The John Batchelor Show

Friday 10 January 2014

Air Date: 
January 10, 2014

CGI Federal Senior Vice President Cheryl Campbell talks to Optum/QSSI group Executive Vice President Andrew Slavitt prior to a hearing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Oct. 24, 2013 on Capitol Hill.  (Alex Wong/Getty Images).  See: Hour 1, Block B,  Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, and Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, on the Affordable Care Act - firing CGI.


Hour One

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Jim McTague, Barron’s Washington, in re: B1 , BLS , breaks down industry details: construction (weather-related layoffs), local govt (troubles with pensions, etc, so not hiring), banking (fed penalties), healthcare (oops –Obamacare). Retail was very strong (hiring). Millennials are the ones suffering the most from this recession.  Half of jobs created were in food and beverage, other half in clothes. In Hagerstown, Maryland, a dairy closed six years ago, firing 600 employees; reopened just now for 36 employees.  GOP.  Uneven recovery: jobs not there in the rural Midwest. It’s not income inequality - it’s income, at all. Pres Obama’s policies that fed Wall Street and their outlandish bonuses have much helped in the real income inequality.

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 1, Block B:  Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, and Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re:  the Affordable Care Act.  Firing CGI – which built  the 500-million-line code for Obamacare.  Accenture takes over: one of the world’s hugest consulting companies – 200K employees, rake in multiple billions, incl from the ACA.  A lot of their contracting has been with IRS and Centers for Medicaid (Obamacare) contributed $1.2 mill to lobbying. John Rogers, CEO of Ariel Capital Mgt, which has a big investment in Accenture, raised $1.5 million of Obama’s campaign, comes from Chicago, is family friends with Obama. His ex-wife became White House party manager, accidentally allowed in the two imp0stors and had to resign.  In New York: a deep silence about Obamacare. Omerta?  Nah – we’re in the eye of the hurricane. 

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Robert Zimmerman,, in re:   Astronomers announced today the discovery of 18 sunlike stars which are traveling so fast they will escape the Milky Way galaxy. These sunlike stars are in addition to another 20 blue giant stars that are also traveling at escape velocity.

The origin of all of these new stars is completely mysterious. The theory had been that such stars got their speed boost by being flung past the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole, dubbed Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star”). These new stars, however, come from other directions, and in fact appear to have even come from outside the galaxy’s main disk. Thus, astronomers are baffled as to what caused them to be traveling so fast.

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 1, Block D:  Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal, in re: Lots of New Yorkers, looking at and listening to newly inaugurated Mayor Bill de Blasio, already miss former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Now they may start missing former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

This week the council elected Melissa Mark-Viverito as its new speaker, making her the second most powerful person in the nation's largest city. If it is possible, Ms. Mark-Viverito may be even further to the left than Mr. de Blasio. But he doesn't seem to mind: He backed her for the job.

As The Journal reported Thursday, Ms. Mark-Viverito's policy agenda is what you would expect from a hard-left Democrat. One example is her plan for lots of subsidized housing that will be paid for by other New Yorkers. But it is her support for thuggish politics outside of the U.S. mainland that ought to make the city sit up and take notice.

According to the New York Post, in 2009 Ms. Mark-Viverito sent a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights in support of the five Cuban spies that were sentenced to prison in the U.S. for "infiltrating a naval base in Florida." In Ms. Mark-Viverito's view, the Cuban Five were simply defending Cuba against terrorist attacks. Perhaps not coincidentally, that is the same argument that the Cuban dictatorship has used in support of the group. According to the Post, her letter called for more family visits for the prisoners. Ms. Mark-Viverito grew up in Puerto Rico, though her parents were born in New York. In 2010 she backed a petition calling for the release of the leader of the Puerto Rican independence group FALN, which the FBI has classified as a terrorist organization. In 1975 the group bombed Fraunes Tavern in lower Manhattan, killing four patrons. [more]

Hour Two

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 2, Block A: Aaron Task, The Daily Ticker, Yahoo Finance, in re: In what sounds like a dream scenario for U.S. consumers, Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, says oil prices could "crater" in 2014 and OPEC could "fall ...

