Thursday 11 July 2013
Photo, above: From the ISS: Cairo to Tel Aviv to Beirut.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board; Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re: headlines of the day; then NTSB and Asiana's 777 crashing in broad daylight. Flight crew didn’t mention any problem till seconds before the crash. Eliot Spitzer. Bob Filner, 10-term Congressman, now mayor of SF. Beyonce walked out n him; he's vividly accused of having sexually harassed multiple women; spent $325k to go to France – ostensibly for security, which was not with him on the trip.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Mary Kissel, in re: Mssrs Spitzer and Weiner.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Tim Wilson, Director of Climate Change Policy & the IP and Free Trade Unit. in re: Tim Wilson, Director of Climate Change Policy & the IP and Free Trade Unit. in re: POLICE have swarmed the US Embassy in Canberra after a car drove through the consulate's front gates. ACT police arrested a 30-year-old Queensland man in relation to the collision in Yarralumla about 5.40pm. The ACT Policing Bomb Response Team attended and did a check of the vehicle as a precaution. Nothing of a suspicious nature was located. A man who answered the phone at the embassy – but declined to give his name - said the incident occurred at about 5.40pm. "At around 5.40pm somebody ran into the gates," he said. . . . [more]
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management, in re: China Trade Data Show Weakness China posted a surprise drop in exports in June amid slack global demand, revealing further weakness in a driver of growth for the world's second-largest economy. All this Keynesian blowout didn’t work – have they realized that yet? Lotta rhetoric along those lines; presumably will present a reform pkg in October - too late, of course. If China can embrace creative destructions . . . a correction would be good for China, but need to be willing to accept real economic change, which they haven’t done. As for he recent meetings _ promises, toasts, departures; too often, no follow-through. WSJ cites 100 new industries that might be good for US investment. Oligopolies. Forward-thinking Chinese will run up vs an entrenched mind set that fears loss of Chinese control. Li Kaicheng doesn't have the blat – the guanxi – to get it done.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Eric Trager, Washington Institute, in re: Muslim Brotherhood's strategy in Egypt moving forward: it expects that by escalating its protests it can exploit fissures that it believes exist within the Egyptian military. The restoration of power, disappearance of gas lines, and immediate deployment of police forces after the last week's military takeover suggest that remnants of Hosni Mubarak's regime played a significant role in undermining Morsy's prior to his ouster. "This was preparing for the coup," Naser el-Farash, a spokesman for the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade under Mr. Morsy told the New York Times. "Different circles in the state, from the storage facilities to the cars that transport petrol products to the gas stations, all participated in creating the crisis. . . . Salafists have tremendous bargaining power because the military wants to keep them under control.
The Brotherhood seems bent on exploiting perceived divisions within the Egyptian military and fervent commitment among its own followers to perpetuate a fight that it may not be able to win. After only one year in power, during which its blatantly autocratic behavior alienated millions of Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood is back where it started. For six decades before the 2011 uprising, the group sat in the opposition, under fire from a military regime. This time, even after security forces unseated President Mohamed Morsi, detained top Muslim Brotherhood leaders and reportedly issued arrest warrants for about 300 more, shut down the group's television station, closed some of its offices, and then killed 53 and wounded hundreds at a demonstration outside of the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood does not seem ready to go quietly. It has called for an intifada and has repeatedly vowed to . . . [more]
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: . Jonathan Schanzer, FDD, in re: – Qatar, Egypt. Ismail Hinniyah, nominally the head of Hamas should e afraid of the coup n Cairo. Began a year ago when Hamas left the "Axis of resistance," broke w Syria and fled t the arms of the Muslim Brotherhood – Egyptians, Qataris, Turks – and now is precariously balanced. How to make up missing patronage? Egyptian army has seriously closed down tunnels, incl Rafah Crossing – not only smuggling of people but bulk cash smuggling in order to pay Hamas bureaucracy. Hamas hoping this storm blows over; knows that the Egyptian people are pretty much with the, but the army and Muhabarat are not. Seemed to be a bitter argument in ranks under Morsi: senior Hamas official lived lavishly in Cairo, and important figures financing Hamas, etc.. Hamas depends totally on the tunnels – incl taxes on smuggling, $200bil PA out of a total budget of a billion a year. If Abu Mazen wants to put a stake in the heart of Hamas, this is a good time. A 30% reduction in funds wd cripple Hamas in 2 to 3 months. Peter Roskam of Illinois co-authored a letter to Qataris to cut funding – same tie as change in Egypt and in major change in Qatar. Look for: rockets firing visits to Lebanon, or reaching out to PLO for reconciliation. See: CNN
Hamas may be bankrupted in the coming weeks. Only if Hamas launches rockets against Israel is Iran likely to step in and restore funding.
Qatar’s ambassador to Washington, Mohammed Bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi, is about to receive a letter that will put his diplomatic skills to the test. Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL) and John Barrow (D-GA) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter on Capitol Hill this week, collecting signatures to challenge the uber-wealthy Persian Gulf emirate over its financial ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The draft letter, addressed directly to Rumaihi, . . . [more]
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Laura Dawson is President of Dawson Strategic; in re: the Algerian "Marlboro Man" who ran a suicide offensive by gangsters in Tunisia; stretched into Mali: Mokhtar bel Mokhtar. Cigarette smuggling is as dangerous as drug-running; in Algeria was not a victimless crime. Is now widespread, everywhere; more insidious than drug-running because we consider the latter to be insidious and prosecute, whereas in New York State 60% of cigarettes are contraband. The proceeds of these smuggling are routed to organized crime, to terrorist activities, to all sorts of lethal activities. In Canada can buy a carton of cigarettes out of the trunk of someone's car. Hezbllah has been active in at least four Cnadan cities. The free trade in terrorism: links between bad guys in Canada and US, via Internet, via the network of Mohawk people on the border – Akwesasne, Ganienkeh, Kahnawake, _____ entered a guilty plea for tons of contraband, had $1 billion in assets. Cigarette butts around Canadian parliament were studied: 305 were illegal. In Montreal , can have illegal cigarettes by leaving $20 in your mailbox and coming home to a delivered baggie. North Korea sending its operatives out with suitcases of cigarettes to sell in China to fund other espionage activities. Mokhtar: billions of cigarette going into Africa, routes now replicated with drugs. Pipelines can carry narcotics, cigarettes, people: globalization of these sorts of traffic.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re; Rohani, the Rafsanjani stooge; Alberto Nisman, Argentine, apptd to investigate the bomb in Buenos Aires, revealed 30 years of Iranian terrorist network in South America. Speaks of its growth, documents it; 2007 Iranian attack in US; Congress invited him to come to Washington to speak – and Argentina blocked him. Congress enraged. Argentina's economy is troubled and Kirchner is weakened; Iran has been sending in bribes - $6 mil in cash - to have her whitewash all the evidence of Iran's 1994 mass murders. P5+1 going along with talks in Brussels. New nuclear site discovered out side Teheran. Iran has moved ships into Persian Gulf, ignored by the world Al Q (al Nusrah Front) kills a Free Syrian Army commander; Assad celebrates for cause. Sunnis outnumber Alawites 12 to 1. Nasrallah told Teheran: You'd better send troops to supplement.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: ElBaradei, widely seen as an obfuscator, liar, and well-paid agent of Iran. Now he's VP Foreign Affairs in Egypt; recently took on Mori head-on. Ikhwan allied with groups. Threatening Suez Canal; Qatar funding weapons et al. to – perhaps – rocket and start war with Israel? Nasrallah's commitment to Assad: he must be having second thoughts. Note bombing of his Beirut stronghold, incl weapons depot. His family members are criticizing him, Killed a senior commander of he army; delegation goes to Iran to explain that help is needed; after visiting Damascus, Nasrallah committed 20 addtl battalions. Jordanian King Abdullah: disruption of Ikhwan in Cairo has been helpful to Jordan. Ten to 20% of Jordanian population is Syrian refugees.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Brig-Gen (ret) Yossi Kuperwasser, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, in re: Sinai, delegitimization. There's some cooperation between Egypt and Israel in Sinai, but not enough to create calm or rid the peninsula of huge criminal and terrorist activities. Intl Criminal Court needs to notify Comoros that they don't have standing to lodge the complaint anent the Marmara. In a world in which Iran and Syria ca be on the UN Human Right Committee, no point expecting to much. Ongoing fight between rebels and regime in Syrian Golan Heights; unstable. Some of the fire ends up in Israel; when tat occurred, Israel returned fire to precisely the source, which convinced them to be more careful
The uptick in Sinai attacks since Morsi's ouster has raised political and security concerns that may force Egypt's military to assert itself in the peninsula. The security situation in the Sinai Peninsula has rapidly deteriorated since President Muhammad Morsi's fall, with armed Bedouins mounting repeated attacks against Egyptian military personnel and the Interior Ministry's Central Security Forces. Bedouin groups -- mainly from the Sawarka, Tarabin, and Breikat tribes, and led by Salafi jihadist militias -- have also announced the formation of a "War Council" aimed at responding with force to any countermeasures taken by the Egyptian authorities. Although many of these attacks have gone unreported by the media, a climate of chaos and rebellion now reigns in the northeastern populated area of the Sinai adjoining the Gaza Strip and Israel, and incidents have also occurred in the barren central Sinai and close to the Suez Canal. For example, Egyptian security roadblocks, patrols, and convoys have been subject to sniper attacks over the past few days, while other militants have attempted to kidnap government security personnel and storm military compounds in al-Arish . . . [more]
. . . VALLEY OF THE CROSS Abraham was well along in years when three staff-bearing angels entered his tent and predicted that Sarah would become pregnant despite her advanced age. At the end of their visit, according to a Christian tradition, they left their staffs behind. Later, when fleeing Sodom with his daughters, Abraham’s nephew Lot committed the terrible sin of incest and confessed to his uncle. Some Christians believe that Abraham told Lot to plant the staffs in Jerusalem as a penance. Should they turn into a flourishing tree, it would be a sign of God’s forgiveness, he said. Lot planted the staffs and doggedly watered them daily with water from the Jordan River. Tradition holds that the staffs combined into a unique, triple-crested tree — pine, cedar and cypress — that was cut down for use in Solomon’s Temple. Unruly, too short, too twisted or too long, the beams were cast aside by Solomon’s very annoyed lumberjacks. They remained in the valley to be used a thousand years later, when the Romans needed beams for the cross on which they planned to crucify Jesus. Tradition places all of these events in the Valley of the Cross (Emek Hamatzleva) below Givat Ram and only minutes from the wilderness of Gazelle Valley. [more]
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Lara M Brown, political analyst and author; Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re: Daily, it seems we're met with commentary expounding former Secretary of State (Senator and First Lady) Hillary Clinton's 2016 electoralinvincibility. While a few pieces raise questions about her candidate appeal and the Democratic Party's likelihood of a coronation, they do not address Clinton's real challenge: history. The history of parties and elections. The institutional history of the presidency. Both suggest Clinton has long odds before her. She may well beat the odds – politics does surprise – but don't think for a second that she's on some glide path to the Oval Office. The only candidate to win a third presidential term for his party since 1952 was George H.W. Bush in 1988. [more]
Is Hillary peaking too soon? The early and intense focus on Clinton recalls 2008, when she was wrongly assumed to be the prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. The constant spotlight now means Clinton remains a political target even as friends and associates say she is trying to focus on advocacy, speeches, and writing a book about her tenure as secretary of state. 'What they're doing is fantastic,' [former campaign aide Mo] Elleithee says of Ready for Hillary, but 'I do think it is adding to the hyper-politicization of every move she makes.' He says her advocacy for women, children, and families, a lifelong crusade, is more important to her right now than politics." [more]
A Decade after McCain-Feingold, Election Spending Spikes; House GOP Adopts Populist Critique of Obamacare.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Nick Taborek, Bloomberg, in re: INVESTIGATORS FALISFY BACKGROUND CHECKS. Report: One former contractor claimed to have interviewed someone who had been dead for more than a decade. “The process for granting security clearances across the federal government is broken,” Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The process has been under increasing scrutiny since Snowden, who had worked for Booz Allen, leaked secret documents on U.S. surveillance programs.
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements by David Berlinski (1 of 2)
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements by David Berlinski (2 of 2)
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Abrahm Lustgarden, Pro Publica, in re: Last month, the EPA abruptly withdrew its multi-billion-dollar investigation into water contamination in Pavillion, Wy. -- shocking environmentalists and energy industry supporters alike -- in a move that critics say shows the agency is "systematically disengaging" from any research that could be perceived as questioning the safety of fracking or oil drilling. The agency has maintained publicly that it remains committed to an ongoing national study of hydraulic fracturing, ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten reports; however, in private conversations, high-ranking EPA officials acknowledge that "fierce pressures from the drilling industry and its powerful allies on Capitol Hill -- as well as financial constraints and a delicate policy balance sought by the White House -- is squelching their ability to scrutinize not only the effects of oil and gas drilling, but other environmental protections as well." Just in the past 15 months, the EPA has closed an investigation into groundwater pollution in Dimock, Pa., abandoned its claim that a driller in Parker County, TX was responsible for methane gas bubbling up in residents' faucets (even though a geologist hired by the agency confirmed this finding), and failed to enforce a statutory ban on using diesel fuel in fracking, Lustgarten writes. This pretty much leaves the EPA's highly anticipated national study as its only remaining research into the effects of fracking -- which conveniently ignores Pavillion, Dimock, and Parker County -- and it's not expected before sometime in 2016, the last full year of President Obama's term. [more]
Thursday 11 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: John Bolton, AEI and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad," in re: Plainly this is the time for American leadership—not to sort out Egypt's manifold internal political difficulties, but to assert a clear-eyed view of America's enduring interests in the Middle East. Let's hope the Obama administration wakes up in time. Read this article online.
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