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

Venezuela: Chavez mulls US cancer 'plot'

President Hugo Chavez has asked if the US government might somehow be responsible for the rash of cancer cases among Latin American leaders.

Paul di Resta has experienced plenty of 'highs and lows' this season while driving for Force India

Force India name Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg as 2012 drivers

Force India have finally confirmed another of Formula One's worst kept secrets by announcing Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will be their driver line-up for next season.

Lord Bell:

Bell Pottinger head launches investigation over lobbyists

The chairman of Bell Pottinger's parent group has launched an internal investigation after this week's controversy about the lobbying company.

Venezuela prays for kidnapped Major League baseball star

Baseball-mad Venezuela is waiting anxiously for news of the fate of one of the country's top players, Wilson Ramos, kidnapped from his family home while on winter break from his US Major League team.

Tim Walker: My ringside view of Miss Russia's 'inner beauty'

Notebook: Was inner beauty on the minds of the (mostly) male, middle-aged organisers?
Illich Ramirez Sanchez, or Carlos the Jackal, in the 1970s

'Carlos the Jackal' faces new trial over terrorist attacks in France

Already serving life for murder, the Venezuelan-born 'revolutionary' will face court over the 1980s killings

Doctors reject claim that Chavez is dying

Doctors treating President Hugo Chavez for cancer have disputed a claim that he has only two years to live.

The Sickness, By Alberto Barrera Tyszka

Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, this lapidary novel comes from a Venezuelan writer-journalist who has also co-authored a sceptical life of Hugo Chávez.

La Wally, Opera Holland Park, London<br/>Prom 22, Royal Albert Hall, London<br/>Prom 23, Royal Albert Hall, London<br/>Prom 29, Royal Albert, London

A surefooted heroine should appeal to a modern audience, but this Italian reality show falls flat

Miracle maestro: Gustavo Dudamel brings music from Venezuela's slums to the Proms

Cometh the hour, cometh "The Dude". A few years ago, it felt as if classical music's energy was flagging. It needed a superhero: a young, hip, charismatic figurehead who could take centre stage and inspire a new generation to embrace an art that should be accessible to all but is not always perceived that way. Then, out of the impoverished urban sprawls of Venezuela, emerging from a legendary music education scheme known as El Sistema, along bounced Gustavo Dudamel.

Hugo Chavez to undergo further chemotherapy

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has said he will start another round of cancer chemotherapy soon and expects to become bald within days.

Video: Chavez defiant on birthday

The Venezuelan president has used his 57th birthday celebrations to say he will beat cancer - and stay in power.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
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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
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

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
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas