The John Batchelor Show

Friday 4 October 2013

Air Date: 
October 04, 2013

Photo, above: Mars supervolcanoes.


Hour One

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Gordon Chang,, in re: Late on Thursday, Mr. Obama canceled his planned trip to Asia because of the government shutdown, the White House said. The president had been scheduled to visit Indonesia and Brunei to participate in two regional summits. Earlier in the week he called off stops in Malaysia and the Philippines.

China launches charm offensive as Obama cancels Asia trip  China is moving ahead to blunt U.S. influence in Asia, and many say . . .  China, Malaysia, boost ties after . . .

President Obama's decision to shorten, then ultimately cancel, a trip to . . . the meeting in Bali of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, . . .     The Defense Secretary spoke about the shutdown earlier today outside Tokyo, where he toured the USS Stethem, a destroyer chopped to the 7th Fleet and in port at the Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. To a question from a sailor on the Stethem - would the shutdown have any effect on 7th Fleet operations - he was blunt: "No," he said, to laughter. "My team likes it when I give one-word answers," he joked. "I get myself in less trouble."

Hagel's trip to Asia, his third as Secretary, was designed in part to assure allies that the "Asia pivot" is for real. Yesterday's announcement of real hardware going to Japan, from Global Hawk drones to new X-band radar and MV-22 Ospreys among other announcements, seemed to show in a real way that the U.S. was investing in the pivot. But Hagel had to field questions throughout the trip on the shutdown at home. Even as he doubled down on Asia, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, who is also traveling in the region, the president had to cancelled his trip to Asia all together, said to be due to the shutdown.  China elevates Malaysia ties, aims to triple trade by 2017

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal, in re: Last week authorities at Charles de Gaulle Airport announced that they had seized 1.3 metric tons of cocaine on an Air France flight from Caracas. Nice work, Clouseau.  But the mega drug bust is more a sign that Latin American cocaine producers are increasingly audacious than it is evidence that victory in the war on drugs is at hand. That's sad, because the war has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and imposed unspeakable misery on dozens of poor countries. Barring a change in policy, the casualties are bound to keep climbing.  [more]

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block C:  Jack Healy, NYT, in re: After the Floods in Colorado, a Deluge of Worry About Leaking Oil  As waters recede from Colorado’s drilling epicenter, the sight of drowning oil wells has inflamed the debate over the environment.

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Joshua Green, BusinessWeek, in re: Republicans Are No Longer the Party of Business  T.J. Gentle, chief executive officer of Smart Furniture, an online custom furniture maker in Chattanooga, employs 250 people, has seen sales grow 25 percent this year, and was planning another round of hiring—until Republican hardliners forced the federal government to close on Oct. 1. Gentle is the embodiment of moderate, business-minded pragmatism: He voted for President Obama and Tennessee’s Republican Senator Bob Corker, splits his donations between the parties, and prefers divided government as a check on partisan excess. Like . . .  [more]

Hour Two

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Jim McTague, Barron's Washington, in re: With Federal Wallet Closed, States Consider Opening Theirs  Governors across the United States are contemplating whether to step in with state funds to keep closed parks and programs operating until the deadlock in Washington is broken.

With No New Plan, Boehner Makes Plea on Shutdown  Four days into the crisis, Congress appeared no closer to a resolution, and Speaker John A. Boehner urged President Obama to negotiate over his health care law. House Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting on Friday with no new strategy to end the budget standoff and an angry plea to President Obama to negotiate over his health care law.

“This isn’t some damned game,” said Speaker John A. Boehner, his voice rising in anger. “The American people don’t want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we’re asking for is to sit down and have a discussion, reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare.”  Four days into a crisis that has shuttered much of the federal government — and 13 days before the nation faces an even more serious deadline to raise the statutory borrowing limit or risk defaulting on its debts — Congress appeared no closer to a resolution. Mr. Boehner opened the meeting of his fractious conference by reading letters from students at a Catholic school in Washington about how they handle stressful situations.  “We are locked in an epic battle,” he said.  The House on Friday will continue to plough through . . . [more]

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Nicholas Kulish, NYT, in re: South Sudan’s Army Faces Accusations of Civilian Abuse  As the international community pours billions of dollars into South Sudan in an effort to make it a viable nation, Western observers are now worried that the armed forces in a country they helped create have been preying on civilians. Attacks on civilians have taken place in Jonglei State. Witnesses have described soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army indiscriminately firing on busy market squares, fatally beating noncombatants and raping women. It is not as if this young nation is lacking in challenges. Since it achieved independence two summers ago, South Sudan has been bedeviled by poverty, high infant mortality, a crippling lack of infrastructure, internal rebellion and frequent disputes over oil and the border with Sudan. In July, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, abruptly fired the entire cabinet and the vice president, raising political uncertainty even further.  But another longstanding problem — large-scale violence against civilians — has been particularly damaging, claiming thousands of . . . [more]

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Ken Croswell,  Scientific American, & author, Magnificent Mars, and The Lives of the Stars, in re: Although billions of kilometers from the Sun, frigid Pluto has an Earthly air: an atmosphere made mostly of nitrogen, the same gas that constitutes 78 percent of the air we breathe. But Pluto pursues such an elliptical orbit around the Sun that all of that gas might freeze onto its surface when farthest and coldest. On May 4, however, Pluto passed in front of a star in the constellation Sagittarius, allowing observers to watch the atmosphere block some of the star's light and deduce that the air is so substantial it never disappears.  [more]

Supervolcanoes Spotted on Mars  Gigantic volcanic eruptions, far greater than the worst on Earth in human history, wracked Mars during its first billion years, say planetary scientists. These "supervolcanoes" spewed enormous quantities of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, affecting the climate at a time when life may have been struggling to arise.  [more]   (And the link between Mars and Pluto is Percival Lowell!)

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Kara Brandeisky, ProPublica, in re: Northwestern University's Medill journalism school serves as a pipeline for unpaid internships. #ProjectIntern Hits the Road to Capture College Intern Stories  . . . I’m Casey McDermott, and this week I am setting off on that cross-country trip to collect interns’ stories. (Meta, I know.) Our goal here is pretty simple: We want to make the conversation about internships (more) personal.  The national dialogue about internships often focuses on the big picture: important discussions of ethics and lawsuits. What’s missing, though, is a sense of the intern experience from the people who actually take on these positions. By some estimates, that’s anywhere from half a million to one million interns every year. What do interns really do? When are they being paid for their work? What’s the financial or educational payoff? What kinds of sacrifices do interns make, if any, to take on these positions? Over the next three months, I’ll travel to college campuses around the country to . . . 

Northwestern’s Journalism Program Offers Students Internships with Prestige, But No Paycheck  Northwestern University’s journalism school boasts of its prowess in preparing students for prestigious careers — but it also serves as a pipeline for unpaid internships. At Medill, students pay $15,040 in quarterly tuition for the privilege of working full-time jobs as unpaid interns. During their mandatory quarter in Journalism Residency, as it is known, students work full time at news organizations such as CNN Documentaries, Self, and WGN Chicago. But instead of paying interns, employers pay Medill $1,250 for every student placed. In turn, students receive academic credit and a small stipend from the university for relocation expenses, ranging from $600 to $1,200. The most generous stipend amounts to just $2.72 an hour — far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.  It’s an arrangement that even Medill is second-guessing. According to a July 30 email obtained by ProPublica, Medill has begun asking news organizations whether they would consider paying students minimum wage.  “As always, Medill and the University are careful to make sure that the program is an academic experience that meets U.S. Department of Labor regulations under . . .  [more]

Hour Three

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio.  With No New Plan, Boehner Makes Plea on Shutdown  Four days into the crisis, Congress appeared no closer to a resolution, and Speaker John A. Boehner urged President Obama to negotiate over his health care law.

Cancellation of Trip by Obama Plays to Doubts of Asia Allies President Obama’s canceled tour through Asia has undercut the United States’ much-promoted “pivot” to the region and given China a new edge in the tug-of-war for influence.

Driver in Capitol Car Chase Said to Suffer from Mental Illness  Investigators found antipsychotic medications in the home of Miriam Carey, who was killed after trying to drive into the White House complex, law enforcement officials said on . . .

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Henry I Miller, M.D., Hoover &, in re: “My name is Chris Galvin,” the faceless voice said, blaring out over the microphones in a conference room in the basement of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Bethesda, Md., on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m an analyst with the Office of Evaluation and Inspections for the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. If you are listening to this, I apologize that I am unable to be there in person.” [more]

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Scott Soshink, Bloomberg, in re: NFL Free-Agent Lawyer Set to Unlock $16 Billion in NCAA Athletes  Jeff Kessler, an attorney who helped bring free agency to the NFL will now focus on college athletes who generate more than $16 billion in college sports TV contracts. At his New York-based Winston & Strawn LLP law firm, he will lea the charge in starting the first college-focused division at a major law firm to represent players, coaches, schools and conferences against what Kessler calls "the unbridled power and influence" of the NCAA.    [more]

