Syria now has a new government-in-exile that allegedly unites all the groups seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad's murderous regime. But if this is the best that they can do, Assad will still be in power next year, and perhaps for a long time afterwards.
It's hard to know how much impact New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's comments about climate change after superstorm Sandy had on the US election.
"Everybody knows how this will end," wrote Nahum Barnea, one of Israel's best-known journalists, in the newspaper Yediot Aharonot recently. "There will be a bi-national ." ...
More or less at opposite ends of the world, two very long wars are coming to a negotiated end, with no victors and no vanquished. In the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino signed a peace agreement with the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on October 16 after more than 40 years of war. In Norway, the next day, Colombia's Government began talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army (Farc) rebels to end a war that has lasted for over 50 years.
Six years in jail and an average fine of more than a million dollars: that was the punishment given to six Italian scientists this week for getting their earthquake advice wrong. So what will the expert geologists and vulcanologists in Italy say the next time they are asked about the likelihood of an earthquake?
Stockton-On-Tees, a small city in northeastern England, has only one claim to fame: the first railway tracks were made and laid in the city in 1822, and the first train ran on those tracks in 1825. But it might one day have another claim, also related to transportation: a locally based start-up company called Air Fuel Synthesis has just produced the first petrol from air and water.
This month is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis (October 16-28, 1962), so we are hearing a great deal about the weeks when the world almost died. But the past is a foreign country, a place where everything was in black and white and men still wore hats, so it's just scary stories about a long-gone time.
Maybe they gave the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union because they couldn't think of anybody else who wouldn't embarrass them. Nelson Mandela already has one. So does Aung San Suu Kyi. Even Barack Obama has one, though what for is not exactly clear.
Iran's currency virtually collapsed the week before last, and the public protests that followed in Teheran stirred memories of the massive anti-regime protests of 2009.
"I wish to make it clear before I cross-examine the three claimants that the ," the British Government's defence lawyer, Guy Mansfield QC said. Damn right they did. One, Paulo Nzili, was beaten so hard he went deaf, and castrated in public with the same pliers used to geld cattle.
The major powers have all had their nuclear weapons on permanent alert, ready to launch in minutes or hours, for the past 40 years. Changes in the level of political risk, even the end of the Cold War, have had little or no effect on that.
It is imaginable that Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's strongman ruler since 1998, will lose the presidential election next Monday. Opinion polls show that his challenger, Henrique Capriles, has closed the gap between them to only 5% or less of the popular vote. If Mr Chavez loses, would he hand over power peacefully?
"Double tap" is what mobsters do when they put somebody down. One bullet in the heart, one in the head.
It has always been hard for people with strong opinions to tolerate the discipline of electoral politics, which demands that they never speak their minds in public. Say what you really think, and you are bound to alienate some of the votes that you need to win. But it is getting harder: even at private gatherings, today's politicians are likely to be secretly video-recorded, so they must NEVER reveal their true opinions.
One of the first scenes in the ridiculous but thoroughly nasty film Innocence of Muslims shows angry Muslims running through the streets smashing things and killing people. So what happens when a clip from the film dubbed into Arabic goes up on the internet?
Never mind the constraints of the miserable present: the shrinking budgets, the lost opportunities, the collapsing morale. Thinking is free, so let's think really big.
It was a welcome change from the usual dreary story: a Christian or a Hindu Pakistani accused of blasphemy on flimsy grounds, tried, and sentenced to prison - or found innocent, set free and then murdered by some Muslim fanatic. This time was different.
There was never going to be a big debate on United States foreign policy at the Democratic National Convention. It will be whatever Barack Obama say it should be, and besides, the delegates in Charlotte were not interested.
It is no surprise that we will have a record minimum of ice cover in the Arctic Ocean at the end of this summer melt season.
A defeatist position is not possible for us.