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.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'