The John Batchelor Show

Monday 20 March 2017

Air Date: 
March 20, 2017

Image, left:  Happy Nowruz, Persian New Year, 2017; or Persian/Zoroastrian calendar 2571.  Congratulations to the glorious, ancient Persian culture and to the Persians and Iranians of today. Painting:  A Sixteenth Century painting of Tahmasp I and Humayun celebrating Nowruz. From Chehel Sotoun palace, Isfahan.
Ismaili text: Nowruz is a cross-cultural celebration of the new year, and the first day of the spring in the astrological equinox.  “It was on Navroz that Adam was created, that God made a covenant with the souls, that Abraham destroyed the pagan idols, that the Prophet of Islam received first revelation, that the Prophet took Ali on his shoulders to smash 360 idols in Mecca, and most important of all, that he declared Ali as his legitimate successor.” – Imam Jafar Sadiq quoted in Bihar al-Anwar.
Navroz, Nouruz, Nevruz is a compound word meaning “new day” or “new light.” Nava is Persian for new. Roz means “day.” The original meaning of the word was “light,” when the sun comes up. Roz is derived from the Avestan rowch, and is related to the Sanskrit ruci, Latin lux, Armenian luys and, in English, light. This global celebration of the first day of the vernal equinox is a tradition that started in ancient times and is carried on to date with vibrant rejoicing for the new year and its promise.
Co-host: Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, The Great Voice of the Great Lakes
Hour One
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 1, Block A: Tom Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor & FDD,  and Bill Roggio, Long War Journal senior editor  & FDD, in re:  Afghan soldier wounds 3 US troops in insider attack  The shooting, which took place as US troops were training their Afghan counterparts on a base in Helmand province, is the first recorded insider attack since Oct. 2016.
Leader of al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria promises to ‘escalate’ operations  Abu Jaber (also known as Hashem al Sheikh), the leader of Hay'at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), has released a message commemorating the sixth anniversary of the Syrian revolution. He portrays HTS as a popular revolutionary force and calls on other rebel groups to join it for the sake of "unity." He also promises to "escalate" operations against Bashar al Assad's regime.
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 1, Block B: Tom Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor & FDD,  and Bill Roggio, Long War Journal senior editor  & FDD, in re:
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 1, Block C:  Gordon G. Chang, Daily Beast &, in re: Secretary of State Tillerson gets high marks for speaking clearly and firmly in Japan anent North Korea; in Beijing, he gets merely a D: he mouthed Chinese formulations of Chinese-US ties, “nonconfrontation, nonconflict, mutual respect, cooperation.”  US has thereby capitulated – we won’t challenge China in the South China Sea or for its overtly illegal trade policy. Will come back and bite the US.  TO say one thing in public and something else in private,  which appears to have happened: shows Asians that the US is afraid of China.   Tillerson is not staffed up at State, is making rookie mistakes; will have consequences.  Was given a brief in DC:  See how far he could push China, and also lay the groundwork for the Mar-a-Lago meeting.  Xi Jinping arrived in Florida with the upper hand. 
Tillerson’s China debut is criticized by some as parroting Beijing’s language  The secretary of state, on his first Asia trip, has been trying to build a “results-oriented” relationship with Chinese leaders, even as the president goads them on Twitter. But Rex Tillerson’s call for “mutual respect” could be seen as agreeing that the U.S. would avoid issues such as Taiwan or Tibet, which the Communist Party deems of vital concern.  By Simon Denyer
What to worry about when you worry about North Korea  Shortly afterward, in response to joint military exercises being conducted by the United States and South Korea, the North Korean government . . .    Ready or Not, Here Come Trump and North Korea  ;  The real reason China won't exert economic pressure on North Korea
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 1, Block D: Bruce Bechtol, Angelo State, author of the just-released The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era, in re: Most recent missile test looks like the 80-ton booster rocket engine they’ve been working on with Iranians.  Most powerful to date; will be proliferated to ran. Looks like one stage of a missile; expect to see a larger one, and note DPRK is building a large, new launch station.   Transport: maritime, in parts, or by aircraft, to be assembled in Iran.
   DPRK run ships and airplanes under false flags  Morocco, Mongolia, et cetera.
Hidden under a lot of kimchee, or rice or fish. When will China notice that this all redounds deeply to its disadvantage? . . .  Only way to awaken them is to establish and enforce grave financial sanctions on Chinese activities that support and sustain DPRK. China’s long-term goal is to intimidate South Korea as much as possible.  The incoming ROK administration will press for a lot of aid to the North; and will push the US off the Korean peninsula! Upshot: If DPRK threatens Los Angeles, the US will not defend Seoul.  THAAD is very much a factor, with DRK and China. 
Hour Two
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 2, Block A:   David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Senior Congressional correspondent; John Fund, NRO, in re:  With Gorsuch hearings starting, Democrats face a stark dilemma Neil Gorsuch has earned broad support among Republicans to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, but the left remains angry that the seat has been vacant for 13 months because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a hearing for Barack Obama’s pick.
House health-care bill will change to offer more help to seniors, Ryan says   House Speaker Paul Ryan’s comments came as Sen. Ted Cruz said White House officials are negotiating other revisions in hopes of winning over hard-liners who have threatened to tank the legislation --by Mike DeBonis  (1 of 2)
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 2, Block B: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Senior Congressional correspondent; John Fund, NRO (2 of 2)
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 2, Block C:   John Tamny, Political Economy editor at Forbes, editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research & Trading, senior Fellow in economics at Reason Foundation; author of  Who Needs the Fed? and Popular Economics; in re: 
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 2, Block D: Jed Babbin, American Spectator, in re:
Hour Three
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 3, Block A:   Salena Zito, New York Daily News, CNN & The Washington Examiner; in re:  Ballad of a thin man in Cumberland
