The John Batchelor Show

Friday 22 February 2013

Air Date: 
February 22, 2013

Photo, above:  No escape - women and children work at a gulag in 1932. Prison nurseries did exist, but malnutrition, restrictive breast-feeding schedules and astonishing cruelty often resulted in the child's suffering an early death

Chilling testimony from the Gulags' forgotten victims. The word Gulag is a actually an acronym, derived from the Russian for Main Camp  Administration. Over the years, however, it has come to signify the whole Soviet slave labour camp system, a regime that reached its deadly peak under Josef Stalin’s despotic rule and saw millions of men and women transported to camps in Siberia and other outposts of the Red empire.

There, they had to endure sub-Arctic temperatures, undertake heavy labour at gunpoint and try to avoid starving to death. Between 1929 and 1953, the year of Stalin’s death, 18 million people passed through this Gulag system — many of them never to return.  See: Hour 3, Blocks C & D:  Paul Gregory, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), and Marian Yarovskaya: The Women of the Gulag

STALIN'S  CULTURE  Elena Glinka,a 29-year-old engineering student, was arrested on false charges of treason, and spent six years in the Gulag. She was sent to one of the camps on the dreaded Kolyma Peninsula, where winter temperatures hover between -19C to -38C. Having disembarked at a small fishing village, she witnessed one of the mass rapes, nicknamed the ‘Kolyma tram’ because of the brutal manner in which they were carried out. As the youngest of the prisoners, Elena was ‘chosen’ for the exclusive use of the local miners’ Party boss — and thus spared the worst of an ordeal that still left her so traumatised she could write about it only in the third person.  . . . Then bottles began to clink and the men, as if on command, retreated to one side to drink vodka with the guards. There were songs and toasts, but there was also a clear purpose to this debauch as, one by one, the women’s guards passed out, dead-drunk.  Whooping and hollering, the men rushed the women and began to haul them into the building, twisting their arms, dragging them through the grass, brutally beating any who resisted. They knew their business; it was co-ordinated and confident. Benches were removed, planks nailed over the windows, kegs of water hauled in.  That done, whatever rags or blankets they had at hand — padded vests, bedrolls, mats — were spread out and the women thrown to the floor. A line of about 12 men formed by each woman and the Kolyma tram began. When it was over, the dead women were dragged away by their feet; the survivors were doused with water from the buckets and revived. Then the lines formed up again.


Hour One

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Jim McTague, Barron’s, in re: Sequester White House Open to Two-Month Sequester Deal  President Barack Obama supports $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue for a sequester replacement bill, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday.

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Kim Barker, ProPublica, in re: American Action Network and 13 Illinois Mad Scientist.  "The statute governing social welfare nonprofits says they should be operated 'exclusively' for promoting social welfare," Barker writes. "But the IRS paved the way for political spending by these groups by interpreting 'exclusively' as meaning the groups had to only be 'primarily' engaged in promoting the public good. Some groups have taken this to mean they can spend up to 49 percent of their money on election ads."

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Steve Malanga, Manhattan Institute, in re: CALPERS and Risk:   The Pension Fund that Ate California   CalPERS’s corruption, insider dealing, and politicized investments have overwhelmed taxpayers with debt

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Jeff Bliss, Bliss Index , in re: The California tax that terrifies tech - Retroactive tax bills and the elimination of a state tax-break for California's entrepreneurs and early-stage investors could force them to move to ... Texas.   Entrepreneurs and investors in California can expect to receive a rude shock in the mail if they sold their company in the last four years. Not only did the state's Franchise Tax Board (FTB) eliminate a tax break on capital gains for small business owners and investors, it announced the tax would be reinstated retroactively. This means those who benefitted from the break can expect a bill for unpaid taxes, plus interest, stretching all the way back to 2008.

      Since 1993, California entrepreneurs and early-stage investors have enjoyed a partial state income tax exclusion on sales of stock of a "qualified" small business. This was an incentive for people to start and keep businesses in California. If they sold their company, they would only have to pay half of the regular state tax rate on what they gained -- about 4.5% instead of 9%. That could include founders of companies such as Instagram and Yelp (YELP).  The FTB announced its decision last December, and the ruling went into effect earlier this year. Now, not only will stockholders have to pay the full tax rate on capital gains, which has risen to about 13%, but they'll also be billed retroactively for 50% of the taxes they excluded. The FTB says this will affect over 2,500 people and bring in about $120 million in revenue.

   Not surprisingly, the changes have led to concern among entrepreneurs.  "A lot of people who are going to be very affected don't even know about it," says Brian Overstreet, entrepreneur and co-founder of AdverseEvents, a pharmaceutical data firm. "This is going to affect our decision to keep jobs and businesses in California." Overstreet had previously co-founded Sagient Research Systems, a company he sold last year. As a result of the transaction he says he will personally have to pay an additional six-figure amount in taxes and interest.

