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Scientists observed snakes "slithering" through the air to stay aloft

'I'm a Marine get me out of here!': Stomach-churning images show US soldiers drinking cobra blood

Soldiers pictured are among 13,000 taking part in an annual jungle challenge

A life as dramatic as any of her songs: McCready in Nashville in 2000

Mindy McCready: Talented but troubled country singer

In 1996 Mindy McCready burst on to the American country music scene with her album Ten Thousand Angels, and a No 1 single, "Guys Do It All the Time". She was a troubled individual and the pressures of success only compounded her problems. She described her own existence as "a whirlwind of chaos" – and after a life as dramatic as any of her songs, McCready apparently took her own life on 17 February.

Performers are seen during preparations for Chinese New Year in Chinatown

Exit the Dragon, enter the Snake! It's Chinese New Year

Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Snake – and the capital is hosting what the Greater London Authority claims is the largest celebration outside Asia.

Sssssssshhhhhh he's trying to read: As China prepares for the year of the snake pictures show a zoo owner's remarkable relationship with the creatures

As China prepares to welcome in the year of the snake, pictures have been published showing one zoo owner in the Philippines who has an extraordinarily close relationship with the creatures.

Douglas Gordon's latest film will be unveiled to audiences at the Berlin Film Festival next month

Losing it in Laos: An adventure in Vang Vieng that almost went down the tubes

It's tough to recall after almost 10 years what posed the greatest risk in the flooded cave in which I'd become hopelessly lost: the darkness or the snake that patrolled black pools of frigid water. I was in Laos and a place I would later regret visiting. Vang Vieng used to be a sleepy river village in country known for its calm and natural beauty. Then came tubing. Every day, scores of feckless backpackers in bikinis and boardshorts float down the Nam Song on tractor inner tubes, turning pink as they guzzle cheap beer and leap off rocks. As the activity boomed, so did the number of 'happy' pizzas and vomiting teenagers, helping to turn the town into an ugly scar on the southeast Asia traveller trail.

The Fashion Audit: Longchamp, python-embossed manicure and cuddly companions

What we love, we're not sure about, we're buying and can't wait for...

A spring in your step

Forget the dregs of the winter sales and inject your wardrobe with some of the biggest trends of the pre-collections, says Gemma Hayward

Queensland: Deadly snakes hatch in wardrobe

As three-year-old Kyle Cumming slept peacefully in his Queensland home, a clutch of wild eggs he had discovered in his backyard were incubating in his wardrobe.

A not-so-new dawn for the Japanese

Shinzo Abe has promised to restore his country's fortunes. By David McNeill in Tokyo
Newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to restore his country’s fortunes via a huge spending drive and a more aggressive foreign policy

Can Japan's new leader make the nation rise again?

Newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to restore his country's fortunes via a huge spending drive and a more aggressive foreign policy. So could he succeed? David McNeill reports

James frontman Tim Booth talks snakes, near death experiences and trance states

'She's A Star' singer says James' upcoming new album is infused with sadness

A splash of the special treatment

From peppermint facials to artificial ice caves, Juliet Kinsman hits the on-trend spas

A genetically modified cow that produces milk for allergic children

Must Watch: Anaconda is filmed regurgitating an entire cow

Ever feel so hungry you could eat an entire cow? One anaconda did*.

Helen Flanagan leaves I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

After tears, fears, bush tucker trials, fake tan and hugs, the Coronation Street star is out of there

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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
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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
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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
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Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all