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THE CURRENT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, like others before it, has shattered many dreams. But this is the first to have devastated so many people at once, regardless of class or social status - from pauper to prince. Thanks, globalization.

Well, globalization is not entirely to blame. A crisis like the present one has never befallen such an affluent society, one that has become accustomed to prosperity and opportunities on a mass scale.

Despite the tensions of the Cold War (or possibly thanks to them), the decades of postwar stability generated an unprecedented surge in technology and consumption. Ordinary Europeans and Americans had been breathing the illusory air of the "end of history" long before Francis Fukuyama made his famous prophecy.

The industrial age unwittingly gave birth to its own gravedigger in the form of a bloated, top-heavy financial and banking sector whose loans were crucial to sustain the manufacturing and consumption boom. In the early stages of the current downturn, some noted economists claimed that it heralded a war pitting corporations against banks. Guided by the inertia of the status quo, the elites sided with the banks, pumping them with money to prop them up. But it was not long before the specter of a new wave of instability began to loom over the global economy.

DUTCH JOURNALIST Mara Hvistendahl comes to the conclusion in her book Unnatural Selection that mankind today is missing 160 million women. Most of these missing females are not victims of neglect. Choosing boys over girls was a conscious choice that deprived girls of their right to life in their mothers' wombs. They were selected out of existence by ultrasound technology and abortion.

I am talking mainly about the developing countries of Asia, but they are not the only ones. In many societies, sons are the guarantors of a higher social status, whereby not necessarily among poor people. In India, as Ms. Hvistendahl writes, it was families of well-educated city-dwellers who initially gave preference to boys. Developed countries regarded this gender selection with approval - after all, the fewer the women, the smaller the population in those very places where its growth is so alarming.

The world's population will reach 7 billion by October 31, 2011. Though the UN and other international institutions will in various ways hail the development, it is an open secret that the population growth constantly bothers members of the global elite. David Rockefeller eloquently summarized their fears when he said: “The negative impact of population growth on all of our planetary ecosystems is becoming appallingly evident”. The grim global picture may not be taken at face value since consequences can be  dire if action proceeds on its basis.

The Irrational Mankind

The fall of M. Gadhafi's regime will come as a huge success of the globalization forces seeking to establish a new world order. The proportions of the campaign the West launched in Libya and the level of sophistication of the technologies employed were impressive regardless of the accompanying political assessments – altogether they combined into a fundamental political initiative with far-reaching historical goals.

Population reports project that there are going to be 7 billion of us on this planet by October 31, 2011. No doubt, international institutions – from the UN to lightweights – will be dishing out nicely worded statements on the occasion, but it takes no effort to sense the undercurrent of displeasure constantly rising among a large fraction of world's political elite. Clearly, many of the players in this league are convinced that the proportions of the global community with which they have no tendency to identify have exceeded a kind of limits, and some would not even credit the majority of its members with being, in the full sense, humans.

Tobias Owen: «Jupiter is a contribution to human knowledge and experience, in the same way that listening to the music of Mozart»

Question: Dear Dr. Owen, thank you very much for agreeing to give this interview and answer our questions.

Wide-scale protest movements in the Middle East have not overshadowed the Afghan issue - on the contrary they have somehow clarified the state of things in Afghanistan. Now it is clear that in 2011 the situation there has become even more complicated: mass mop-up operations by US and NATO forces did not lead to the decline of Taliban and the situation is a stalemate.

NATO’s military operation against Libya, conducted mainly by the armed forces of the US, France and Britain, is speeding up the formation of a new system of international relations. At the same time the war serves as a firing ground for testing the strategy of the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) in real combat situation as well as the efficiency of new weapons …

ON MAY 17, Henry Kissinger's latest book On China reached the American bookshops. This is a book about China but the panoramic thinking of the "last of the Mohicans" of international politics extended beyond China, a starting point for the man whose vast experience and an absolute relevance of whose ideas about what is going on in the world leaves one duly impressed.

Those who talk to him invariably say that his skill to draw on historical lessons when talking about current developments dwarfs many of the modernist models and theories: he laments that "contemporary politicians have very little sense of history. For them the Vietnam war is unimaginably far behind us, the Korean war has no relevance anymore, even though that conflict is very far from over and at any minute has the capability of going from cold to hot."

In an interview which can be described as a preview of his latest book he answered the question of what he thought about President Obama's gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan with what he had told President Nixon about American pullout from Vietnam: "I wrote a memorandum to Nixon which said that in the beginning of the withdrawal it will be like salted peanuts; the more you eat, the more you want... once you start a drawdown, the road from there is inexorable. I never found an answer when Le Due Tho was taunting me in the negotiations that if you could not handle Vietnam with half-a-million people, what makes you think you can end it with progressively fewer?... We will find the same challenge in Afghanistan."

Anders Breivik already seems to have emerged as one of the XX century's top-famous terrorists. Day by day, his popularity visibly grows not only in the ranks of the European radical right but also among the Europeans with otherwise mainstream views.