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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
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
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Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

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The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
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'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

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Autumn/winter menswear 2015

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