American aid worker Alan Gross, a former Cuban prisoner released on humanitarian grounds, speaks at a news conference with his wife Judy Gross in Washington DC yesterday. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama said the US has chosen to “cut loose the shackles of the past” by normalising relations with Cuba and re-opening economic ties(...)

Pope Francis has not yet visited Cuba but both of his two immediate predecessor made trips to the island. Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

The Vatican leveraged its good relations with Cuba and the United States to help broker their historic resumption of ties and the deal was spurred by (...)

A  banner reads ‘Viva the revolution for ever’ in Havana, Cuba. The leaders of the US and Cuba have agreed to restore diplomatic relations. Photograph: Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA 1:24

President Barack Obama has announced the “most significant” shift in US foreign policy towards Cuba in more than a half century, unveiling plans to no(...)

Pedestrians pass a neon sign displaying the latest Russian ruble euro dollar exchange rate outside a currency exchange bureau in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday. The rouble sank to a record, deepening Russia’s currency crisis, as people scrambled to convert their money into dollars after a surprise interest-rate increase failed to shore up investor confidence. (Photograph: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Russia has failed to halt the collapse of the rouble, leaving president Vladimir Putin facing a full-blown currency crisis that could weaken his iron (...)

Can we afford the luxury of spending time reading ancient texts in this modern world? Pictured is Achilles Defeating Hector, 1630-32 (oil on panel) by Peter Paul Rubens. Photograph: Bridgeman/Getty

Why bother to read the Classics today? Haven’t those ancient Greek and Latin books gone way past their user date? Can we afford the luxury of spending(...)

 Sony studios in Culver City, California: The studio’s reputation has suffered considerable damage in the wake of leaked emails that have proved extremely damaging. Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

Hollywood giant Sony Pictures Entertainment has gone on the offensive for the first time in the hacked-and-leaked emails scandal, warning US media aga(...)

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday. Photograph: REUTERS/Evan Vucci

Israel is hoping the United States will veto a Palestinian resolution, expected to be presented at the United Nations Security Council this week, cal(...)

The US Congress approved an annual defense policy bill on Friday that has been sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The US Congress approved an annual defense policy bill on Friday that authorizes American training for Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting Islamic State (...)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi en route to Capitol Hill, where she sais she was “enormously disappointed” with the president’s relaxation of post-crisis banking rules. Photograph: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times 0:50

The US House of Representatives narrowly passed a $1.1 trillion (€887 billion) budget just hours before the government was due to shut down at midnigh(...)

US president Barack Obama  is unlikely to heed external calls for CIA torturers to be held to account and prosecuted.  Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The firestorm sparked by the US Senate report into brutal CIA torture of al-Qaeda suspects during the George W Bush era and claims that the agency lie(...)