The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 13 June 2013

Air Date: 
June 13, 2013


Photo, above:  How to make sarin gas at home. It looks as though any sarin gas in Syria was brought in by the al Nusrah Front (= al Qaeda) "rebels" – i.e., Islamist anti-Assad forces.  See: Hour 2, Block A, Danielle Pletka, AEI.

"I was reading up on nuclear proliferation when our editorial assistant came by my office. "You've got a package downstairs," he said. I took the elevator to the lobby of our building, scribbled my signature on the invoice and carried my box upstairs. I then had all the material I needed to make sarin nerve gas."



Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board

Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents

Hour One

Thursday  13 June  2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board; John Roskam, Exec Dir, Institute of Public Affairs, Australia,  in re: Julia Gillard.   Opposition Liberal party distributes menu mocking PM Gillard, esp portions of her anatomy. Gillard called for the oppo leader, Tony Abbott, to be dismissed and demanded an apology.  It emerged that the menu was not distributed - it was a joke among the restaurateur, his son, and the oppo party; was put up on Facebook. Polling shows Labor (Gillard) 16 points behind Liberal party.  Opposition apologises to Australian woman PM after serving up 'Julia Gillard quail with small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box' at fundraiser

Thursday  13 June  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: New York City mayoral contest: Quinn versus Weiner versus the rest; and will Ray Kelly get in the race?  Mayor Bloomberg, unable to run again, seems to be handing the office over to Christine Quinn, head of the City Council, outspoken GLBT candidate and possessor of a remarkable chrome-orange wig. She's the leader of the pack because no one else of consequence with adequate credentials and charisma is running. The New York Times is in open warfare withhehr; she angers easily and speaks very intemperately – she attacks most disrespectfully, "She gets mad at you, she treats you lie a dog." Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner – he of the disgraceful texting – is married to the "classiest, most intelligent, best-connected woman" in the stratosphere. Huma Abedin was long the chief aide to Secy Hillary Clinton; although it looks as though the Clintons don’t much like Weiner.  Ray Kelly, chief of police and potentially a capable mayor, will not run.

Interactive Feature: A Viewer’s Guide to the Mayoral Candidates

CitiBike strangeness (no helmets).  City might be liable if a rider is damaged because s/he's not wearing a helmet.  Mayor Bloomberg and the bike lobby wanted these things.

Weiner’s Record in House: Intensity, Publicity and Limited Results  To admirers, Anthony D. Weiner in Congress was a tireless worker on many issues; to detractors, he was ineffectual, impatient and publicity-hungry. When President Obama needed every Democrat in Congress to back his health care plan in 2009, Representative Anthony D. Weiner threatened behind the scenes to torpedo the package in favor of a more sweeping measure. He backed off after he was promised a bigger share of the spotlight during the highly watched debate.  The previous year, when advocates of immigration reform invited Mr. Weiner to a round-table discussion with business leaders and more senior New York City members of Congress, he demanded to turn it into a hearing, featuring himself in a gavel-wielding role. Rebuffed, he failed to show up.  [more]

Bloomberg Seeks to Redo Building Code in Sandy’s Wake

TThursday  13 June  2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Ilaria Maria Sala, Hong Kong Star, debarking from a HK ferry, in re: Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old U.S. contractor who says he leaked details of an electronic surveillance program, may be seeking legal help in Hong Kong after checking out of a hotel in the Chinese city on Monday. Snowden is trying to contact Hong Kong-based human rights organizations and lawyers for help, the Oriental Daily News, a Hong Kong-based Chinese-language newspaper, reported today, without naming its sources. Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor has not received any message from Snowden, the paper said.  [more]

  Mary: if you stole info from the NSA, would you flee to Hong Kong?  First, HK has an extradition treaty with the US. As for his understanding of HK governance, it’s naïve, to put it lightly – it’s under the control o Beijing; their media is self-censored; they do not have universal suffrage. The HK leader, C Y Leung, is said to be a closet highly-placed member of the Chinese Communist Party.  Snowden fled to an enemy.  "The greatest wealth transfer in history." US intell says this is a possible case  of foreign espionage and a defector. He had the choice of going to Congress and being a whistleblower.  His story doesn’t make much sense to many observers. China has very restricted freedom of speech – "One country, two systems" – a lot of unfiltered Internet, but HK people make a huge effort to keep it that way. HK freedoms always under threat; the local human rights community, for want of a better phrase, is increasingly divided: support of whistleblowers, but the recent dvpt of handing huge amts of data to China is a very divisive decision. Whatever we think of NSA surveillance, it’s a fact that China is gathering data not to protect a democracy but to keep the Communist Party in power.  One issue is excessive US surveillance and the other is [the authoritarianism] of the Party. Shift overnight: the Guardian has broken the story; the South China Morning Post has more details on the data Snowden is revealing.  SCMP says: Snowden has given the SCMP a lot of details of which IP addresses were being targetted, and he's said he's willing to share this with the HK govt and whoever here wants it

You can sympathize with an idealistic young man who thinks something is not right -  but Hong Kong is a "free" place under Communist China and these are sensitive issues; huge amt of searches, potentially critical information, Snowden is revealing to not-a-democracy.