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When the time came for him to set up his third company, Xeris Pharmaceuticals, in 2010, the serial entrepreneur John Kinzell decided he had had enough of California, despite having lived there for almost 25 years. He launched the company in Austin instead and says a lot of people followed him. "It's hard to swing a cat around without hitting someone from California who's moved here or is at least looking," says Kinzell. "We have more companies here than talent, so they're having to pull a lot from California."   He says it's unlikely he or fellow entrepreneurs will ever move back. "It's just become a very unfriendly state to run a company," says Kinzell. "Once that sort of bleed starts, it gets hard to reverse it."

Hour Two

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Elizabeth Dwoskin, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: HEY LOOK; SOMEHOW THE BORDER GOT SECURED  Republicans say they'll back immigration reform if Obama thwarts illegal crossings.  But he already has.  The line between Mexico and the U.S. is now more secure than it's been in decades due in part to the unprecedented amount of money and resources Obama has poured into border security.

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . John Schwartz, NYT,  in re: roads need a tax hike.  Governments Look for New Ways to Pay for Roads and Bridges  As revenues from gasoline taxes fail to keep pace with the costs of transportation infrastructure, governments look for new solutions.

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Richard Epstein, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), in re: In Praise of Income Inequality by Richard A. Epstein ; 1 of 2

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Richard Epstein, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), in re: In Praise of Income Inequality ; 2 of 2

Hour Three

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune, in re:

Clean Energy Faces Hurdles in Legislature  During his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama doubled down on his vision for renewable energy, but in Texas, the Legislature is less enthusiastic.

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Eric Trager, Washington Institute and

The Atlantic , in re:  The Muslim Brotherhood political leader AbdelMawgoud Al-Dardery's recent visit to Washington, during which he argued that the Egyptian revolution wasn't just about toppling a dictator, but part of a 213-year struggle against western political cultural influence . . .

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  Paul Gregory, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), and  Marian Yarovskaya, in re: The Women of the Gulag ; 1 of 2

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Paul Gregory, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), and  Marian Yarovskaya, in re: The Women of the Gulag ; 2 of 2

Hour Four

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  John Avlon, Daily Beast, CNN, in re:

Jonny Quester and Obamaquester; also, Tea Party says Karl Rove is an SS officer?

IT'S JOHN BOEHNER'S SEQUESTER  Tea party's anti-Rove 'Nazi ad'   You'd click on the link, and there you'd find the Tea Party Patriots' mailer, calling for liberty and asking for money, decrying "big-government Republicans" and "leftist Obama Democrats" alike.  But the real target of this particular pitch was none other than Karl Rove himself, the "architect" of George W. Bush's two White House wins, accused in the ad of trying to "crush the Tea Party movement." And he was depicted as a Nazi.

. . .

Nonetheless, Broun has thrown his hat in the ring, and polls show King a favorite among rank-and-file conservatives in Iowa. Hence Rove's group, getting ready to do some reverse RINO-hunting of its own with a spinoff of the Crossroads super PAC. It's called "The Conservative Victory Project."  I appreciate how tea party groups might howl when the outside money is directed against them, but a taste of your own medicine is sometimes morally clarifying.

In a larger sense, this family feud is fascinating for several reasons. It represents a realization by Rove -- the father of the "red state vs. blue state," "play to the base" strategy -- that there is such a thing as too extreme. Some of the forces that the Republican establishment encouraged when its self-righteous hatred was directed against Obama have found that venom can be directed at them. In this same vein, House Speaker John Boehner has found that 50 or so tea party radicals are his biggest problem in governing; they're quick to undercut him and eager to gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States. Golem always turns on its creator.

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Matt Powers, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: Survivalist Expo, how to make money with sandless sandbags?   APOCALYPSE 24/7 by Matthew Power.  
In the wake of Fukushima, Sandy and Nemo -- not to mention North Korean nuclear tests -- disaster is a growth business.  Response entrepreneurs are jockeying to sell disaster equipment -- triage tents, decontamination showers, heat-sealable body bags, sandless sandbags, portable seawater desalination units and more -- to state and federal government agencies.

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Henry Miller, Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution), in re: medicience of the future, biomarkets. The High-Tech Future of Medicine

Friday  22 February  2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Brendan Greeley, Businessweek, in re:

NICE TRY, CONGRESSMAN, BUT THE INTERNET IS STILL THERE Wary of finding themselves on the wrong side of the next SOPA, Congressional Luddites are finally beginning to take the Web seriously and are scrambling to become tech-literate.

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