PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. I have long been bemused by the West’s Putin obsession. Beginning when Moscow-based reporters didn’t bother to go to St Petersburg to see what people thought of the Deputy Mayor, any mention of Putin must now include ex-KGB, election fraud, deaths of reporters and so on. But a certain admiration is appearing as people notice he is a very effective leader (of course that damages the other memes that Russia is in terminal decline and he steals elections; but never mind: we’re not talking rational here). Forbes has just anointed him the world’s most powerful person. I look forward to the next twist.
SYRIA. The inspection teams claim that all equipment at Syria’s declared production sites has been destroyed. Syria joined the Chemical Weapon Convention in the middle of the month. Consumers of Western news media outlets may have noticed the curious fact that the former wall-to-wall coverage of Syria has disappeared.
BOOZE. An official says alcohol consumption per capita is currently 13.5 litres of ethyl alcohol equivalent, down from 18 in 2010. While there has been an anti-alcohol campaign, higher prices and, I think, somewhat of a behavioural change, a drop to 75% in three years sounds too good to be true.