US president Joe Biden giving an update on the ending the war in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the last of the  American troops from the region.  Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Biden’s priorities are domestic, his foreign policy set for his home audience

Angela Merkel: When she steps down  after 16 years in office, she will bequeath a country that lives well, where unemployment is at 6 per cent and whose status as Europe’s political and economic powerhouse is largely unchallenged.  Photograph: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg

Decent, pragmatic, steady-handed German leader recoiled from Europe’s biggest threats

In an essay last August, Bill Gates estimated that by 2060, global warming could be just as deadly as coronavirus, and by 2100 it could be five times as lethal. File photograph: Getty

Can world powers learn lessons from this event and apply them to global warming?

We assume that a world-historical moment such as the Covid-19 pandemic must reverberate for decades if not centuries. But what if its effects really are fleeting? File photograph: iStock

Evidence so far suggests pandemic has merely reinforced people’s existing views

 A person waving the rainbow flag runs on the pitch as the players line up for the national anthems before the Germany-Hungary match in Munich at  the Euro Championships. Photograph:  Alexander Hassenstein/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Public expectations of sports and the organisations that run them are changing

Alexander Lukashenko:  it was remarkable to witness the speed with which the EU  moved to act against the Belarusian dictator after the outrageous arrests of Roman Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega. Photograph: Dmitry Astakhov/AFP/Getty Images

Swift response to Belarus contrasts with EU’s inability to deal with threats to democracy in Hungary and Poland

An Israeli air strike on Gaza City. Prime minister  Binyamin Netanyahu says  Israel has no plans on relenting in its attacks against Hamas in Gaza. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

World View: Failure of international bodies to speak with one voice works to Israel’s advantage

Diplomats under the Biden administration, have been busy promoting the US’s return to the liberal-multilateral mainstream. Photograph: Getty

The ‘American First’ legacy lives on in ways the Biden White House might not like to admit

Crises have always been an accelerant for EU integration. Agreement on massive joint debt issuance to finance grants to recession-hit member states broke a long-standing taboo. Photograph: Getty Images

Europe’s Covid story has not yet been written, and it is possible a longer view might be more forgiving

AstraZeneca  vaccinations in Lichfield cathedral: British ministers treat every question about the safety or effectiveness of the drug as a grievous insult to national honour.  Photograph: Oli Scarff

Lack of transparency on Oxford-developed vaccine fuel for European and US caution

Nicolas Sarkozy and Michel Barnier in 2009. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty

Will the man who Sarkozy once said had ‘the charisma of an oyster’ run for the Élysée?

This week offered a glimpse of an alternative scenario to a harmonious arrangement: one of rivalry and mutual suspicion, constant bickering and petty one-upmanship.

Convulsions of past weeks suggest forces unleashed by 2016 vote still shape continent’s affairs

US president Joe Biden with vice-president Kamala Harris   during an event in the White House on Thursday. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In Washington bipartisan deal-making is about as useful as knowing how to use a fax

Supporters of US president Donald Trump are confronted by police officers outside the Senate chamber inside the Capitol after storming the building. Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

World view: The ragtag mob storming the US Capitol should be taken deadly seriously

2020 in review: The virus hit people who witnessed the past century’s defining moments

Since Erasmus began in 1987, more than 9 million people have studied or trained in another European country. Photograph: iStock

World View: At the root of British antipathy lies a fear it is a dark plot to indoctrinate the young in the ideology of Euro-super(...)

Health secretary Matt Hancock falsely claimed Brexit had enabled the UK to grant early vaccine authorisation and tearfully invoked the second World War by declaring it ‘V Day’. Photograph: Simon Dawson/AFP via Getty Images

The vainglorious will see vaccine success as an easy way to recover their standing

Séamus Woulfe: While the Government maintains his appointment was never a done deal,  comments from former office holders maintain this is “not credible”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The unorthodox process for choosing Séamus Woulfe has shone a light on a defective system

US president Donald Trump: Rejection by  voters after a single term in office sends an important message. It proves right-populists can be beaten. Photograph: Erin Schaff/New York Times

Internationalists hope Biden victory heralds wider fall in far-right fortunes

Chief Justice Frank Clarke with then minister for justice Charlie Flanagan and attorney general Séamus Woulfe in 2017. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Ex-government insiders indicate taoiseach would usually discuss candidates for role

Séamus Woulfe: The only name recommended by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Dysfunctional system for appointing Supreme Court judges is in desperate need of an overhaul

 A BioNTech laboratory in Mainz, Germany. The vaccine developed by BioNTech, a European company founded by a German couple of Turkish origin, will be distributed by Pfizer. Photograph: BioNTech SE/EPA

World View: International scientific co-operation on Covid-19 not replicated by governments

‘Governments have wide discretion in selecting judges for appointment by the President.’ File photograph: Getty Images

Even most Ministers tend not to see how a Government arrives at selections for judicial roles

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee confirmed she considered expressions of interest from serving judges for the Supreme Court position. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

At least three judges wrote to Government seeking job taken by former attorney general

The spectacle of a US government shutdown as a result of budgetary dispute between Democrats and Republicans is but the most egregious demonstration of the impasse. Photograph: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Public faith in the system has been eroding for decades but accelerated after 2008 crash

US president Donald Trump: US military and economic predominance was so complete through much of the 20th century that relative decline was always inevitable. Photograph:  Brendan Smialowski

Dysfunction and decay in American democracy are harbingers of waning authority

 An ice cream seller walks through Gandhi Square in  Johannesburg. While  South Africa has been hard hit,  the continent is doing much better than many expected.  Photograph: Kim Ludbrook

Coronavirus disaster for continent avoided for range of social and experiential reasons

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi earned a rebuke from German foreign minister Heiko Maas (right) over threatening comments made to Czech senate speaker Milos Vystrcil.  Photograph:  Michael Sohn/ Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The five-country visit of China’s chief diplomat have underlined how relations with the EU have deteriorated in just a few months

German police officer taking care of a baby refugee / migrant at Munich main train station on 01 September, 2015. Photograph: dasWerk Michael Mitrenga und Maike Zimmermann GbR / Getty Ima ges

Book review: A lament on the state of contemporary, growth-stunted Britain as well as a paean to Germany

A virtual lantern show marks the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing,  in Hiroshima, Japan. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

World View: Risk of nuclear weapons being used is higher now than during the cold war

The British establishment failed to grasp the nature of Russia’s transformation under Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky

Too late to untangle Kremlin web woven around London in last two decades

President Donald Trump in a mask on a rare occasion: his resistance to wearing a mask has turned it into a marker of political affiliation. Photograph: Erin Scott/New York Times

Perceiving mandatory face coverings as ‘state interference’ is dangerous lunacy

The Israeli right believes it must seize the moment presented by a US president who broke with decades of US policy on the Middle East. File photograph: Getty Images

World view: Netanyahu’s plan has provoked anger and alarm but less uproar than expected

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

It was a 15-year campaign. In the end, most of the Middle East and swathes of Africa voted for us

Recriminations over public monuments, like the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol,  are nothing new. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

World View: The decision to build a public monument is always a political act

Positives from the pandemic: Máire Gilmartin of St Vincent's University Hospital in PPE; a climate protest near the Dáil; and traffic on the M50 in west Dublin. Photographs: Alan Betson

The crisis poses huge threats but also shows us ways forward in health, housing, work and lifestyle

The city is where the future happens first. Its constant capacity for reinvention is what makes it so intoxicating. Photograph: Still from Ben Wheatley’s film of JG Ballard’s High Rise novel.

Covid-19 is recalibrating urban living but capitals endure as exciting laboratories

A worker opens a door using a 3D printed handle modifier, allowing hand-less entry, inside a Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemet, Hungary. Photograph: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Coronavirus will cause irreversible change, but whether for good or bad is up for grabs

ExThera has agreed a deal with Irish aid agency Gorta Group for potential use of the Seraph 100 in the developing world. Photograph: Alan Betson

Seraph 100 removes viruses and bacteria with beads and may be produced in Ireland

Students wear plastic face shields at the Nankan Junior High School in Taoyuan City, Taiwan: testing, contact tracing, travel bans, quarantines and masks in public places are Asian defence tools. Photograph: David Chang

Rich regions dithered while others, scarred by Sars and Mers, swung into containment

The scientists leading the global crisis response are at pains to stress the limitations and volatility of their projections.

Pandemics require ethical and moral decisions, not just mathematical models

A transit police officer checks the temperature of a truck driver during a partial curfew ordered by the government in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. Photograph:  Johan Ordonez / AFP

The effort to suppress the virus will ultimately only be a strong as its weakest link

China presents itself as a lesson in how states can push back the deadly virus. Customers lining up to have their temperature taken before entering a bank in  China’s central Hubei province.  Photograph:   STR/AFP via Getty Images

The states best placed to fight the virus are those that prepare, plan and learn

Many in the middle classes can work from home, take sick leave, use separate bathrooms and minimise contact with potential carriers.  Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

World View: Threat posed by Covid-19 a function of social class, profession and wealth of nations

Mark Zuckerberg finds his company blamed for facilitating the subversion of democracy, genocide, the destruction of whole industries and self-harm among young people – among other things. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

World View: In pushing for digital regulation, such firms hope to shape it in their own interests

If UK Remainers could rerun the last 30 years, they would do things very differently.

World View: Lessons to be learned through the experience of defeated Remainers

The next government must navigate how to manage the relationship with London in a world in which officials and politicians from both sides no longer work closely together through EU institutions.

Post-Brexit and with UN seat, Ireland could find itself wielding real clout on the world stage

Mourners in Tehran carry the casket of Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

World View: For Washington and Tehran hardliners, peace would be admission of defeat

 US president Bill Clinton (left) with British prime minister Tony Blair  at a 1997 summit in Denver, Colorado. Photograph: Doug Collier/AFP via Getty Images

The fallout from the decade of Blair and Clinton continues to shape today’s crises

When Brexit happens and Ireland loses its closest ally in the EU, Dublin’s relationships with its continental partners will be of far greater importance. Photograph: Kamil Zihnioglu/AFP via Getty

The UK’s departure will force Ireland to make strategic decisions on its place in Europe

‘What if the biggest threats to human rights in the digital world are not despots but rather the platforms we use every day in our online lives?’ File photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

World View: Tech giants are creating new forms of power and ways of altering behaviour

‘In a world of mobile cash transfers and blockchain, the remittance business surely cannot live in a time warp for much longer.’ File photograph: Alan Betson

Money sent home by migrants provides a lifeline to some states and props up poor communities in many others

A Remain demonstrator during a rally by the People’s Vote organisation in London in October. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP via Getty

Remain side should then shift to making the radical, positive case for rejoining

The UK  is about to leave the main political-economic club on the continent without any broader strategy as to how it will manage its relationship with that organisation. Photograph:  Olivier Matthys/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic: In the coming months and years its contradictions will become painfully apparent

Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (left) and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman: Ireland’s silence in the face of state violence may begin to sound uncomfortably like tolerance.  Photographs: Mohammed al-Shaikh and Oscar del Pozo

Kingdom’s support for Irish seat on UN Security Council is diplomatically tricky

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When he leaves office, he will bequeath an occupation of Palestinian territories that is as entrenched, as morally indefensible as it was when he came to power. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA

Israeli premier will leave behind a deeply fractured society

Boris Johnson on a visit to a farm near  Aberdeen on Friday: Brexit and the prime minister’s coming to power have pushed the  British constitution to its limits.  Photograph: Andrew Milligan/Getty Images

Britain’s unwritten constitution badly exposed by cultural civil war

 Chernobyl. The aftermath of the (much smaller) nuclear accident that occurred this month in  Russia’s Arkhangelsk region carries unsettling echoes of the Chernobyl cover up of 30 years ago. Photograph:  Yuri Kazakov/Reuters

Russia has tried to hide what happened in Nenoksa but it’s impossible in the digital age

 British prime minister Boris Johnson: By the time of the Brexit referendum in 2016, the Anglosphere had established itself in right-wing mythology as the promised land. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

World View: Suggestion that likes of US, Australia offer alternative to EU is fantasy

The Berlaymont building, headquarters of the European Commission, in Brussels. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Takeover by politicians in recent decades has weakened European Commission

Christine Lagarde: being the unlikely candidate has consistently been the making of her. Photograph: Saul Loeb

Poised to take helm at ECB, French role model has talent for right place at right time

The Council of Europe’s founding members were all western European states with broadly similar values, but with the fall of the Iron Curtain it rapidly expanded eastwards to take in a swathe of ex-Soviet bloc states in transition to democracy. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

Irish politicians went against UK in voting for Russia’s return to Europe’s human rights watchdog

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits Irish troops in Mali in January. The existing troops are there in a non-combat training role.

World View: Government is remarkably reticent about its move to send forces to Mali

French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party leader Marine Le Pen: has ditched the idea of scrapping the euro and exiting the EU. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

World View: Far-right populists have quietly shelved their EU exit policies amid Brexit

 Donald Trump and Viktor Orban in the White House this week. The encounter was largely framed as a meeting of ideological allies but the agenda is likely to have been dominated by questions that put them at loggerheads. Photograph: Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg

Nationalists are expected to do well in the European election but their ability to coalesce is doubtful

 A billboard of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an election campaign poster in Russian, in Jerusalem, on Friday. Israelis go to the polls in a general election next Tuesday.  Photograph: Jim Hollander?EPA

The economy may be prospering but the country is no closer to addressing its fundamental tensions

An elderly woman washes her belongings in the mud, in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, earlier this week. An area of 394sq km had been flooded in the wake of a powerful cyclone. Photograph: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images

A cold snap in Chicago in January drew more commentary

Hundreds of students gather to protest the decision of Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika (82) to run for a fifth term, in Algiers, earlier this week. Photograph:  Anis Belghoul/AP Photo

Unlike in 2011, the Bouteflika regime cannot simply throw money at the problem

Shamima Begum (19) in a Syrian refugee camp reading a copy of the UK home office letter stripping her of British citizenship. Photograph: ITV News/PA Wire

World View: The UK's decision to revoke the 19-year-old's citizenship is morally flawed and legally dubious

Close up: Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Evry-Courcouronnes, France, this week. He has been one of the most vocal champions recently of greater separation between media and political power. EPA/Ludovic Marin/EPA

The media enjoys a very close, if not too close, relationship with politicians

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel exchange the French-German friendship treaty during the signing ceremony  in Aachen, Germany, on Tuesday. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

In an EU of 27, France and Germany have less room for manoeuvre than they once enjoyed

Pessimism is often used as an excuse – the belief that nothing can be done relieves the burden of having to do anything. Photograph: Mariano Sayno via Getty Images

These policy ideas are starting points in a long-term strategy to eliminate child poverty

A  US soldier sits in the rear of Chinook helicopter while flying over Kabul. Photograph: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump’s chaotic plans are counterproductive but he is right to try to disengage

US president Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un hold a signing ceremony at the conclusion of their summit on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore in June. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Brexit activated, Trump unshackled, populism bedded in – it’s a glass-half-empty outlook

Otherworldly villains:  A Boris Johnson impersonator walks alongside Jacob Rees-Mogg. Leavers had a powerful, emotionally resonant issue: immigration. Photograph:  Henry Nicholls

World View: Remain side is still failing to sell its case despite possibility of a second referendum

 Tocqueville: the Frenchman’s two-volume account of his travels in the United States in 1831 retains a freshness

Some of his fears about the durability of US democracy have been realised

Through the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Ireland will plug into new global networks for when France will be Ireland’s closest neighbour in the EU. Photograph: Muhammed Muheisen/AP

Transactional logic must link with linguistics as State courts French-speaking nations

US president Donald Trump with his nominee for the supreme court, Brett Kavanaugh, last July. In the postwar decades, judges around the world looked to the US supreme court for inspiration. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

As the US supreme court turns inward, the rest of the world is in turn paying less attention to it

Algerians forced to the ground by the  French military in 1955 in Kabylia, Algeria: the Algerian war poisons relations between Paris and Algiers to this day.  Photograph: Michel Desjardins/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

World View: Paris at last starts to face up to state’s torture and murder in Algerian war

New Zealand landscape. In 1971 Wellington and the EEC agreed a special arrangement for New Zealand’s butter, cheese and lamb sectors, which were all vital to the national economy.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic: We can learn a lot from the Pacific nation’s fate in the 1970s

‘In fairness to Kofi Annan, he expressed a sense of institutional responsibility for what happened in Rwanda.’ Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Diplomat was last secretary general to seem like a central player in international drama

Mabella Market in Freetown, Sierra Leone: Many Sierra Leoneans put themselves at great risk – and often paid with their lives – to treat the sick, clean hospital wards, bury the dead and mobilise a public response. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

‘Getting to Zero’ starkly reveals local valour in face of West’s superficial aid

The UN Security Council in New York.  Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

A guide to how Ireland can secure a Security Council seat, and what we need to avoid

US permanent representative to UN Nikki Haley:  called rights body a “protector of human-rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias”. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

While rights body is scarred by hypocrisy, US involvement has always been for the better

Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Russian president Vladimir Putin  in Moscow on Thursday. Photograph:  Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/EPA

Encouragingly, political leaders’ attempts to leverage the tournament for personal gain tend to end in failure

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte leaves his house in Rome, on Friday. The prospect of an autumn election in Italy has receded for now. Photograph: EPA/Massimo Percossi

Italian president’s veto looked like the establishment trying to stymie the will of the people

EUPOL COPPS, the European Union’s police and justice mission, based in Ramallah, comprises more than 100 serving police officers from around Europe, including several from Ireland.  Photograph: EUPOL COPPS

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic: The EU is helping to rebuild a police force on the West Bank

Ruqayeh al-Araj was five years old in 1948, when the war came to Walaja. She hopes one day she will be able to return to her old village

Ruqayeh (75) was five when shelling forced her from her village. She has not been back

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in embrace: The diplomatic history of the past half-century is filled with joint statements that included similar vague promises to those agreed at Panmunjom. Photograph: Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters

World View: History suggests North Korea-US rapprochement destined to fail

Supporters of Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi celebrate in Cairo’s Tahrir square on Monday following his re-election for a second term. Photograph: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

Sham elections tell autocrats as much about their friends as their enemies

Russian pride: Vladimir Putin at naval exercises in 2000. Photograph: by Laski Diffusion/Getty

Shaun Walker charts Putin’s mission to fill the Soviet void; Michel Eltchaninoff traces Putinism

Russian president Vladimir Putin:  the Department of Foreign Affairs has been silent on his recent re-election. Photograph: Yuri Kadobnov/Reuters

Irish slow response to Salisbury attack dictated by interests of other EU states

The Promo and Destock store, a French kosher grocery store in Créteil, south of Paris, after it was destroyed in an arson attack. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

World View: Front National’s rebranding masks an alarming rise in anti-Jewish sentiment

Emmanuel Macron at the launch of the European Head of States and Governments in Brussels on Friday: parties jumping aboard his new centrist vehicle will have to be unhappy with its current arrangement. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

The French president is looking for Irish parties to join his new European bloc

An injured child receives treatment following bombings on several areas of eastern Ghouta, at a hospital in Douma, Syria. Photograph: Mohammed Badra/EPA

Violence in Ghouta ‘spiralling out of control’ as 250 die in government bombardment

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas: US president Donald Trump’s  decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital  made it impossible for the Palestinian Authority under Abbas to sit down at the negotiating table. Photograph: Alaa Badarneh/EPA

It is time to plan for a new process once Trump leaves office

 Tunisians wave national flags during a celebration to mark the seventh anniversary of the uprising that ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali at the Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis last month. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA

Struggling country is shining example to rest of world but needs assistance

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu: following budget negotiations with the finance ministry, Israel plans to close seven diplomatic missions over the next three years. Photograph: Jim Hollander

To reduce costs, Dublin placed on potential closure list of seven, Israeli paper reports

The Great Siege monument in Valletta, Malta, was turned into a shrine for journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after she was killed by a car bomb last October. Photograph: Matthew Mirabelli/AFP/Getty Images

The focus on the US president’s threats to the media distracts from deadly challenges elsewhere

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