The good thing about volcanoes is that you know where they are.
If Russia spent as much on intelligence agencies as the United States does - $US52.6 billion ($NZ63.7 billion) in 2013, according to the ''black budget'' published by The Washington Post last August - would it have been able to stop the suicide bombers who killed 31 people in two attacks in Volgograd early this week?
It's always dangerous to declare ''mission accomplished''.
After a decade when the struggle for equal rights for gay people made great progress, it looks like the counter-revolution is under way.
Purges in communist states have rarely stopped with the execution of one senior party member, especially when he has been tortured into ''confessing'' at his show trial that he was planning to stage a coup using ''high-ranking military officers'' and other close allies.
And now for something completely different: a spy story that isn't about Edward Snowden's disclosures and the US National Security Agency's surveillance of everything and everybody.
The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the poorest and most inaccessible countries in the world. It is the size of France, but has only four and a-half million people.
Saturday, when China declared an ''air defence identification zone'' (ADIZ) that covers the disputed islands called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, the media has been full of predictions of confrontation and crisis.
''We are not blind, and I don't think we are stupid,'' US Secretary of State John Kerry said in response to fierce Israeli criticism after the first round of talks about Iran's nuclear programme earlier this month failed to reach a deal.
A little over two years after the former Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, was captured and killed by rebel militiamen outside the town of Sirte, the Libyan state is teetering on the brink of collapse.
The big news of the week is that China's one-child policy is being relaxed.
''We've been telling the rest of the world we don't want what's happening to us to happen to everyone else,'' said Lucille L. Sering, the vice-chairwoman of the Philippines' Climate Commission, as the country struggled to cope with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
What will the Middle East look like after Iran and the great powers that are negotiating over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons ambitions - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) - sign a deal that ends the confrontation?
Can it really be as easy as that? Get Rwanda to stop supporting the rebels in eastern Congo, pay the soldiers of the Congolese army on time, send in a United Nations force that actually has orders to shoot, and presto!
The Curse of Mars also applies to Asian countries.
''My work here is done,'' said the masked man, as he mounted his horse and rode away.
Politicians and government officials rarely tell outright lies; the cost of being caught out in a lie is too high.
''That prize should have been given to me,'' joked Syria's President Bashar al-Assad shortly after the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11.
Short term beats long term most of the time, even when people understand where their long-term self-interest really lies.
''I don't know how many more people need to die at sea before something gets done,'' said Malta's Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat.