Thursday 1 August 2013
Photo, above: Russian faces on building-high posers all around Egypt. CAIRO, July 27 (Itar-Tass) - In the days of political confrontation between the Islamists and supporters of the army in Egypt Russian President Vladimir Putin is gaining popularity quickly among Egyptian citizens, just falling behind Egyptian First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al Sisi. On Friday, when millions of people went out in the streets of Egyptian cities in support of the armed forces and against terrorism, already breaking a record of June 30, when over 30 million people gathered on the squares, the portraits of the Russian leader can be seen quite often. A huge poster with the picture of Putin in naval uniform and the saying in Arabic, “Bye-bye, America!” was placed in the northern Egyptian capital Alexandria near the images of al Sisi and favourite late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser on Friday.
The same over-the-street banner was placed in the Egyptian sea resort city Hurghada, where many Russian compatriots live. The portraits of three leaders are crowned with the saying in Russian, “Against terrorism - it is needed that people will direct the military at the struggle against violence and terrorism.” Many Egyptians voice their gratitude to Russia for its aid and support in these hard minutes for the country. Local media and social networks are debating actively the issue that after the United States stated about the suspension of the supplies of a batch of fighters F-16, Russia allegedly proposed to Egypt a batch of air defence missile systems S-300 and tens of modern fighters MiG.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board; Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents.
Thursday 1 August 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review Online, in re: BIG GOVERNMENT Me and My Obamaphones Carlos Slim, owner of one of the carriers, got nearly half a billion dollars from LifePhone. It's corporate welfare: $10/mo to each user via the Universal Service Fee that all the rest of us pay. Get 250 min/mo + 250 text msgs. FCC allows one lifeline phone per households, but the street hawkers for the carriers claim that's not the case.
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 1, Block B: Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: New York City mayoralty: Bill Thompson attacks stop & frisk, plus the panoply of other candidates. Mr Weiner is still campaigning. Constituencies: African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, some white Catholics; stop & frisk is highly controversial among the first two. Quinn? "I don’t like her. I don't want her to marry my sister." DeBlasio has no chance; Lhota is not setting the world on fire; there'll be a run-off.
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 1, Block C: Liz Peek, The Fiscal Times & Fox, in re: Obama’s Magical ‘Misery’ Tour Takes Us for a Ride Pres Obama: pls let me keep your taxes really high, eliminate deductions and use the savings on benefits. Ergo, no tax relief in sight for small businesses. What’s so dispiriting is that there's been a solid bi-party effort to clean up a chaotic tax code, and he's just blown it up. Maytag plant in Illinois closes in 2004; Pres Obama in 2005 gives a speech speaking for retraining Maytag workers, incl bldg electric cars at the plant, or inventing a new cancer technology in Galesburg; made exactly the same speech in 2013. Illinois is one of the worst states for business in the country. Note esp union wages in Galesburg – firms couldn’t compete. Natl mfrg infrastructure is expensive in the US; not legislation and labor laws as well as wages make us less competitive with China, Taiwan, others. President seems to have a naïve picture in his head of electric cars, the govt will finance them, and we'll be fine – but the consumer is not much buying. The govt can dictate lower-carbon fuels – he doesn’t subscribe to the market regulating commerce or making sense of our economic progress. We should be celebrating the discovery of vast amounts of natural gas in the US.
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 1, Block D: Lee Smith, The Tablet & Hudson Institute, in re: Pres Obama failed spectacularly the dfirst time in the ISr-Pal peace process; gave Kerry a time line and bowed out. Kerry ahs been preparing for this for years, will carry on irrespective of events in Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen. he's delusional on Syria with his Geneva II conference. The notion of "reset" with Russia is preposterous. Kerry is extremely vain and naïf.
Requiem for the Peace Process. With the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Middle East diplomacy has entered its mannerist phase. John Kerry says he can get an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement within nine months that would lead to an independent Palestinian state. That’s ambitious to be sure, but Kerry’s optimism raises a key question: With Syria torn by civil war, Egypt in the midst of a meltdown that may lead to another Arab civil war, and the Iranian nuclear program still the region’s major strategic threat, why is the secretary of state pushing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? . . .
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 2, Block A: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution (Defining Ideas), Chicago Law, in re: Obama's Middle Class Malaise (1 of 2)
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 2, Block B: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution (Defining Ideas), Chicago Law, in re: Obama's Middle Class Malaise (2 of 2)
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 2, Block C: Aaron David Miller, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in re: Kerry's immediate goals in meeting with Abbas – a good sign, with the Secretary trying to re-energize; or bad – there's some difficulty in the negotiations. Sounds like a crisis. Surprising that he's mtg with Abbas. Will he also see the PM? This is John Kerry's peace process – he owns it. Probably heard different thoughts from Netanyahu and Abbas. Sixty-seven lines a basis? What? In a quarter century, this process has more radio silence than I've ever seen, Hermetically sealed; even Erekat won’t talk, and no leak in the Israeli govt. Looks as though there's either nothing or too much of something to protect. Maybe PM said "Get Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and I'll work on '67 borders." Even getting to security and border agreements is Herculean. Cannot be passed off to a team, incl the veteran M Indyk; it’s Kerry's. What basis does Abbas have – his negotiation and not the PA's? If it fails, on whose doorstep will the dead cat be left? Better to go for stages where you cd measure reciprocity? Yes. that'd be more cautious. "Conflict-ending" - Israel needs a conflict-ending agreement, How do you make concessions to a PA that doesn’t control all the guns of Palestine. Kerry might be stuck even before the negotiations begin. Some very serious people are scheduled to be released; Israelis front-loaded this big-time – no negotiations, no prisoner release. If we're looking at a fundamental crisis – six trips in four months, not even to have resumption of negotiations in a real crisis, would be a huge blow.
Five Things to Watch for in the Peace Process How to tell if John Kerry's efforts with the Israelis and the Palestinians are actually going anywhere.
(1) Are there written terms of reference or letters of assurance? Right now, the Kerry effort seems suspended somewhere between talks about talks and real negotiations. A bridge needs to be built to move from one to the other. And that bridge consists of the parameters or terms of reference -- e.g., June 1967 borders, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, demilitarization of a Palestinian state -- that will guide the negotiations. Ideally, both sides would agree to them publicly and privately. That's clearly not possible here. . . .
(2) Is there a negotiating text (and maps, too)? Samuel Goldwyn, the Hollywood movie mogul, said it best: an oral agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on. You'll know this process is getting serious when the negotiators start writing things down. And a negotiating text -- whether it's some kind of agenda, a framework agreement on several of the core issues, or what we used to call a FAPS (a Framework Agreement on Permanent Status) -- is critical not just to an agreement, but to how the negotiations are organized. . . .
(3) Will there be U.S. bridging proposals? It's too early for them yet. Kerry needs to let both sides engage directly. But he should know that, with the exception of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, every other agreement that endured came not from direct talks only, but from U.S. mediation. Oslo, the poster child for direct talks, failed. At some point, . . .
(4) Is Kerry bringing on a special envoy? He must. After six Middle East trips and hundreds of additional hours spent, the secretary of state already realizes he can't be the peace process Lone Ranger. Bringing Deputy Legal Advisor Jonathan Schwartz into the negotiations was probably the smartest staffing decision Kerry has made. John is not only a brilliant lawyer and wordsmith, but he also thinks a step or three ahead, anticipating in a cool and detached manner what Israeli and Palestinian needs and requirements are when it comes to the substance. My own sense that things were getting serious with Kerry went from 0 to 60 when I heard John was involved. Right now Schwartz is the only institutional memory Kerry has. . . .
(5) Will Obama get involved? The short answer to this question is "yes" -- if talks appear to have a chance to succeed. If not, this will remain John Kerry's peace process. This is not to say that the president won't agree to meet with the leaders, make phone calls, etc. But getting the president to commit to a full-court press -- attendance at a high-level leaders' negotiating summit to close a deal -- will depend on whether or not his secretary of state has brought the two sides to the point where the gaps between them can actually be closed . . .
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 2, Block D: Eric Trager, Washington Institute, in re: Secy Kerry commented about the mil coup in Egypt: It was "restoring democracy when it deposed the illegitimate president." - an untrue statement, and a bizarre one to make in Pakistan. Last Friday, blg-sized posers I Cairo of three pix: Khrushchev walking hand in hand with Gamel Abdel Nasser; a man in sunglasses, al Sisi; Vladimir Putin in a uniform associated with the Special Forces of the Russian Federation – the spyetsnaz. And Putin will be in Cairo next Wednesday. More Russian involvement in other Arab countries. Al Sisi posters going up all over Cairo. Egyptian military e-mailed the Khrushchev photo all over the State Dept, Washington, US think tanks. Fundamental policy questions being raised. A lot of intl pressure not to break up Ikhwan camps to avoid extreme violence.
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: received a medal from the king of Morocco at the palace in Casablanca. Thousands gathered, king presided, gave awards mostly to Moroccans who'd made singular contributions; Malcolm was one of two to foreigners: rooted in efforts to foster friendship with Morocco and the king. Egypt: Putin to visit next Wednesday. Russia in Egypt is a game-changer – cd be in the larger region. Putin concerned about Muslim Brotherhood because of Chechnya; also thumbing nose at US; excellent new connection in view of Russia's loss of Syria. Ha'aretz: trouble in PA-Israeli negotiations because Palestinians won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and the Americans are dead in the water. PA Exec Council – the PFLP within – has completely rejected Kerry's talks; also Hamas. They call this all "Abbas's negotiations" – not the PA's.
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Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled Cairo’s streets and squares Friday, July 26 in rival rallies shortly after deposed president Mohamed Morsi was formally charged and detained for 15 days. Tahrir Square was packed with crowds responding to Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s call for a mandate to support the military fight on “terrorists.” Another huge crowd of Morsi supporters packed the streets around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Nasser City. Instead of directing their ire at the overthrown Muslim Brotherhood, the pro-military demonstrators shouted “Bye Bye America!” as huge placards waved over their heads depicting as a threesome Gen. El-Sisi, Vladimir Putin and Gemal Abdel Nasser, who ruled Egypt in the 60s in close alliance with the Soviet Union.
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Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 3, Block B: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re:
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 3, Block C: Robert Zimmerman, behindtheblack.com, in re: The embarrassing unveiling at JSC this week of the StarTrek shuttle craft Galileo -- instead of a real space shuttle.
The agency's real spaceflight problem: The Congressional debate over NASA’s asteroid capture mission ignores the agency’s real spaceflight problem There’s a lot of buzz in and around Congress right now about NASA’s proposed mission to capture an asteroid, which Republicans are disinclined to support. The issue has gotten considerable news coverage because NASA is rarely a partisan issue. However, Republicans do not like NASA’s plans to send a robotic spacecraft to an as-yet unidentified asteroid and tow it into the vicinity of the moon, where humans can visit it. Being the subject of congressional infighting, of course, does NASA no good. But this battle is a distraction from NASA’s real problem, which neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to acknowledge. Namely, the space agency is being tasked with building a huge and powerful rocket it will not be able to afford to fly. A couple of weeks ago a space enthusiast, John Strickland, analyzed the launch costs of NASA’s Space Launch System, which consists of a large rocket that could initially launch 70 tons into orbit and eventually 130 tons, and a space capsule, Orion. The real budget problems at NASA; the inability of Congress to deal with them intelligently.
Photo, below: Swiss National Day, August first. Switzerland, formally Confoederatio Helvetica, is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. Four languages are officially spoken: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August 1291, when the Old Swiss Confederacy of valley folk created an alliance among the valley communities of the central Alps. The Confederacy facilitated management of common interests and ensured peace on the important mountain trade routes. The Federal Charter of 1291 agreed between the rural communes of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden is considered the confederacy's founding document, even though similar alliances are likely to have existed decades earlier.
Swiss citizens are subject to three legal jurisdictions: the commune, canton and federal levels. The 1848 federal constitution defines a system of direct democracy (sometimes called half-direct or representative direct democracy because it's aided by the more commonplace institutions of a representative democracy). The instruments of this system at the federal level, known as civic rights (Volksrechte, droits civiques), include the right to submit a constitutional initiative and a referendum, both of which may overturn parliamentary decisions.
By calling a federal referendum, a group of citizens may challenge a law passed by Parliament, if they gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If so, a national vote is scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law. Any 8 cantons together can also call a referendum on a federal law.
Similarly, the federal constitutional initiative allows citizens to put a constitutional amendment to a national vote, if 100,000 voters sign the proposed amendment within 18 months. Parliament can supplement the proposed amendment with a counter-proposal, and then voters must indicate a preference on the ballot in case both proposals are accepted. Constitutional amendments, whether introduced by initiative or in Parliament, must be accepted by a double majority of the national popular vote and the cantonal popular vote.
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 4, Block A: Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present by Max Boot (1 of 4)
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 4, Block B: Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present by Max Boot (2 of 4)
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 4, Block C: Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present by Max Boot (3 of 4)
Thursday 1 August 2013/ Hour 4, Block D: Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present by Max Boot (4 of 4)
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