Monday 28th of May 2018

sanctions will hurt him...


shooting one's foot

Volunteers at a food bank in the Dutch town of Maassluis diligently pack ripe tomatoes and chicory into little bags for those who need it. They only open once a week, and when they arrived this week, it was to find a donation of 32 boxes of fresh produce.

Dutch farmers are not the only ones having to find new ways to ensure their harvest doesn't go to waste in light of Russia's sweeping export ban. They need to shift their fruit and vegetables as quickly as possible, but dumping it on the domestic market would run the risk of a price collapse. In order to prevent that scenario, one idea being mooted is to simply destroy what can't be sold.

"We have to talk to other countries to decide whether it makes sense," Sharon Dijksma, state secretary for economic affairs, said in a news release. "Every market intervention has consequences, so we have to weigh up the best course of action."

Import ban hits farmers EU-wide

Greece, which usually ships half of its stone fruit harvest to Russia and is already ailing as a result of the European economic crisis, stands to be particularly badly affected by the embargo. But speaking on a private television channel, government spokesman Sofia Voultepsi said Athens would offer compensation packages to producers and exporters of peaches and nectarines.

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business is business...

ZAPORIZHIA, UKRAINE — Deep into a conflict that has sundered decades-old ties between Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine is still selling military gear over the border to its neighbor, Ukrainian defense industry officials say.

Ukraine’s new leaders have vowed to stop the flow of these defense products, which include key parts for ship engines, advanced targeting technology for tanks and upkeep for Russia’s heaviest nuclear missiles. New laws passed this week bolster their powers to do so. Kiev says helping to arm Russia is tantamount to equipping an enemy during wartime when Moscowis sending support to separatist rebels, a charge the Kremlin has denied.

But Kiev’s pleas for an end to trade ties have run into strong resistance from workers at companies like Motor Sich, here in Ukraine’s industrial heartland, where 27,000 employees build engines tailor-made for Russian military helicopters and planes. Most senior executives here grew up as part of the same Soviet military-industrial club as their Russian peers.

“We have our own party, the party of Motor Sich,’’ company spokesman Anatoliy Malysh said.

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compensation for tomatoes...


The European Commission has announced emergency EU funding of 125m euros (£100m; $170m) for fruit and vegetable growers hit by Russia's ban on most imported Western food.

The funding is compensation for fresh produce which will not be sold. Instead it will be distributed free to schools, hospitals and other institutions.

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, grapes and pears are included in the scheme.

Russia has banned many food imports, angry at EU-US sanctions over Ukraine.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Monday that the EU sanctions must stay in place "in order to show how serious we are" on the Ukraine crisis.

She was speaking in Latvia, an EU member state with a large ethnic Russian minority. Its Baltic neighbour Lithuania is especially hard hit by the Russian import ban.

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blaming the russians again...



BERLIN — The German economy's surprise second-quarter contraction was probably due to Russian sanctions and confidence being eroded by the Ukraine crisis as well as the comparison with a bumper first quarter, the finance ministry said Friday. 

Europe's largest economy shrank by 0.2 percent between April and June after growing 0.7 percent in the first quarter thanks largely to an unusually mild winter, which boosted construction activity at the beginning of the year. 

"The decline in gross domestic product goes beyond the expected counter-effect to the very strong weather-related performance in the previous quarter," the Finance Ministry said in its monthly report. 

"This is likely to have been related to the effect of sanctions and negative effects on confidence due to the Ukraine crisis," it said. 

After Moscow annexed Crimea in March, Western nations targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies and businessmen with sanctions and in late July expanded them to include the energy, banking and defense sectors. Russia has reacted with restrictions on imports of Western products. 

The Finance Ministry said the uncertainty over the Ukraine crisis was likely to have contributed to the dampening of industrial activity in the second quarter. 

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Meanwhile, I have note the price of some Aussie produce has dropped by a couple of bucks a kilo... probably to sell the excess as one billion dollar of perishable food is not sold the the Russians or are the sanctions elastic?

Please, also note that despite some report of plateau-ing of global warming for the last few years, last winter was mild in Europe... Australia will still have August above average temperatures after a well above average beginning of the year... 


political football...


Russian president Vladimir Putin wants to re-establish a "sphere of influence" extending towards the boundaries of the former Soviet Union and is being aided by a lack of coherent messages from NATO and divisions within the European Union, according to a former commander in chief of the Netherlands' armed forces.

Retired General Dick Berlijn also warned that a dependence on Russian gas supplies in key Western countries was stifling efforts to combat Russian expansionism.

Speaking to ABC's Four Corners as it investigated the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and the conflict that brought it down, General Berlijn said Russia should be punished and that FIFA should consider stripping the country of its right to host the 2018 football World Cup.

He said that would undermine Mr Putin's popularity in Russia, and encourage him to cease meddling in the affairs of Ukraine.

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Reading about General Berlijn views shows that he and other western leaders have not understood anything yet about the situation.

When Gorbachev and Reagan made the deal which heralded the end of the Soviet Union, a big part of that deal was for Nato and its allies NOT TO PUSH EASTWARDS. What has NATO and its allies done since? They have meddled in the internal affairs of all the former satellites of the Soviet Union, using spies, agent provocateurs, disinformation and DEBT (cash loans like some of the US bank did to Greece or cash promises) and HAVE PUSHED EASTWARDS as close to Russia as possible, including setting some rocket bases in Poland and other nasty stuff. But because we're the Western bullies with morality and god on our side we can do what we like, can't we?

The Crimea take-over by Russia could not have been contested by the west. It was clear cut. The Ukraine situation is a bit more complex, but due to the very high population of Russians in East Ukraine, that part of Ukraine should be separated from Ukraine, like the west in its wisdom broke up the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Scotland is voting on this very possibility for itself, why not East Ukraine?


a shit-load of kangaroos...

Mr Devantier's company processes about 800,000 kangaroo carcasses a year, more than 500,000 of which are sent overseas.

He said about six years ago, Russia appeared a promising export market, buying about 40,000 tonnes of kangaroo meat a year.

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The maths above seems to be a bit wonky... 40,000 tonnes of kangaroo meat a year represents at best 1,000,000 carcasses, estimating that each beast is about 80 kilo each and that half of this is offal, bones and non-exportable tuff. I could be wrong though... my brain is a bit soft today....

another french revolution, because of putin...

French vegetable farmers protesting against falling living standards have set fire to tax and insurance offices in town of Morlaix, in Brittany.

The farmers used tractors and trailers to dump artichokes, cauliflowers and manure in the streets and also smashed windows, police said.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned protesters for preventing firefighters from dealing with the blaze.

The farmers say they cannot cope with falling prices for their products.

A Russian embargo on some Western goods - imposed over the Ukraine crisis - has blocked off one of their main export markets.

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the only rockets left to launch US spy satellites are russian...

Russian rocket maker Energia has signed a $1 billion deal with U.S. space firm Orbital Sciences to deliver 60 RD-181 Russian rocket engines to the U.S., Energia said in a press release Friday.

The deal comes two months after an Antares rocket using a Russian engine exploded above a NASA launch pad in Virginia, fueling calls for the U.S. to free itself of its reliance on Russian equipment.

But far from abandoning Russian gear, Orbital Science — which is contracted to deliver supplies to the International Space Station for NASA — will simply switch the Soviet models it had been using for the newer Russian engine.

The press release quoted Energia's president, Vladimir Solntsev, as saying the deal had been in the works for three years and will enable the company to develop and modernize production lines.

Orbital's Antares rocket has previously launched using refurbished Soviet-built NK-33 engines, which were originally built for the Soviet N1 moon rocket in the early 1970s.

The moon program was cancelled before the rocket completed testing, and the engines sat in storage for four decades before being sold to Orbital by the Kuznetsov Design Bureau and refurbished in the U.S.

Under Friday's contract, Kuznetsov's more prominent rival — NPO Energomash, an Energia subsidiary with a long history of rocket engine construction — will test and install the RD-181 engines, while the NK-33 will be phased out.

Energomash has also since the 1990s supplied RD-180 engines for American Atlas rockets, built by United Launch Alliance (ULA) — a conglomerate of U.S. aerospace industry giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing. ULA is regularly contracted to launch important U.S. national security satellites into orbit.

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