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

It was the moment that marked end of the American century. It was the death knell of the Atlantic alliance. It was, as Francis Fukuyama put it, “a maj(...)

A protester going by the name Cowboy Barbie holds an AR-15 rifle at a rally in Carson City, Nevada, in  January ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president. Photograph: Ty O’Neil/Sopa Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Here follow pairs of facts about the contemporary US. The economy added 850,000 jobs in one month; a third of voters believe the last presidential e(...)

A woman walks past a portrait of Chinese president Xi Jinping in Shanghai. Photograph: Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters

It is difficult to know the future implications of a moment in history while you are still living through it. But one of the most striking indication(...)

Spice cadets: Sporty, Baby, Scary, Ginger and Posh get ziggy wit’ it. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA

Remember that party you held in your club with all those fusty old colonels and snooty dames? Remember how it was gatecrashed by those loud young wome(...)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un:  interest in the Northern Ireland peace process is growing in Korea, especially among those who prioritise improved inter-Korean relations over political unification.  Photograph:  KCNA/VIA KNS/STR/AFP

Two news stories simmered through the summer months, between which few people likely saw any connection. One was the crisis surrounding the Korean pen(...)

US president-elect Donald Trump, who who has already softened his line on various subjects. Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times

Imagine that Britain’s Labour Party had replaced Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband before they contested a general election. In all likelihood, there would (...)

An image grab taken from a video shows alleged Islamic State leader  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul. Photograph: Al-Furqan Media/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It seems a strange obsession for men so opposed to graven images that they smash ancient statues with sledge hammers. The jihadists of Islamic State (...)

There are few more poignant dates in history than November 11th – tomorrow as it happens. This year it marks the 96th anniversary of the ending of tha(...)

Ebola is a recurring problem, yet the world seems unprepared. The response has been slow and unco-ordinated. Photograph: EPA/AHMED JALLANZO

Imagine two cities. In City A, town leaders notice that every few weeks a house catches fire. So they create a fire department – a group of profession(...)

 Piketty has remained modest throughout the attention lavished on his book - an unprecedented amount given that he is a left-leaning economist calling for a global tax on wealth to rectify inequality. Photograph: Karsten Moran/The New York Times

Concern is growing that much of the western world is heading into a “Piketty bubble” - a social and economic phenomenon that arises when everyone who (...)