Sport Sunderland's Jermain Defoe celebrates scoring against Swansea

It feels imperative Sunderland at least get another point at Villa next week

Letters: Nato forces

Nato needs the forces to respond to the new Russian challenge

Cameron dismisses 'abandon the north' call

Tory leader David Cameron today branded a report by a Conservative-leaning think tank which suggested people should abandon northern cities as "complete rubbish".

Cities in North doomed, says favourite Tory think-tank

Struggling northern cities will never be able to regenerate and should be given up, a Tory think-tank with close links to David Cameron concludes today.

Buildings destroyed after rate relief is abolished

Some landlords are already demolishing buildings, as the financial pain of the Government's removal of business rate relief on empty commercial property hits home.

Tories call for review of standards over 'cheating' at universities

An urgent investigation should be carried out into the system for monitoring degree standards in the wake of The Independent's revelations that lecturers were being forced to turn a blind eye to cheating, the Conservatives' universities spokesman said yesterday.

Nigel Morris: A result that puts Cameron on course for Downing Street

The Tories claimed early today that they were on course to evict Gordon Brown from power after they won a steady series of local election victories across England.

You write the reviews: Simon Armitage, Art Gallery, Huddersfield

The poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage looked relaxed as he waited to be introduced to a full house in Huddersfield Art Gallery; born in the town, the 44-year-old was tonight a local boy made good. Clearly, the youthful-looking Armitage of 2008 is an experienced performer. Here, he was in the best sense artful, experimental and yet at ease in his own skin in front of an audience of mainly literary professionals, who were confident of their own tastes and standards. Light entertainment was provided by a series of anecdotes relating to the writing of a recent translation of the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Pet's Corner: How do I help my dog release his pent-up energy?

I have an 8 week-old labradoodle puppy. He is full of mischief. I was wondering how long can I walk him for? Is there any other way of releasing his pent up energy? Thomas Hill, Sunderland

Plans to get every young child speaking a foreign language are on track

Young children may be receptive to languages, but until last year, language teaching in primary schools was a matter of luck. The right head and the right teachers meant that some schools were teaching French, German and Spanish, but, for most, languages were something to be left to GCSEs.

School admissions: How to appeal against a decision

If the estimates are correct, there will be more than 100,000 disappointed parents today who have not got their child into their first choice secondary school.

Preview: Whispering In The Leaves, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Sunderland

It's time to get four to the forest floor

Live Reviews: Peter and the Wolf

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Searching for the big-race winner: Just pick a name that will look right on the roll of honour

It is frequently stated that a good horse never has a bad name, particularly a Derby winner. A glance down the Blue Riband roll of honour shows this to be not entirely true - among 18th and 19th century heroes Waxy, Lapdog, Spaniel, Macaroni and Common are just a few who lack something in nobility and Noble, Eager, Champion, Pope and Sam in originality - but it seems that even so, once a horse earns immortality at Epsom, his name acquires a certain ring.

PR: How to sell without selling your soul

How much of a role does belief play in public relations? Or, for that matter, ethics and scruples? Sarah Ebner asks the professionals how far they would go for publicity
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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
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage