News

The 20th century still looms large in Poland, and particularly in Nowa Huta. The eastern suburb of Krakow was built almost from scratch at Stalin’s behest by Poland’s communist government shortly after the Second world War, and is still home to more than 100,000 residents. The area – whose name means “New Steelworks” in Polish – was built as a sort of communised utopia for the city’s workers.

Postcard from... Limburg

Churchgoers in Germany’s cathedral city of Limburg welcomed the abrupt departure of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst last October when the Vatican suspended him from his duties.

Postcard from... Madrid

For some strange reason, wedging a car into an unnervingingly small underground carpark space has always seemed to be as integral to the average Spanish travel experience as drinking sangria or eating a tortilla de patatas omelette . But now the mystery has been solved.

Postcard from... Bordeaux

The other day I observed the formal induction of the new intake of students at a prestigious college in Bordeaux. Of the 268 students in the hall, 195 of them – more than 72 per cent – were young women, who were about to begin a rigorous 30-month training programme to become judges in the École Nationale de Magistrature.

Postcard from... Barcelona

It is World Cup year, and that can mean only two things: crushing disappointment for England fans (our own fault for believing the impossible) and taxi drivers everywhere displaying faux patriotism by attaching plastic St George’s crosses to their cabs.

Postcard from... Beijing

A state TV exposé on prostitution in China’s “sex capital” and an ensuing police crackdown have drawn criticism from the public, who expressed sympathy for the sex workers.

Postcard from... Paris

What on earth are they smoking in northern France? Hydrangeas, apparently. Police in the Pas de Calais are on the trail of a “hydrangea gang”, which is presumably a direct descendant of the Lavender Hill Mob. Residents of several villages have filed complaints that their prized hydrangeas have been systematically stripped of buds or growing tips. Carefully placed in soil or compost, these buds can develop into new plants.

Postcard from... Mitrovica

They’ve been roughing each other for a century, but now Serbs and Albanians in this ethnically divided city in Kosovo are learning to work together through a sport all about gaining territory: rugby.

Postcard from... Kolkata

There are surely grander places to eat in Kolkata, but there are few where the food is so delicious. Or where the simple pleasure of eating benefits such a worthy cause.

Racing Santander speak to the referee after refusing to contest their Copa del Rey quarter-final due to unpaid wages

Bizarre scenes as Racing Santander refuse to play Copa del Rey quarter-final due to unpaid wages - and then find themselves banned

They lined up on the pitch against Real Sociedad, but then refused to contest the ball

Three students charged with violent disorder after Birmingham protest, and could face up to eight years in prison

10 more students released on bail after political protest gets out of hand

George Zimmerman: Celebrity boxing match is confirmed, as rapper The Game offers to fight him: 'I would take pleasure in it'

Damon Feldman, the promoter organizing the bout with the star, has confirmed that the fight will take place on 1 March

Police accused of kettling student protesters at a national demonstration in Birmingham

14 students arrested after an attempt to occupy Birmingham's Great Hall

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych

Ukraine on the brink as President Viktor Yanukovych takes sick leave amid calls for resignation

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych went on sick leave today after a bruising session of parliament, leaving a political vacuum in a country destabilised by anti-government protests and threatened with bankruptcy.

Postcard from... Berlin

In the Germany the “British Bobby” is still regarded as a model of gentlemanly policing, so Boris Johnson’s proposals to equip the London Met with German-manufactured water cannons has come as a shock.

French schools battle boycott after hoax text messages warn of 'masturbation classes'

Almost half the pupils from some French primary schools were absent from class after the text messages were sent

Sport
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
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One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
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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
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

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Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
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No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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

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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