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 1, Block D:  David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, in re: Senate votes down GOP border amendment

Hour Two

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 2, Block A:  Danielle Pletka, AEI, in re:  Syria, arming the rebels, Congressional testimony.  Had the US president had the courage of his convictions hen initially he aid Assad had to go, perhaps we could have avoided the civil war, not had al Q introduced, not had Qatari and Saudis on the ground aiding the wrong guys. Were we to send weapons, we'd be sending them to the Free Syrian Army; we are now directing weapons from Saudis, et al. We can identify the right guys but there are SO many weapons there that at best it’s a long-term mess. The Geneva option is dead.  

        JB: the presence of sarin is not yet established. Why is the Obama Adm moving now?  DP: If they don't move, it’s possible they'll wind up with a few rump states in what used to be Syria - one controlled by Assad and one by Islamic extremists. Clearly the president doesn’t give a darn about Syria, but does care about stability in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi, Israel.  Reverse counterinsurgency – see our article in the WSJ.  Putin will not get into a confrontation with the US; has been experimenting with pushing, got zero pushback from Kerry or the US; when he encounters pushback, he'll stop. 

        Rebels Plead for Weapons in Face of Syrian Onslaught   A top Syrian rebel commander has issued a desperate plea for weapons from Western governments to prevent the fall of his forces in Aleppo, pushing the Obama administration to decide quickly whether to agree to arm rebels for the first time or risk the loss of another rebel stronghold just days after the regime's biggest victory.

        A crisis mismanaged: Obama's failed Syria policy   As the conflict within Syria continues to rage, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops, backed by Hezbollah fighters, have recaptured the strategic town of al-Qusayr.  Thousands of innocents have died, and reports suggest that Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people – the supposed “red line” for direct U.S. intervention set by President Obama.  Yet, the United States continues to watch from the sidelines while the situation rapidly deteriorates. [more]

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 2, Block B:  Michael Knights, Washington Institute, in re: Iraq. Iran. Rising to Iran's challenge.  .Iran is very effective in manipulating Iraqi politics ; have kept Maliki in place.  He's afraid of al Q/Sunni Arabs taking over. Delicate balancing act the Kurds have w the Iranians; Maliki's multiple crises, incl security, mean that the Kurds's position is strengthened.  He now offers them a lot, but they’ve heard that before and would rather "nestle under" the Turks than believe Maliki.  The Gulf Cooperation Council -  Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE Oman, Qatar, Saudis – make more public statements off the fence, are squarely with the US on having to fight with the Iranians in future if Iran continues its aggression. US mild reaction to that has disappointed the GCC.  As they support US foreign policy they expect to get a pass from the US on human rights issues, among others.  The abandonment of Mubarak I Egypt – a longstanding autocrat, like them – was thrown under the bus in a matter of a few weeks.

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 2, Block C:  Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council, in re:  Erdogan  has badly miscalculated the strength of opposition to him, as manifested in Taksim Square, and also misjudged his own ability to make it much worse. Affects his regional standing.  Obama said, in effect, Turkey is my favorite nation in that region – oops.  Erdogan has made efforts to have peaceable relations with the Kurds in order to facilitate a pipeline, but the Iraqis aren’t happy with that, and Turkey is now so roiled that he US is unlikely to broker an agreement 'twixt Iraq and Turkey.  The Turkish military has a deep ideological divide with the current Turkish govt; 15% of the mil are behind bars because of Erdogan's govt [regrettable] crackdown, and the rest of the security services are very skeptical of Erdogan and not guaranteed to support the govt in a pinch.  

Nisman Report, Iran in South America: What Iran is bldg is a long-term project.  The 1993 bombing took about ten years t set up; means that Iran was active there since the 1980s.  Has a broad and resilient operation presence in South America.   Iran on Our Back Porch   Last week, Argentine state prosecutor Alberto Nisman dropped a bombshell when he issued his long-awaited indictment in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israel Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The 502-page report pins the blame for the attack -- which killed 85 and wounded hundreds more in what experts call Latin America's 9/11 -- squarely on the Islamic Republic of Iran. In doing so, it provides a timely reminder that Iran's radical regime is active in the Western Hemisphere and that its presence here is far broader than is commonly understood.

       Just how much is still a matter of considerable debate. Iran's activities in the Americas have exploded over the past eight years, propelled in large part by . . . Over the past three decades, the Argentine brief alleges, Iran has succeeded in quietly erecting a network of intelligence bases and covert centers that spans no fewer than eight Latin American countries: Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname. This infrastructure was instrumental in allowing Iranian proxies to carry out the AMIA bombing, as well as to plot other attacks (such as an unsuccessful 2007 attempt by Guyanese national Abdul Kadir to blow up fuel tanks at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport).  Moreover, Nisman has made clear the network enabling Iran to carry out attacks in the region, or against the United States, isn't simply a relic of history. Rather, there's good reason to believe that it remains both intact and functioning.  In fact, it could soon get even bigger. That is because . . .  [more]

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 2, Block D:  Malcolm Hoenlein, in re: Egypt: Morsi got in tatters. Economic conditions bad and worse; Muslim Brotherhood's standing not healthy. Sinai is a big problem. Horsemen without a Horse . . .  In 629, The Prophet fought Jews.  . . . For Ramadan: Strong anti-Jewish programs being made in Egypt now; Khaybar city.

