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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News
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Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

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Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
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The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes