Putin back in from the cold?

  • Temporarily yes in wake of Paris attacks, i.e. France & Russia co-ordinating attacks against ISIS.
  • Like the allies worked with Stalin to defeat Nazism, the west can today work with Russia to fight a common foe.
  • But, back then, Hitler posed an existential threat - today the west can probably defeat ISIS without Russian assistance, and hence hopefully won't trade Ukraine for help in the Middle East.

Macrosnap ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria?

  • NE Syrian city seized from Syrian rebels in Jan 2014 - civilian population of 200,000 is hostage to ISIS brutality.
  • Viewed as ISIS' de facto capital, although leadership is based in desert borderlands between Syria & Iraq.
  • Being bombed by France - more of a symbolic & psychological target than militarily critical.

Current US/Coalition bombing tactics in Syria?

  • US-led coalition hitting ISIS-held oilfields in E-Syria.
  • Also hitting supply lines (truck convoys).
  • Oil from the region is a major revenue generator for ISIS.

What Obama administration wants from Paris climate summit?

  • Prefers to join an accord by executive agreement (i.e. a swish of Obama's pen).
  • If accord contains legally binding obligations, Obama will need to put it to the Senate.
  • But the Republican majority in the Senate is hostile to scientific consensus vis-à-vis climate change.

Why is a binding global climate accord so difficult to achieve?

  • Because there's a divide between rich and poor nations.
  • Rich nations' industrialisation resulted in global warming - now poor nations want their own share of industrial wealth.
  • Also, the Republican party in the US is hostile to to scientific consensus vis-à-vis climate change.

Expectations re UN Paris climate meeting end Nov?

  • Impossible to force nations to cut pollution, so will be based on voluntary pledges.
  • Hopefully agreement to review every 5 years to see if pledges having any effect.
  • If an accord is reached, will be based on collection of widely differing national promises, so expect no universal outcome (like an agreed global carbon price, or a global ban on fossil fuel subsidies).

History of UN climate accords?

  • Rio accord 1992 & Kyoto protocol 1997: Failed to meet chief objective, i.e. preventing rise of C02 from burning of fossil fuels.
  • Copenhagen 2009: Attempt to replace Kyoto agreement - failed to reach agreement.
  • Paris 30 Nov. 2015: Hopefully an accord, but expected to be unenforceable and voluntary.

Why is ISIS now branching out of Syria and Iraq?

  • ISIS largely contained in its core territory (N + E Syria, N + W Iraq).
  • Whenever they try to break into neighbouring Shia or Kurdish areas, they get pushed back.
  • Could explain attacks in Lebanon (Beirut), Egypt (Russian jet) and Paris.

Japan Economy Snapshot 2015?

  • Recession ending but growth still slow: PM Shinzo Abe’s plans (Abenomics) for reviving the economy have had mixed results.
  • Minuses: Government debt remains large and a problem, so budget reform urgently required, but apparently not happening fast enough.
  • Pluses: Positive consumer sentiment, exports healthy despite global wobblies as China slows.

Syria Macrosnap?

  • Looks like military and political stalemate.
  • Military: Increased (covert) supply of missiles to selected rebel groups has stalled Russia-backed Assad advances.
  • Political: Putin's negotiating position therefore weakened.
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