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Liz Peek, The Fiscal Times, in re: While President Obama continues to tilt for windmills, rising oil and gas production has showered his administration with unexpected benefits. Those producers inadvertently include his arch enemies—the Koch Brothers. How deliciously ironic it is that the oil industry – consistently scorned by this president – has been one of the most potent economic drivers of this recovery, the biggest contributor to an improving balance of payments picture and has provided Obama significant leverage in digging out of his difficulties in the Middle East.  President Obama and fellow members of the flat earth society, who many years ago wrote off the future of conventional energy resources, must be stunned. The president has noted more than once that “we are running out of places to drill” and that “we have only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.” What a surprise, then, that the U.S. is on track to become the world’s largest oil and gas producer, likely overtaking Russia this year.  As noted recently in the Wall Street Journal, because advancements in horizontal drilling and fracking made huge new reserves economic, domestic production of natural gas last year was an all-time high--up 13 percent over the 2010 level, and 27 percent higher than output in 2002. In July, gas production was 56 percent higher than the recent monthly low recorded in September 2005. Similarly, oil output, which had declined steadily since 1970, turned up in 2010, and has increased 27 percent over the past five years, laying to rest the once-popular notion that we are running out of the stuff. That, my friends, is progress.  . . . 

Hour Four

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Kirk Johnson, NYT, in re:  Fight Over Energy Finds a New Front in a Corner of Idaho The Nez Perce Indians were drawn into the national brawl over the future of energy last month when they tried to stop a load of oil-processing equipment from moving through their lands.   Slide Show: An Indian Tribe’s Battle

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Tom Henrickson, Hoover Defining Ideas, in re: Vietnamese Military Mastermind Dies  Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap rang a death knell for Western colonialism in Asia and masterminded the defeat of French forces in the 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu.     The Perilous Future of Afghanistan by Thomas H. Henriksen

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Michael Balter, Science Magazine, in re:  Neandertals Were No Copycats   ometimes it seems Neandertals just can’t catch a break. Every time an archaeologist comes up with new evidence for something cool and clever they did, another researcher claims they learned it from their modern human cousins. But new discoveries of polished bone tools at two prehistoric sites in France suggest that Neandertals independently invented these finely made implements, without a helping hand from Homo sapiens. The finds may represent the best sign yet that Neandertals were no boneheads when it came to technological innovation.  Neandertals lived in Europe and Asia between about 135,000 and 35,000 years ago, after which they went extinct. For a long while they had the territory to themselves; but then, sometime between about 45,000 and 40,000 years ago, modern humans moved into Europe from Africa. At roughly the same time, Neandertal behavior seemed to change and become more “modern”: Their stone tools became more sophisticated, they began to wear jewelry, and they started using bone tools. For many archaeologists, the timing strongly suggested that Neandertals had copied modern human behavior. But other researchers insisted that Neandertals had developed the behaviors before modern humans came to town. The debate often revolved around esoteric discussions of how to interpret . . .   [more]

European Hunter-Gatherers Dined on Domestic Pigs  Spotted! Remains of domesticated pigs that resembled this Bentheimer breed were found in settlements of ancient hunter-gatherers . . . [more]

Friday  4 October 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Michael Balter, Science Magazine, in re: Striking Patterns: Skill for Forming Tools and Words Evolved Together  When did humans start talking? There are nearly as many answers to this perplexing question as there are researchers studying it. A new brain imaging study claims to support the hypothesis that language emerged long before Homo sapiens and coevolved with the invention of the first finely made stone tools nearly 2 million years ago. However, some experts think it’s premature to draw sweeping conclusions.  Unlike ancient bones and stone tools, language does not fossilize. Researchers have to guess about its origins based on proxy indicators. Does painting cave walls indicate the capacity for language? How about the ability to make a fancy tool? Yet, in recent years, scientists have made some progress. A series of brain imaging studies by Dietrich Stout, an archaeologist at Emory University in Atlanta, and Thierry Chaminade, a cognitive neuroscientist at Aix-Marseille University in France, have shown that toolmaking and language use similar parts of the brain, including regions involved in manual manipulations and speech production. Moreover, the overlap is greater the more sophisticated the toolmaking techniques are. Thus, there was little overlap when  . . .  [more]

Since the Neandertal, copycats have also written about language evolution and stone tools:

..  ..  ..


Hour 1:

Hour 2:

Hour 3:

Hour 4: