News President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto

Militia groups have grown in size and scope since Enrique Pena-Nieto was sworn in

'I loved About Time and wished there were more light films of this type': Pam Ayres

Cultural life: Pam Ayres, poet

'I loved About Time and wished there were more light films of this type'

Italy boat wreck: Hundreds of migrants feared dead after ship sinks off Lampedusa coast

Migrants were crammed into small vessel that caught fire close to the coast of Italy

Switzerland has decriminalised marijuana possession

Switzerland changes law to decriminalise marijuana possession

Anyone caught with up to 10 grams of the drug will be let off with a CHF 100 (£68) fine and it will not go on their criminal record

Ivory tusks seized in anti-smuggling operations are displayed by the Hong Kong Customs

Hong Kong seizes 189 elephant tusks in clampdown on smuggled products from endangered species

The illegal ivory haul has estimated street value of $1.5m

Michaella McCollum (left) and Melissa Reid (right) were caught carrying cocaine hidden inside food packets

Peru drug smugglers: Prosecutor to ask for a new hearing to give Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid a chance to offer more complete confession

Guilty pleas entered by two women caught attempting to smuggle cocaine out of Peru will be contested by prosecutors who claim the pair have stuck to an “unbelievable story”.

Second British woman faces death penalty for 'trafficking drugs into Indonesia'

Andrea Ruth Waldeck was arrested in April after authorities found 1,472 grams (52 ounces) of methamphetamine crystals in her hotel room

Theresa May pledges to help Pakistan in 'fight against terror and violent extremism'

Home Secretary Theresa May has pledged support to Pakistan in its “fight against terror and violent extremism” on her third visit to the country.

A suspected asylum seeker vessel is intercepted and escorted by the Australian Navy

Australia restricts news of arriving 'boat people' in attempt to foil smugglers

Australia’s newly elected conservative government has ordered a clampdown on releasing information about the arrival of asylum seekers.

Interior minister Manuel Valls with some of the drugs haul

Record 1.3 tonne cocaine haul seized on Air France plane to Paris

The drugs were reportedly destined for the Calabrian Mafia

Cigarette ban for prisons will go up in smoke

This move has little to recommend it, and lots that could go wrong

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid could be allowed to serve prison sentences in the UK if they plead guilty to drug trafficking

Peru 'drug mules' face six years in prison even if they plead guilty prosecutors warns

Prosecutor warns that the pair would also not be eligible for parole

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid could be allowed to serve prison sentences in the UK if they plead guilty to drug trafficking

Peru ‘drug mules’ Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum could serve jail sentences in UK

Two women charged with drug trafficking in Peru could be allowed to return to serve their sentences in UK prisons if they plead guilty, prosecutors confirmed.

Tony Abbott with his wife Margie and daughters Frances, Louise and Bridget, and Governor-General Quentin Bryce (far right) after his swearing-in ceremony at Government House in Canberra

One female cabinet member, ironing housewife jibes... now Australia's new PM, Tony Abbott, gives himself ministerial responsibility for women’s issues

The new premier has raised eyebrows by claiming he is qualified for the job

Is it a boy or a large amount of cocaine? Nine of the most bizarre drug-smuggling techniques

In the umpteenth depressing example of how pawns take the fall for drug kingpins, a woman who attempted to fly out of Bogota wearing a fake pregnancy bump stashed with two kilograms of cocaine has been arrested by Columbian authorities. If there's anything positive to say here, at least the exposure of this novel, inventive approach to smuggling will have wised-up customs officials worldwide. Other than the 'cocaine pregnancy', though, how else have cartels tried to ship their product to middle America and beyond?

Police track vigilante in 'blonde wig' killing Mexican bus drivers in Ciudad Juarez

'Diana' said to be seeking to avenge sexual abuse of women

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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
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
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there