Syria: it’s too late to arm the Free Syrian Army.  Obama Adm says it confirm the use of chem weapons – why now? [Ed: to deflect attention from domestic messes.]  Syrian gunships firing; brutal attack on Beirut in Sunday.  GCC fears the ramifications of world failure to intervene. Now too late. 

Israel to be punished for US intervention by sipping weapons to Assad's enemies . . .   No known good formula for Syria- see Putin's tough speech, he's gained a great deal domestically from TV programs assaying that the US is collaborating with al Qaeda. US via cutouts is making money and weapons available to al Nusrah = al Qaeda, in Syria. US has left a massive vacuum, a mortal threat to many neighbors. Who will claim a victory from all this is Iran.  Sources will not confirm that Assad used sarin. [In fact, it's highly unlikely.]

Hour Three

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, in re: polls are now open in Iran:  Malcolm's candidate is Jalili; JB roots for Valayati.  All speak of the Mahdi's reappearance – an apocalyptic event where an eleven-year-old who died a thousand years ago emerges from a well and liberates the entire world for permanent (Shi'a) Islam.  Iran is close to having the needed amt of HEU for nuclear bombs.   Syria: the US now says it'll arm the Free Syrian Army [which it’s been doing surreptitiously for a long time]; says a red line has been crossed with the use of sarin so the US may now intervene [visibly].  Russia claims to its citizens that the US is siding with al Qaeda; this increases Putin's favor domestically.  Sarin gas may have been concocted by al Q cells, same as was done in Japan; looks like a false-flag operation to trip US entry vs Assad into the Syrian war – which in turn will generate Hezbollah rocketing into Israel.  Assad has won the civil war

TThursday  13 June  2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Khaled Abu Toameh, former JPost, in re: West Bank & Gaza.  Demo in Ramallah with the black flag of al Qaeda – since when does the PA allow marches with the flags of their enemy?  Irony is that PA's negaive messages, focusing n how eveil Israel is, wants war, steals land, etc., you drive your own people into the arms of the radicals. PA shoots itself in the foot. Jubil Rajoub, Central Committee member, says that all of Israel is occupied territory.  US State Dept is not paying attention to what these guys are saying in Arabic – and its serious. Shabiheh are pulling Palestinians out of cars and beating them up in the road.  PA running an anti-normalization campaign w Israel: beat up anyone who wants to correspond with Israel, including small children who want to lay soccer.  One fellow asked: If you cal n us to boycott Israel in all respects, why are  you meeting with John Kerry to discuss it? – and the questioner was physically beaten up for daring to ask. 

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 3, Block C: Sebastian Rotella, Propublica, in re:  A closer examination of claims that the NSA's data collection programs helped prevent a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper "shows that the government surveillance only caught up with [David Coleman] Headley after the U.S. had been tipped by British intelligence."  "Even that victory came after seven years in which U.S. intelligence failed to stop Headley as he roamed the globe on missions for Islamic terror networks and Pakistan's spy agency."

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 3, Block D: Sebastian Rotella, Propublica, in re:  "Supporters of the sweeping U.S. surveillance effort say it's needed to build a haystack of information in which to find a needle that will stop a terrorist. In Headley's case, however, it appears the U.S. was handed the needle first - and then deployed 
"Supporters that led to the arrest and prosecution of Headley and other plotters."

Extensive reports  on Headley and how he planned the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.  Reporting now to show how U.S. agencies eventually caught up with Headley as he planned an attack in Copenhagen.

 See all of the reports in ProPublica "Surveillance" series. 

Hour Four

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 4, Block A: Dan Henninger, WSJ, in re:  The Sum of All Fears

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 4, Block B:  Robert Zimmerman,,  in re: China’s manned Shenzhou-10 capsule successfully completed an automated docking with its Tiengong-1 space station today.   They will spend 12 days on board the station, during which they will do, among other things, one manual docking test.

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 4, Block C: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: The President claims that the patent system in this country is seriously broken and needs to be fixed by Congress and the executive branch. He is specifically concerned about the doings of so-called patent trolls, companies that do not make products but that buy up patents and then sue businesses they claim are infringing on them. In the words of President Obama, these entities “don’t actually produce anything themselves.” Their business model relies on “leverage[ing] and hijack[ing] somebody else’s idea [to] see if they can extort some money out of them.” But there are good reasons to question the President’s reasoning…

Thursday  13 June  2013  / Hour 4, Block D:   Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re:  Supreme Court Rules Human Genes May Not Be Patented  The ruling will shape the course of research and testing, and it may alter the willingness of businesses to invest in understanding genetic material.

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