Thursday 16 January 2014
Photo, above: The political activist Heshmat Tabarzadi, released on furlough from an eight-year prison sentence.
Heshmatollah Tabarzadi is an Iranian democratic activist. Tabarzadi has been arrested several times on charges related to his political activities, most recently in December 2009. In October 2010, a court sentenced him to nine additional years in jail and 74 lashes, a sentence that was reduced to eight years on appeal.
Political activities Tabarzadi served as the leader of the banned opposition group, the Democratic Front of Iran. Tabarzadi was viewed by the government as one of the leaders of the student protests of July 9, 1999. He was arrested and spent nine years in Evin Prison, including two in solitary confinement, for his activities as a student leader.
Following the December 7, 2009 Student Day protests in Iran, Tabarzadi published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, writing, "One thing is certain: Dec. 7 proved that the movement for a free, democratic Iran is robust and only growing in strength. If the government continues to opt for violence, there very well may be another revolution in Iran. One side has to step down. And that side is the government—-not the people." On the evening of December 27, the day of the 2009 Ashura protests, Tabarzadi was interviewed on Voice of America Persian, stating that the protests were the largest he had ever seen. He also called on protesters to keep the protests nonviolent. See Hour 2, Block B, Michael Ledeen, FDD – his letter from Tabarzadi translated by the distinguished Persian observer Banafsheh Zand.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-host: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board.
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Sean Sullivan, Washington Post, in re:
David Jolly wins GOP nomination for Florida special election Republican David Jolly won his party's nomination for Congress in Florida's 13th District Tuesday, advancing to a special election showdown against Democrat Alex Sink in a race that's shaping up as a microcosm of the national political battle over Obamacare.
Jolly bested two other Republicans, state Rep. Kathleen Peters and retired Marine Brig. Gen. Mark Bircher, a political newcomer backed by former congressman Allen West (R-Fla.). The Associated Press called the race for Jolly with more than nine in 10 precincts reporting. He led the way with 45 percent of the vote.
The lead-up to the March election in this purple district is expected to be competitive. Sink, the former state chief financial officer, coasted to her party's nomination unopposed and raised heaps of cash as the Republicans beat each other up in the primary. The special election promises to be a testing ground for each party's strategy on the health-care law. Sink favors repairing the law rather than repealing it. Jolly favors repeal. He said in a recent interview with The Washington Post that he believes the health-care law will be the central focus of the election. Sink doesn't agree.
When Sink launched her bid last fall, the government shutdown had just done serious damage to the GOP's image. But since then, the problematic rollout of Obamacare has tipped the scales in the other direction. Jolly has pitched himself as a natural successor to late congressman C.W. Bill Young, his former boss. Young (R), one of the longest-serving members in U.S. House history, died in October, triggering the special election to fill his seat.
Young is viewed in the district as political royalty. But legislative legacy was upstaged in the closing stage of the primary by his personal life. A report in the Tampa Bay Times detailed Young's first marriage and his distant relationship with his children from that marriage, which mostly remained tucked away from the public’s view for decades.
There was more family drama related to Young's other family. His widow, Beverly Young, backed Jolly to fill the seat. Bill Young II, the son of Beverly and Bill, backed Peters. Jolly’s first TV ad featured Beverly Young saying, “David will continue what Bill Young started.”
Jolly was not seen as a top recruit for the race. But after marquee GOP names passed, he seized the advantage, outspending his opponents on TV advertising.
The special election will be held on March 11.
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 1, Block B: Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: With $613 Million at Stake, an Albany Rivalry Is Said to Escalate
Cuomo and Schneiderman Prepare to Fight Over JPMorgan Settlement. As he prepares to seek re-election in November, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has already amassed more than $33 million to finance his bid for a second term, his campaign team said on Wednesday. Even without a formidable opponent, Mr. Cuomo is continuing to collect donations at a brisk pace: He raised $7 million in the past six months. The fund-raising by Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, further solidifies his strong position as he gets ready to run again. It also highlights the magnitude of the challenge that would face any Republican who tries to run against him. The size of Mr. Cuomo’s campaign account is particularly striking because it exceeds what he spent on his entire 2010 campaign for governor: about $28 million, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group, which tracks campaign spending. As with his past fund-raising, Mr. Cuomo benefited from large donors writing five-figure checks, particularly from the real estate industry, as well as . . .
Cuomo Has Raised Over $33 Million for Re-election Bid The size of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s war chest exceeds what he spent on his entire 2010 campaign, and it highlights the challenge that a Republican opponent would face. The fractious and even toxic relationship between Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor, and his attorney general, Eric Schneiderman . . .
City's illegal ivory trade threatens elephants Africa's massive mammals could go extinct if the sale of material from their tusks is not stopped in New York City and elsewhere, advocates said at a hearing in Manhattan Thursday. About 96 elephants are killed every day in Africa—one every 15 minutes—a slaughter that has contributed to a 76% drop in their population since 2002. Experts trace the catastrophic decline in part to a thriving trade for illegal ivory here in New York City, where state and federal environmental agencies seized more than $2 million worth of the material from elephants' tusks in 2012.
"I've been in wildlife law enforcement for 30 years, and I've never seen anything like this before," said William C. Woody, assistant director of the Office of Law Enforcement at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. "The price per pound [of ivory] has doubled in the past 30 years." Mr. Woody was testifying at a state Assembly hearing Thursday about the growing problem. Up to 60% of dead elephants in Africa are now killed illegally, creating . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics, in re: Half the people said to be enrolled come from states that didn’t even try to expand the Obamacare enrollment . . . $500 million for he website, alone; approximately zero security attached to enrollees' data; and we'll never know how many people have been enrolled so far – unfathomable from the artfully limited information released by Washington.
A Second Look at Medicaid Enrollment Numbers There were two major problems with the administration’s numbers. First, of the 4 million new enrollees, more than half of were in states that did not even undertake the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. So we can be pretty comfortable that the number of enrollees due to the ACA is no more than 1.9 million, using the data provided by the administration.
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Jose Mallea, LIBRE, in re: The finished product turned out to be more punchline than health care portal. The glitchy "Spanglish" site is not only a technical disaster; it's also an embarrassment to the Spanish language and a sign of disrespect to the Hispanic-American community, for whom much is at stake in the health care debate. According to the Census Bureau, just under 30%of the Hispanic community lacks health insurance. This is 50% higher than the African-American rate of 19% and nearly triple the white rate of 11%.
Hispanic group offers anti-ACA ad A conservative Hispanic advocacy group will launch a new round of ads Wednesday targeting a vulnerable House Democrat over Obamacare — an effort that highlights the problems that it says Latinos have faced with the health care law.
The ad from the LIBRE Initiative goes after Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) and stars a Latina doctor in southern Florida who cites a handful of concerns she has about the Affordable Care Act — such as higher premiums and canceled insurance policies.
“This law does not put patients first,” the physician, Grazie Pozo Christie, says in the ad. “My patients ask if I will continue to provide care for them, and it pains me to say, ‘I don’t have an answer.’”
The ad closes by urging viewers to express their opposition to the health care law to Garcia. The broadcast and digital ads will run in the lawmaker’s Miami-area district on English-language stations starting Wednesday through Feb. 6.
This is the second series of ads that the LIBRE Initiative has run against the freshman Democrat on Obamacare, and a spokesman for the group said it will have spent more than $700,000 in Garcia’s district alone with the two ads.
“This law is hurting families in Florida and around the nation — and is doing particular damage in the Hispanic community,” the group’s executive director, Daniel Garza, will say in a . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 2, Block A: Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: Senate Intell C'ee report accurately captures the story. A low-level analyst wrote: "We know that al Qaeda was involved" – and that was removed from the text by CIA. State Dept knew all this. Patrick Kennedy. It was a continuous attack, the exogenous video did not figure in. DIA picked up immediately that it was an organized attack: mortars are crew-operated weapons; and the mortars zeroed I because a trained crew had made preparations. CIA pushed the story that this as spontaneous – shows how ignorant they are. Shameful! Neither AFRICOM nor ___ was aware that the CIA had an annex in Benghazi. . . . recently three members of House Select Intell C'ee: unnamed speakers with primary knowledge of the attack – Amb Stevens had tesitified before House Intell Select Committee in August - unprecedented unless he was in intell. Black budget. We weren't supposed to know or ask about it all. State & CI tried to ignore it, but two dead bodies on the roof, SEALS – hard to keep this silent for long. Amb Stevens was believed to have been kidnapped by Islamic extremists – State refused to activate ad prepare to respond to this kind of even (people in the Counterterrorism Office wanted to) who shows how incompetent and inept the leadership were and that Secy Clinton was [completely subsumed in her] political ambitions. Also: Note the Syrian chem. weapons attack, and how it ties directly into Benghazi. CIA Dir Petraeus was in Turkey the week before - Turkey and Saudi Arabia were major players involving weapons to the Syrian rebels because at that tie the US was supposed to be about to intervene on the side of the rebels.
Some Key Revelations from the Senate Report on Benghazi The bipartisan Benghazi report issued today by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) is, as I noted in an earlier post, a damning document. The findings, which I list in the preceding blog post, are very straightforward. This report shreds the credibility of the New York Times, who attempted to push the lie that the attack was motivated/inspired by some insipid video. Nope. The SSCI report eliminates any doubt that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack that was carried out by Islamic extremists, many with ties to Al Qaeda. It is unfortunate that the public cannot read the classified version of this report. Nonetheless, both Democrats and Republicans agreed the . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Michael Ledeen, FDD, in re: A leader in the student movement in the 1980s and 90s; arrested, sentenced to eight years in jail – now suddenly dragged back to prison. He left a document in which he tells his story – dissidents jailed, regularly tortured, he calls on the word to do something, ot be silent. Regime increased the rate of executions since last June. Call them out, demand the freedom of political prisoners. He's quite a man – in the same category as Aung San Suu Kyi, and Natan Shcharansky.
Despair. The most advanced nations on Earth are about to make a deal with the devil. We've abandoned them. We learned during WWI: even prisoners in Nazi death camps – if word leaders called someone's name, his survival rate was much higher. WE must give thee people names – cannot let them sink into anonymity.
The 55 Senators are extremely displeased that the White House won’t let them know what the deal is with Iran. I sure as Hell wouldn't sign it.
Do not make a deal with the Devil.
I’ve received what follows from Iran, via Banafsheh Zand, who has written here on several occasions. As you will see, it’s an open letter from one of the bravest men of our time, Heshmat Tabarzadi, a fighter for the freedom of the Iranian people who has repeatedly put his life on the line in that worthy cause. Heshmat was one of the central figures in the Iranian student movement, and then joined the Green Movement that was cheated out of its electoral victory in 2009. Along with other Green leaders, Heshmat was subsequently arrested, convicted by a “Revolutionary Tribunal,” and locked away.
[Heshmat Tabarzadi writes:] . . . I therefore call for the leaders of the 5+1, the international community, organizations, activists and other government leaders to demand of the Iranian authorities to stop these senseless executions and to free all political prisoners. Mr. Nelson Mandela was recently honored by the international community as well as the Iranian government. However, Mr. Mandela’s struggles as a political activist and prisoner, only after being amplified by the pressures from the international community, resulted in his freedom and abolition of apartheid in South Africa. Today 50% of the Iranian population, the women, are facing gender apartheid; not to mention the violation of the basic rights of minorities, ethnicities and many others.
Today I am free with my family while you can make a difference, but tomorrow may be too late.
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, in re: The Nuke Silo Cheating Scandal, Explained Some of the airmen who watch over America's nukes are accused of cheating on their proficiency tests. Why would they do that, and what's going on at America's remote ICBM bases?
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Jillian Kay Melchior, National Review Online, in re: Obamacare’s Fishy Navigators In New Mexico, 38 of them turned up in a federal crime database. One in seven of New Mexico’s certified Obamacare navigators had a match in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, according to public records obtained by National Review Online. In total, 38 health-care guides or certified application counselors received their certification despite a match, according to records from the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance (OSI), which certifies navigators working with the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange.
A hit in the NCIC does not necessarily reflect a criminal conviction. The database can include, for example, arrest records and criminal cases that were dismissed or led to an acquittal, according to the FBI. An NCIC background check is “a tool for finding out if there may be an issue. It’s not a tool for knowing that there is one,” says Aaron Ezekiel, the OSI’s director of Affordable Care Act Implementation Projects.
The records obtained by NRO did not specify how many of the 38 navigators with NCIC hits had been convicted of a crime. Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress late last year that it was “possible” for convicted felons to be working as navigators.
When navigators sign up people for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, they have access to private information, including Social Security numbers, financial data, and health records. Certified New Mexico navigators had been charged with crimes including: eight domestic-violence charges, including aggravated battery and aggravated assault of a household member; four drug charges; two larceny charges; one petty-theft charge; one shoplifting charge; and two child-abuse charges. There were also several driving-related charges, including DWIs, DUIs, and speeding or traffic crimes. In at least two instances, navigators had traffic charges for lacking insurance. The OSI does not retain records regarding . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 3, Block A: Paul Howard, Manhattan Institute, in re: Better Healthcare New data from the Oregon Medicaid expansion study—examining a 2008 lottery where 30,000 random winners, all low-income uninsured people, got the opportunity to apply for Medicaid—gives fodder for critics of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The study found Medicaid enrollees used the Emergency Room much more frequently than the uninsured control group, increasing overall health care costs with no improvement in health outcomes. The study punctures the argument of Obamacare supporters that expanding coverage will lower health care costs by increasing access to primary and preventive care, and decrease unnecessary ER use.