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 2, Block B:  Liz Peek, The Fiscal Times & Fox, in re:  It seems only yesterday that Bill Clinton was chewing his lower lip and confessing that yes, he had smoked marijuana in his student years, but he hadn’t actually inhaled. How times have changed.

Now everyone – President Obama, columnist David Brooks, Michael Bloomberg, Clarence Thomas, for heaven’s sake – admits to being a former stoner, and proud of it. Only die-hard fuddy-duddies are lining up to oppose what appears to be a national embrace of pot smoking. Legalization is on the rise, with fiscal hardship the go-to rationale. We spend too much money enforcing (failed) anti-drug laws, supporters argue, and states need the revenues they can get from taxing pot.

In other words, it’s all Jeff Bezos’ fault. If it weren’t for Amazon, and the huge rise in internet shopping that Bezos’ firm has inspired, states would not be in such bad shape. Well, not exactly, but the loss of billions in sales tax revenues --  more than $11 billion in 2012 alone – in combination with rising employee costs and the impact of a recession has sent cities and states scurrying to find alternative sources of revenues. Legalizing marijuana is a lot more popular – and hip! - than raising income taxes.   So, as of January first, Colorado became the first state in the nation to . . .

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 2, Block C:  Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, in re: A Disgraced Air Force General's Last Interview - What a fired commander's last words say about the state of America's nuclear missiles. Maj. Gen. Michael Carey didn't know his career was on the verge of total collapse when he arrived at Popular Mechanics' New York City office in late July 2013. [more]  (1 of 2)

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 2, Block D:  Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, in re: Meet the Airmen Who Watch Over America's Nukes—And Await the Unthinkable  Deep underground in remote locales lies the United States' stockpile of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Though they are icons of the Cold War, ICBMs remain the cornerstone of U.S. nuclear defense, and stand at 99 percent readiness levels decades into their lifetimes. Popular Mechanics descends into a Montana bunker to meet the airmen who stand guard over America's nukes, awaiting the call they hope never to receive.  [more]  (2 of 2)

Behind the Scenes at a Nuclear Alert Facility - Popular Mechanics' Senior Editor Joe Pappalardo has some strange experiences at a U.S. nuclear missile base.

Hour Three

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 3, Block A:  Josh Rogin, The Daily Beast, in re:   State Department: Benghazi Not Planned by 'Core Al Qaeda'   Two groups that attacked the U.S. mission in Benghazi are about to be designated as terrorists. But officials say they aren't "official affiliates" of al Qaeda.  The State Department confirmed Wednesday that two Libyan groups reportedly set to be designated as terrorists took part in the Benghazi 9-11 anniversary attacks of 2012. But the Obama administration insists there is no evidence linking the attack to al Qaeda's central leadership.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki chose her words carefully, saying . . . [more]

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 3, Block B:  Peter Coy, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, in re: JANET YELLEN: OPTIMAL CONTROL   On February 1, Janet Yellen becomes the chair of the Federal Reserve and just about every issue that she will confront as the Fed fights inflation  and unemployment is fraught with disagreement. These debates typically get viewed through the familiar hawk vs. dove monetary prism yet they’re deeper and more interesting than that, writes Bloomberg Businessweek economics editor Peter Coy. Coy provides a guide to three of the big questions, and some of the potential options, that will keep the Madame Chairman occupied

in the years ahead. 1)  Optimal control – Yellen has repeatedly expressed fascination with the possibility that the Fed could “optimally control” the U.S. economy by raising and lowering interest rates in a more scientific manner. 2) Managing bubbles –Yellen has maintained a “strong preference” for using regulation to fight bubbles but hasn’t ruled out the “blunt instrument” of higher rates.  3) Transparency or mystery- In Yellen’s view – as well as Bernanke’s – transparency is a new way for the Fed to restore growth. By revealing that it intends to keep short-term rates close to zero for a long time to come, the Fed can induce more investment, hiring, and growth. Oversharing by Fed officials, however, can create more heat than light.  [more]

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 3, Block C:  Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: In “An American in India,” the author argues, “For this populous country, an agenda of economic growth matters most of all.” Over the holidays, my wife and I boarded a United Airlines flight from New York to Mumbai for our first trip to India. We spent three days in Mumbai and one in Delhi. That short trip gave me a chance to observe a tiny sliver of a vast, diverse, and contradictory country. The startling contrast between rich and poor is so vividly etched in my mind that I’d like to devote this column to what I observed on my trip. The country’s many microenvironments and the larger macroeconomic picture help explain the great disparity of wealth.   . . . (1 of 2)

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 3, Block D:   Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: . . . In Mumbai, within shouting distance of heated toilet seats in luxury hotels, there lies squalor and poverty. The exteriors of most of the ramshackle structures that line Mumbai’s packed streets are battered and pock-marked. Upstairs, tiny, decrepit dwelling units lie hidden behind endless amounts of laundry hung out to dry. Downstairs are the small shops that are literally holes in the wall crammed full of merchandise, much of it foodstuff and electronics. There are no large shops in evidence, and the distribution system that services this peculiar form of retailing can only survive because of some hidden set of restrictions that prevent the emergence of larger and more rational forms of industrial organization.  [more] (2 of 2)

Hour Four

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 4, Block A:  Brooks Barnes, NYT, in re: But It Doesn’t Look Like a Marriott  To lure a younger crowd, Marriott International is making a turn toward flash, partly by offering new hotel brands.  Slide Show: A Marriott for the Hip Crowd

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 4, Block B:  Christopher Mims, Quartz (, in re:  All in, 2013 was an embarrassment for the entire tech industry and the engine that powers it—Silicon Valley. Innovation was replaced by financial engineering, mergers and acquisitions, and evasion of regulations. Not a single breakthrough product was unveiled—and for reasons outlined below, Google Glass doesn’t count. If it’s in the nature of progress to move in leaps, there are necessarily lulls in between. Here are all the reasons 2013 was a great big dud for technology as a whole.

Why 2013 was a lost year for consumer technology—no major releases, no earth-shattering developments. But as the authors of countless rejoinders to that piece noted, unless we’re slipping into some kind of civilizational collapse, technology doesn’t stop progressing; there are merely lulls between when the big stuff drops.

That’s a fair point—one that, after reflecting on the past, made us consider the future. Like earthquakes and wars and other expressions of pent-up energies, perhaps the surest sign that something big is coming in technology is how long it’s been since the last big thing came along.

Apple is the classic example of this, and deliberately so: Having shaken the world with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the company has since contented itself with releasing ever-more-refined (and, in the case of iPads, larger) versions of the same thing. That’s not necessarily bad in terms of technological progress; after all, our cars are orders of magnitude safer, more reliable and more fuel-efficient thanks to a century of incremental advances. It would be churlish to compare any modern vehicle to the Model T and sniff at the fact that both have four wheels and an internal combustion engine.

But if the hints that Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to drop—and the corresponding rumors—are any guide, 2014 is a year in which Apple will attempt, as it did in 2007, to redefine an entire product category. Only this time, instead of phones, it will be wearables. Many other kinds of consumer technology could see major upgrades in 2014, the kinds of devices that could become classics in their own right, and surge past the population of early adopters and into the hands of everyday folks. Naturally, the groundwork for these technologies was laid in 2013 and before. A brief tour of them, to be published as a series over the next few days.

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 4, Block C:  Jim Gorman, NYT, in re: THE MAPMAKERS

The Brain, in Exquisite Detail

Friday  10 Jan 2014 / Hour 4, Block D:   Drew Armstrong, Bloomberg, in re: SMARTPHONE SLEEP DEPRIVATIONBedroom-Invading Smartphones Jumble Body’s Sleep Rhythms – Using a smartphone, tablet or laptop at bedtime may be staving off sleep, according to Harvard Medical School scientists, who have found specific wavelengths of light can suppress the slumber-inducing hormone melatonin in the brain. 

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Hour 1:  Perfect Storm (tracks: Rogue Wave; Decision to Turn Around). Break.  Hannah. Inside Man.

Hour 2:  Breaking Bad.  Apocalypse Now.  Red Dawn.

Hour 3:  Green Zone. Thirteen Days. Michael Clayton.

Hour 4:  Alias. Hannah. CSI.  Field of Dreams.