The John Batchelor Show

Friday 1 March 2013

Air Date: 
March 01, 2013

Photo, above:  Five NGOs have filed a complaint against Glencore International and First Quantum Zambian subsidiary Mopani for massive tax evasion and fiscal fraud. See Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Louis Chambronneau, Reuters: Glencore bartered with firm linked to Iran nuclear program

The company was founded as Marc Rich & Co. AG in 1974 by the now-billionaire commodity trader Marc Rich, who was charged with tax evasion and illegal business dealings with Iran in the U.S., but pardoned by Pres Bill Clinton in 2001.  In 2005, proceeds from an oil sale to Glencore were seized as fraudulent, in an investigation into corruption in the Republic of Congo.  In a 2011 survey of Glencore, Reuters reviewed an example of its opportunistic, contrarian, well-funded investment approach—focusing on equity participation, controlling interest, and working upstream from trading relationships:  The acquisition was the culmination of 18 months of deal-making in Congo... [including fighting off a counterbid by] former England cricketer Phil Edmonds.... [Starting i]n June 2007, Glencore and partner Dan Gertler, an Israeli mining magnate, paid GB£300 million for a quarter-stake in mining company Nikanor, which was seeking to revive derelict copper mines next to Katanga Mining's properties. That deal gave Glencore exclusive rights to sell all Nikanor's output -- an "offtake" agreement.... [Then, o]n Christmas Eve 2008, ... [having] lost 97 percent of its market value over the previous six months ... in the depths of the global financial crisis and ... running out of cash, Katanga accepted a lifeline it could not refuse. [Glencore] wanted control. For about US$500 million in a convertible loan and rights issue, Katanga agreed to issue more than a billion new shares and hand what would become a stake of 74 percent to Glencore. ... [By early 2011], with copper prices regularly setting records above US$10,000 a ton, Katanga's stock market value [had reached] nearly US$3.2 billion.... [Since the Glencore acquisition], Katanga ... is reaping the benefit of the surging markets and its wealthy, powerful owner. After losing US$108 million in 2009, it posted an annual profit of US$265 million in 2010. Financial and accounting manipulations. Dealings with rogue states.


Hour One

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: John Bolton, AEI, in re: Ten years after the Iraq war, lessons learned.  Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was the right move for the US and its allies    Opponents of the Iraq war continue to spread myths. The reality is that the US achieved many of its goals in the war

The most cogent criticism of the 2003 action against Saddam is that it was required because we failed in 1991 to pursue our interests to their appropriate conclusion. Had we liberated Kuwait and then marched to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam, the world might have been spared considerable agony, and Iraq would actually have had a greater chance to build a peaceful, democratic society before the rise of al-Qaida and Islamic radicalism took their toll. We can obviously never know the truth, but the lesson for Washington is not to stop short just because of criticism from the international chattering classes.

 Ironically, the more accurate criticism of US policy is essentially the opposite of the left's conventional wisdom: our inconstancy has too often caused us to stop short before achieving objectives that were both desirable and obtainable. In Iraq, for example, twice in just 10 years, we had to mobilize international coalitions and powerful military forces to deal with the same basic threat, namely Saddam's unrestrained aggressiveness toward his neighbors. Similarly in Afghanistan, after helping the mujahedeen force a humiliating Soviet withdrawal and contribute to the USSR's collapse, we turned away in the 1990's and Taliban took power. After overthrowing the Taliban-al Qaida clique ruling Afghanistan, we are poised to turn away again, with every prospect of Taliban returning to power. And in Iran, we have watched the nuclear threat grow for twenty years while missing repeated opportunities to do something about it.

5. Iran is more powerful today than if Saddam been left in power. This variation on the previous myth ignores the reality America confronted in 2003. Had Saddam been removed in 1991, the threat of Iran's influence might have been mooted before Tehran's nuclear threat grew to its present level of menace. After Saddam's overthrow, the United States should have turned its attention to the regimes in Iran and Syria. Had we encouraged internal opposition to topple both Assad and the ayatollahs ten years ago, much as if we had removed Saddam in 1991, the Middle East environment today would indeed be very different. 

If Obama has his way in Washington's ongoing policy and budgetary debates, America will be withdrawing around the world and reducing its military capacity. This is what opponents of the 2003 Iraq war have long professed to want. If they actually get their wishes, it won't be long before they start complaining about it. You heard it here first.
  To read the article online, click here.

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Bob Zimmerman,, in re: Space X Falcon 9 Dragon launch trouble; also Curiosity trouble.   SpaceX has announced that they now have all of Dragon’s thrusters operating and are go for docking with ISS.

They haven't announced when the docking will occur, but with the solar panels operating the capsule can function in orbit for a considerable time, giving them breathing room. And time will be necessary, as both NASA and the Russians are nervous about letting any spacecraft approach ISS and will want a good number of tests to make sure all is well. The Russians are especially nervous, since they had the unfortunate experience of several collisions when they operated their space station Mir.

Corrupt memory in Curiosity’s A computer system has forced engineers to switch to the rover’s back-up computer.  The problem came to light Wednesday morning on Mars when flight controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., noticed what appeared to be memory corruption in the computer’s solid-state memory system. The flight software was not recording new data or playing back data already recorded. Instead, it was only sending back real-time telemetry. Later in the day, during a communications session using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, telemetry from Curiosity indicated the corrupted memory was still present. In addition, Cook said, flight controllers saw the computer had not completed several pre-planned activities.  At that point, the computer was expected to put itself to sleep for an hour or so and then to wake up for a communications session with NASA’s Odyssey orbiter. “It was after that second overflight that we got some more information saying hey, the memory is still corrupted and oh by the way, I didn’t go to sleep when I was supposed to, I stayed awake,” Cook said

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Lynn Doan, Bloomberg, in re:  Carbon emissions cap and trade system improving in California. California Carbon Permits Sell Above Expected Clearing

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Abrahm Lustgarten, Propublica, in re: Native Americans on an oil-rich North Dakota reservation have been cheated out of more than $1 billion by schemes to buy drilling rights for lowball prices, a flurry of recent lawsuits assert. And, the suits claim, the federal government facilitated the alleged swindle by failing in its legal obligation to ensure that the tribes got a fair deal.

Members of the Three Affiliated Tribes - the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara - were moved by the federal government to land that "turns out to hold a wealth of oil, because it sits on the Bakken Shale, widely believed to be one of the world's largest deposits of crude. Until recently, that oil was difficult to extract, but hydraulic fracturing, combined with the ability to drill a well sideways underground, can tap it." The result, according to several senior tribal members and lawsuits filed last November and early this year in federal and state courts, has been a land grab involving everyone from tribal leaders accused of enriching themselves at the expense of their people, to oil speculators, to a New York hedge fund, to the federal government's Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Hour Two

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Who's the Fairest of Them All? The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America Stephen Moore (Author), Glenn Hubbard (Foreword); 1 of 2

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Who's the Fairest of Them All? The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America Stephen Moore (Author), Glenn Hubbard (Foreword); 2 of 2

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Zeke Faux, Bloomberg, in re:  boiler room Tenty-first Century?   Red Bull-Fed Brokers Stand as John Thomas Draws Scrutiny   Anastasios “Tommy” Belesis, who founded John Thomas in 2007, has raised millions of dollars for companies with about 200 brokers in a boiler room, where trainees stand as long as 14 hours a day barking memorized sales pitches for as little as $300 a week. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority told Belesis last month he may face disciplinary action on a claim that he artificially inflated the price of a stock. The New York Post reported Feb. 7 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has interviewed ex-employees. Robert Bursky, the firm’s lawyer, said it’s clean.

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Dr. Anita Sengupta, JPL, NASA, in re: Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Pasadena in California is developing an experiment which will make the International Space Station (ISS) the coldest spot in the universe, quite literally. Interestingly, this hitherto unknown project, known as the Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), is being led by an Indian woman, Anita Sengupta, who hails from West Bengal. Prior to this she led the supersonic parachute development for the highly successful Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission which landed the Curiosity rover on the Red Planet on August 6, 2012.  In an email interview, Anita explained that the main role of the new laboratory, which will become a part of the ISS in 2016, will be to explore new quantum physics in an extremely cold temperature regime that cannot be explored in Earth-based laboratories.

Hour Three

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Louis Chambronneau, Reuters,  in re: Glencore bartered with firm linked to Iran nuclear program.  The commodities giant Glencore supplied thousands of tons of alumina to an Iranian firm that has provided aluminum to Iran's nuclear program, intelligence and diplomatic sources told Reuters. The previously undisclosed barter arrangement between Glencore, the world's biggest commodities trader, and the Iranian Aluminum Company (Iralco) illustrates how difficult it is for Western powers to curb Iran's ability to trade with the rest of the world. Even as the West imposes stringent restrictions on banks that do business with Iran, United Nations diplomats say that Tehran keeps finding new ways to do business with willing partners.

Reuters first learned about Glencore's barter deal with Iralco, and an aluminum supply contract that Iralco had with Iran Centrifuge Technology Co (TESA), from a Western diplomatic source in early November. That was about six weeks before the European Union's December 2012 decision to levy sanctions on Iralco for supplying aluminum metal to TESA, which is a subsidiary of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). The source showed Reuters a Western intelligence report concerning Glencore's arrangement with Iralco. It described how Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore provided Iralco with thousands of tons of alumina last year in exchange for a lesser amount of aluminum metal. The report's authenticity was confirmed by U.N. diplomats

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  . Henry Miller, Hoover, in re: Sequester or No Sequester, Federal Agencies Could Spend Less

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . Natalie Angier, NYT, in re: The Owl Comes in to Its Own  With the distinctive forward-facing gaze that can make owls seem as much human as bird, the barred pair stared at me. I played the call again, the male grew bored, and I was about to put the phone away when suddenly the female — the larger of the two owls, as female birds of prey often are — pitched her body forward on her perch, lifted up her heavy, magnificent wings and belted out a full-throated retort to my recorded call.

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Jennifer Medina, NYT, in re: San Diego Ex-Mayor Confronts $1 Billion Gambling Problem - Maureen O’Connor, 66, blamed an addiction aggravated by a brain tumor for a gargantuan spree that she financed in part by taking from her husband’s charity.

Hour Four

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Richard A. Epstein, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), Is Employment a “Human Right”? (1 of 2)

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Richard A. Epstein, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), Is Employment a “Human Right”? (2 of 2)

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Andrew Conte, in re:  Sequestration budget cuts could hurt the nation’s computer defenses – just as President Obama and top lawmakers have declared war on hackers.   (The Trib’s ongoing coverage of computer security issues can be found at   (1 of 2)

Friday  1 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Andrew Conte, in re:  Sequestration budget cuts could hurt the nation’s computer defenses – just as President Obama and top lawmakers have declared war on hackers.   (The Trib’s ongoing coverage of computer security issues can be found at   (2 of 2)

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