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 3, Block B1: Josh Rogin, Washington Post, Global Opinions, in re:   Trump’s foreign policy doctrine: Escalate to de-escalate  The emerging Trump foreign policy doctrine might be summed up this way: escalate to de-escalate.   ;
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 3, Block B2: John Batchelor, in re: Trump travels to Europa.   To Europa — and beyond?  In contrast, the White House proposed a cut of just under 1% for NASA. But the Trump plan appears poised to shift the agency’s research priorities, calling for NASA to focus on “deep-space exploration rather than Earth-centric research”.
Within the agency's science directorate — which encompasses astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics and planetary sciences — the planetary division is expected to gain the most. Its budget would grow from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion. And the White House proposal would accelerate NASA’s plans to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa.
For years, lawmakers led by Representative John Culberson (Republican, Texas) inserted money into NASA’s budget for a Europa mission — overriding the judgment of the space agency during the administration of president Barack Obama. NASA is now developing a spacecraft called the Europa Clipper to launch in the 2020s. Its goal is to fly by Europa multiple times, mapping its surface and looking for any signs that life might exist in an ocean beneath the moon’s icy shell.
The White House plan would also explicitly cancel the Obama-era plans to drag an asteroid into lunar orbit for astronauts to study up-close.
And it would cut spending on Earth-science research from $1.9 billion this year to $1.8 billion, eliminating funding for four missions — including the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, which is intended to continue NASA’s efforts to monitor carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere from space. Also on the chopping block are the Earth-observing instruments aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR. The primary purpose of the satellite, which launched in 2015, is to track space weather — but it was first proposed as an Earth-monitoring mission in the late 1990s by former vice-president Al Gore.
Mulvaney, the White House budget director, was blunt when asked about the cuts to climate research in Trump’s plan. “We’re not spending money on that any more,” he said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
But planetary science’s gain does not necessarily come at the expense of other NASA science divisions, argues Casey Dreier, director of space policy for the Planetary Society, an advocacy group in Pasadena, California. “On a certain level you have limited resources and you have to make priorities,” he says. “Some divisions growing while others shrink is common among different administrations.”
Dreier is not a fan of trimming NASA’s overall budget, however. “NASA is given tasks by the nation,” he says. “We need to give NASA the resources that will allow them to be successful.” Last month, Trump told Congress that American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream — but those footprints cannot be made without funds, Dreier notes.
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 3, Block C:   Patrick Tucker, DefenseOne, in re:  Comey Confirms F.B.I. Inquiry on Russia; Sees No Evidence of Wiretapping
■ The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, publicly confirmed an investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and whether associates of the president were in contact with Moscow.
■ Mr. Comey also said the F.B.I. had “no information” to support President Trump’s allegation that Barack Obama wiretapped him.
■ The hearing’s featured witnesses: Mr. Comey and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.  (1 of 2)
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 3, Block D:  Patrick Tucker, DefenseOne, in re:  Comey Confirms F.B.I. Inquiry on Russia; Sees No Evidence of Wiretapping  (2 of 2)
Hour Four
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 4, Block A:  Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, by Adrian Goldsworthy  (1 of 6)
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 4, Block B:  Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, by Adrian Goldsworthy  (2 of 6)
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 4, Block C:  Gregory Copley, StrategicStudies director; GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs; & author, UnCivilization, in re: Preparing for Xi’s Visit to Trump  Analysis. Republic of China (PRC) Pres. Xi Jinping will make an official visit to Washington, DC, perhaps as soon as April 2017, and it is being planned as a “muscular” demonstration of Beijing’s status, overshadowing all other Asian influences. 
The visit and the US-PRC relationship are significant, and Pres. Xi’s view that this may address what is now the most significant global strategic balance is correct, although it is far more nuanced and conditional than that. And whether that strategic balance is yet at a tipping point is very much open to question, despite the PRC-led view that change to a Beijing-led world was inevitable. 
So whether or not the White House of US Pres. Donald J. Trump is prepared to allow Pres. Xi that kind of “muscularity”, however, remains to be seen. The PRC team believes that it can shape the agenda because of the “inexperience” of Pres. Trump and his team, and because of the “inevitability” of the PRC’s strategic forward momentum. [The “inevitability” of world communism was also earlier portrayed as a dynamic which conventional wisdom said could not be refuted.] 
Sources in Beijing confirmed that Pres. Xi was insisting that the visit, from the PRC side, should demonstrate that the US-PRC relationship was the paramount strategic relationship in the world. PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on March 8, 2017, that the telephone call between the two heads of state in February 2017 had paved the way for stable bilateral relations. He urged both nations to overcome their differences and the “zero sum” mindset, and to look towards building a “mature” relationship, noting: “Our interests are closely intertwined ... It is impossible to build one’s success at the expense of the other.” 
To begin with, Pres. Xi was attempting to ensure that his visit would be met with at least the same level of protocol and attention as the visit to Washington, DC, in February 2017 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. That was an official visit, not a state visit. It seems unlikely that, at this stage, Pres. Trump would be prepared to offer a full state visit to Pres. Xi, and this initial visit seems likely to be set at “official” status. . . .  (1 of 2)
Monday 20 March 2017 / Hour 4, Block D:   Gregory Copley, StrategicStudies director; GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs; & author, UnCivilization, in re: Preparing for Xi’s Visit to Trump  Analysis.  (2 of 2)
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