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

Bo Xilai at the National People’s Congress in Beijing in March

China strips disgraced politician Bo Xilai of his last official position

China stripped disgraced politician Bo Xilai of his last official position today, formally expelling him from the country's top legislature and setting the stage for criminal proceedings against him.

Mourners weep during the funeral procession for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in snowy Pyongyang

Leave 'no trace of him behind, down to the hair': North Korean official 'executed with mortar round' after drinking during mourning period for Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il

A North Korean army minister has reportedly been executed after drinking during the mourning period for Kim Jong-il.

China: Top-ranking military officers reshuffled

Beijing has named a new air force commander and reshuffled other top military positions ahead of next month's appointment of new Communist Party leaders.

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-56

Communism's end was in its beginning

Cuba relaxes its grip on exit visas

Cuba eases travel abroad for many citizens

FIFTY years after the Cuban missile crisis, there are signs even Cuban government is beginning to relax.

Ruthless and charming, Cambodia mourns its ‘King-Father’

Cambodia mourns its ruthless and charming 'King Father'

The body of Cambodia's former king, Norodom Sihanouk, will be displayed for up to three months before a large state funeral is held for the mercurial and widely loved monarch who died after suffering a heart attack.

The last bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin was dismantled in the capital, Ulan Bator

Ulan Bator says goodbye, Lenin

The last bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin was dismantled in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, yesterday. The monument was hoisted off its plinth in a park and dropped on to a flat-bed lorry at a ceremony attended by the Mayor, Bat-Uul Erdene.

European Union earns the Nobel Peace Prize – and a few brickbats

Greeks and Ukip unite to condemn the award for ‘transforming’ a warring continent

Archive on 4: A Life in History, Radio 4, MondayNight Waves, Radio 3, Monday

Better red than dead – the life of Comrade Hobsbawm

Scattered Sand: The story of China's rural migrants By Hsiao-Hung Pai

The painstaking journalism here offers remarkable insights into the plight of China's new citizens

Review Round-up: J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy

As of 8 a.m. this morning, the most anticipated book of the year was available to read and review without the threat of walloping legal action. Hundreds of fans will be sneaking chapters on their loo-breaks. But has The Casual Vacancy cast a spell on critics?

Police carry away the body of Zhou Kehua from the spot he was shot dead

China ends biggest-ever manhunt with deadly show of its authority as Zhou Kehua is tracked down

'Most dangerous man' cornered and killed by police in show of strength by a ruling party under pressure

Deconstructing Gaming: Sonic on the couch

The first in our semi-regular, and most certainly satirical, character assassinations of gaming's virtual icons.

Disgrace: The former golden couple Gu Kailai and Bo Xilai; she awaits trial, he is being held

Old Harrovian murder holds China in thrall

Prosecutors claim 'irrefutable' evidence of Gu Kailai's involvement

Inner emigration: Hitler Youth rally, in Germany, in 1935

Not Me: Memoirs of a German Childhood, By Joachim Fest, trans. Martin Chalmers

Can this historian's proud record of his family and youth show why Germans fell for Hitler?

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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