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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Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album