The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 13 April 2017

Air Date: 
April 13, 2017

Photo, left: China Trade.
Co-host:  Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, The Great Voice of the Great Lakes; and author, Liberty Risen.
Hour One
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 1, Block A: Boris Zilberman, Deputy Director of Congressional Relations, FDD (Boris leads FDD’s Russia work as part of the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance which focuses on the evolving financial and strategic developments in the US-Russia relations); in re:  Russian tourists flock to Tunisia (after downing of jet over Sinai).    Algeria, Morocco: how does Russia get Morocco’s interest? Helpful to have a voting member ofn the US Security Council who’ll back Morocco on Western Sahara. Libya Russia vigorously opposed the Western coalition’s overthrowing Gaddhafy;  favors another strongman who’ll throw in his lot with Russia. Here: Gen Haftar.  Also, Rosneft signed a deal with a Libyan national oil company to help restore the Libyan O&G sector, which has been hit hard. Has Washington even noticed that Russia is wining and dining the North African coast? Yes, but with limited bandwidth.   . . .  Additionally, FDD’s Boris Zilberman says Tillerson should address Russia’s expanded influence in the region. Zilberman and FDD’s Oren Kessler recently wrote on Russia’s Charm Offensive in North Africa, where they analyzed Russia’s growing relations with the five North African states.
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 1, Block B:  Edward Hayes, Esq., criminal defense attorney par excellence and sartorial columnist, Daily Beast; in re:   JB: When I was in seminary, we interviewed young men for bail; travelled to Rikers, by busses. Then security; you wind up inside a connector to Hades.   . . . AS crime becomes less profitable, more people wind up in jail with mental illness.   Most of the young men in jail wee abuse as children. Replace Rikers.  How? How much would it cost?   Might work to put smaller jails in various city locales, but would take a very long time.   Judge Litman – a very decent bright man; brilliant.  Decentralizing jails (holding cells, not a pen) puts it near families. Problem is, a lot of them have no family or family is as messed up as they are. Other problem is that many inside shouldn't even be in.  Need to re-think the criminal code.   With Rikers gone, could expand LaGuardia airport ; extremely valuable waterfront property. And the more airports, the more guns accidentally in baggage.  A boon to Ed Hayes’s business.  . . . Corrections officers usu travel solo inside; very dangerous, terrifying duty. 
The right use for Rikers tomorrow  ... to ensure that our leaders actually follow through on their pledge is to provide an enormously compelling alternative use for Rikers Island.    If Rikers Island closes, NYC neighborhoods may see more jails ...  It's been just over a week since Mayor De Blasio announced that he would back the proposal to close Rikers Island in favor of bringing smaller ...    Mayor de Blasio needs to take the lead on replacing Rikers.
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 1, Block C:  Francis Rose, (WMAL) and, and now Channel 7 in Washington; and Channel 8 daily host: "Government matters";  in re: By June 30, you [agencies] need to tell  us your plan for reorganizing the agency and it needs to be accomplished by [the fall]. Reform the Executive Branch and reduce the workforce. “This is about good government not big or small government.”  DoD has been trying to draw down its civilian work force for five years.   In the VA, it's impossible to oblige an employee who's committed an armed robbery to leave. Too hard to get rid of people not doing a good job – nor to recognize someone who's doing a really good job.  The old civil service model: if you just manage not to get fired, you get the 1.9% increase the next year.  Leads to terrible morale.  Comprehensive plan for reducing the federal work force. “Intimidating and depressing”: memo was embargoed Tues, we printed it out at 11 PM: document was written by people who know how to govern.   This coming Sunday on Govt Matters, WJLA 10:30 Sun morning on Channel 7 in DC:  senior advisor in OMB (Linda Springer), , to go this almost line by line. 
