Voices

Francis has already used the symbolic power of his office to change attitudes

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Is it worth paying extra for insurance that includes supplier insolvency cover?

Q. For a week's package holiday with my daughter in Menorca, is it worth paying extra for insurance that includes supplier insolvency cover?

Susan Priest, Hertfordshire

Six killed in explosion in Manila apartment complex

The death toll from a powerful explosion that ripped through an upscale apartment complex in the Philippine capital has risen to six, including the crew of a passing delivery van that was hit by debris, authorities said on Saturday.

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: How much should I tip in restaurants in Italy?

Q. How much should I tip in restaurants in Italy?

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Is it best to pay for my Palma hotel room with cash, debit or credit card?

Q.  I will be visiting Palma in July and have booked the hotel independently. I was wondering if you could advise me what would be the most economic way to pay the bill? With euros purchased here, with a debit or credit card, or to draw cash in Palma and pay that way?

Frances Eden

A tyre burns as Thai soldiers clash with anti-government protesters at Bangkok's financial district May 14, 2010. The Thai army fired rubber bullets into Lumphini Park in central Bangkok on Friday after gunshots were heard near an encampment that anti-government protesters have occupied the past five weeks, Thailand television said.

Italian photojournalist was killed by high-velocity bullet used by Thailand army

An inquest said it was unknown who fired the bullet and stopped short of outright blaming the military

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Do you know anything about the Honk Car Rental firm?

Q.  We need to rent a people-carrier for a holiday in Switzerland. I have found a company called Honk Car Rental which promises "We're like those mystery deals you sometimes get for hotels, but instead for car rental". Being very cautious, I follow the maxim, that anything that appears too good to be true, probably is. So before paying for a car, do you know anything about them?

Peter Canton

British woman killed in Malaysia after being hit by motorboat's propellers while snorkelling 'outside safe swimming zone'

Madaline Cole suffered extensive injuries to her body and legs and died before reaching hospital

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Has easyJet let down its passengers with new on-board travel bag sizes?

Q.  With the announcement of the new guaranteed on-board travel bag sizes by easyJet from 2 July, it seems the luggage industry has been caught out. It's almost impossible to find luggage 50 x 40x 20. We have also just bought a 55x40x20 case and it will not qualify after 2 July 2013. Would you agree that easyJet has let down its passengers?

Ken Stone

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Have I been overcharged for this minor Emirates booking change?

Q. I booked an Emirates flight to Durban online, with what I was told was a special fare as I am a Skywards member. I chose the departure from Manchester at 2.10pm as our usual departure time of 9pm was not shown on the schedule. This meant a 10-hour wait at Dubai.

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Can you clear up a disagreement over International Driving Permits in California?

Q. Can you clear something up for me please, a colleague is insisting that I need to purchase an International Driving Permit to drive in California; I have been going to California for nigh on 20 years and I have a full picture driving licence which has always been sufficient. Would you recommend getting an IDP for the future? It seems a bit of a money-making racket to me.

Ed Dunham

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Other than Paris, any ideas for a city break where I can take my daughter?

Q. Simon, it's my daughter's 21st birthday in late August, I'd like to take her on a city break to somewhere not too expensive to get to but which will give her great memories. By the way, we've been to Paris.

Sarah Gee

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: Can I avoid immigration queues in the US?

Q. I have flight to New York JFK from Bristol via Dublin in July. You said on Saturday that JFK is among the worst in America for long immigration queues. Can I avoid them, and can you point to a web link to show what we do at Dublin?

Patrick Mason, Taunton

Battersea Power Station project gains $1bn sales

The developers of Battersea Power Station broke through the $1bn (£660m) sales barrier yesterday amid “phenomenal” interest in new flats and townhouses at the London landmark.

Simon Calder's Helpdesk: How much do I need to worry about the scary advice on Quito in Ecuador?

Q. We've booked to go to Quito in Ecuador, but the advice from the FCO is scary to say the least. Can you advise?

Mike Pennick, Hindhead, Surrey

An Arsenal official offers an Gunners jersey to Doan Nguyen Duc

Jim Armitage: Doan Nguyen Duc, the Vietnamese Arsenal fan and the land grab claims

Blog raises serious concerns over Gunners’ partnership with the tycoon’s company

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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