. Order it directly from www.silverjungle.com and £1 will go to help preserve monkeys in the rainforests, away from the pet trade.

Small Talk: Asian Plantations to bring palm oil to Aim

This newspaper has done a sterling job in the last few months highlighting the destruction that is being done to many of the world's rainforests so we can all consume more palm oil.

On The Road: Trials of a rainforest trek, on the hunt for an elusive bird

A loud rustle came from the undergrowth at the edge of the boardwalk. I stopped and waited, holding my breath as I listened. The noise came again, louder this time. Expecting a bush turkey but hoping for a bigger bird, I craned my neck to see more. From under the dry leaves crawled a monitor lizard.

Norway and Guyana sign rainforest deal

Report in <i>The Independent</i> key to $250m investment, says Guyana President

Leading article: A climate change warning we ignore at our peril

Alarming new temperature forecasts show the need for urgent action

Top food firm switches to sustainable palm oil

A leading food manufacturer says it will switch to a "sustainable" source of palm oil for its most famous brands, such as McVitie's, Jaffa Cakes and Penguin.

Claude Levi-Strauss: Intellectual considered the father of modern anthropology whose work inspired structuralism

Claude Lévi-Strauss was the most famous anthropologist of his generation, and one of the leading intellectuals in post-war France. His writings inspired a major intellectual movement, and at least two of his books have already become classics of French literature. He was largely responsible for the development of social anthropology in France.

What lies beneath the rainforest

You want the Amazon to survive? Then pay us not to pump the oil, says Ecuador. Huw Hennessy in Quito reports on a bold initiative
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
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Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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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'