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

Postcard from... Berlin

Communist East Germany may have been killed off with the fall of the Berlin Wall 23 years ago, but its products live on – and on. Some 90,000 former East German citizens queued up in freezing temperatures over the weekend to get into east Berlin's Yuletide phenomenon for insiders – a Christmas market dedicated to selling “Ossiware” – goods that were being produced in East Germany before 1989 and still are.

Kim Jong-Un is the Onion's Sexiest Man Alive for 2012, seriously

In possibly the most hilarious example of Communist-autocratic self-delusion yet to come from modern China, the online version of the Chinese Communist Party's official news paper has fallen for a massive, giant, unspeakably hilarious send-up in satirical magazine The Onion. The People's Daily ran a 55-page photo spread of North Korean dictator and chubby chops Kim Jong Un, oblivious to the fact that when The Onion declared him their Sexiest Man Alive for 2012, they had tongue firmly pressed into cheek. Here's a little snippet. Can you spot the satire?

Tangachai -ri space centre, North Korea

South Korea says North preparing new rocket launch

With fresh satellite images showing increasing activity at its launch site, North Korea could be ready to fire a long-range rocket within several weeks, South Korean officials said Tuesday.

Li Keqiang, set to become China's premier

Li Keqiang urges deeper urbanization to support China's growth

Li Keqiang, set to become China's premier in March, said the nation must deepen its rural-urban population shift to support growth while avoiding the economic stagnation associated with middle-income countries.

Sun Chunlan is one of only two women in the 25-strong Politburo

China's most powerful woman - but how far can Sun Chunlan go?

Critics claim seat at Communist Party's all-male top table will remain closed to new chief of key province

Postcard from... Berlin

The Sex Pistols made a deep impression on Frank Willmann. He first listened to their music at home in communist East Germany at the age of 14. By the time he was 17, he belonged to the group of around 900 East German punks who were subjected to almost daily humiliation and insults from the regular police, the Stasi, and ordinary citizens. “We were banned from all the pubs, discos and youth clubs and on the street we were called scroungers,” he recalls.

Ikea used forced prison labour to make furniture

Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant whose flat-pack offerings grace homes from Bolton to Bangkok, has admitted that East German political prisoners had been used to make its goods for as long as three decades.

Postcard from... Berlin

A Russian MP has waded into a heated political row over the future of Adolf Hitler's birthplace by offering to buy up and demolish the Austrian townhouse in which the Nazi leader was born more than a century ago.

Page 3 Profile: Xi Jinping, Chinese Politician

The new President of China?

Free Tibet: teenage monks and woman in self-immolation protest for congress

Three teenage Tibetan monks and a woman set fire to themselves to protest Chinese rule on the eve of a pivotal Communist Party congress, activists said today.

Soldiers march in Beijing below a portrait of Mao Zedong

China’s top brass promise crackdown after Bo Xilai scandal

Vow comes on eve of crucial meeting to select country’s leaders for the next decade

Postcard from... Beijing

A short episode of Han Suyin's life story became the William Holden-Jennifer Jones romance epic Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, but the Chinese-born writer, who died last week, aged 95, was a true original who witnessed modern Asia in the making and wrote 40 books on modern China.

The Communist elite has endorsed the expulsion of politician Bo Xilai

Bo expelled as party cleans up for handover

The ruling Communist elite has endorsed the expulsion of the disgraced politician Bo Xilai and approved final preparations for the party's forthcoming Congress.

Can Xi Jinping save China from itself?

If you're interested in the direction of the 21st century, clearly the biggest political event taking place over the next few weeks is happening on November 8th. Not, not the American election. That's November 6th. We're talking about the ascension of Xi Jinping to the position of chief of China's ruling Communist Party, which means that he'll be President of China come March. That's a big deal. In their top leader this week, the super-brains of the Economist - where the average staff age, by the way, is 28 - explain why.

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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
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home