The John Batchelor Show

Friday 21 June 2013

Air Date: 
June 21, 2013

Photo, above:  Medieval Irish illumination; see: Hour 3, Block C, Sid Perkins, Science magazine, on Science, snails, and climate. Of Monks, Volcanoes, and Very Cold Weather


Hour One

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 1, Block A:  Gordon Chang,, in re: U.S. charges Edward Snowden with espionage in leaks about NSA surveillance programs  Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.  . . .  [more]

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Heather Perlberg, Bloomberg, in re: Deutsche Bank Leading Wall Street Rental Loans: Mortgages

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Justin Elliott, ProPublica, in re: Arguments that the NSA's collection of phone call records would have helped thwart the 9/11 hijackers ignore the fact that "U.S. intelligence agencies knew the identity of the hijacker in question, Saudi national Khalid al Mihdhar, long before 9/11 and were fully equipped to find him, but they failed to do so."  ProPublica's Justin Elliott breaks down the selective arguments of the Obama administration and Dick Cheney to show that Mihdhar was on the intelligence community's radar as early as 1999.

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Robert M Cutler, Carleton University, in re: The strategic importance of Central Asia and its vast energy resources draw a lot of external interest to it. Russia traditionally has been the strongest outside player in the region, but now China’s active involvement in the energy sector of Central Asia is quickly increasing its influence and challenging Russia’s position in the region. The issues of China-Russia competition and cooperation in the context of energy security in Central Asia:

     Q: China’s influence is growing rapidly in Central Asia. Thus, the Central Asia-China gas pipeline was open in 2009. China built strong ties with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Why is it that cooperation with China appeals to these countries of Central Asia?   A: It's slightly different in the two cases that you mention. Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov signed the agreement for a Turkmenistan-China pipeline in April 2006. Construction began slowly the next year, but Turkmenistan turned more definitely towards China following a 2009 pipeline explosion for which Moscow and Ashgabat blamed one another. After Gazprom insisted on a new pricing structure, no gas went from Turkmenistan to Russia for many months. The new president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, accelerated the search for other export partners. About this time, . . .  [more]

Hour Two

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Daniel Henninger, WSJ Wonderland, in re: America's Berlin Wall   A fence built along the border with Mexico will stand as a permanent embarrassment to the United States. A few years ago, a friend who lives in Arizona near the Mexican border took a group on a drive though the countryside near his ranch. After about 40 minutes of bumping through the hills, he braked the Jeep and told everyone to get out. "There it is," he said.

"There's what?" I asked.

"Mexico. You're looking at Mexico."

Mexico was a hill on the other side of a small wooden fence, which stretched to the left and the right to the horizon. We were in a vast, empty place.

       Through two presidential elections and up to this moment, it has been an article of faith among much of the Republican base that the U.S.'s border with Mexico must be made impossible to cross illegally—sealed and secured.   Inside this issue sits one fact that will never change: The measured distance of the border between the U.S. and Mexico—from Tijuana in the west to Brownsville, Texas, in the east—is 1,969 miles.  It's longer than it looks on a map because the border's path is so erratic. If you were to lift the Texas end of that border, like a string, and move it northward toward the Great Lakes, the length of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, as noted on the nearby map, is about the distance from San Diego to Chicago. That "border" would cross . . [more]

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Ruel Marc Gerecht, FDD, in re: Rowhani Is a Tool of Iran’s Rulers

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Robert Zumbrun, Mars Society, in re: The Mars Society is planning a 1-year simulated Mars mission in the high Arctic. The Mars Society announced today that it is initiating an effort to conduct a one-year simulated human Mars exploration mission in the Canadian high Arctic at its Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS). Situated at 75 degrees north, roughly 900 miles from the North Pole, FMARS is located adjacent to a 20 kilometer meteor impact crater in the midst of a polar desert that is known to represent one of the most Mars-like environments on Earth. By conducting a Mars surface mission simulation at FMARS of the same duration as is needed for an actual expedition to the Red Planet, the Mars Society will take a major step forward towards learning how humans can most effectively explore the new interplanetary frontier.   The Mars Society plan, called Mars Arctic 365 (MA365), is divided into two phases. Scheduled to commence this July, the first phase will accomplish the refit of FMARS and enhance the facility’s equipment, enabling it to support an effective one-year mission, which will require wintering at the station through six months of deep sub-zero temperatures. Phase 2 will be the one-year simulated Mars mission itself.   [more]

Year-long mock mission to test stress of living on Mars.

