Pope Francis delivers his first

'I hope for a better world': Pope Francis calls for peace for Syria and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict in Christmas Day speech

Pontiff spoke from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to some 70,000 cheering tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square below

Sarraj in 2012, during a meeting with youth activists in Gaza City

Eyad Sarraj: Doctor who warned the United Nations about the toll on mental health caused by political oppression

Eyad Sarraj was a Palestinian human rights campaigner who dealt with the mental health damage caused by political oppression and challenged both Israeli and Palestinian abuses. Trained in Egypt and Britain, he became the Gaza Strip's first psychiatrist and established a community mental health programme in 1990 which focused on the most vulnerable groups, such as children and victims of torture and other abuses and served as a foundation for his human rights work.

A worshipper lights candles at the Church of the Nativity

O’ empty town of Bethlehem: a trickle of visits to the site of Christ’s birth thanks to intifadas and ongoing tensions

Intifadas and ongoing tensions are keeping Christian pilgrims and tourists away from Bethlehem, says

One of the towers of the Reichstag building, that hosts the Bundestag, lower house of parliament - according to Edward Snowden, some German buildings were targets of GCHQ and the NSA

German government buildings and charities were targets of GCHQ and NSA, says Edward Snowden

Latest disclosures also highlight key role in national security played by the small Cornish holiday resort town of Bude

Will Prince Charles, the 'Defender of Faiths', stand up for Christians in Israel?

In parts of the Middle East the West appears powerless to help beleaguered Christians

An Israeli soldier gestures to female protesters to move away during a demonstration against the building of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, earlier this month

Israeli universities boycotted by US scholars over treatment of Palestinians

Israeli academia, often seen by the right as a bastion for left-wing, dovish sentiment, has been stung by a vote to boycott higher education in the country by an American academic association in protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The sad and puzzling story of Abbas Khan, the British doctor found dead in Syrian jail

What prompted the death of a man whose life was more valuable to Assad than any other foreigner’s in Syria?

Andy McSmith's Diary: The less than noble Lord Laird will have few friends left in the House

John Laird, the Ulster Unionist peer caught in a newspaper sting, is going to have to manage without free car parking and access to Parliament’s subsidised bars and dining rooms for four months, after the Lords Privileges Committee found that he had “demonstrated a clear willingness” to use his position for financial gain. Brian Mackenzie, former Durham Chief Constable and a Labour peer, has also been suspended – in his case, for six months.

An Israeli armored military car patrols at the Israeli-Lebanon border

Two Lebanese soldiers shot as troops exchange fire on border with Israel

Israeli troops shot two Lebanese soldiers after a Lebanese army sniper killed an Israeli soldier as he drove along the volatile border late on Sunday night.

Spies like us: Claire Danes and Damian Lewis as Carrie and Brody in Homeland

Homeland accused of damaging relations between 'hostile' US and depicted countries

Iran, Lebanon and Venezuela have criticised 'poisonous' producers

Roger Waters, performing here during his 'The Wall' tour, drew 'parallels' between Israel-Palestine conflict and 1930s and 40s Germany

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters accused of antisemitism after comparing Israeli government to Nazis

The musician likened Israel’s ‘oppression’ of Palestinians to the Holocaust

The News Matrix: Monday 16 December 2013

Mandela buried in ancestral village

Israeli soldier shot dead near Lebanon border

An Israeli soldier has been killed by shots fired from across the Lebabon border, the Israeli military has said.

Pope Francis has been forced to defend recent policies and comments which have angered conservatives

Pope Francis says he’s not a Marxist – but knows lots of good people who are

Pontiff defends his policies against conservative criticism that he is going ‘beyond Catholicism’

Tim Key: 'There's nothing quite like opening night - the sound of crying coming from the wings'

The opening night of my local nativity play, that is

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'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
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A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
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James Frey's literary treasure hunt

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Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

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Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering