Running from Putin: Russia’s new political refugees

In August, a group of Russian environmentalists were walking along a beach on the Black Sea, just outside the walls surrounding a majestic palace that has been linked to President Vladimir Putin, AFP reports.

One of the activists, Suren Gazaryan, proceeded to take several photos of illegal yacht moorings built on the public shore, before a guard attacked him and tried to take away his phone.

Four months later, Gazaryan is living in Estonia. Instead of spending the holidays with his family and friends, he is waiting for the authorities there to review his application for political asylum.

If he goes back to Russia, he says he will be jailed by the officials whose illegal palaces he worked to expose. Two cases were brought against him, one of which ended in a hooliganism conviction and a suspended sentence.

Running from Putin: Russia’s new political refugees . Politics. Tengrinews.kz

Chinese think tank: conflict inevitable between Japan, China over Senkakus

With the rise of China as Asia’s leading economic power, a Chinese government think tank says the nation’s conflict with Japan over the Senkaku Islands is inevitable at a time when its bilateral relations are changing as a consequence.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) also said in its annual report that the two countries’ relationship will enter into a highly unstable period.

While thinking that the conflict over the islands could be prolonged, China is now paying attention to what action the new Japanese government, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will take.

Chinese think tank: conflict inevitable between Japan, China over Senkakus – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

Three possible scenarios in South China Sea | The Jakarta Post

The projection of the future of the South China Sea is structured along six key determinants of stability. The six drivers are first, the presence of a hegemonic power that has the capacity and incentive to create a stable order, second, the equal distribution of military power and avoidance of overly aggressive behavior, third, the adherence to international norms of peaceful settlement of disputes, fourth, a preference to maintain international economic ties and development, fifth, the presence of institutions to regularize dialogue and cooperation, and sixth, united domestic entities that prefer win-win and peaceful solutions.

So, what does the future hold for the South China Sea? Do the six factors correspond to the current situation? There are three possible scenarios; the apocalypse scenario, the dream scenario and the status-quo scenario.

Three possible scenarios in South China Sea | The Jakarta Post

1. There is no hedemonic power that is willing to create a stable order. The US is in decline. US leadership is sleeping.
2. There is no avoidance of overly aggressive behavior by China.
3. China appears to want only bilateral talks with individual countries. This is a divide and conquer strategy. No regional solution appears in the horizon.
4. China has already used economic strategies to punish Japan and Philippines.
5. Institutions for dialog exist, but they are not being used effectively.
6. The concept of win-win does not appear in the Chinese language. I’m not making this up.

Food Machine | America Revealed | PBS

About the episode

Over the past century, an American industrial revolution has given rise to the biggest, most productive food machine the world has ever known. 

In this episode, host Yul Kwon explores how this machine feeds nearly 300 million Americans every day.  He discovers engineering marvels we’ve created by putting nature to work and takes a look at the costs of our insatiable appetite on our health and environment. 

For the first time in human history, less than 2% of the population can feed the other 98%.  Yul embarks on a trip that begins with a pizza delivery route in New York City then goes across country to California’s Central Valley, where nearly 50% of America’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown and skydives into the heartland for an aerial look of our farmlands.

He meets the men and women who keep us fed 365 days a year—everyone from industrial to urban farmers, crop dusting pilots to long distance bee truckers, modern day cowboys to the pizza deliveryman.

Food Machine | America Revealed | PBS

Watch Food Machine on PBS. See more from America Revealed.

Will Fracking Bring Down Muslim PetroPower?

The US shale gas boom, drastically cutting the cost of gas, is shaking the foundations of the Saudi Arabian economic model—and more is coming. The highly profitable $100bn Gulf petrochemical industry is taking a hit as its biggest customer—the U.S.—is importing less and relying instead on domestic production.

And already falling demand from China is having an impact on the Saudi economy.

Will Fracking Bring Down Muslim PetroPower?

In 2013, the great global unraveling

In September, China’s 18th Party Congress anointed leaders whose views are more aligned with the past than the future. As the political system becomes more rigid and its foreign policy more aggressive, there is a risk of growing tension between China’s strengthening society and its weakening political system. These tensions are already having an impact on the wider Asian system.
 
Asia’s economic map has been redrawn over the past 15 years as increasing intra-regional trade, investment and supply chains have driven deep interdependence (all done largely without the United States). But tension and weakness in the Chinese state seem to be driving the nation to take ever more worrying steps toward neighbors such as Japan, the Philippines and Korea. Since 2010, a more aggressive China has increasingly threatened to pit the “economic Asia” that was uniting without the United States against a “security Asia” that is demanding an American pivot to balance against China’s rise.

In 2013, the great global unraveling | Economy | GMA News Online | The Go-To Site for Filipinos Everywhere

China academics warn of “violent revolution” if no political reform – Yahoo! News

A prominent group of Chinese academics has warned in a bold open letter that the country risks “violent revolution if the government does not respond to public pressure and allow long-stalled political reforms.

The 73 scholars, including well-known current and retired legal experts at top universities and lawyers, said political reform had not matched the quick pace of economic expansion.

“If reforms to the system urgently needed by Chinese society keep being frustrated and stagnate without progress, then official corruption and dissatisfaction in society will boil up to a crisis point and China will once again miss the opportunity for peaceful reform, and slip into the turbulence and chaos of violent revolution,” they wrote.

China academics warn of “violent revolution” if no political reform – Yahoo! News

The End of Putinomics – Newsweek and The Daily Beast

A dozen years of prosperity and stability have kept Russia’s leader wildly popular. Now his whole world is about to collapse.

The world is changing. Russia is not. And Vladimir Putin would like things to stay that way. …

Unfortunately for the Russian president, however, change is imminent—and in a form utterly beyond his control. Two words have already begun rocking Putin’s world: shale gas. The new technology, which allows natural gas to be extracted cheaply and in previously untapped places, is about to upend not only global energy prices but also the geopolitical status quo—with Russia as the prime loser.

But 2013 is shaping up to be the year when the magic stops.

And Russia’s fountain of loot is beginning to dry up. …

The End of Putinomics – Newsweek and The Daily Beast

Putin could be in big trouble as the money starts to dry up. We could be looking at another Russian revolution before too long. Time is not Putin’s friend.

2013, like 1913, could see epic transformations in world order | World news | guardian.co.uk

Making predictions is a chancy business. But 2013, like 1913, could prove the precursor to another seminal turning point in the global order. China is rapidly approaching the point when the size of its economy will surpass that of the US. Its military capability is expanding hand over fist and so, too, is the confidence with which it asserts its sovereign and territorial claims.

2013, like 1913, could see epic transformations in world order | World news | guardian.co.uk

Japan attitude raises conflict fears, Kevin Rudd tells China | The Australian

KEVIN Rudd has told hundreds of Chinese military officers in Beijing that he is deeply concerned about hardening Japanese attitudes towards China over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and he warned of the risks to peace in the region.

The former prime minister delivered a lengthy speech at the National Defence University, China’s equivalent of the US’s West Point, in which he warned of potential points of conflict in the region and urged prompt action to defuse them.

Mr Rudd said he had studied the relationship between Japan and China for all of his professional life. “But I have never seen it as bad as this.”

Mr Rudd said he was also concerned about the possibility of Japan installing meteorological devices on disputed islands.

Japan attitude raises conflict fears, Kevin Rudd tells China | The Australian