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Not content with being Time's Person of the Year and scoring a Rolling Stone cover, Pope Francis has now achieved superhero status, at least in the eyes of graffiti artist Maupal.

Helen Zille (right), leader of the Democratic Alliance, is hugged by Mamphela Ramphele at the Cape Town conference

South Africa elections: Opposition parties unite to challenge ruling ANC

South Africa’s main opposition party has merged with a smaller group to jointly challenge the ruling ANC in elections in April.

Treasures of the Olympic Winter Games

Book of the week: Treasures of the Olympic Winter Games

Britain may be minnows when it comes to winter sports, but we did invent modern sledding, and we’ve had our moments in figure skating too. Indeed, as this book reminds us, figure skating first appeared on the Olympic schedule in London in 1908.

Tycoon attacked over $150m sale of Congo oil rights that cost $500,000

Dan Gertler, one of the world's most controversial mining tycoons, was back in the spotlight last night over his dealings in the impoverished Democratic Republic of Congo, after it emerged that he is set to sell oil exploration rights that he bought from the government for $500,000 for a staggering $150m.

Xu Zhiyong is charged with ‘gathering a crowd to disturb order’, and could face five years in prison

Xu Zhiyong trial: Chinese activist and lawyer make ‘silent protest’ in court

Mr Xu is charged with 'gathering a crowd to disturb public order', punishable by up to five years in prison

China’s new President Xi Jinping

China's elite linked to 'offshore tax havens'

Relative of President Xi Jinping accused of being a director of an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands

Thai anti-government protesters march as part of their ongoing rallies in downtown Bangkok

Thailand declares state of emergency in bid to quell Bangkok protests

Bangkok and its surrounding provinces will be subject to the decree for 60 days

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses his supporters during a protest in New Delhi

I am an anarchist, says Delhi's chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as he causes traffic chaos with protest in city centre

At around 3pm on Monday afternoon the Delhi traffic police issued an unlikely-sounding message by means of social media.

Andrew Mitchell eventually received a begrudging apology following the 'Plebgate' affair

Damning report on Police Federation: Personal attacks on Andrew Mitchell and Theresa May condemned in review set up after 'plebgate' affair

'We heard of a growing disillusion with the lack of professionalism of some representatives' says report

Protesters at an anti-fascist rally in Moscow yesterday. While Mr Putin says protests are allowed, LGBT activists report being detained and beaten at gay pride events

Vladimir Putin’s gay rights charm offensive ahead of Sochi Winter Olympics is all lies, activists say

The Russian leader is at pains to reassure the West that gay athletes and visitors are welcome at the Sochi Winter Olympics. But Oliver Wright and Alec Luhne in Moscow say the message from the LGBT community is far different

A Thai anti-government protester points a baton towards a building from where protesters suspected a bomb was thrown on an anti-government protest march in Bangkok on 17 January.

Thailand anti-government protests: 31 people injured in Bangkok blast

The explosion in the Thai capital city left the protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban unharmed 

Rahul Gandhi to lead campaign for India's ruling Congress party

Members of India's ruling Congress party erupted in rapturous applause today for Rahul Gandhi, heir to the country's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, who is leading the struggling party's campaign in a general election in May.

Dr Jose Manuel Mireles (third left), one of the leaders of the Michoacan vigilante group pictured with him. He has since been injured in an aircrash that could have been an attempt on his life

Mexico’s last line of defence: The militia taking on the country's drug cartels... and the police officers protecting them

A vigilante militia is marching on the stronghold of The Knights Templar cartel in Michoacan, and attacking the police they accuse of protecting the gang. Can they rescue the failing state?

Mother Paula Andrew stopped by police because her baby wasn’t wearing a coat

Ms Andrew said she refused to give her name and address to officers after they received an anonymous 999 call saying nine-month-old Maddy looked cold

A Thai anti-government protester during the fourth day of the 'Bangkok Shutdown' rally

Thai protesters march on more government offices

Eight have been killed and 450 injured since protests began in November

Bernie Ecclestone, president and CEO of Formula One Management

German prosecutors set to charge Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone over alleged $44m bribe

In 2012, a court sentenced German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to eight-and-a-half years in prison for taking the alleged payment for organising the sale of a large stake in the sport

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
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exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
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Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
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'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
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New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
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Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn