Funeral, ceremony of burying a dead person. From the Latin funus. Photograph: iStock

Have you ever wondered about those compliments paid to the dead at funerals? You know the sort of thing: “He/she never said a bad word about anyone”, (...)

Barack Obama as he is sworn in on January 20th, 2009, as US president, on the same Bible used to swear in Abraham Lincoln. Photograph: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Abraham Lincoln: the 16th president of the United States

Donald J Trump will on Friday ascend the steps of Capitol Hill and utter an oath first sworn by George Washington in 1789. “I do solemnly swear that (...)

John Risher, 106, watches the game and records statistics manually in the press box during a University of Virginia home football game in Charlottesville. Photograph: Lexey Swall/The New York Times

Charlottesville, Virginia. John Risher drove north on Route 29, a briefcase resting in the car’s back seat. Through sunglasses, Risher, who is 106 (...)

Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump jeers the media in front a crowd of supporters in July  in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Photograph:  John Moore/Getty Images

Richard Ford My old mentor and friend Shelby Foote used to say that a person couldn’t understand the US without understanding the American civil wa(...)

Cuban president Raúl Castro   attends US president Barack Obama’s speech at the  Gran Teatro in Havana, Cuba: Mr Obama said  there was “an evolution” and “a generational change” taking place inside Cuba. Photograph: Desmond Boylan/AP

US president Barack Obama told the Cuban people in a televised address that he had come to Havana on his historic visit “to bury the last remnant of (...)

US president Barack Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro: Mr Obama said the list of the things the White House could do to ease restrictions outside of ending the embargo was “growing shorter.” Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Barack Obama has said his historic visit to Cuba herald s a “new day” in diplomatic relations but he has clashed with President Raul Cast(...)

US president Barack Obama will visit Cuba in March, marking the first US presidential visit to the island since 1928. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

Barack Obama will pay a historic visit to Cuba in March, becoming the first US president to step foot on the island in nearly nine decades. The brief(...)

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, Luxembourg’s finance minister Pierre Gramegna and eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem: forgiveness of debt has been a great boon to Germany. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq

For most of human history the moral opprobrium associated with credit was attached to the lender, not the borrower. Aristotle and Plato poured scorn o(...)

Kevin O’Malley (left) being sworn in as the new US ambassador to Dublin by US vice president Joe Biden

The United States is expected to take a role in Northern Ireland’s reconvened inter-party talks aimed at attempting to resolve outstanding political i(...)