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 15 May 2015
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable