The Algerian hostage crisis, which has unsurprisingly dominated the news agenda this week, might now be over, but there will be very few able to extract anything positive from the four-day standoff and its eventual messy, bloody and violent end. As I write, British officials are still desperately trying to establish the fate of the remaining UK hostages at the Algerian gas plant. Facts are still few and far between. The only absolute truth: lives have been lost, and no side is able to claim victory.
So where does the consumer fit in when it comes to analysing the potential for change? For a start, we've pretty much given up on our politicians doing anything substantial about today's converging sustainability crises. It seems they'll only act when they're 'given permission' to act by others: by the private sector, for instance, or, occasionally, by voters.
After the recent ill-health and suffering from a stroke, Iraqi President and the PUK leader, Jalal Talabani has been out of the political scene and very much missed. This has prompted jockeying for position and lobbying by potential successors for both posts of Iraqi president and the leader of PUK.
As the nation's weather men and women garner larger audiences than usual this weekend with the population gripped by forecasts of snow and ice, this week saw a harsh reminder of the impact of cold weather for those targeted by civil war. Give it a few days, and no doubt the caterwauling will start as trains get cancelled and roads blocked around the country. For Syria's refugees, transport delays are the least of their problems.
Two myths about settlements have become pervasive and should be challenged. The first is the idea that the biggest barrier in returning to peace talks is Israel's ongoing settlement construction. The second is that the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is closing the door on a two-state solution.