News North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks past his uncle Jang Song Thaek - Jang Song Thaek is reported to have been executed for 'attempting to overthrow the state'

Claims that secretive communist regime has carried out a further brutal purge of those the young leader sees as a threat to his authority

Portfolio: Christian Jankowski reinvigorates interest in Poland's monuments with the help of champion weightlifters

Destroyed by the Second World War, and still raw from both Nazi occupation and its subsequent 45 years of Soviet rule, Warsaw is a city whose history is writ large upon its public spaces.

Postcard from... Berlin

Dressed up in jackboots and the grey uniform of former Communist East Germany’s hated border police, the man-sized bear goose-steps across the cobblestones in front of the Brandenburg Gate. He sidles up to giggling tourists who willingly part with their euros to have pictures taken of themselves being bear-hugged for a souvenir.

China's economic reforms have a long way to go

As you were, apparently. China’s growth in 2013 was precisely the same as 2012, at 7.7 per cent.

Sherlock played by Benedict Cumberbatch as he appears in the third series of the show, which has been a massive hit worldwide

China falls in love with Sherlock as ‘People’s Daily’ calls it exquisite

Zhou Yeling couldn’t wait until 7am for a long-awaited date with her favourite Englishman.

Dissident Gardens, By Jonathan Lethem: Book review - insightful look at radical politics in New York

Music looms large for Jonathan Lethem. In the past, citing Walter Pater's dictum that "all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music", he has said that he tries to make his prose "as musical as I can".

Book review: 'Ping-Pong Diplomacy', By Nicholas Griffin

Of all the subjects for a thrilling tale of espionage, war and diplomacy, ping-pong seems an unlikely contender. All the more intriguing then is the story behind a détente between America and China in 1971, which occurred seemingly out of the blue after 22 years of hostility.

Chinese officials banned from smoking in public as Beijing moves to curb dirty habits

China is the world's largest manufacturer and consumer of tobacco

A man poses with his son as they visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing, where the relaxation of China's hugely controversial one-child policy has been announced

China eases one-child policy and abolishes 're-education labour camps'

State media says China's top legislature has sanctioned the ruling Communist Party's decision to allow couples to have a second child if one parent is an only child.

Members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were given two-year jail terms for protesting against President Vladimir Putin on the altar of Moscow's main cathedral

Pussy Riot: A beacon of hope in Russia’s dark days

The saga sums up the crass stupidity of authoritarian regimes, whose fear of even mild challenges leads them to endlessly create martyrs

KIm Jong-il (left), unlike his son Kim Jong-un, did not stage show trials

John Everard: I doubt that Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Song-thaek will be the last person to die in North Korea purge

Officers in the military will be particularly nervous

North Korean businessmen are summoned back from China after Jang Song Thaek execution

Sources claim 'large numbers' of officials are being called back to North Korea

Jang Song Thaek being escorted to court
Thatcher, pictured with Mandela in 1990, viewed the ANC as revolutionary socialists

Margaret Thatcher branded ANC ‘terrorist’ while urging Nelson Mandela’s release

The Tories don’t have a great record on acknowledging his contribution to peace in South Africa

Books of the year 2013: Fiction in translation

How should authors transform autobiography into self-standing fiction? For Karl Ove Knausgaard, with A Man in Love (translated by Don Bartlett; Vintage, £8.99), this second volume in the Norwegian writer's acclaimed "My Struggle" series mines the everyday material of young fatherhood. Yet he converts it into a stunningly eloquent set of reflections on masculinity, domesticity and the artist's itch to escape.

A Maoist delegation outside London's Chinese embassy in 1967 waving copies of the 'Little Red Book'

London 'slavery' case: The Maoist past of 'Comrade Bala' and his wife, the couple suspected of holding three women against their will in Lambeth

‘If Mao was God, then he was the Pope’, says former activist who knew Aravindan Balakrishnan in the 1970s, when he was expelled from the Communist Party of England

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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