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All-cash deal is the second largest in Google's history after the $12.5 billion acquisition of mobile phone maker Motorola in 2012

Optimism rises in service sector

A glimmer of good news broke through the gathering clouds of recession yesterday, as the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply revealed that managers in the service sector – representing about 70 per cent of the economy – are at their most optimistic about prospects in three months.

Flagging confidence has spread to business services, says CBI

Falling profitability and flagging confidence have spread from the consumer sector to Britain's business and professional services firms, a survey of the services industry shows.

Britain lurches towards recession

Fears that Britain may soon slide into recession were fuelled yesterday by news that the economy grew by just 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, down from the already poor 0.3 per cent recorded in the first three months of the year and the weakest rate of growth in three years.

Minutes show split over rates decision

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee split three ways when it met to set interest rates earlier this month. Although the MPC voted by 8 to 1 to keep rates on hold, the minutes of the meeting, published yesterday, suggested some members were keen to raise rates immediately to dampen inflationary pressures, though in the event they voted for no change.

Instructions for Modern Living, Barbican, London

"Have you ever noticed," asks Duncan Sarkies, "that in just about every children's story you've ever read there's a happy ending?" And have we never realised, he says, the coercive aspect of such injunctions as "Merry Christmas"?

New limits on firms offering tax break on share options

Many employees of small businesses may lose their entitlement to tax relief under Budget provisions on the enterprise management incentive (EMI) scheme, despite an announcement from the Chancellor that he would make the initiative more generous.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Directed by George Stevens

Inventory figures worst since 1973

Indications of underlying weakness in the economy came yesterday as the Office for National Statistics confirmed that the UK economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2007, giving an official annual growth rate for the year of 3.1 per cent, in line with previous estimates.

Dismal data on US services spook markets

Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic endured another difficult day as a round of depressing economic data pummelled the exchanges yesterday.

Leading article: The heart of the matter

Bernard Ribeiro, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, is evidently a brave man. The heads of professional bodies do not usually prosper by demanding more transparency from their members. And one suspects that Dr Ribeiro's suggestion that Britain's 6,000 surgeons should make their clinical records available to patients is unlikely to be greeted with wild enthusiasm by the RCS.

Contractors warn over hospitals 'deep clean'

Gordon Brown's much trumpeted hospital "deep clean" is in danger of becoming a "£50 million flash in the pan", cleaning contractors warned today.

Secuestro Express (18)

If you really must scare yourself this week, try Jonathan Jakubowicz's harrowing kidnap drama for size. It recounts the quite nightmarish ordeal of a young couple, Carla (Mia Maestro) and Martin (Jean Paul Leroux), who emerge from a Caracas nightclub straight into the itchy hands of three gun-toting thugs, the kidnapping of the affluent middle-classes being at epidemic levels in the Venezuelan capital. Most abduction dramas vary the pace as the victim acclimates to the surroundings; this one just goes at headlong, terrifying speed through 24 hours of vicious criminality. Here is a place so dangerous that you can be held up even while someone else is kidnapping you. No use looking to the police for help; they're scumbags and rapists too. Jakubowicz, who had a struggle on his hands getting this feature debut made, films in a city as divided as Victorian London between privilege and privation, and the stink of class war rising from its ghetto housing is almost palpable. Venezuela for a holiday? You'd have to be Caracas.

Slowdown threatens to put Brown forecasts at risk

The economy is braced for a sharp slowdown early next year according to a raft of gloomy forecasts published today which cast further doubt on the Chancellor Gordon Brown's ambitious growth targets.

Industrial output stalls, leaving growth weakest since last year

A slump in British industrial output in the third quarter led to the weakest economic growth since early last year.

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Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

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Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

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Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

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Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen