Travel

Springtime, just before the new century began. As Laos is now the new Cambodia, Vietnam was then the new Thailand, and my girlfriend and I had arrived – with our backpacks – to see what all the fuss was about. The capital Hanoi had dazzled, and we were due to take the train 420 miles down the coast to Hué. We were late, though. We were always late.

The Vietnamese believe that three gods reside in each family's kitchen: two male gods and one female. According to their beliefs, the Kitchen God rides a red carp - which some say later transforms into a dragon - on his way to heaven in the 12th lunar month to deliver his annual report on the household's activities
A customs official with a recent seizure of rhino horn

Ferrari factor: How Vietnam's wealthy elite have made rhino horn worth its weight in gold

Customs officials in Thailand and Singapore seized £3.5m worth of rhino horn en route to Vietnam

The bounty marks an escalation in the fight against wildlife crime

$1m bounty on the ‘Pablo Escobar’ of animal trafficking's head

Reward targets Vixay Keosavang in new escalation of fight against this ‘lucrative’ crime

One minute interview: AL Kennedy

Where are you now and what can you see?

A child refugee from the northern province of Raqqa in Syria, reacts from the cold weather in a Syrian refugee camp beside the Lebanese border town of Arsal, in eastern Bekaa Valley

We must offer a place of safety to those fleeing the Syrian conflict

The UN has called on western governments to offer 30,000 resettlement places

Album review: Bruce Springsteen, 'High Hopes' (Columbia)

A few low notes but the Boss has still got it covered

The Liaoning docked at Dalian Port in December 2013

China's Liaoning aircraft carrier completes sea trials

Trial run was notable for near-collision with an American ship

Risner: he led the first flight of Operation Rolling Thunder

Brigadier General Robinson Risner: US airman who served in Korea and was decorated for his leadership of fellow prisoners of war in Vietnam

Long before he retired as a much-decorated brigadier general, Robbie Risner was one of the most celebrated pilots in the US Air Force. He was an ace in the Korean War, shooting down eight Russian-built MiG-15s, and received the Silver Star for a daring mid-air manoeuvre to steer a fellow pilot to safety. More than a decade later during the Vietnam War, he led the first flight of Operation Rolling Thunder, a high-intensity aerial bombing of North Vietnam. He received the Air Force Cross in 1965 for leading air strikes against a strategic bridge in North Vietnam. Later that month he was featured on the cover of Time magazine.

Turkey named as worst country for jailing journalists – again

More journalists have been jailed in Turkey than in any other country for the second consecutive year, followed closely by Iran and China, according to a media watchdog.

Elephant Appeal: No more deaths on the savannah... politicians must act

It’s not too late to do something, but it will be soon

Ronnie Wood for the Elephant Appeal: No more deaths on the savannah... politicians must act

I’m lucky, in a way. I’ve seen the devastation with my own eyes. The rotting carcasses with their heads removed, and the little orphaned babies. When crocodiles and lions kill elephants, they go for the babies, which is heartbreaking to watch when you see it on television. But poachers go for the biggest ones they can, and that means orphans.

5 ways elephants changed history: A brief history of stomping victories and disastrous reversals

It was the arrival of the cannon in the 19th century that finally heralded the end of elephants being used as an instrument of war. Until that time, from as early as 1000BC, they trampled across battlefields around the globe, through wars in places as far flung as Yemen and Sri Lanka.

Chinese students excelled in maths and reading, with the Shanghai region winning in both categories

The Pisa global league table overlooks cultural factors that incentivize learning

It is cultural norms in communities that orient children towards education

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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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 12 March 2015
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss