After the introduction of new Western sanctions against Russia last month as punishment for its role in destabilizing Ukraine, Russia has returned fire by announcing a raft of sanctions of its own. Economists, however, are baffled at the Russian decision. While the Western sanctions have hurt the Russian economy, Russia's retaliatory sanctions will hurt its own economy even more.
Western sanctions started with asset freezes of senior officials and companies linked to the Putin regime. However, they were expanded last month to include limitations on Russian banks, as well as to halt exports to Russia of arms and high-tech oil-and gas exploration equipment.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has retaliated with a ban of "all beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Norway for one year," according to The New York Times.
Russia is also considering banning Western airlines from flying over Russian airspace. European and American airlines currently fly over Siberia en route to various Asian destinations. Finally, Moscow is "studying the possibility of introducing restrictions on the import of planes, navy vessels, and cars."
Forbes' Tim Worstall points out the Russian retaliation is nonsensical. It is, in effect, Russia saying, "You are making us poorer by denying us your lovely imports. We shall therefore make ourselves poorer by denying ourselves more of your lovely imports."
If Russia really wanted to retaliate, it would ban exports to the West, like the natural gas exports that are a highly important for the European economy. However, whether Russia would actually do that remains to be seen — while Europe needs the Russian gas, Russia may need Europe's cash even more. John Aziz
The voters of Staten Island have traded in their admitted federal tax-fraudster congressman, Michael Grimm, for Daniel Donovan Jr. (R), the district attorney best known nationally for not convincing a grand jury to indict the officers caught on video choking Eric Garner, who subsequently died.
Donovan easily beat Councilman Vincent Gentile (D), 60 percent to 39 percent, according to unofficial results, in a rare conservative bastion of New York City. The victorious DA still touted his win as a "message to President Obama, to Nancy Pelosi and, yes, even to Bill de Blasio, that their policies are wrong for our nation." National Democrats, after sinking millions into an unsuccessful 2014 attempt to unseat Grimm (R) — then under federal indictment but before he pleaded guilty — declined to support Gentile in this special election. Peter Weber
The extravagant yellow ensemble Rihanna wore to the Met Gala on Monday that ended up spawning multiple memes was two years in the making.
The singer told Vogue's André Leon Talley that "it was a miracle" how the Guo Pei-designed dress was put together. "I saw this beautiful beast on the internet," she said. "I was researching Chinese couture.... It's so well-made. It's handmade by one Chinese woman. It took two years to make this." Get a closer look at the elaborate get-up in the video below. —Catherine Garcia
A would-be robber in Manchester, New Hampshire, picked the wrong man to mess with over the weekend when he tried to take the wallet of a 95-year-old World War II vet, who ended up whacking the criminal repeatedly with his cane, forcing him to flee.
— Paul Burton (@PaulWBZ) May 4, 2015
Arthur Kamberis was walking home after he picked up his wife's prescription from the pharmacy when a man confronted him and attempted to get his wallet out of his pocket. Kamberis said he offered him some change, but the man was adamant about getting the wallet, something Kamberis refused to hand over. "I had my credit card, my license, my grandchildren's pictures in there and all sorts of stuff it would have been wicked for me to replace," he told WMUR.
That's when Kamberis began to clobber the man with his cane. "I was very nervous," he said. "I hit him three or four times on the arm, and then, you know, what the cop told me, 'You should have hit him on the head.'" A bystander came up to help and the wannabe robber ran off, but police say they were able to get a picture of him from a surveillance camera, and they are actively searching for him. The incident took place just a block away from a police station, and Kamberis said he thinks if he had his cellphone with him that day to call 911, "we could have nailed that guy." Catherine Garcia
The joke is pretty obvious from the beginning: Seth Meyers is doing a terrible bit called "Seth the Snoop," where he digs through packages purportedly left in a 30 Rockefeller mail graveyard, and Jack Black gets all outlaw-country on him with a song ridiculing the skit. It's still funny, and if we're trying to be high-minded, a nice meta-commentary on some of the more tired conventions of late-night comedy. Maybe let's stick with "funny." You can watch below. —Peter Weber
The secret's out: Prince will play a surprise concert in Baltimore on Sunday, with proceeds from the event going to youth charities based in the city.
The "Rally 4 Peace" concert will take place at Royal Farms Arena, and tickets will go on sale Wednesday at 5 p.m. Other major artists are set to join Prince and his band 3RDEYEGIRL, and it's expected he will debut the protest song he wrote last week, entitled "Baltimore." In a statement, organizers said they hope the concert will be a "catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the U.S.," and asked attendees to "wear something gray in tribute to all those recently lost in the violence." Catherine Garcia
David Letterman, for some reason, decided to pay Reese Witherspoon a compliment by showing a picture of her and her 15-year-old daughter on Tuesday's Late Show. "Actually, coincidentally, she was born the first year I was on this show," Witherspoon said. Letterman immediately started clearing his throat and pulling a face, but it took a few moments for Witherspoon to get the implication. Finally, after Letterman deadpanned, "Well, that's an interesting coincidence," she said "no" a lot of times, adding: "I was having a blonde moment. I have a lot of them lately." Well, that or Letterman and his band members have dirty minds. Watch. —Peter Weber
The co-pilot suspected of purposely crashing his Germanwings plane into the French Alps March 24, killing everyone on board, practiced a controlled descent on a flight earlier that day, the German newspaper Bild reports.
Sources close to France's BEA crash investigation agency told the paper that on Wednesday, BEA plans to publish an interim report that states the incident lasted a few minutes during a flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona. The source said there was "no aeronautical justification" for this action, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia