The Great Debate UK

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Here’s why oil companies should be a lot more profitable than they are

By Anatole Kaletsky
December 5, 2014

Shaybah oilfield complex is seen at night in the Rub' al-Khali desert, Saudi Arabia

The 40 percent plunge in oil prices since July, when Brent crude peaked at $115 a barrel, is almost certainly good news for the world economy; but it is surely a crippling blow for oil producers. Oil prices below $70 certainly spell trouble for U.S. and Canadian shale and tar-sand producers and also for oil-exporting countries such as Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico and Russia that depend on inflated oil revenues to finance government spending or pay foreign debts. On the other hand, the implications of lower oil prices for the biggest U.S. and European oil companies are more ambiguous and could even be positive.

from The Great Debate:

Vladimir Putin’s religious, ethnic rhetoric gets a little scary in Russian state-of-the-union address

By Lucian Kim
December 4, 2014

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Vladimir Putin lives in a scary world, where enemies plot tirelessly to undermine, trick, and destroy Russia. Containment wasn’t just a Cold War policy but a practice of Russia’s rivals for centuries. Even without a conflict in Ukraine, the United States and European Union would have come up with another pretext for imposing economic sanctions; they were an inevitable response to a rising Russia.

from The Great Debate:

Old boys, new world: Britain’s upper crust looking more and more crusty

By John Lloyd
December 4, 2014

Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell leaves his home in London

England, wrote George Orwell in 1941, “is the most class-ridden country under the sun. It is a land of snobbery and privilege, ruled largely by the old and silly.”

Why the end of the oil boom is problematic for us all

December 2, 2014

Since OPEC decided not to cut production at its meeting last week the tumble in the oil price has generally been considered a good thing for the consumer. What no-one has concentrated on is the fact that declining oil wealth, particularly in the cash-rich Middle East, could make banks in the UK more vulnerable should we get hit with another financial crisis.

from The Great Debate:

Orion, Dragons and Dream Chasers: What’s behind modern spaceship design?

By Irene Klotz
December 2, 2014

The Orion capsule is moved at Kennedy Space Center in Florida

As NASA prepares for the debut test flight of the first spaceship in more than 40 years to carry astronauts beyond Earth, a fleet of privately owned vehicles is in development to take over transportation services to and from orbits closer to home.

from The Great Debate:

How Ukraine’s arsenal matches up against the Russian-backed separatists’

By Robert Beckhusen
December 2, 2014

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On Nov. 18, several rockets fired from a separatist Grad launcher slammed into an apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toshkovka. It was another shelling in what's become an almost daily event -- as both sides in Ukraine's civil war turn to heavier weaponry to shift the battle in their favor.

from The Great Debate:

Here’s why killing the head of Islamic State wouldn’t yield results

By Arie W. Kruglanski
November 27, 2014

Aerial view of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad

Many believe that killing the leaders of terrorist organizations like Islamic State could change the course of events in Iraq and Syria. Like the cutting off of a snake’s head, eliminating the chief of a terrorist organization is assumed to deal it a fatal or near fatal blow. The U.S. government, for instance, has often boasted about eliminating major al Qaeda leaders, and viewed such assassinations as a clear mark of progress in the ‘global war on terror.’

from Breakingviews:

Remember the UK housing bubble?

November 26, 2014

By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

from The Great Debate:

Should Putin fear the man who ‘pulled the trigger of war’ in Ukraine?

By Lucian Kim
November 25, 2014

Figurines of former pro-Russian separatist commander Igor Strelkov from the collection entitled "Toy Soldiers of Novorossiya" are on display at a workshop in Moscow

The official Kremlin narrative on the war in eastern Ukraine is clear and simple: after seizing power in February, a Western-backed “junta” in Kiev sent neo-Nazi gangs – then tanks and warplanes – to stamp out peaceful protests by the Russian-speaking community. The locals who took up arms are freedom fighters, and the only help they get from Russia is humanitarian aid. For the past six months, Russian state television has carpet-bombed its viewers with this message, day in and day out.

from Breakingviews:

Boris should pay up but not shut up over U.S. tax

November 24, 2014

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.