Two killed by runaway van

Two young people were killed by a runaway van after the driver failed to apply his hand brake properly when he parked it, a court heard today.

Terence Blacker: We need these brilliant obsessives

At a time when the careers of successful authors are as carefully marketed as those of politicians, it is good to be reminded now and then of the true nature of the literary life – egocentric, brutal, unreliable and often fuelled by fantasy and rage.

James Lawton: Blackpool deserve so much more than embarrassment as they step out at the Emirates

Blackpool's arrival at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon is, we have been told by an extremely irritating schoolboy wearing a tangerine-and-white scarf in a TV advert, a matter for unrelieved joy and exaltation.

Letters: No profit in house prices

As a "baby boomer" who bought his first house in 1971, it has been obvious to me throughout this period that rising property prices have not, on the whole, done property-owners any real favours, however pleasant the resultant "feelgood" factor.

Strangled boy's mother had been taken to hospital

The family of a mother questioned over the murder of her two-year-old son were so concerned about her behaviour they took her to hospital the day before she carried his lifeless body into a police station, it emerged today.

Construction in for 'bleak' year

The construction industry faces a "bleak" future after output declined in the first six months of the year, with a further fall forecast in the second half, according to figures published today.

The Works to go on sale for £80m after fast turnaround

The owners of The Works plan to sell the discount bookseller for about £80m, following a significant turnaround at the 270-store chain that fell into administration in January 2008.

Build it and they will come: Family-run company Pedlars is marketing a whole lifestyle

Remember when Jamie Oliver first came into the national consciousness, with that debut love-it/hate-it television series where he bished, bashed and boshed out stylish, accessible and wholesome food for his stylish, accessible and wholesome friends in his stylish, accessible and wholesome warehouse pad? His lifestyle was enviable and, even though a television show, lack of unattractive pals and a Shoreditch loft apartment were out of reach for most viewers, the Oliver style – letting you into his world, including you in the banter and jokes – made it all feel somehow attainable. And thus the sprawling Oliver brand, fingers in more pies at every step, was born.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: The dazzling wings that define summer

What is the supreme marker of high summer? What sensations most come to mind of hot, lazy days? Do you see a yellow beach, a blue pool, or hear the shouts of children splashing? Do you hear the purr of an evening lawnmower? Do you taste rosé wine, chill and savoury in its glass? Do you smell a barbecue aroma wafting across from a neighbouring garden?

UK government pulls interactive spending cuts website

Britain has pulled an interactive website asking the public to suggest ways of cutting government spending citing "attacks" after it attracted a range of bizarre proposals and rants against minorities.

Maria Bethania, Royal Festival Hall, London

Reviewed by Sue Steward

Maoists suspected as train crash kills 61 in eastern India

At least 61 people were killed and 125 injured when a speeding express train ploughed into a stationary passenger train in eastern India yesterday.

61 people killed in Indian train crash

A speeding express train plowed into a stationary passenger train in eastern India on Monday, killing 61 people in a crash so powerful it thrust the roof of one car onto an overpass. Officials said they could not rule out sabotage.

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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
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
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

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
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there