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From forest cottages and Antarctic cruises to Chengdu and Greece in London

Road accidents in fog claim 21 lives

At least 21 people, including 14 schoolchildren, have died in two traffic accidents in China.

If you go into the woods today... scientists are in disguise

Scientists have perfected the art of animal deception by donning panda costumes when they take panda cubs born in captivity for medical examination, so that they do not get used to the human form before they are released into the wild.

Twin-swapping raises odds on panda survival

A Chinese breeding centre has developed a remarkable technique that fools the mother, meaning many more animals survive

Henry Nicholls: Pandas can survive in captivity – but habitat destruction is their main enemy

Even if reintroducing pandas to the wild is successful, it is still a distraction. Reintroduction is useful in bringing new genes into the wild population, but in terms of numbers, reintroduction is very expensive and of only marginal benefit. Chris Packham has argued that we should allow pandas to die out – "we should pull the plug, let them go with a degree of dignity"– rather than spend money trying to save them, because the panda is "not a strong species" and one that "has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac".

Sichuan sea bass

Serves 10

Oh, go on then... there'll be plenty of room for one of Mark Hix's festive canapés

It's that time of year again – the time when we all start planning our festive get togethers. Preparing snacks for drinks parties can be tricky; you need to keep things simple as you don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen.

CSC sticks with Trafford deal despite bid interest

Capital Shopping Centres pushed ahead with its £1.6bn plan to acquire the Trafford Centre near Manchester last night, shrugging off calls from Simon Property to halt the deal to give the US-based company a chance to prepare an offer for Capital itself.

The Wedding Group, By Elizabeth Taylor

As a Home Counties housewife married to a chocolate manufacturer, the novelist Elizabeth Taylor was never taken as seriously in her lifetime as near- contemporaries, Olivia Manning and Rose Macaulay.

Environmental activist to defy party rulers by attending Nobel ceremony

A prominent Chinese environmental activist has announced she will attend the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo despite attempts by Beijing for a boycott of the event and a crackdown on the country's activists.

The End of the Party, By Andrew Rawnsley

The End of the Party is 895 pages of pretty dense text, including notes and index; and it isn't a single page too long. Andrew Rawnsley's meticulously sourced account of the 13 years New Labour spent in power is a gloriously readable epic, written with wit and clarity. It has the arc of a Shakespearean tragedy, in which Blair's and Brown's formidable personal qualities were finally, fatally undermined by their tragic flaws. It is also a forensic analysis of what went wrong with the New Labour project, resulting in an exhausted party with no clear principles, except to stay in power. Rawnsley perceptively compares New Labour's journey to that of Northern Rock: "Both bank and party had grown out of the self-help and co-operative ethic of... 'the respectable' working class... Both... had been transformed by global capitalism into unrecognisably different creatures."

Record breeding year for the bears who hate to mate

The very existence of China's pandas has long been threatened. The bears are famously terrible breeders and constantly endangered in their natural habitat. But their numbers have been boosted by a record number of births in captivity this year.

Beijing launches lunar probe

China launched an unmanned lunar probe yesterday.

Militants destroy Nato fuel tankers

Assailants launched two separate attacks on tankers carrying fuel for foreign troops in Afghanistan yesterday, a day after the Pakistani government itself shut one down.

Leading article: Wounded pride and public relations

Delhi's Commonwealth Games were supposed to bring India dramatically to the world's attention in a similar manner to Beijing's Olympics in 2008. And so they will. But not in the manner that India hoped. The preparations for the Games have been plagued by construction delays, tales of official incompetence and allegations of official corruption. And with just 12 days to go, the Games are degenerating into an outright shambles. Despite seven years of preparation and public expenditure of £1.5bn (almost six times the original budget) the facilities are still not ready.

County Championship round-up: Shah 'upset' at brush-off by Middlesex

Middlesex may have signed the Australia batsman Chris Rogers and retained the services of England's Eoin Morgan yesterday but club stalwart Owais Shah has been left "deeply upset" after being released.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk