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07 August 2014

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Aka

I don't expect common russians to topple their governemnt over coca-cola, swiss cheese or some apples. Yes there would be costs. Food prices will increase. But sanctions rarely stir people in to "revolutions". My expectation is Russians (or majority of them) were be pretty indignant over the western sanctions and would be OK if they don't have coca-cola for some time (or Apple ipods for that matter if it comes to that).
Like some German businessman (or may be it was a politician or a bureaucrat. I don't remember) said some time ago "Russians can live without coca-cola or apple ipods. But can we live without their gas/oil ?"

kao_hsien_chih

Economic loss to consumers on all sides is the inevitable consequence of every sanction. By imposing sanctions on Russia, the West inflicted losses on its own people, as are the Russians with countersanctions. That really is not at the heart of the issue.

There are really two possible purposes for sanctions. They may be designed to bring pressure on the other side, enough to force them to give up. There is only one precedent for this: Apartheid era South Africa, whose regime depended on actively oppressing 90% of the population and was at odds with much of the rest, even without the sanctions. I doubt such set of conditions can be found anywhere else, certainly not Russia today. Alternatively, sanctions may simply be an act of domestic propaganda, which most sanctions seem to be. If the latter, which I think is the case here, all we will wind up getting is a drawn out and inconclusive shouting match which may go on for a long time, notwithstanding the economic losses involved.

G. I. Hazeltine

Off topic short term, but, has anyone read the 'The Swarm'? 'Der Schwarm.'?

Crazy, but:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Swarm_(novel)

In terms of:

http://rbth.com/science_and_tech/2014/07/25/strange_holes_in_yamal_evidence_of_global_climatic_changes_s_38499.html

These holes in the earth are covered in the msm.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/16/giant-hole-siberia-crater-end-of-world_n_5591780.html

So one of The Swarm's crazier ideas was that the first warnings of catastrophe were the disappearance of ships. On the theory that a massive belch of methane would turn the sea above to froth. Ships don't float on froth. They 'inexplicably' disappear. None have, as far as I know.

But it gets worse. The author posits a new Storegga Slide. That actually happened.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storegga_Slide

That was only on the order of 6k years ago. In Scotland, 50 miles inland, Storegga slide deposits were found 13 feet above the high tide level at the coast. Fifty miles away.

My uninformed but usually reliable gut tells me that the height of the Tsunami must have been very much greater at the coasts of most of Atlantic europe.

The Wikipedia article suggests tat: This collapse involved an estimated 290 km (180 mi) length of coastal shelf, with a total volume of 3,500 km3 (840 cu mi) of debris.

By which they mean a landslide, a single event, of 840 cubic miles of rock and earth, sliding into the North Atlantic, at high speed.

I read the book six or seven years ago. It is, incidentally, a great read. But it seemed too out there.

So my question is, have we let the masters of the universe, or our own natures, misdirect us?

Those are huge holes in the tundra. Huge. Whatever did that, if methane, on a continental shelf, could certainly have turned sea above into froth.


confusedponderer

Indeed. Will the Russians continue to allow the US to resupply their troops in Afghanistan though Russia?

If they don't then NATO/ISAF will depend on airlift of the Khyber pass route.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think so, choices were eliminated for Iran and Syria and now Russia.

All 3 wanted to have good relations with NATO states - in my opinion.

bth

It wouldn't be a bad idea to get some of that US equipment being abandoned in Afghanistan over to the Kurds and Iraqi's via Iran if possible.

Nor would it be a bad idea to conclude a nuclear deal with them that made long term sense for the region and us and then focus hard on together firming up what remains of the Iraqi state. I hope Kerry could see an opportunity.

Last keep in mind that a lot of Putin's popular support is among rural populations so his over hyped agricultural stances are likely pandering to a domestic constituency. Also to his own pocket book since if Russia isn't exporting as much NG then it isn't receiving as much hard currency to by foreign agricultural products.

Charles Dekle

KHC,
I am reminded of Cuba. What a waste. I always wanted to visit and go fishing, drink rum and generally follow in Hemingway's footsteps. When I was a kid in South Mississippi his stories of living there were a great escape.

Now I am 67 and the sanctions will probably not be lifted soon so I guess that my novel will remain unwritten. ;-)

Regards,

Charles Dekle

CP,
That was the first question that popped into my mind when this insanity over Ukraine started. We seem to have very few leaders who understand the logistics tail of deployments. Given current events we seem to have even fewer who can think critically.
Regards,

DC

The sanctions will hurt Russia quite a bit. The North American and European markets are the biggest in the world by far. Those countries are putting the squeeze on Russian banking and energy sectors; combined with commodities, the Russian stock market is and will be going down the toilet. The Russian consumers will feel it in their stomachs and in their pocketbooks. To think Russia can survive it comfortably is simply nonsense.

Fred

DC,

How's that income inequality coming along in the US? How's the real unemployment rate in the US? How does yet another sanction on the Russians help any American? What have the Ukrainians ever done for us?

DC

Whether we should sanction Russia and cooperate with Europe are different issues than the effect on Russia of sanctioning Russia.

David Habakkuk

All,

An interesting aspect of the sheer provincialism of much Western thinking, to which 'walrus' is referring, is the lack of interest in what is or is not being written about the Flight MH17 shootdown in Malaysia.

In the last two days, there have been two reports in the New Straits Times, which are interesting -- although the first one is puzzling.

Datelined yesterday, it picks up on the report Robert Parry published on 'Consortium News' on 3 August, which I discussed in a post here the following day.

(For the NST report, see http://www.nst.com.my/node/20925 .)

An interesting feature is the clear suggestion that Malayasian analysts are coming to similar conclusions to those which Parry suggests U.S. analysts have drawn:

'Intelligence analysts in the United States had already concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it.

'This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a fighter that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth.'

However, the story is called into question by the fact that it then goes on to produce what purports to be a quote from Parry endorsing the claims by the Ukrainian-Canadian OSCE monitor Michael Bociurkiw that the wreckage of MH17 shows clear signs of an attack by machinegun fire.

All the 3 August report on 'Consortium News' says is the following:

'And as for who’s been responsible for destroying evidence of the Flight 17 shoot-down, an assault by the Ukrainian military on the area where the plane crashed not only delayed access by international investigators but appears to have touched off a fire that consumed plane debris that could have helped identify the reasons for the disaster.

'On Saturday, the last paragraph of a New York Times story by Andrew E. Kramer reported that “the fighting ignited a fire in a wheat field that burned over fuselage fragments, including one that was potentially relevant to the crash investigation because it had what appeared to be shrapnel holes.” The shrapnel holes have been cited by independent analysts as possible evidence of an attack by Ukrainian jetfighters.'

Whatever the integrity, or lack of it, of the first NST report, its successor, published today, however, both raises a critical issue, and suggests that the truth about it both needs to come out and will be difficult to suppress.

(See http://www.nst.com.my/node/21260 .)

The report opens:

'Ukraine has denied that its State Security Service (SBU) had seized the air-to-ground transmission tapes between its air traffic controllers and Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on the day the jetliner was shot down.

'Its ambassador to Malaysia Ihor Humennyi, in an exclusive interview with the New Straits Times, said that reports alleging that the SBU had seized the recordings had not been independently verified or confirmed by Kiev.

'“There is no proof or any evidence that the tapes were confiscated by the SBU.

'“I only read this in the newspapers.”'

This really does look like a cover-up – in which case the natural conclusion is that what is on those tapes is incriminating.

Meanwhile, the former Canadian government analyst of Soviet and Russian affairs Dr Patrick Armstrong has noted that the 'black boxes' have been in the possession of British experts for two weeks, and that at the outset it was suggested by official spokesmen that they would take two days to download and decipher the information on them.

(See http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2014/08/r.html .)

The silence of the dogs which ought to be busily barking is becoming eerie.

William R. Cumming

The "Incumbent Party" has won control of the US Senate again in 2014. All 20 incumbent Senators of both parties won their primaries.

kao_hsien_chih

Or the effect on the West of sanctioning Russia. Economically, the verdict is obvioys: both sides will suffer considerable economic costs. Who suffers more or less is irrelevant to the political calculus, unless the economic pressure is so staggering (and/or the political concessions so painless) that giving in seems to be the better (political) option. Given all the hysteria, on both sides, the political cost of giving in has escalated enormously (in South Africa, on the other hand, there was a justified understanding that Mandela--NOT ANC--was going to be a magnanimous winner, which made giving in a reasonable option to de Klerk). No such magnanimity on either side now, and, in fact, I would expect Putin to be more magnanimous than the Westerners if anything else...if the Westerners hadn't talked themselves into a corner and raised the political costs sky high.)

hans

There will be a significant U.S. domestic political price paid as Putin's food sanctions' effects become locally apparent around mid-October. Many erstwhile blue states, like Minnesota, are Democratic by very thin margins and when outstate folks get frightened and angry they turn out to vote against those they think responsible; snub the under 30's and they pout and don't vote, and polling so far projected a very low turnout of them anyway. It seems to me the administration is taking huge electorial risks against gains that are nebulous at best. I can see no sense in this. And I doubt the administration is even aware what could be coming at them.

kao_hsien_chih

Exactly. Iran is the other case. Economic sanctions are imposing very severe costs on both (and considerable, but not too severe costs on the US). But neither will crack, to the point of unilaterally surrendering their interests. (Personally, I find the current Iranian diplomatic efforts fascinating, as they seek to negotiate out of the sanctions on their own terms, not by conceding to USG's unilateral terms.) Russia is in far better position than both, in terms of its own resources and ability to hurt the West. It will be painful on all sides, but seen as "worth it" to almost everyone involved...at least for a long time.

Norbert M Salamon

it is noted that Pres. Putin lost a sibling ion that time of trial!

Fred

David,

The silence of the dogs is deafening. One of my coworkers mentioned this shoot down at work today. I didn't go into detail but mentioned the two real possibilities - a false flag by the Ukrainians because they are losing and want American intervention and an actual combat mistake by the rebels, who I pointed out had shot down one or more Ukrainian transports in previous days. So there is growing interest out there and for more info than the usual "yellow cake, aluminum tubes" stories from the press and white house.

different clue

Bandolero,

Interesting thought, though at first the notion of comparing beef and salmon was like comparing apples and oranges. But if the point is to compare classiness and prestige ( and somewhat actual taste and flavor lending a reason to that classiness and prestige), then maybe the better comparison would be Brazilian beef and British Columbian Copper River sockeye salmon. Those sockeyes spend their lives eating whatever wild sea creatures they can catch, kill and eat in the Blue Pacific. Whereas Norwegian farmed salmon live out their days in pens eating fish meal and soybean meal and whatever. How much taste can they really develop?

different clue

G. I. Hazeltine,

I remember once reading where author and natural scientist/biologist/ecologist Ivan T. Sanderson wrote that methane belches or undersea volcanic gas belches could account for disappearance of ships in the Bermuda Triangle area. By making the the heavy buoyancy-genic seawater into gas-filled sinkogenic "quickwater" into which heavy things like ships and people would sink right down.

Bandolero

different clue
Oh, Russians can develop a lot of taste, and even more so, a desire for extravagant and exclusive products of all kind, including food, and even more so for expensive brands.

However, few can afford that style of living in Russia. It's not a mass market. But many Russians also have a penchant for something called "Euro-Standard" or more generally "Western" - to me it's seems like a habitous relict from Soviet times when many Soviet products where generally - and rightfully - considered lower quality. Regarding food, EU industrial food is a mass market in Russia. While the poorer can afford such food maybe once a week, it's maybe 10 to 30% of Russians who can and do afford themselves to feed themselves almost exclusively with such western things, it's a kind of a style of living to feed yourself with food like say Italian Salami, Norwegian salmon, Canadian pork, Irish butter, Greek peaches and so on. That Russian consumer pattern emulates a middle class western lifestyle. Such a middle class standard of living many Russians find prestigious. And, as Russians grow more wealthy, the sector in Russian society who can and does afford itself such a standard is growing, too. I called it the hi-end food market in Russia to distinguish it from the low-end, that feeds the far greater masses in Russia with mostly doemstic products like bread, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, chicken, fat pig meat or pig fat and herring.

For Russian agricultural producers the Russian middle classes oftenly irrational penchant for western industrial food is quite a problem, because it works like a block against market entry into that profitable food market segment for them. But now, with the sanctions, they win a unique chance to win the hearts of better-off Russians with Russian high quality products.

A similar situation is with imported products. Russia would like to strengthen economic relations with countries which are politically friendly to Russia. More Russian food imports could do that. But the Russian middle class consumer pattern of a penchant for Euro food products blocks that. So, the situation is, that Germans eat lot's of the tasty Turkish fruits and vegetables, while Russians eat the same stuff from Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, because they deem that European and Turkish not. But the Russian government wants - mostly for strategic reasons in central Asia I think - closer trade ties with Turkey. Now with the sanctions Turkish food producers will get a unique chance to persuade the Russian middle class that their products are fine, just like they persuaded large masses of German customers decades ago of the quality of Turkish fruits and vegetables. Similar things can be said of the desire of the Russian government to build closer trade ties with South America. The target is the hi-end mass market, not the top end of extravagant products.

To illustrate my thought, look at this Reuters report about the Russian food sanctions:

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/turkey-latin-american-will-reap-the-rewards-of-russias-import-bans/504813.html

Note what is shown in the photo of the typical Russian city vegetable market: potatoes, cucumbres, carrots, cabbage, beans, eggplants. That's typical domestic Russian food products feeding the masses. None of it is affected by sanctions, because Russia doesn't import such things, at least not from the EU, Northern America, Australia or Norway (but of course Eurasian community countries like Belarus may and do export such traditional, cheap food for the masses to Russia.)

But the Reuters news text is about much more expensive food: European vegetables and fruit, imported milk and dairy products, shellfish, fish (regarding fish Norway is most affected because much of Norways salmon exports go to Russia), that is usually sold in Euro-style supermarkets for the wealthy.

ISL

Dear different clue. That was by someone with no ocean experience / bubble plume knowledge who was quite wrong. Massive bubble plumes lift water rapidly. I recall a scuba diver I sent into a plume to collect samples kicking his legs in the air because he could not swim down against the upwards flow of water. Eventually he went outside the plume to get down.

Its the wave from the plume that sinks the boat. This was demonstrated in the film "Diving to Bermuda."

curtis

This item seems very grounded and sensible to me.

http://www.vice.com/read/why-russians-still-kinda-like-vladimir-putin-808

curtis

A report from some researchers in the field.

http://www.su.se/english/research/leading-research-areas/science/swerus-c3-first-observations-of-methane-release-from-arctic-ocean-hydrates-1.198540

Anna-Marina

The older generations in Russian Federation are adept at growing their own veggies and fruit in the relatively small orchards in a countryside (the modest "dachas" for city-dwellers). Even today, young metropolitan parents in their 30-s continue making preserves for the winter. The country, not long time ago, went through times of systematic food shortages, and people applied great inventiveness to survive the shortages; the memory of survival skills is easy to refresh.
The EU has lost its mind by provoking the counter-sanctions. Saker (below) is absolutely right: the necessity will revive Russian countryside. Moreover, it seems that RF is set to produce healthier food than the GMO-tainted US produce.
http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/you-wanna-be-uncle-sams-bitch-pay-price.html

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