In a "symbolic blow to U.S. global financial hegemony," China and Russia have agreed to a 30-year, $400 billion gas deal that will provide China with the energy it needs to keep its economy growing and Russia with much-needed capital. And it's all in domestic currencies, bypassing the dollar entirely. Ten years in the making, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the deal an "epochal event" and proclaimed that both countries were very satisfied with the terms.Thirty-eight billion cubic meters of gas will flow from Russia to China.

An oil industry overhaul approved by Mexico's Congress portends massive changes for the country's iconic national oil industry – and potentially a boost for the economy. The bill, approved overnight, would promote foreign investment and allow private companies to explore and exploit petroleum deposits – tasks previously reserved for Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, as the state oil agency is known. It must be ratified by state assemblies, approval that is expected.

Oil and natural gas often drive world politics, for better and for worse. Such is the case today with natural gas in a little-watched nation, Azerbaijan. This former Soviet Republic is still in a transition to democracy – and what happens there matters very much to US interests, particularly when it comes to Russia. The United States must take a stronger role in addressing three key challenges in Azerbaijan: energy development, democracy, and peace.

Earlier this year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in China -- and quickly made himself at home. The occasion was a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional group linking China, Russia, and Central Asia. During the summit, Ahmadinejad seemed to be everywhere. He posed, arms linked, with Russian and Chinese officials, who said nothing as he called for "impartial and independent experts" to investigate whether the Holocaust happened. He delivered a major address broadcast on Chinese state television.