Impediments to China's economic edge

Former US treasury secretary Hank Paulson thinks some Americans are naïve to assume that the Chinese government can do whatever it wants to grow its economy.

He believes there's more danger in exaggerating China's strength than in underestimating it, but he also concedes that America's economic prowess took a real hit in the eyes of the Chinese at the time of the 2008 crash - when Mr Paulson was running the US Treasury.

He tells the story of how one Chinese official told him at the time that America had been seen as China's teacher but now the teacher didn't look so smart.

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US Senator: Compromise Iran bill a 'win'

The US Congress will only vote not to lift US sanctions against Iran, if the final deal agreed at the end of June is a "bad deal."

That's the opinion of Senator Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware, who was key in drafting the bill that just got a stunning vote of unanimous support from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (I say stunning because when was the last time you heard of anything getting 100% bipartisan support in the US Congress?)

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Cuba opens its doors to Airbnb

So you're an American tourist and now that the US is working to normalise diplomatic relationships with Cuba, you've developed a yearning to see Havana before McDonald's gets there. The only problem is that there's nowhere to stay. There just aren't enough hotel rooms to accommodate the millions of intrepid US travellers planning a long weekend of mojitos and salsa. Well, don't panic: help is on the way, in the form of Airbnb.

The online rental sensation today announced plans to link American travellers with Cuban home owners. It's being described as the most significant development so far in terms of post-embargo US investment in the island. Netflix and Mastercard have already unblocked their services there, but because of limited and slow internet access and the fact that most credit-card issuers still don't allow transactions from Cuba, those moves are largely symbolic.

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'Tall odds' against Iran nuclear deal

President Bush's former National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, supports a military strike against Iran if talks fail and the Islamic Republic moves towards developing a nuclear weapon.

Mr Hadley sounds sceptical that a satisfactory deal can be reached. He says this isn't the deal many had expected - too many compromises have already been made.

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Paradox of finding peace in Middle East

America's former Middle East envoy George Mitchell points out a paradox - the two state solution hasn't worked, despite 50 years of trying, but it is still the best option for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Senator Mitchell was the US's lead negotiator when Prime Minister Netanyahu committed himself to the two-state solution back in 2009, so he can be forgiven for sounding downbeat today.

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Iran letter deepens Washington divide

The White House agrees that the Republican Senators' letter to Iran creates the perception that America is dysfunctional.

The White House's Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, was clearly angered by the decision by 47 Republicans to send an open letter to the Iranian leadership. The letter warned that any nuclear deal reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group could be short lived.

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Powerful words but was Netanyahu right to make speech?

  • 4 March 2015
  • From the section Magazine

Prime Minister Netanyahu's fiery address to Congress was an "affront to the president," according to Martin Indyk the former US special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Mr Indyk used to work for Mr Obama so he's partisan, but there are plenty of people who agree that the State of the Union-esque speech was somehow unseemly in a foreign leader.

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How the British misunderstanding of America is growing

Signposts showing the US and UK flags

I've just come back from a few days in London where I had the chance to grill a few Americans - officials and non officials - on what they find tricky about explaining their country to my country.

It's something that perpetually intrigues because the longer I live in America, the more different I think our two nations are and the more I feel Brits misunderstand the US, and vice versa.

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Monopoly's hidden history: invented by a woman?

  • 23 February 2015
  • From the section Magazine

Like millions of people around the world, I grew up addicted to Monopoly - vying with my siblings to buy Park Avenue and avoid being sent to jail. My story is familiar to many. Not so familiar is the origin of the game.

The tale many of us heard was that an unemployed salesman struck it rich when he invented Monopoly during the Great Depression,

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Ukraine crisis: How to 'sweet-talk' Putin

It's high time the Ukrainians got better military advice - that's the advice of Bill Richardson, America's former Ambassador to the UN and uber global negotiator.

Mr Richardson doesn't think there's much chance we'll see UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine because Russia would veto such a move in the Security Council. But he does think monitors of some sort, maybe from the OSCE, would be a good idea.

Read full article Ukraine crisis: How to 'sweet-talk' Putin