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Jim Rutenberg, NYT, in re: Cover story: Jim Rutenberg on how the team behind Obama's precision targeting of "persuadable" voters could revolutionize the ad industry. It was no secret that, as Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager put it, 2012 was going to be "the most data-driven campaign ever." But the campaign shared few details about what that really meant — the extent to which the campaign used the newest technology to look into people's lives and the sheer amount of personal data their servers were crunching. In fact, it turns out, they were purposely keeping those details secret, out of sight and earshot of the press and public. Rutenberg's story lays out exactly what was going on. The campaign had  set up "the cave," a large room at their campaign headquarters in Chicago where 40 young, tech wizards worked up to 16 hours a day for 16 months. Those data analysts and software engineers were creating newer, smarter systems to identify every voter that Obama needed to win over in the swing states — and exactly how persuadable each was. They then figured out new ways to reach them. They connected with them by "crawling the walls" of their friends on Facebook and then recruiting those Facebook friends to bring them into the Obama fold. They also came up with a new, sophisticated system — which they called the optimizer — to figure out exactly what TV shows they were watching, and buying ads at times when they were the least expensive — and when they wouldn't be competing with Mitt Romney.  A number of the principal players who created this system are now going into business together — a mix of old political strategists and young "quants." They are currently out selling their wares to corporate clients, and Caesar's casinos is signing on. The Obama team will be trying to build a new optimizer to help Caesar's reach targeted customers — semi-regular visitors whom the casino would like to show up more routinely at its smaller casinos around the country and regulars whom they don't want have defect to new competitors. The behind-the-scenes story of what went on during the 2012 campaign and how a group of Obama strategists are cashing in.

Hour Three

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Advancing a Free Society, Chicago Law, in re: Immigration Reform: Toward Free Trade in Labor  (1 of 2)

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Advancing a Free Society, Chicago Law, in re: Immigration Reform: Toward Free Trade in Labor  (2 of 2)

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Sid Perkins, Science magazine, in re: Science, snails, and climate. Of Monks, Volcanoes, and Very Cold Weather  Medieval writings help researchers . . .   Frostbit Eire. Major snowfalls in Ireland (such as the one seen from space in December 2010) are rare, but a new study suggests that most of the cold spells that occurred there during medieval times were triggered by volcanic eruptions elsewhere in the world.  Today's state-of-the-art computer simulations are getting a bit of assistance from medieval monks. Chronicles written by religious men in Ireland hundreds of years ago have helped scientists draw a link between frigid periods of the country's history and volcanic eruptions.  While typical indicators of climate like tree rings are sometimes vague, "these historical records are the ultimate form of climate proxy," says Michael McCormick, a historian at Harvard University who wasn't involved in the new study. "They tell us what happened and where."  Scientists have long known that volcanoes, especially those that spew prodigious quantities of light-scattering droplets of sulfur dioxide high into the atmosphere, can temporarily chill the climate. Those tiny aerosols reflect sunlight back into space, decreasing temperatures at ground level as much as 1°C or more for brief periods and  . . .  [more]

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Henry I Miller, M.D., Hoover Defining Ideas &, in re: The Right Way to Fight Obesity

Hour Four

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Ruth Wedgwood, Hoover: Advancing a Free Society; in re: The Briefing: President Obama’s Wartime Address

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Christopher Harmer, Institute for the Study of War, in re: The Islamic Republic of Iran is strengthening its influence across the Mediterranean and Pacific. ISW's latest report, Iranian Naval and Maritime Strategy, authored by Senior Naval Analyst Christopher Harmer, evaluates Iran's twin maritime military forces, namely, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN), and its commercial shipping fleet, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.   Their recent operations illustrate they are forces worthy of careful study. [Harmer’s report also analyzes Iran's primary maritime objectives, in the near and far abroad. Harmer also discusses Iran's interactions and partnerships with other significant actors. Chinese oil, Russian ships bound for Syria, and Sudanese arms all play important roles in Iran's naval and maritime strategy.]

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Michael Balter, SCIENCENOW, in re: Earliest Bird Claim Ruffles Feathers  Scientists quarrel over a fossil that could solve a central mystery of bird evolution

Friday  21 June  2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Dr. David H Grinspoon, Astrobiology chair, Library of Congress; astrobiology curator, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, in re: Venus' Winds Are Mysteriously Speeding Up. High-altitude winds on neighboring Venus have long been known to be quite speedy, whipping sulfuric-acid-laden clouds around the superheated planet at speeds well over 300 km/h (180 mph). And after over six years collecting data from orbit, ESA’s Venus Express has found that the winds there are steadily getting faster… and scientists really don’t know why.  By tracking the movements of distinct features in Venus’ cloud tops at an altitude of 70 km (43 miles) over a period of six years — which is 10 of Venus’ years — scientists have been able to monitor patterns in long-term global wind speeds. What two separate studies have found is a rising trend in high-altitude wind speeds in a broad swath south of Venus’ equator, from around 300 km/h when Venus Express first entered orbit in 2006 to 400 km/h (250 mph) in 2012.  [more]

        Average cloud-top wind speeds on Venus rose 33 percent between 2006 and 2012, jumping from 186 mph (300 km/h) to 249 mph (400 km/h). More on Venus's winds. A View of Mercury from Afar.

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