"Un saint ne naît jamais armé de la sainteté comme d'une cuirasse. Un héros ne sort jamais tout cuit d'un moule fabriqué à l'avance. La grandeur de l'homme est dans sa complexité. Le reste n'est qu'image d'Epinal."
"A saint is never born blessed with holiness as an armor. A hero never comes out ready made from a prefabricated mold. The greatness of man is in its complexity. The rest is only stereotypes." – Joseph Kessel, Mermoz
The powerful trends underlying the changes in our world continue to unfold, triggering various events with different significance in their wake. For example, the pressure to address climate change may have pushed the US and China to reach a deal over CO2 emissions even though their rivalry for leadership in the Asia Pacific continues to intensify.
Or the fragmentation in the Middle East is mixing a multitude of concerns (energy security, international stability, and domestic safety) which makes negotiation difficult. Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US and Turkey are vying for influence, acting together when needed but opposing each others when their interests differ.
It is thus sometimes difficult to assess the short, medium and longer term outcomes of these situations, especially when the human brain is quick to extrapolate current trends to arrive to unpleasant conclusions -or quick to dismiss facts and cling to vain hopes. Yet today's predicaments may be tomorrow's hope.
Throughout our talks with baby-boomer from various backgrounds, two thing came out clearly: they believe that we are entering troubled times, with great changes on the horizon. But they also are very optimistic in the future: they have great belief in the young and their ability to manage the tools at their disposal (the obvious example being new technologies). On the other hand, the young are sometimes overwhelmed by the complexity of the world in which they evolve because the fast pace of change deprives them from fixed moral anchors on which to foster long lasting values.
The result may be that the old over-optimism in peaceful result will be matched by a corresponding over-pessimism from the young. But the young's flexibility may also give them the ability to accelerate changes in the right direction when the old would only see additional disruption. It's difficult to see where we're headed in the midst of all these variables. History is made of events, large events which were usually game changers. Today, everyone seems to be waiting for something to happen, something large enough to shake up the system and set us back on the right track.
Yet the short to medium term, the worse that could happen would be that nothing happens. Inequalities, the high-jacking of democracy, the rise of corporate power, global warming, climate change, the growing scarcity of resources… these challenges are here to stay and their presence will be felt ever more in our lives.
Science, General Knowledge & Environment
Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path – "Once considered the stuff of wild-eyed fantasies, such ideas for countering climate change — known as geoengineering solutions, because they intentionally manipulate nature — are now being discussed seriously by scientists."
Is the U.S.-China Climate Pact as Big a Deal as It Seems? – "We'll wait to see the details—including how an American president can make good on commitments for 2025, when that is two and possibly three presidencies into the future, and when in the here-and-now he faces congressional majorities that seem dead-set against recognizing this issue."
Rise of the Robot Security Guards – "This takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application.'
History & Geopolitics
What the Fall of the Wall Did Not Change – "From 1871 onward, a united Germany has posed a problem for Europe. It is too productive to compete with and too insecure to live with. This is not a matter of ideology; it is a matter of geography and culture."
A Struggle Over Russia's Interior Ministry Could Emerge – "If more indications emerge of an impending change at the top of the Interior Ministry, they will reveal Putin's wariness over the ability of the security circles, particularly the FSB, to influence the ministry. A reshuffle will also highlight Putin's desire to shore up his direct control over some of the country's most powerful tools."
Going against Netanyahu, 84 percent of US Jews favor Iran nuclear deal – "The American public generally is supportive of giving diplomacy time to work. I don’t think Jewish Americans are different from where the general American population is on this.”
The Threat from Saudi Arabia’s Oil Power Play – "Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal describes shale oil production in the United States as “an inevitable threat” to Saudi Arabia and OPEC, eating into demand for OPEC member nations’ exports and their revenues."
Conversation: Opposing Poles Pull at Asia – [Video] – "Stratfor's East Asia Analysts Rodger Baker and John Minnich discuss the competing visions, one Chinese and the other American, for the future of the Pacific region."
Finance & Economics
Tim Geithner reveals in the raw how Europe's leaders tried to commit financial suicide – "Taped transcripts of the former US Treasury Secretary expose a catalogue of errors that will haunt Europe for years, made worse by misplaced righteousness."
Germany doesn’t understand that it has a responsibility to the rest of Europe – "So German economists come up with all these semi-elaborate excuses why more German infrastructure spending actually wouldn't help anybody else, which just isn't true. Sure, it might not boost exports for the rest of Europe, but it would boost German wages—which would spill over, and take pressure off other countries to actively cut theirs."
Number of the day: Why Innocent People Plead Guilty – "[In USA] In 2013, while 8 percent of all federal criminal charges were dismissed (either because of a mistake in fact or law or because the defendant had decided to cooperate), more than 97 percent of the remainder were resolved through plea bargains, and fewer than 3 percent went to trial."
Picture of the day: The Natural World – November weather
About Carlito Riego
"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi