Voices President Obama urged members of Congress to make 2014 a 'year of action' in his State of the Union address

Institutional flaws have held the President back

Government 'not gung-ho' on Syria says William Hague

Syria's use of chemical weapons is "an evil we must stand up to one way or another", William Hague said, but insisted the Government was not "gung-ho" about military action.

Egyptian former militants try to broker peace between military and Muslim Brotherhood

Two Egyptian former militant groups are offering an initiative to halt the country's political violence, in which supporters of the ousted Islamist president will stop street protests if the military-backed government stops its crackdown on them.

The IPPR wants to force the young to vote. It's a push in the right direction

Libertarians might run a mile, but radical steps are needed

Voting should be made compulsory for young people casting their ballots for the first time, a leading think-tank says

Voting should be compulsory for young people at least once, says think tank

Compelling young  people to participate would forge lifetime habits, IPPR suggests

Zimbabwe gets a bank holiday as Robert Mugabe is sworn in for seventh term

Mr Mugabe will be sworn in for a seventh term, after serving 33 years as head of state

William Hague called the situation in Egypt “very bleak”

William Hague says turmoil in the Middle East could ‘last decades’

The Foreign Secretary also calls the situation in Egypt “very bleak”, but says Britain will support democracy in the country

Syria's shadow now looms over Egypt – and the West is allowing it to lengthen

As rivers of blood flowed in Egypt this week, the frightening crisis in a wounded nation turned even more critical. With each bullet the prospects for peaceful and political resolution to increasingly deep divisions over faith and freedom receded that bit further.

Mugabe, centre left, with his wife Grace; he made the comments at the Heroes' Day rally in Harare

Robert Mugabe tells opponents who dispute Zimbabwe election results to 'go hang... commit suicide'

President dismisses Movement for Democratic Change as Western stooges

Paperback review: Silent House, By Orhan Pamuk (Trs Robert Finn)

Style and substance from a good listener

David Cameron entertains Bahrain’s dictator King Hamad al-Khalif

On his first full day back from holiday, David Cameron held talks in Downing Street with King Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain.

US senator John McCain calls for talks with former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi

John McCain, the US senator, has urged Egypt’s military-backed government to release detained members of the Muslim Brotherhood before starting negotiations.

Votes counted in Harare last week appear to show a Mugabe victory

South African President Jacob Zuma congratulates Robert Mugabe on his landslide victory in Zimbabwe elections

But win provokes criticism from the UK and US, as Australia's Foreign Minister calls for election re-run

President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has won 142 of the 210 parliamentary seats

Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe election victory was a 'masterclass in electoral fraud'

Opponents claim  Zanu-PF conned its way to power – rather than taking it by force

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (left) cast his vote

Zimbabwe election results: Opposition leaders claim vote tainted by 'monumental rigging' as Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF claims victory

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvanirgai says his party considers the vote 'null and void' as election monitors warn that around one million people were denied their vote

Harry Byrd, Jr: US senator who fought against desegregation

Harry Byrd Jr, who died on 30 July at the age of 98, was a Democrat-turned-independent who began his career as a staunch segregationist and preached fiscal restraint in Washington long before it became fashionable. Byrd served 17 years in the US Senate, replacing his powerful father, Harry Flood Byrd, a senator from 1933 until ill health forced him to retire in 1965.

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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
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'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
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How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
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Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
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Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

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How to make a Lego masterpiece

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Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam