Voices President Obama urged members of Congress to make 2014 a 'year of action' in his State of the Union address

Institutional flaws have held the President back

Review: Comandante: Inside Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, By Rory Carroll

The presidential strongman with all bases covered

Newly appointed Cuba's Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel participates in the closure session of the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba

Miguel Diaz-Canel: Castro's chosen successor is integral figure in Cuban party machine but can he win over man in street?

When the Cuban delegation arrived for the London Olympics last summer, no one paid very much attention to the mid-level government official with thick silver hair who was leading it. Miguel Diaz-Canel was not Raul Castro, after all, and most of the rest of the world had barely heard of him. So why get overly excited? Now we know why Diaz-Canel, 52, was chosen for the task and why just a few weeks earlier he accompanied Raul to the Rio plus 20 Summit on global warming in Brazil. He was being deliberately groomed as the man the Castro brothers had judged to be the best option to take over when finally they cede control to a new generation. 

Renewed fears over Hugo Chavez's health

Venezuela’s cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez is still suffering respiratory problems after surgery in Cuba two months ago, the government has said in a sombre first communiqué  since his homecoming this week.

A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez waves the national flag in front of the military hospital where Chavez is being treated, in Caracas

World Focus: Has Hugo Chavez come home to rule – or home to die?

Hopes that their idol would take up the reins of his revolution appear to have dissipated

Frank Williams

Williams looking to mount Formula One title challenge

Williams today became the last team to unveil their latest car

Jubilation in Caracas as Hugo Chavez returns from Cuba (and announces his arrival on Twitter)

President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return to Venezuela today, with enthusiastic crowds cheering his arrival after a two-month absence for cancer treatment in Cuba.

Rafael Correa looks set to secure third term in Ecuador

Voters were on the way yesterday to handing a third term to President Rafael Correa, an economist who has raised living standards for the lower classes and widened their social safety net while being widely criticised as intolerant of dissent.

Simón Bolívar String Quartet, Ginastera, Dvorák, Shostakovich (Deutsche Grammophon)

Album review: Simón Bolívar String Quartet, Ginastera, Dvorák, Shostakovich (Deutsche Grammophon)

A Sistema offshoot comprising principals of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the SBSQ bring a vibrant Latin American flavour to the three quartet pieces on this debut album.

Five injured after Romanian airliner 'bounces off runway' in Italy

A Romanian airliner "bounced" off the runway while landing at Rome's main airport during heavy winds, injuring a flight attendant and four passengers.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez 'in good spirits' in Cuba

Venezuela’s top diplomat has said he shared jokes and laughed with President Hugo Chavez during a meeting in Cuba, where the socialist leader has been recovering after cancer surgery.

Hugo Chavez is suffering from a respiratory infection

Unrest brews as swearing-in for Hugo Chavez delayed

The Supreme Court of Venezuela announced tonight that a government decision to postpone the inauguration of Hugo Chavez for a fourth term as President was legal and that his swearing-in could take place later.

Missoni boss is feared lost in plane crash

The last time news of the Missoni clan spilled beyond the fashion pages was in June, when Margherita, the 29-year-old heir to the Italian fashion empire, celebrated her marriage to racing driver Eugenio Amos with a deliciously over-the-top gypsy-style wedding party on the family's estate north-west of Milan.

Vittorio Missoni was among six people in the twin-engine plane, including his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni, and two close friends with whom they had passed a New Year fishing holiday

The missing Missonis: how tragedy befell the first family of fashion

They're the clan who built a style giant without losing the common touch. But now a missing plane has plunged the Missonis – and Italy – into despair

President Chavez had a fourth round of cancer surgery last month

Venezuela forced to face prospect of life without president Hugo Chavez

Under the constitution, new elections must be held if the President is too ill to be sworn in

New Year fireworks above London's Houses of Parliament

New Year Celebrations: from Kiritimati to Samoa – via Britain

Small beginnings of the big night (10:00-11:00 GMT) 2013 began on the little Pacific island where the sun always rises first. Kiritimati, or Christmas Island, the easternmost island of the nation of Kiribati, is the first significant human habitation west of the international date line. Its inhabitants were the first to usher in the new year, followed an hour later by revellers in Auckland, New Zealand.

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All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans