Garry Kasparov on Vladimir Putin

I like this G&M article is an edited transcript of an interview with Garry Kasparov on the subject of Vladimir Putin’s past and future tactics.  Here’s a couple of excerpts:

If you are in power for 15 years and you made clear you would like to stay for the rest of your life, you have to convince people that you have something to offer. The shaky Russian economy is no longer a reason. Hence there’s a need for more drastic actions to justify his claim for power: Vladimir the Great, the collector of Russian lands, unifier of a divided empire … I don’t see how he can backpedal because a dictator can afford many things except one, weakness. The moment he shows weakness he’s no longer all powerful, invincible leader who cannot be challenged. He has to push forward with his agenda … there’s no way back.

Dictators of Putin’s magnitude are always testing waters. They can always smell weakness and, if they see the room for them to advance, they do it. So the question a dictator of Putin’s calibre asks is not why, he asks why not? This is the way Putin thinks. He plays by the rules only if he finds it’s convenient and profitable. But the moment that he finds that brute force is more beneficial, he immediately switches to this algorithm. The West needs to send a much stronger message back to his inner circle, to the Russian ruling class, that there will be a steep price for what is happening – everybody will pay, not only Putin. Only then will Putin think twice about this actions.

On a side note, Russia’s central bank increased it’s lending rate on Halloween, in an unsuccessful attempt to step the outflow of rubles – unsuccessful because the exchange rate bounced up for a nano-second and then went back to the old rate. The hike in domestic interest rates is an indication that the sanctions and the drop in the price of oil may be having an effect. So what will Putin do next?–dad

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Canada’s oil sands: The steam from below | The Economist

Please, in the Science and Technology section of The Economist, better science and less use of industry press releases.
The most glaring examples of poor journalism in the puff peace, to my mind:
Bad science:
“Germany’s Siemens is developing a system that floods a thick copper cable with an electrical current to create an alternating magnetic field to melt bitumen.”
Industry press releases:
The electricity required to run such a process might come from small nuclear reactors, says Jerry Hopwood of Candu Energy, a nuclear-technology company.

Canada’s oil sands: The steam from below | The Economist.

Canadian Pipepline Expansion

The oil industry has argued that increased pipeline capacity from Canada (west to the Pacific, south to the Gulf Coast) is necessary to reduce the glut of crude oil in Canadian markets.  The glut is depressing prices, earnings and investment in the oil patch. Canadian GDP is taking a hit  “A TD study last spring found that 10% bump in crude prices was enough to nudge the country’s entire GDP up by more than $5B.”  And from ScotiaBank, “Canada’s oil producers can only continue to crate shareholder value, employment growth and tax revenues if the pipeline companies and regulators sort out the logjams and get prices back up.” (both from Canadian Business, Oct 15/12)

But the oil isn’t going anywhere.  The rush to get the oil to market is entirely to do with generating “growth”  as measured in current GDP.  The same article points out, “Yes, consumers will complain bitterly, but the benefits will more than offset the damage.”  Whose benefits?  The oil companies managers and their shareholders – largely pension funds with boomer liabilities.