When I discovered that my language degree required me to spend a year's study in the Middle East, I couldn't work out how I felt. Was it excitement or apprehension? Becoming an international student means many things; poor exchange rates, unfamiliar culture and language barriers are to name but a few.
With about 1.4 billion mouths to feed, and the number growing every day, Chinese aggression can well be looked on humanitarian grounds too. But then, that would take an entirely different mindset that's removed from black and white approach. When it comes to China, grey seems to be the theme color. And the color grey comes in, probably, a million shades here.
I have a scenario for you: imagine it if you can. There are crowds celebrating in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, a historic handshake, and a treaty or two. A new state has come into existence: it is called Palestine. Its neighbour Israel supported the establishment of the world's youngest nation, and all is rosy and nice...
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released last Friday the most comprehensive ever study on global warming. The landmark report, prepared by more than 200 scientists over two years, concludes that global temperatures could rise by up to 4.8 Celsius (8.6 Fahrenheit) by the end of this century compared to pre-industrial levels, but could potentially still be held to 0.3 C (0.5 F) with deep, speedy cuts in emissions.
Across the world, the contentious debate over the future of nuclear power continues apace. In East Asia, for instance, it emerged last month that a nuclear plant in Taiwan may have been leaking radio-active water for three years. Meanwhile, Japan is still struggling to contain radio-active water from Fukushima; and in South Korea prosecutors are conducting a huge investigation into forged nuclear safety certificates.
While the US-Russian deal to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons is a welcome sign that diplomacy has a central part to play in this crisis, the retreat from early talk of military action also suggests a growing reluctance on the part of the US and UK to intervene directly in the Middle East. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, it is certainly something new.
As the drums of war beat once more for yet another strike on a Middle Eastern capital, one cannot help but be reminded of similar events exactly a decade ago that heralded the US invasion of Iraq. However, this time we have learnt from experience to ask the right questions and not to repeat the same mistakes... Haven't we?
For those firms which misstep, fallout can be very damaging, both for the financial bottom-line and reputationally. However, for those which are pro-active and invest in their capability, the prizes -- both in terms of mitigating risk and seizing opportunity -- are potentially ever more significant.
Like any other online business, in order to to get ahead, newspapers are going to have to come up with an alternative business model and acknowledge that the old rules no longer apply. Methods such as developing content strategy, a strong online revenue system through building strong communities, social sharing, cross-platform branding and so on, are all going to be vital in the future.