Trump administration ends hiring freeze, starts government reorganization effort.  The administration’s plan, though, is not a plan for cutting the government just for the sake of cutting the government, Mulvaney claims. He emphasized that the effort is more informed by the Trump administration’s interest in improving operations in a style similar to business reorgs, than by Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s stated desire to “deconstruct the administrative state.” “This is about good government. It’s not about big government; it’s not about small government,” Mulvaney said. “That is what I think the President talks about when he talks about ‘draining the swamp.’ People back home look at Washington, D.C., and if they’re on the left, the right, in the middle, if they don’t know where they are philosophically, they know that Washington doesn’t function well. What the Businessman-in-Chief has done is come to us and said, ‘make sure this government functions properly.’”
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 1, Block D: Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, The Great Voice of the Great Lakes; and author, Liberty Risen, in re:  The Guardian revelation that GCHQ surveilled Trump associates starting in 2015.Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.
GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.
2.  on Comey
3.  Roger Stone - Roger Stone was surveilled . . .
4.  CNN national security reporter Jim Sciotto, an Obama op . . .
5. Jared Kushner: son-in-law is a problem for Democrats, who want him to lose his security clearance for having spoken with a Russian banker. 
Hour Two
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 2, Block A:  Dr Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President on the national security advisory staff; in re:  The mother of all bombs – largest non-nuclear bomb ever exploded in war,  11 tons, was dropped on a ISIS warren of caves in Eastern Afghanistan. MOAB: massive ordnance air bomb.  The stunning reality of ISIS is that after it declared the caliphate in June 12014: it has dozens of sworn groups worldwide, of whom twenty are operationally connected. How many in Afgh and South Asia have sworn allegiance created schools, training facilities? Pres Trump said ISIS will be obliterated.   Bomb has overpressure, what you want to use for a cave system, which is similar to an underground man-made bunker system. Many actors around the world are drawing the requisite conclusions. Consider Somalis, al Shebaab; someone has let the dogs out. Read the detailed autobiographies of Secretaries Gates and Panetta in Obama Admin; mtgs of secretaries that lasted three or four hours without a decision being taken: this had a very detrimental effect on morale of our operators. That changed the first week of Trump Adm.  “The 8,000-mi screwdriver” where a pilot was trying to take out an ISIS target but was forbidden to until the video of his whereabouts and target were slowly reviewed by Washington and approved.  Functionally disastrous  
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 2, Block B:  Dr Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President on the national security advisory staff; in re:  About reassertion of common sense and sovereignty. Porous border, the “flyover states” [egad!]  — not San Francisco, Boston, New York: these are how Donald Trump became president. There are 12,000 persons in Sweden, population of ten million, who were denied asylum status and hid, did not leave. How many more are potential threats to Sweden, or to all of Europe with freedom of movement under Schengen?   “Immigration without integration is all right” – not.   In Sweden, it's not illegal to be a returning ISIS fighter! Theater of the absurd.  In a foreign country you can behead people but can go to Sweden and be welcome.  Sweden has ore than 800,000 asylum-seekers.  
See weekly plots and attacks across Europe: A small explosion went off in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on April 13 outside of a library near a metro station, MKRU reported. One teenager was injured when a bomb concealed in a package detonated. Rosbalt is reporting that the injured individual may in fact have been the attempted perpetrator. It is unclear whether this was an accident or a botched attack. On April 3, an attack on a train between the Sennaya Square and Technology Institute metro stations killed 10 people and injured 50 others.

Stockholm Attack Suspect Will Plead Guilty, His Lawyer Says  In response to the terrorist attack in central Sweden last week, thousands came out on Sunday to honor the victims with a message for peace.  [plead guilty is correct: we have a superior sense of justice to the killers...]

Sweden is a model nation for tolerance and openness but this has been placed under great strain since last Friday's truck attack in the capital.
By grappling, they mean that people are outraged...

Sweden is divided in the wake of the Stockholm attack Last Friday, only hours after the terrorist attack in central Stockholm, police found themselves pelted by rocks in the city's largely immigrant ...   Sweden does not treat returning Syria terrorist fighters as criminals....

