Arts and Entertainment

The great thing about "counterfactual" history is that anyone can play. If Gordon Brown hadn't been caught making those remarks about a "bigoted woman" might he still be PM? If Hitler had invaded England in 1940 would we all be speaking German? If the judge in the Rivonia trial had sentenced Nelson Mandela to death rather than life in jail?

Smith hands Hock England start

Gareth Hock has rehabilitated himself so successfully from the season's worst example of indiscipline that he will start for England in their World Cup opener on Saturday.

Johann Hari: The parasite that reveals good news from Africa

And now for the great news – from Africa. Yes, I know that seems like a perverse opener, with Robert Mugabe perpetuating his oozing Alzheimocracy, a looming famine in Ethiopia, and international peacekeepers failing to prevent genocidal massacres in Darfur. The cynics who jeer that Africa is a black hole for help feel they have the wind of no change at their back. But some time next year – or soon after – a beautiful moment in the history of humanity will come to pass on the Western shores of Africa. An excruciatingly painful disease that has stalked humans for millennia will end – forever.

Rio Tinto iron ore licence in Guinea at risk

One of Rio Tinto's top iron ore concessions is under threat after the Guinea government revealed it was reviewing the $6bn project in Simandou, stating concerns over its legality.

Guinea 3 Morocco 2: Feindouno gives Guinea new hope before red mist falls

Guinea captain Pascal Feindouno scored twice to steer his side to a vital three points against Morocco yesterday, but could miss the rest of the African Nations Cup after being sent off in the Group A game.

Burata with poached apricots

Serves 4

Heather Brooke: We don't need new terror laws

What is the point in creating new laws when the old ones are not enforced?

Five held in grave-robbing probe

Recovery leads Lam to Cyprus

Warrington parade four new players

Lam injury hits Wigan hopes

Farrell defies injury as Wigan brush holders aside

Wigan 40 St Helens 24
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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

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
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
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

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

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