Monday 18th of February 2019

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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 19:11

Both human and machine have 10 seconds per plant. They must find the ripe strawberries in the leaves, gently twist them off the stems and tuck them into a plastic clamshell. Repeat, repeat, repeat, before the fruit spoils.

One February afternoon, they work about an acre apart on a farm the size of 454 football fields: dozens of pickers collecting produce the way people have for centuries — and a robot that engineers say could replace most of them as soon as next year.

The future of agricultural work has arrived here in Florida, promising to ease labor shortages and reduce the cost of food, or so says the team behind Harv, a nickname for the latest model from automation company Harvest CROO Robotics.

Harv is on the leading edge of a national push to automate the way we gather goods that bruise and squish, a challenge that has long flummoxed engineers.

Designing a robot with a gentle touch is among the biggest technical obstacles to automating the American farm. Reasonably priced fruits and vegetables are at risk without it, growers say, because of a dwindling pool of workers.

“The labor force keeps shrinking,” said Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation strawberry farmer. “If we don’t solve this with automation, fresh fruits and veggies won’t be affordable or even available to the average person.”

The problem is so pressing that competitors are banding together to fund Harv, which has raised approximately $9 million from corporate behemoths like Driscoll’s and Naturipe Farms, as well as local farmers.

Wishnatzki, who created Harv with former Intel engineer Bob Pitzer, one of the minds behind the television hit “BattleBots,” has invested $3 million of his own money.


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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 18:55




And what about the humanitarian aid and blocked bridge story featured prominently over this last week? You have surely seen it across all the networks worldwide. The metal fencing and lorry containers strategically placed on the bridge leading from Colombia to Venezuela denying American sent humanitarian aid to the poor Venezuelans. Nicolas Maduro is a heartless and brutal tyrant to deny his people this aid is the uniform media narrative.


Yet that story has also now been exposed as another manufactured pack of lies parroted by the Western media intent on trying to undermine the democratically elected President of Venezuela. The bridge in all the news bulletins is the Tienditas Bridge. It was not blockaded and closed the other day to prevent humanitarian aid entering Venezuela from Colombia it was blockaded and closed 18 months ago in response to rising security tensions between Colombia and Venezuela.

And the Tienditas bridge was NOT blockaded and closed by Venezuela it was blockaded and closed by COLOMBIA…..

There are many more examples of media lies and disinformation which I hope to bring to your attention in future columns but hopefully the evidence and examples provided thus far are enough to convince you to reject the constant bias, distortions and lies pedalled by the mainstream media. Until there is greater plurality in ownership, stricter regulations to ensure accuracy and fundamental democratisation to widen access the mainstream media deserves to be treated with utter disdain and suspicion at all times.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 18:42

Two weeks before Christmas, Scott Morrison was asked by radio host Ben Fordham whether he leaned on Malcolm Turnbull for advice. He said no - then volunteered that he did however speak to John Howard quite a bit.

How often, Fordham asked. Every week or two, said Morrison. But “sometimes it happens just a bit more often than that”.

Every prime minister speaks to their predecessors from time to time. But ask yourself this – how many people do you speak to every fortnight?

Plus its not like you need a prime ministerial hotline to figure out what Howard thinks about, well, anything. Since Morrison’s ascension, Howard has given us his two-cents on religious freedom in schools, racism and migration, and where our embassy in Israel should be.



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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 18:18

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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 17:59

Bloodshed on behalf of the greylag geese: Brigitte Bardot, president of the foundation that bears her name, sends a scathing letter to the former ecologist who became Minister for the Ecological Transition [François de Rugy] and denounces a "serious, lamentable crime".

"Shame ! You should be ashamed of having usurped the function of Minister of Ecology for which you are of a pitiful and dangerous nullity and incompetence." In an open letter, the former actress converted into the defense of animals curry the action of the Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, François de Rugy.

What triggered the bloodshed of the 1960s muse is the extension of the hunt for migratory geese, which was originally scheduled to end on January 31 "in accordance with a European directive for the protection of migratory birds," says 20 Minutes. According to information from, "at the request of Emmanuel Macron", François de Rugy has just signed an order dated 30 January 2019, "relating to the authorized collection of the greylag goose, the laughing goose and of the harvest goose during the month of February 2019. "This text authorizes hunters to harvest 4,000 geese in February 2019.

Brigitte Bardot does not hear it that way and announces in her mail: "I seize the Council of State to break this decree", then she sums up her thoughts in the tweet by which she publishes the letter: "François de Rugy, you're just a cowardly assassin by proxy fighters."

She also insists that this "decree" goes "up to flouting European directives" and she calls for the "immediate dismissal" of the minister.


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Translation by Jules Letambour



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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 17:42

A former senior staffer in Federal Minister Michaelia Cash's office has told a court he knew a media tip-off about police raids on union offices would be politically damaging for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Key points:

  • The AWU is seeking to shut down the ROC's investigation into donations the union made to GetUp! in 2006
  • Senator Cash referred the donations to the ROC in two letters in August 2017
  • Her then-media advisor alerted media outlets to the raids before they started

Australian Federal Police raided the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) on October 24, 2017, as part of an investigation by the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) into $100,000 in donations made by the union in 2006, when Mr Shorten was its national secretary.

Ben Davies, who was Senator Cash's chief of staff at the time of the raids, is giving evidence in a civil trial brought by the union against the ROC, which has been investigating the union's donations to the activist group GetUp!.

The court has previously heard that on the day of the raids, Senator Cash's then-media advisor, David De Garis, contacted media outlets to give them advance warning of the raids.


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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 16:23
A six-member European delegation that sought to meet with self-proclaimed Venezuelan 'interim president' Juan Guaido is getting expelled from Venezuela after being accused by Caracas of coming with "conspiratorial purposes."

The European MPs arrived in Venezuela on Sunday and were supposed to stay in the country until Tuesday to carry out a series of meetings, including with Guaido, the leader of the opposition recognized by a number of European governments as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.



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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 16:18

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on Sunday the increase in the country's military presence in the Arctic to counter Russia's activities in the region.

"Whether it’s sharpening our skills in sub-zero conditions, learning from longstanding allies like Norway or monitoring submarine threats with our Poseidon aircraft, we will stay vigilant to new challenges", Williamson said, cited by The Telegraph newspaper, adding that the new P8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft would be used to constraint activities of Russian submarines in the region.

Williamson made his statement during a visit to a new base of Royal Marines in the area of Bardufoss in northern Norway.

READ MORE: UK Sends Fleet of Apaches to Arctic as Message to 'Whole Range of Adversaries'

The Royal Marines will also be deploying over 1,000 troops to Norway annually over the 10-year period for training within an agreement between the two states, he added. Nine P8 Poseidon planes will be deployed to the Royal Air Force Lossiemouth airbase in Scotland in 2020 to conduct reconnaissance in the North Atlantic and in the Arctic.


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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 16:08

The government of the People’s Republic of China has cancelled a meeting that had been scheduled between Vice Prime Minister ‎Hu Chunhua (see photo) and the Finance Minister, Philip Hammond.‎

In an address made at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the UK Minister of Defence, Gavin Williamson, recently threatened to send an aircraft carrier to the China Sea to make Peking “pay dearly” for “its aggressive conduct” [1]. ‎

The cancellation of the meeting with the Finance Minister deprives the UK of a trade agreement which would have given it access to a market worth more than 10 billion pounds [2].‎

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, distanced herself from the declarations of her Defense Minister and made it clear that the British airplane carrier would not be travelling to Asia until 2021 and that its journey would first need to be approved by whoever was the UK Prime Minister at the time. ‎

Anoosha Boralessa


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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-02-18 14:05

The government ministers Michaelia Cash and Michael Keenan twice declined to be interviewed by federal police about the leaking of the dramatic 2017 raids on the Australian Workers Union’s offices.

Australian federal police officials also told a Senate estimates committee on Monday morning they formed the view while investigating the leaks that evidence “may have been destroyed”.

The statements from police came as Cash’s former chief of staff Ben Davies told a court on Monday he had learned of the raids from the union regulator’s then media adviser Mark Lee while the pair made arrangements for Lee’s new job in Cash’s office.

The AWU is seeking to quash the Registered Organisations Commission’s (Roc) investigation into donations made to GetUp while Bill Shorten was its leader. The union cites referrals from Cash and her staff leaking news of the raids as proof the probe was politically motivated.


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