Remember when Occupy Wall Street was sweeping the nation? How the mighty have fallen. We marveled at OWS’s spectacular fizzle this spring as it threatened reassert itself with the advent of more propitious weather for street demonstrations. But though Occupy is a bust, we speculated that we may yet see a real left-populist movement emerge in America if Romney and the Republicans win big this fall.As a series of omens appeared on the occasion of Francois Hollande assuming France’s presidency, we tracked the slow-motion collapse of the European banking sector, and gamed out what the less-talked-about geopolitical ramifications of the exit of Greece (and Cyprus) from the EU would be for countries like Israel and Russia.Move over, BRICs, there’s a new acronym in town. The GUTS (Germany, the United States, Turkey and South Korea) may be the true rising powers of the 21st century. Even Ezra Klein agrees that the picture for the United States is much rosier than most predict. Meanwhile, Brazil reported some fairly lackluster growth figures, causing market analysts to downgrade its prospects going forward. India looks more and more like the “Greece of Asia“. Fissures in the Chinese system grow more prominent by the day, making some sort of crisis there likely. And Russia continues to be Russia, pointlessly issuing a veiled nuclear threat against the United States, thus undermining its own stock market.Of the foundering BRICs, though, China remains the most formidable power. Though American efforts in the broader region continue to pay off—best exemplified this week by the dramatic realignment of Burma against North Korea—America’s ability to directly influence events inside China itself remain vanishingly small. And the pivot itself is not some mere matter of shifting focus and calling it a day. On the contrary, there are many complications and pitfalls which can beset the strategy if it’s not competently executed. Via Meadia looks forward to the ongoing national dialogue about this subject going forward.Though things look good in the macro sense, there are plenty of challenges ahead for the United States as it refashions itself for the 21st century. California’s steady march towards failed statehood is proceeding apace as Governor Jerry Brown announced that the budget shortfall would be $16 billion instead of $9 billion, despite some difficult dear-to-blue cuts he had tried to make. The blue civil war intensified in Illinois, as the state’s unions pushed back hard against Governor Pat Quinn’s efforts to rein in pension costs (which are increasingly a problem in Scotland too). The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in Kansas came under scrutiny for some potentially criminal shenanigans in managing their pension fund. And several states have taken a much-needed $25 billion settlement earmarked for foreclosure prevention and have chosen to use the funds to plug other budget holes in higher education, prisons, and energy instead.