First pictures of girl, 11, mowed down and killed in Stockholm terror ... ... has been named as the latest victim of the Stockholm terror attack. ... launched a desperate social media appeal in the wake of the attack, ...  Stockholm terror attack victim named as Ebba Åkerlund
[This is appalling; the picture of the smiling killer is appalling]
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 2, Block C:  Captain Jerry Hendrix, Center for a New American Security, in re: the Carl Vinson strike group in the Sea of Japan with Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and a Ticonderoga.  Mil decided to value capability over capacity; had 400-plus ships, now to 275 ships (was 271).   We used to use 2 Ticonderoga-class, plus 2 AB-class, plus 2 antisub destroyers, plus plus plus.  That was a carrier battle group; today we have a “battle group.”  Not to mention the air wing dropped from 900 nautical miles to 490 nautical miles.  By having  smaller Nay, we cease to uphold global order on the seasUS supercarriers: we have eleven, may have a twelfth. Well, ten ready for deployment, the eleventh is on sea trials. USS John F Kennedy in dry dock will soon be finished Later, the dry dock can build two supercarriers simultaneously.  Ready reserve fleet (“ghost fleet”) , mothballed:  we’re buying __ ships, but will decommission 50 at the same time.  Three Ticonderaogas have 10 years left , as do others. If we could get half the mothballed fleet up, can increase the size of the Navy.
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 2, Block D:  Captain Jerry Hendrix, Center for a New American Security, in re:  we’re 120 to 150 fighter aircraft short right now,  Boeing FA18 Hornets approved by Congress; then a mixed buy to come. Need 800- to 900-nautical-mile range.  Unlike a human, a UAV can fly up to 50 hours. Integrating unmanned combat vehicles into aviation is [coming].  See article in Politico. 
What the US Navy needs in 2024. @JerryHendrixII @CNASDC    So how to get to 350? The first step should be a review of the ships scheduled to be decommissioned in order to determine their true condition. The five oldest cruisers in the force have been in the water for 30 years and are scheduled to be transferred to the “mothballed” Ready Reserve fleet at 35 years, but overhauls, refitting and service life extension programs could conservatively add five to 10 years to their lives. This work would have to begin immediately and would not be inexpensive—estimates range as high as 300 million per ship—but this option must be explored. Similarly, the Navy is looking to retire 9 of its 14 mine counter measure (MCM) ships over the next eight years. These ships fill a critical warfighting niche and were supposed to be relieved by littoral combat ships (LCS), but the mine-hunting systems that were to be installed on the LCS have not matured as expected, creating a strategic hole in the Navy’s spectrum of capabilities. The mine countermeasure ships are generally seen to be in good condition. Taken together, the service-life extensions of the cruisers and mine sweepers would add 14 platforms to the Navy’s ship count, decreasing the gap between the current plan and a 350 ship fleet from 44 to 30 ships.
Hour Three
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 3, Block A: David H. Grinspoon, astrobiologist; Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute; author, Earth in Human Hands; in re: NASA news, Cassini (orbiting Saturn for many years): an icy moon too small, 310 mi across, Enceladus.  Liquid water ocean under the surface with geysers shooting out into space. Ocean is full of chemicals that could drive life, a metabolism organism.  Exothermic chemical reactions.  Huge discovery. Found hydrogen in plumes.  Even more potential: Europa. 
Tiny Enceladus, Big Promising Habitat. @DrFunkyspoon David Grinspoon, author, “Earth in Human Hands.”   This is the latest discovery by Cassini, a spacecraft that is heading into its final months after 13 years of exploring Saturn, its moons and rings. On April 22, Cassini begins a journey that will take it between the planet and its rings for 22 orbits before its mission finally ends with a crash into Saturn’s atmosphere in September.
Cassini’s findings also show that levels of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane measured in the Enceladus plume were out of equilibrium, an imbalance that could provide an energy source that organisms could tap into for food, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Science.
“It indicates there is chemical potential to support microbial systems,” said J. Hunter Waite Jr., program director for the space science and engineering division at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and lead author of the Science paper.
