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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Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
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A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?