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The clocks are about to lurch back, casting all of us in the Northern Hemisphere into the wintry gloom of dark evenings and shortening days. Just the moment, then, to start plotting a course for somewhere with brighter prospects.

Laura Pollan: Leader of Cuba's 'White Ladies'group of activists

When her husband Héctor Maseda was jailed by Fidel Castro's communist regime along with 74 other dissidents in March 2003, Laura Pollán was a softly spoken 55-year-old teacher of Spanish language and literature at a Havana secondary school. She was looking forward to early retirement the following year to tend her beloved cats and plants.

End of the road for Havana's bangers

Big old rusting cars are part of Cuba's appeal. But their days may be numbered. By Simon Calder

For the bangers of Havana, it's the end of the road

Cuba's rusting, outdated cars are part of the city's tourist appeal. But their days may be numbered

American to swim across the shark-infested Straits of Florida

Undeterred by the prospect of hungry sharks, hurricane-season storms, and the dysfunctional state of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, a 61-year-old woman was paddling through calm seas today as she attempted to become the first person to swim unaided across the Straits of Florida.

Chavez not dead or dying, say allies

Rumours of the impending demise of Hugo Chavez have been greatly exaggerated, his allies said yesterday, insisting that he will be back at work imminently and telling opponents that they should "stop dreaming" of his death.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us