(CNN) - Three gone (Gadhafi, Mubarak, Ben Ali), two holding on in the face of daily protests (al-Assad, Saleh), two more (Kings Abdullah of Jordan and Mohammed of Morocco) trying to stay ahead of the curve of protest: After 10 months of the Arab Spring, the region is still in the throes of a heady and unpredictable transformation.
Moammar Gadhafi's demise, after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, means that three rulers in power collectively for 95 years are gone. Scholar and author Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, says that 2011 "is to the Arabs what 1989 was to the communist world. The Arabs are now coming into ownership of their own history and we have to celebrate."
WikiLeaks has published a secret U.S. diplomatic cable listing locations abroad that the U.S. considers vital to its national security, prompting criticism that the website is inviting terrorist attacks on American interests.
The list is part of a lengthy cable the State Department sent in February 2009 to its posts around the world. The cable asked American diplomats to identify key resources, facilities and installations outside the United States "whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States."
The diplomats identified dozens of places on every continent, including mines, manufacturing complexes, ports and research establishments. CNN is not publishing specific details from the list, which refers to pipelines and undersea telecommunications cables as well as the location of minerals or chemicals critical to U.S. industry.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/23/art.iceshelf.jpg caption="A New Zealand frigate patrols past the Ross Ice Shelf in the Southern Ocean in Antarctica."]
CNN Executive Editor
Professor David Vaughan has an infectious enthusiasm, even when he’s issuing dire warnings about the future of Antarctica. That’s where he is right now, at the Rothera Research Station. He’s just returned from a flight to the Wilkins Ice Shelf – which juts out of the western tip of the Continent. It will probably be his last.
An Englishman whose home is among the dreaming spires of Cambridge, where the British Antarctic Survey has its headquarters, Professor Vaughan has been visiting the world’s coldest places for twenty years. He was surprised to find that the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which began disintegrating a decade ago, hasn’t yet disappeared. But he says it’s in its death throes.
Last year, AC360° reported the Survey’s finding that a slice the size of Manhattan had broken off the ice shelf. Vaughan says the whole shelf is now connected to the rest of Antarctica by a strip of ice just a few hundred meters wide. It’s like looking at an hour glass. This huge slab of ice –11,000 square kilometres (the size of Jamaica) – is about to collapse into the sea. Maybe within weeks, maybe later in the year, says Vaughan.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/28/art.vert.volvo.jpg width=292 height=320]
CNN Executive Editor
If there was any doubt that somehow the global economy could avoid following US financial institutions into deep crisis, one recent news item may have dispelled it. And it came from Sweden. Volvo disclosed last week that in the third quarter of the year it received a total of 115 orders for its trucks in Europe.
Yes, that's a total of 115 trucks - for all of Europe. The comparable figure for 2007: 41,970 orders.
The American motor industry is hemorrhaging cash and slashing production, but it is clearly not alone. Last week, the Financial Times was able to fill a whole page with gloom from the world’s vehicle makers. Daimler, Fiat and Renault all drastically reduced their profit forecasts for 2009, predicting that even demand in emerging markets like India and Brazil would fall. Renault said it would cut production of cars by 20 per cent in the current quarter and has already idled several plants in France; Peugeot-Citroen planned “massive“ production cuts. Volkswagen fretted that some of its suppliers would go belly-up – unable to secure financing in the midst of the credit crunch. And the elite are not spared: the chief executive of Porsche said there was a “real danger of a conflagration for the whole industry.”
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/10/germany.markets.jpg caption="A broker is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, central Germany, on Friday. Europe's stock markets plunged Friday after Wall Street opened a breathtaking 7 percent lower, below the 8,000 level, but they soon recouped some of those losses when the Dow Jones index made a partial comeback."]Tim Lister
CNN Executive Editor
Word of the Day: schadenfreude (n) the malicious enjoyment of the misfortune of others.
Not a word one often sees in newspapers, least of all in stories about financial markets. But over the last few days, this German conglomeration of ‘harm’ and ‘joy’ has been writ large in European publications as the Great American Bailout has lurched from one drama to another. An upscale alternative to “I told you so”, schadenfreude is most keenly felt in Germany, where banks and industry have a closer, more sustained relationship than their American cousins. The head of one large German bank wrote: “Companies want to have a stable anchor on the finance side” – as opposed to being set adrift presumably. Not even the Finance Minister could contain himself. Peer Steinbrueck told the German legislature: “One thing seems likely to me: the USA will lose its status in the global financial system.” The echo of hands rubbing with glee could just be made out. No wonder the Financial Times’ German edition ran the headline “Schadenfreude stirs in resilient Germany.”
The French have also chimed in. President Nicolas Sarkozy: “The idea that markets are always right was a mad idea....Laissez-faire is finished.” And that from the Frenchman sometimes labeled “l’American” who has gone out of his way to improve relations between Paris and Washington.
Hypocrisy and schadenfreude are often soul-mates. It’s not as though European banks have turned up their noses at the trough of lucrative derivatives and other exotic instruments. Ask the several thousand employees of Swiss Bank UBS who are now ex-employees. And within days of his moralizing at the German parliament, Mr Steinbrueck was throwing together a $40 billion bail-out plan for a big German property bank. As the German magazine Spiegel put it: “No More Cause for Feeling Schadenfreude.”