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Castro to chronicle the birth of his revolution

He may no longer be president of the country he ruled so uncompromisingly for almost half a century, but Fidel Castro once again seems to be everywhere in Cuba. His latest foray into the limelight, announced yesterday, is a first volume of memoirs to be published next month, chronicling the birth of Cuba's communist revolution when his few hundred guerrilla fighters defeated the far larger regular army of the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Leading article: Still waiting for freedom

The Cuban regime has a tendency to time displays of clemency to coincide with the arrival of important visitors. In this case the visit of Spain's Foreign minster to Havana has been accompanied with a decision to release more than 50 political prisoners.

Terence Blacker: Let's break Havana's hold over us

The island of Cuba is like a Rorschach test for liberal opinion. For some, it represents hope followed by disappointment, a brave revolution which has hardened into insular authoritarianism, the music of heroic youth giving over time to the drone of three-hour speeches made my old men determined to hold on to power by whatever means necessary.

US says Cuba move to release prisoners is a 'positive sign'

Cuba's decision to release 52 political prisoners is overdue but still a positive sign from the island's communist government, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday.

Cuba frees 52 political prisoners in deal with Church

The regime in Cuba has agreed to the biggest release of political prisoners seen on the island nation in decades in a deal struck with the country's Catholic leader, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, church officials said last night.

Aung San Suu Kyi's desperate plea to the world

As Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to celebrate her 65th birthday tomorrow, confined in the house in which she has spent most of the past two decades, a confidante of the Burmese opposition leader has made a simple but passionate appeal to those in the West to use their freedom to help his country achieve the same.

Caught on camera: Burma's political prisoners

A ground breaking photography project by award-winning documentary journalist James Mackay calls for the unconditional release of all Burmese political prisoners, of whom human rights groups estimate there are over 2,000 currently languishing in jail.

Stats, stitches and Steve Hodge: The best of the 2010 World Cup tie-ins

Hyperbole and football are no strangers, so the title of Mihir Bose's guide to events unfolding in South Africa, The World Cup: All You Need to Know (Endeavour, £12.99), is unsurprising. But actually, Mihir, there is one thing that would have been good to know: who's in the squads? For, while the quadrennial extravaganza is obviously a juicy marketing opportunity for publishers, they need to go to press some weeks before countries announce their final line-ups. That still leaves plenty to chew on, though, and Bose takes a traditional approach, with an Anglocentric potted history of the tournament, a group-by-group analysis of the 32 finalists and a survey of the stadiums. It was produced in conjunction with the picture agency Getty Images, and is all rather fact-lite, majoring instead on sizeable photographs. The 2010 Fifa World Cup: Official Book (Carlton, £10.99), by Keir Radnedge, has rather more in the way of stats and in-depth analysis, and has its merits as a large-format, keep-by-the-TV guide.

Two men the junta could not silence

One is in exile, the other jailed for criticising Burma's dictatorship. Yet the release of a scathing poem shows artists Zarganar and Htein Lin are still a thorn in the regime's side

Cuba eases conditions of political prisoners

A Roman Catholic church official said the Cuban government agreed to move many of the country's 200 political prisoners to jails closer to their homes.

The voice they cannot silence: The freedom fighter who dares to defy the Burmese regime

For more than 20 years, the plight of Burma's political prisoners has shocked the world. Now, their struggle for freedom has been documented in a brave new project

Ivan Lewis: Burma needs a general election, not an election of Generals

The message could not have been clearer. On Armed Forces day, as soldiers marched through Naypyidaw, Burma's Senior General Than Shwe set out his vision for "disciplined democracy". A moment that could have been cause for celebration is instead a cause for concern and regret.

Chavez critic arrested after outburst

An outspoken opponent of President Hugo Chavez said police took him into custody while he awaits trial on conspiracy charges for saying Venezuela has become a haven for drug trafficking.

Mary Dejevsky: Planners must have a sense of proportion

A few weeks ago I described the difficulties we, and the council, faced when trying to get a planning decision enforced. Well, I'm delighted to report that the two-storey lift shaft built – without permission – on the roof of a block opposite ours has almost been demolished. Some bags of bricks remain to be collected, but the original roofline has been restored.

Obama tells Burma to free Suu Kyi

US president Barack Obama has told Burma's junta to free pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, a US official said.

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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?

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Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

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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
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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'

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No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

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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