The Oregon study found that Medicaid enrollees used hospital emergency rooms about 40 percent more often than the control group of lottery “losers.” The authors point out that this was not necessarily an a priori conclusion: more appropriate use of primary care or preventive care (both of which are free or nearly free for enrollees) could theoretically reduce the use of ER, particularly for chronic ailments. What the authors found, however, is that enrollees not only increased their use of primary and preventive care, they also . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 3, Block B: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re: In order to ensure the safety and security of Americans’ personal data, Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today called on President Obama to formally certify the safety and security of Healthcare.gov.
Chairman Smith: “When the Obama Administration launched Healthcare.gov, Americans were led to believe that the website was safe and secure. As we have learned, this was not the case. If Americans’ information is not secure, then the theft of their identities is inevitable and dangerous. It is obvious that Healthcare.gov is in need of an outside, independent audit. The President should formally certify the safety requirements, security standards and privacy conditions of Healthcare.gov. Given the potential risks and dangers associated with Healthcare.gov today, the President should not let the American people be the next target of cyber criminals.”
The Science Committee held a hearing in November that outlined the significant threat to Americans if hackers gained information through Healthcare.gov. Witnesses today outlined the consequences of identity theft. David Kennedy, a “white hat hacker” who testified in November, provided . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 3, Block C: Daniel Henninger, WSJ WONDER LAND, in re: Chris Christie Is an Amateur
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Robert Zimmerman, behindtheblack.com, in re: I'm shocked, shocked! NASA’s first test flight of both the Orion capsule and the heavy-lift SLS rocket in 2017 might be delayed because of design problems with the European-built service module.
Overweight and struggling with design delays, the European-built service module for the Orion crew exploration vehicle may not be ready for a much-anticipated test flight by the end of 2017. The preliminary design review for the Orion spacecraft’s critical engine and power element is now on track for May after a six-month delay to contend with weight issues, according to Thomas Reiter, director of the European Space Agency’s human spaceflight and operations programs.
I'm willing to bet that SpaceX will put astronauts in space on Dragonrider before this unmanned SLS flight occurs. Orbital Sciences outlines the upgrades it plans for Cygnus and Antares.
Replacing Antares’ Russian engines is their biggest problem, but along the way they are installing a number of improvements to Cygnus that will up its cargo capacity.
A detailed look at how the budget deal effects the NASA budget. As Messier notes, the budget is generally flat, with little significant change either up or down.
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Ken Croswell, Physics World, in re: Pulsar and companions will put general relativity to the test Astronomers have discovered the first pulsar with two stars circling it. By watching the three objects orbit one another, observers will soon be able to perform the best-ever test of the "strong equivalence principle", which is a key prediction of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.
Like the Newtonian theory of gravity that came before it, Einstein's general theory of relativity says that gravity does not discriminate: it accelerates all objects equally, no matter what their size, shape or composition. Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott demonstrated this so-called equivalence principle on the Moon in 1971 by dropping a hammer and a falcon's feather, which hit the lunar surface simultaneously. The strong equivalence principle of general relativity goes further, saying that gravity should accelerate all objects in the same way even if the objects hold themselves together with their own gravity. In other words, the gravitational self-energy that binds a planet or star together should have no effect on how it is accelerated. This is unlike theories that seek to topple general relatively and predict a small deviation related to gravitational self-energy called the Nordtvedt effect.
Three-body test The most exacting test of the strong equivalence principle performed so far involves tracking the Earth and the Moon. As they orbit the Sun, both are . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Michelle Conlin, Reuters, in re: Underfunded U.S. homeowner associations get heavy For six years, Ingrid Boak, who travels a lot for work as a racehorse trainer, ignored mail from her homeowner association. Boak, of Lexington, Kentucky, says the letters were requests for $48 in annual fees for upkeep of the tidy neighborhood of one-story brick homes. Because she didn't use the clubhouse or pool, or participate in social activities sponsored by the association, she didn't think she needed to pay. Last September, while she was away, a neighbor called to tell her about a handwritten sign tacked to her front door. It said her house had been sold.
Masterson Station Neighborhood Association had foreclosed on her $120,000 home because she had $288 in unpaid dues, according to . . .
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 4, Block C: The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light Paul Bogard (1 of 2)
Thursday 16 January 2014 / Hour 4, Block D: The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light Paul Bogard (2 of 2)
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Hour 1: Miami Vice. Road to Perdition.
Hour 2: Madagascar. Gears of War 2. Apocalypse Now. Sin City.
Hour 3: The Recruit. The New World. House of Cards. Elysium.
Hour 4: Battlestar Galactica. Elysium.