n.37 July 2011

Japanese strategist and researcher Narushige Michishita is pessimistic about Japan’s future. He’s concerned about country’s aging population, its high tax debt, the relentless ascent of China, and the menace posed by a nuclear North Korea.

MAO’S SHADOW - “The Little Red Book” of quotations from Communist China’s founding father Chairman Mao Zedong was a must-have in China in the days when Red Guards roamed the streets looking for any signs of ideological wavering.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill clearly respects Pope Benedict XVI, his Roman Catholic counter part. . But organizing a meeting between the two spiritual leaders is easier said than done. Kirill is held back by conservative forces that disdain his respect for the German pontiff and hold a grudge for an ecumenical Mass his predecessor participated in at Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral 2007.

Spitsbergen is located on the coal-rich Svalbard archipelago that abuts the Artic Ocean in far north Norway. Both Norway and the Soviet Union once hosted competing coal mining towns with prosperous populations. But the collapse of the Soviet Union all but shut down the Russian Barentsburg.