The John Batchelor Show

Friday 20 September 2013

Air Date: 
September 20, 2013

Photo, above: Judith Tebutt - Armed men shot dead her husband, David, after bursting into their cottage at the luxury Kiwayu Safari Village, north of Lamu island in Kenya.  Mr Tebbutt, 57, a finance director for publishers Faber & Faber, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. His wife, 56, who is partially deaf, was bundled into a waiting speedboat.  Following the kidnapping, witnesses said pirates had initially taken Mrs Tebbutt to the Somali village of Amara, north of the Islamist-controlled town of Harardhere and part of the self-proclaimed administration of Himan and Heeb.  


Hour One

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Joseph Rago, WSJ editorial board & Pulitzer Prizewinner, in re: Elizabeth Holmes: The Breakthrough of Instant Diagnosis A Stanford dropout is bidding to make tests more accurate, less painful—and at a fraction of the current price.   . . .  And a Theranos clinic may be coming soon to a pharmacy near you. On Monday the company is launching a partnership with Walgreens for in-store sample-collection centers, with the first one in Palo Alto and expanding throughout California and beyond. Ms. Holmes's long-term goal is to provide Theranos services "within five miles of virtually every American home.

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  John Schwartz, NYT, in re:  Stephen Crohn, Who Furthered AIDS Study, Dies at 66.  His boyfriend was dying of a disease without a name. Beginning in 1978, Stephen Crohn cared for Jerry Green, a handsome gymnast, as he lost 30 pounds, went blind and was ravaged by the kinds of infections that rarely harmed otherwise healthy people. Mr. Green was one of the first people to die of the disease that became known as AIDS. In the ensuing years, scores of Mr. Crohn’s friends died of it. He had taken no special precautions, and he had been as sexually active as his friends. But he never got sick.  Mr. Crohn’s resistance helped lead to a deeper understanding of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, simply by staying alive and working with doctors to help figure out why he was.

“What he contributed to medical knowledge is really quite extraordinary,” said Dr. Bruce D. Walker, the director of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, M.I.T. and Harvard.  Mr. Crohn died on Aug. 23 in New York City at 66. The cause was suicide, his sister Amy Crohn Santagata said on Friday in confirming the death, which was not announced at the time.  Mr. Crohn’s immune system and its quirks earned him unsought renown. In 1996, the British newspaper The Independent called him “The Man Who Can’t Catch AIDS,” and he told his story in documentary films and newspaper interviews around the world.  Mr. Crohn had first come to the attention of Dr. Bill Paxton, then a scientist at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. Dr. Paxton had been looking for gay men who seemed resistant to infection. Working with Dr. David Ho, now the chief executive of the Diamond Center, Dr. Paxton exposed Mr. Crohn’s cells, and those of another promising volunteer, to H.I.V.   “I couldn’t infect the CD4 cells,” he said in an interview. “I’d never seen that before.” . . .  [more]

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Margot Kiser, Daily Beast,  in re:  ‘A Long Walk Home’: Somali Pirate Hostage Publishes Her Memoir   In a new book, Judith Tebbutt recounts her six-month ordeal as a hostage of Somali pirates and revisits the night of the kidnapping, when her husband of 33 years lost his life trying to protect her.  Judith Tebbutt, a 56-year old British social worker, wouldn’t know at the time that her long walk home began almost as soon as she and her husband, David, touched down on a grassy airstrip on the northern Kenya coast on September 10, 2011.  The couple had been vacationing in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and planned to wind up their vacation with a weeklong stay at Kiwayu Safari Village, a starkly beautiful beach resort 25 miles south of the Somali border that offered "barefoot luxury" to its mostly well-heeled clients. After a late lunch, the Tebbutts' host walked them down the beach to their cottage. “Banda Zero”—the last of a string of 18 palm-thatched cottages—sat directly on the beach over a quarter of a mile away from the main lodge and dining area.

Call it woman’s intuition or just plain common sense, but Judith Tebbutt didn’t like the feel of the place and threw backward glances at the main lodge. She knew the resort advertised itself as a secluded getaway, but “the silence was very pronounced, a ‘peace and quiet’ that felt just a shade remote, even intimidating.” “Where is everybody?” Tebbutt asked, noting the absence of children laughing and splashing in the sea. In fact, the beach was deserted. “You’re in luck,” resort owner George Moorhead, a white Kenyan, answered. “You’re the only two here.” If Moorhead sensed her unease, he didn’t acknowledge it. [more]

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Claudia Rosett, FDD, in re:  Syria's Pals at the Chemical Weapons Convention  With Russia on his side, Syria’s President Bashar Assad has now agreed to sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which is meant to eliminate chemical weapons from the world once and for all. Having thrown this bone to the White House, which has accused him of killing at least 1,429 people last month with poison gas, perhaps Assad feels safer. But should we?

    Odds are that in agreeing to sign the CWC, Assad knew he was enrolling in a treaty that is cumbersome to apply and easy to manipulate. Indeed, U.S. authorities believe that Russia, now proposing to help rid Assad of his chemical weapons, has itself been cheating on the chemical-weapons treaty. According to the State Department’s 2013 report to Congress on compliance with the CWC, “the United States assesses that Russia’s CWC declaration is incomplete with respect to chemical agent and stockpiles.”    

     Syria’s closest ally, Iran, joined this treaty in 1997. But the same State Department report notes that, “due to a combination of irregularities in the Iranian declaration and insufficient clarification from Iran,” the U.S. cannot certify that . . .   [more]

Hour Two

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: VIDEO: Iranian president brags about deceiving the West   Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has gone on a charm offensive lately with multiple interviews with American media promising collaboration, but a recent video shows he takes pride in deceiving the West.

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Ian Katz, Bloomberg, in re: Women Waiting Tables Provide Most of Female Gains in U.S.  Almost 6 p.m. on a Friday and the tables near the bar at The Hamilton in downtown Washington are getting crowded. That means waitress Victoria Honard is busy. Honard, 22, who graduated from Syracuse University in May, works about 25 hours a week at the restaurant while looking for a job related to public policy. She moved to Washington four days after graduation with the hope of finding a position at a think tank or policy-related organization, she said, and has applied to about 20 prospective employers. Enlarge image  A waitress serves customers at the Bouchon Bakery at The Shops at Columbus Circle mall in New York.    “The response has been minimal,” said Honard, whose degree focused on education, health and human services. “There are two ways of looking at it. I could be extremely frustrated and be bitter, or I can make the most of it, and I’m trying to take the latter approach.” Unemployment data appear to reflect . . .   [more]

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Carl Graham, Sutherland Institute, and Tim Considine, University of Wyoming, in re: Economic Value of Energy Resources on Federal Lands.  (1 of 2)  A report released by the Sutherland Institute Center for Self-Government in the West finds that, based on high-, medium-, and low-usage scenarios, the state’s economy could add between about $1.2 billion and $6.7 billion and 9,400 to 58,000 jobs annually by developing oil, gas and renewable energy on federal lands within the state. Developing these resources could also contribute as much as $1.2 billion in annual taxes.

     The report is based on a newly released study by University of Wyoming Professor Timothy Considine that models the economic values of energy resources on federal lands in seven Western states.  Based on past trends, current plans, and energy holdings on lands slated for development, the report estimates the full economic impact of developing oil, gas and renewable energy on federal lands within the state. It also compares the benefits of developing different energy resources, and finds a significant difference in . . .  [more]

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 2, Block D: :  Carl Graham, Sutherland Institute, and Tim Considine, University of Wyoming, in re: Economic Value of Energy Resources on Federal Lands.  (2 of 2)

Hour Three

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Jim McTague, Barron's Washington, in re: Mr. Bernanke Blinks   The Fed chief shrinks from bond tapering even in his final days.  The surge in September's US Philly Fed manufacturing index to a two-and-a-half-year high of +22.3, from +9.3, (consensus: +10.0, CE: +15.0) suggests that the recent improvement in the global economy is benefitting individual regions in the US. This particular District had been unusually weak over the past few years. The details of the report show that the improvement was spread across several sub-indices: The new orders index rose to a two-and-a-half year high of +21.2, from +5.3, and the employment index increased to a 17-month high of +10.3, from +3.5. As a result, the weighted average of these tangible indices, along with a few others, bounced back, to +9.9, from -2.5. The Philly Fed survey echoes the message from the Empire State survey (released earlier in the week) that US manufacturing activity is picking up in response to better overseas activity and probably a pick-up in domestic activity too. 

 1. Food stamp rise belies economic recovery.    “At the bustling weekly Sunday farmers' market here, $7 buys a gallon of freshly pressed apple cider, $10 a wedge of award-winning goat cheese. Eight kinds of melons spill over one farmer's table, while another overflows with organic kale, collard greens and purple heirloom tomatoes. If there was ever a sign of post-recession abundance and prosperity in the USA, this would be it.  Yet in the span of a few hours Sunday morning, dozens of shoppers queued up at an unmarked awning near the market's entrance, each handing over a bright orange debit card that allows them to buy fresh fruits and vegetables with federal food stamp benefits. City workers swiped the bright orange "Independence Cards" 53 times. 

2.  Was life really worse in the 1970s?  “Strictly speaking, it has not been a single recession, but the periods of relief we have seen were undergirded not by real growth, but by bubbles—the tech bubble, which burst in 2001-02, and the housing bubble, which burst in 2007-08. Inflation was kept under control in the aughts, but unemployment has been more intractable. The term 'jobless recovery' has become a black joke because for four straight years, whenever the unemployment rate dipped, the good news has been caused not by the creation of jobs, but rather by people dropping out of the workforce.  . . . "

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Justine Elliott, ProPublica, in re:  In the aftermath of the ProPublica, New York Times and Guardian report about the NSA's covert influence on computer security standards, comes news that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced it is revisiting some of its encryption standards.  However, ProPublica reporters Justin Elliott and Jeff Larson found an interesting NIST footnote that goes even further: "it is 'strongly' recommending against even using one of the standards."  In fact, the pair add, " Researchers say the evidence of NSA's influence raises questions about whether any of the standards developed by NIST can be trusted."

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block C: John Lippert, Bloomberg Markets Magazine, in re:  CHICAGO VIOLENCE.  Heroin Pushed on Chicago by Cartel Fueling Gang Murders  (1 of 2) – A steady flow of dangerous substances is sparking pitched and often deadly turf wars between Chicago’s splintered, largely African-American and Latino gangs. Bloomberg Markets’ special investigation traces the roots of Chicago’s gang-related violence to drugs supplied by Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman.   [more]

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 3, Block D: John Lippert, Bloomberg Markets Magazine, in re:  CHICAGO VIOLENCE.  Heroin Pushed on Chicago by Cartel Fueling Gang Murders  (2 of 2) – A steady flow of dangerous substances is sparking pitched and often deadly turf wars between Chicago’s splintered, largely African-American and Latino gangs. Bloomberg Markets’ special investigation traces the roots of Chicago’s gang-related violence to drugs supplied by Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman.   [more]

Hour Four

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Jake Bernstein, ProPublica, in re:   The demand for drug and alcohol treatment far exceeds available resources -- often causing regulators to give clinics a break, since some treatment is better than none at all. There are no regulations dictating who can or cannot run a sober home in New York -- pointing out that Baumblit was previously sentenced to six months in jail and five years' probation after being convicted for fraud and money laundering.


Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Drake Bennett, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re:  David Graeber, Occupy's Anarchist Founder Still has Issues -  “I’m personally convinced that if it were not for us, we might well have President Romney.”   [more]

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Richard Resat Keles, CUNY, in re: Henry Crumb long ago left  a bequest of $16 million for the Columbia University School of Mining, which now doesn't really exist. Where's the money? Former dean of the mining school fired his best mining professor in a fit of internal politics.  The required degrees are not being offered. Looks like maybe $100 million just gone missing within Columbia. "Should Columbia no longer offer a mining degree nor do any research," then all the money had to go to Lenox Hill Hospital and Sloan-Kettering.  Lenox Hill has got not a nickel.  A Columbia grad, expert in  metallurgy, has been trying to find out what's happened; the university has no syllable of explanation.  The miraculously nontransparent university.

Magnate’s missing millions: Columbia University mining program runs dry  Mining magnate Henry Krumb left millions to Columbia University in the 1950s, but you’d have to dig deep to find the cash or his legacy today.  Krumb’s gift to Columbia totaled $16 million. The university got the first part when he died childless in 1958 and the rest when his wife died four years later, making it the largest gift in the university’s history at the time.  Krumb’s wishes were to “make the School of Mines one of the best known and largest schools of its kind in the world,” according to a copy of his will obtained by The Post.    [more]   . . . Krumb’s gift was contingent upon Columbia continuing to offer two degrees — engineer of mines and metallurgical engineer. But in 1998, Columbia essentially did away with its traditional mining courses and replaced them with a program in “earth and environmental engineering.”   [more


Photo, left: Columbia University (1930s?).  " . . . During the last half of the nineteenth century, Columbia rapidly assumed the shape of a modern university. The Columbia School of Law was founded in 1858, and the country's first mining school, a precursor of today's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, was established in 1864. The first Columbia Ph.D. was awarded by the Faculty of Political Science in 1883."  Oops.   See: Hour 4, Block C,  Richard Resat Keles, CUNY, in re: Magnate’s missing millions: Columbia University mining program runs dry

Friday  20 September  2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Carl Zimmer, NYT, in re: DNA Double Take  . . . But scientists are discovering that — to a surprising degree — we contain genetic multitudes. Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.

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Hour 1: Frost/Nixon. Green Zone

Hour 2: Green Zone. Frost/Nixon. Appaloosa

Hour 3: Michael Clayton.

Hour 4: Dark Knight Rises. After Earth.