True Fiction

Roaring Twenties Redux: 12 Bold Predictions For A Decade To Come

Once again, we are entering the Twenties, a decade which, last century, saw an eruption of freedom caught between two immense tragedies. Here is a little taste of what might await us this time around.

PARIS — Over the past ten years, we have witnessed an incredible number of improbable events. From an Islamic caliphate being established and then collapsing in Iraq and Syria, to a property developer being elected president of the United States and a complete unknown being elected president of France. We have made unbelievable progress in artificial intelligence, seen a global environmental movement spearheaded by a 14-year-old girl, and watched as the UK decided to leave the European Union. There have been terrorist attacks on the streets of Paris, fires spreading from the Amazon to Australia, and protests in Hong Kong, Santiago, Quito and Algiers, to name just a few.

Now we are once again entering the Twenties, a decade which, last century, saw an eruption of freedom and flapper girls, caught between two immense tragedies.

So here are twelve extreme, unlikely but by no means impossible, events that could take place before 2030 — some are negative, others positive, but all are events for which we must be prepared:

1. The global financial system could collapse amid a huge financial crisis. If the stock exchange were to crash and unlisted companies went bankrupt, banks and investment funds would fail, protectionist measures would be introduced and there would be a major recession in the United States, China and Europe.

2. North Korea could fire a nuclear missile at Tokyo or Washington, causing untold damage and a death toll reaching the hundreds of thousands.

3. The Roman Catholic Church could collapse, as the Soviet Union did, as its leaders become progressively more liberal.

4. Russia might invade the Baltic States, and the United States may not defend their sovereignty, destroying Europeans' firmly held trust in the NATO alliance.

5. A new Islamic caliphate could be established in parts of Libya, Niger, Mali and Nigeria, supported by Turkey. France and African countries would be powerless to stop it.

6. A far-right President could be elected in France, and work with Italy against the European Union.

7. The United States could elect a female, environmentally conscious Democrat President who would renew the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and introduce gun control laws.

We could see democratic revolutions in the countries where they seem most unlikely.

8. There might be new medical discoveries that allow us to cure the most resistant cancers and reduce the health risks associated with obesity.

9. Environmental issues might finally get the recognition they deserve. Governments could implement carbon pricing schemes to fix the price at 100 dollars per ton, make global efforts to recycle all the waste clogging up our oceans, and make a viable plan to combat deforestation and the desertification of the Sahel.

10. The world's 50 largest public and private investment funds could make a legally binding pledge to invest only in socially and environmentally responsible companies.

11. We could see democratic revolutions in the countries where they seem most unlikely, such as Russia, Turkey and China, where artificial intelligence technologies could be put to democratic use.

12. There may be some truly original works of art and new artistic movements that change how we see the world.

We must be prepared for all of this. Prepared to fight or dodge it, or to push change forward. However, it's likely that reality will again prove far more surprising than anything we could have predicted.

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True Fiction: Leonardo DiCaprio Wades Into War Over Water In India

Around the world, local water shortages are a very real sign of the effects of climate change. Drought conditions in certain areas of India have recently left some cities reeling, leading to new political tensions. Meanwhile, last weekend, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Washington, D.C. and around the United States to demand more environmental protection. Leonardo DiCaprio, whose foundation has long fought against global warming, was front and center.

For our latest installment of True Fiction, we imagined a visit by DiCaprio to a small, drought-afflicted village in India.

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True Fiction: Melania Says Basta! The Former First Lady’s Secret In Milan

Two months into Donald Trump's presidency, we already know more — real or fake — than many care to know. But as far as Slovenian-born First Lady Melania Trump, remarkably little has been said or seen. Will the closed doors stay closed forever? Will Mr. Trump's third marriage survive the White House? Here's how it might all just go down...

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The China Deal Zuckerberg Couldn’t Refuse

Debate continues to simmer over the threats of "fake news' and the civic and journalistic responsibilities of the world's largest and most powerful social media platform. What does state censorship in China have to do with all of that? We asked ourselves that very question.

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True Fiction
Ahmad Shayegan**

True Fiction: Iran's Perilous Quest For A New Supreme Leader

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled a remarkable 28 years, and counting. As the successor to Islamic Revolution founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader's mix of pious rigor, domestic authority and geopolitical cunning have long kept him a step ahead of his rivals, at home and abroad. Rumors that his health was failing turned out to be false. Still, Khamenei will not rule forever. We imagined how the pivotal battle over his succession could play out.

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Trump And The World

True Fiction: When President Trump Met President Le Pen

After the stunning Brexit referendum and Donald Trump's election in the United States, all eyes shifted to the land of "liberté, égalité, fraternité" to see what modern democracy held in store, as French voters cast their ballots in the April 23 first round of the presidential election. And it did not disappoint, with France's two main political parties falling short, while centrist newcomer Emmanuel Macron came in first with 23.7% of the vote followed by far-right leader Marine Le Pen of the National Front party with 21.5% of ballots.

We thought it was worth asking what will happen when President Trump comes marching into Paris to meet the new French head of state. Last week, it was Macron who'd won the spring 2017 election. Here we imagine a near future where voters in the May 7 runoff have chosen Le Pen, who is set to shake things up right away by welcoming Trump for a flash summit in southern France.

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Trump And The World

True Fiction: When President Trump Meets President Macron

It's October 2017. The spring's French presidential elections had been won by a fresh-faced 'Anti-Trump.' Now it's time for the two men to meet.

The cards for the French presidential election were drastically reshuffled after center-right candidate François Fillon found himself embroiled in an embezzlement scandal. Meanwhile, following the decision by current center-left President François Hollande not to stand for a second term, his Socialist party elected an inexperienced and quasi-utopian Benoît Hamon as its candidate.

As a result, on April 23, the run-off that many insiders expected came true: For the first time in the more than half-century history of the Fifth Republic, the top two vote-getters in the first round of the French presidential election belong to neither of the country's traditional Left or Right parties. Newcomer Emmanuel Macron, 39, of the brand new En Marche ! party came in first with 23.7% of the vote, while Marine Le Pen of the National Front party (founded by her father) collected 21.5% of ballots. All the French drama, of course, comes after two of the most shocking election results in memory: the Brexit vote and Donald Trump's victory. So all eyes now shift to France to see what modern democracy holds in store for us next — and who will "wish la bienvenue" when President Trump comes marching into Paris for the first time ...

To whet the world's appetite, we have imagined two very different scenarios of how it all could look, sound and smell after the French voters have their say in the second round of the French presidential election next month.

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