In a separate paper published Thursday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, another team of researchers using the Hubble Space Telescopeonce again spotted what appears to be a similar plume rising from Europa, one of Jupiter’s big moons that also possesses an ocean beneath an icy exterior.
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 3, Block B: Paul Gregory, Hoover, in re: The Kremlin is selling false-flag op Syria to Russian public. @PaulR_Gregory @HooverInst   Fast forward to the Syrian gas attack: Within hours, Putin’s press secretary floated the false-flag theory (backed by the Russian defense ministry) that the Syrian air force unwittingly exploded a local chemical weapons depot as it dropped conventional bombs. The chemical weapons, per the Russian spokesman, had been brought into Idlib from Iraq. The Assad government took up this line of argument stating the poison gas was released after its military planes dropped conventional bombs on a local terrorist arms depot, which happened to contain chemical weapons.
An investigation of these competing claims could be conducted rather quickly. A storage facility full of sarin gas could presumably be identified and detected by technical experts, and the facility would have to be in a crater caused by a Syrian bomb. If there is no evidence of a local chemical weapons storage depot, then the Russian-Syrian false flag story falls apart. Although Syria has offered international inspectors access to its Shayrat air force base, presumably they have had time to remove traces of poison gas.
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 3, Block C:  Tyler Rogoway,  The Drive, in re: Futile Tomahawks in Syria & What is to be done? @TheWARZone   Unless you count old concrete as a weapon system or enemy, last night's strikes did no substantial damage to Assad's war fighting capability. A few hardened aircraft shelters were damaged, along with a handful of old tactical aircraft—their prior serviceability unknown—and some smaller buildings and miscellaneous material were harmed. The strike did not even take out the base's runway or taxiways temporarily, meaning more missions can be flown from Shayrat in the near term. Even the base's air defenses were left intact.
Some of this has to do with the fact that the Russians, which have had a strong presence at the base in recent years, were warned well in advance of the strike, and apparently the Syrians were as well. Most of the aircraft were likely moved to other locations, as were high-value materials and personnel. Killing Russians, even if they were complicit in the gas attack, is not a good thing. But if a warning made good strategic sense, why leave anything at the airfield intact after giving said warning? The answer to that question is extremely frustrating.  (1 of 2)
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 3, Block D:  Tyler Rogoway,  The Drive, in re: Futile Tomahawks in Syria & What is to be done? @TheWARZone   (2 of 2)
Hour Four
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 4, Block A:
The generals’ objection to counterinsurgency techniques is partly semantic: Egypt’s brass believes that describing the jihadis as “insurgents” somehow validates them. But it also reflects the nature of the Egyptian military as an organization. Even though it hasn’t fought a land war since the 1973 Yom Kippur War and hasn’t even participated in a land war since the 1991 Gulf War, the Egyptian military’s land-war doctrine remains essential to its internal unity. This doctrine, which focuses on defeating a conventional military by defending or capturing territory, depends on the acquisition of big weapons systems, whether through purchases or foreign aid.  And by acquiring and maintaining big weapons systems – including, in recent years, new submarines, aircraft carriers, and fighter jets – the Egyptian military can justify its massive system of employment and contracting, which keeps its domestic base large and its officers satisfied.  
Egypt’s conventional-war doctrine also allows the generals to present themselves, both domestically and within the region, as the leaders of the Arab world’s greatest military – and as the last military that can stand up to any regional threat (even though the generals declined to do so, wisely, when Saudi Arabia asked for Egypt’s help in Syria and greater involvement in Yemen). So the generals aren’t inclined to transition towards a counterterrorism or counterinsurgency doctrine, because this would disrupt important interests within their own institution, including their own, and could catalyze a devastating internal backlash. And while the generals consider ISIS’ defeat in Egypt important, they don’t consider it to be as glorious as, say, the Egyptian military’s successful opening offensive across the Suez Canal during the 1973 war. Indeed, until the Egyptian military began its Sinai operation in September 2013, it regarded anti-jihadi efforts as (lesser) police work.
It is tempting to wonder whether the sheer horror of Sunday’s twin attacks will create political pressure within Egypt that compels President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to override his generals and change the military’s approach. But despite Sisi’s call for a three-month state of emergency, this appears unlikely. While Sisi has promoted tolerance towards Christians and called on Muslim clerics to fight radical Islamist ideology, he has never backed his words with teeth, perhaps because this would mean picking fights with institutions and constituencies that, only four years ago, unified to topple his predecessor. And Muslim Brothers’ various statements on Sunday including hideous conspiracy theories implicating the Egyptian government and the Coptic Pope in the church attacks, as well as the widespread belief within Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for attacking dozens of churches after Morsi’s overthrow, will bolster the view within Egypt that Sisi and the Egyptian military are the ultimate guarantors of security, even if they are imperfect.
This is why Washington should tread carefully. While many within the U.S. government and on Capitol Hill recognize that the Egyptian military’s operation against ISIS in Sinai is failing, overt criticism of Sisi or the military will be interpreted within Egypt as an attack on the only things preventing all-out chaos. In this sense, U.S. President Donald Trump’s warm welcome of Sisi at the White House last week provides a rare opening for an important conversation. Having demonstrated that he is a sincere partner and friend, President Trump can now approach Sisi for a serious conversation about how Washington can help Cairo improve its performance against jihadis in the Sinai. And part of that discussion should examine how the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid might be redirected to assist in those efforts to prevent Sunday’s horror from repeating itself, rather than equipping Egypt for the conventional wars of the distant past.
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 4, Block B:  Carl Zimmer, popular science writer and blogger specialized in the topics of evolution and parasites; in re:
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 4, Block C:  Hotel Mars, episode n.    Bill Harwood, CBS News (@cbs_spacenews); Dr David Livingston, the Space Show; in re:   CBS news, Astronaut Commander  Peggy Whitson in ISS  Astronaut Peggy Whitson, making her third flight aboard the International Space Station and her second as commander, already is the world's most experienced female spacewalker. In a few days, she will become NASA's most experienced astronaut with more than 534 days aloft.
In an interview Wednesday with CBS News -- the 56th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's launch on the first human spaceflight, Whitson said she doesn't pay much attention to space records and looks forward to the day when enough women have flown that incremental records like hers won't prompt questions from reporters.
"It'll be a real mark when we don't have to talk about it," she said.
But given Whitson's standing in the record books, it could be a long wait.
When she returns to Earth on Sept. 3, she will have logged some 666 days aloft, moving her up to seventh in the world with 132 days more than Jeff Williams, the current NASA record holder, and 146 days more than Scott Kelly, who recently completed a nearly one-year stay aboard the lab complex.
"I don't really know how I got this lucky!" Whitson laughed when asked about her space career. "It's been amazing to have the opportunities that I've had, it's just amazing to me (how) some dedication and a lot of hard work paid off at the end. It's just unbelievable."
And it's not just cumulative time in space. With completion of her eighth spacewalk March 30, Whitson now ranks fifth on the list of most experienced EVA veterans and No. 1 among female spacewalkers. If she takes part in one more EVA before returning to Earth Sept. 3, she will move up to third all time, behind Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev and retired astronaut Mike Lopez-Alegria.
When she blasted off Nov. 17 aboard the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to begin her third station visit, Whitson's time in space on two previous flights stood at nearly 377 days, putting her at 29th on the list of most experienced astronauts and cosmonauts. On April 24, Whitson will move past Williams to set a new U.S. record with more than 534 days off planet.   (1 of 2)
Thursday  13 April 2017  / Hour 4, Block D:     Hotel Mars, episode n.    Bill Harwood, CBS News (@cbs_spacenews); Dr David Livingston, the Space Show; in re:   CBS news, Astronaut Commander  Peggy Whitson in ISS   (2 of 2)
..  ..  ..