Why Vote for Putin?

This weekend, Russians will re-elect President Vladimir Putin. As Alex Kliment detailed in the Tuesday edition, many Russians are much better off economically than when Putin replaced Boris Yeltsin on December 31, 1999, and Putin has restored the nation’s public dignity in the eyes of many Russians by confidently antagonizing the Western powers.


Look closer. Russians are not simply voting for the Putin we know today but for the distance they believe he has brought them. In 1993, at a time of post-Soviet economic upheaval, your Friday author spent four months in Moscow. Arriving in February, my dollar bought about 500 rubles. Departing in June, I could buy 1,500. For Russians without dollars, the value of cash disintegrated by the week.

In those days, the walk out of any large metro station in the capital took you through a gauntlet of people lined up to sell home-grown vegetables, greasy used auto parts, and unopened boxes of diapers. Children wore “for sale” photos of their pets around their necks.

Was it Putin or rising oil prices that ended that time of desperation and loss? To voters, especially those over 40, it doesn’t matter. This is just one aspect of today’s Russian politics, but the broader story becomes less abstract when you see the faces and hear the voices of those who will vote.

Side note: I offer deep respect to family and friends of the great Soviet and Russian actor, director, and teacher Oleg Pavlovich Tabakov, who passed away this week. I spent that time in Moscow at his invitation.

In the southern Italian region of Basilicata, home to the Val d'Agri Oil Centre known as COVA, hydrocarbon processing has undergone a radical digital transformation. COVA boasts one of the world's first fully digitized hydrocarbon plants, but why? Two primary reasons: infrastructure and information. Val d'Agri has the largest onshore hydrocarbon deposit in mainland Europe. The site is expansive and highly advanced, and the plant features a sophisticated sensor system built to capture massive amounts of data. Maintenance checks, equipment monitoring, inspections and measurements are tracked in a fully integrated digital system designed to prevent corrosion and ensure cleaner, more sustainable natural gas processing.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

For a president gearing up for a fierce re-election fight next year, President Trump has a lot to worry about. Democrats are now taking more of the US political spotlight. The latest opinion polls don't look good for him. There are signs that the strong US economy, Trump's top selling point, may begin to wobble.

More Show less

Chinese Pigs – Beyond a trade war with the US and unrest in Hong Kong, now Chinese officials are wrestling with an even more basic political problem. Pork is the favorite meat for many of China's 1.4 billion people, and some analysts treat pork consumption as an important indicator of the financial well-being of China's middle class. A serious outbreak of African Swine Flu is expected to push pork prices 70 percent higher over the second half of this year, which will hit ordinary Chinese pockets hard. By some estimates, half of China pigs have been culled, but there are also reports that some farmers have avoided the expense of slaughtering infected pigs, raising fears that the disease will continue to spread. The central government takes this problem seriously enough to call on local officials to boost large-scale hog farming. So far, China's "Year of the Pig" is just not going well.

More Show less

Buy or sell: The iPhone

I'll make both arguments. First, buy. The new iPhone 11 didn't blow people's mind. But it's a pretty good phone. But what is most impressive is they lowered the prices on many of their phones and they offer a really good trade ins. So you can take your old iPhone, trade it in, get a discount on a new one. It's a pretty good deal. On the other hand, if the question is more: Is the iPhone still the unadulterated leader in innovation? Maybe not. The event was not quite as transformative as some of these events have been.

More Show less

1.2 million: Surging jihadist terrorism in Burkina Faso has pushed the country to the brink of humanitarian crisis, as attacks displace people from their homes and destroy critical infrastructure and hospitals. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 1.2 million Burkinabe are threatened with famine and malnutrition, and access to healthcare has dwindled. Experts say the violence is a spillover from the scourge of jihadism in neighboring Mali.

More Show less