The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 18 April 2013

Air Date: 
April 18, 2013


Photo, above:  Saint Catherine's Monastery lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai in the city of Saint Catherine in Egypt's South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 548 and 565, this monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world, together with the Monastery of Saint Anthony, situated across the Red Sea in the desert south of Cairo, which also lays claim to that title. In the area around the monastery a small town has grown up, with hotels, called Saint Katherine City. See below: Hour 2, Block A.


Co-host: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents

Hour One

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re:  Hard to get a real feeling for this sort of event [terrorist attack] unless you see it. Once in Jerusalem, after a horrible explosion, a young colonel insisted I go see what happened; it was appalling: a bus exploded into pieces, body parts scattered. It's important to know that such an act is not a political statement; it needs to be labeled an act of terrorism.  Many Israelis are unhappily familiar with this.  Even though it wasn't Israeli Remembrance Day, the Israeli embassy got a lot of call of condolence.  JB: Boston looks like a team: clearly not a one-wolf op. Shahids always were delivered by teams.  MH: The phrase "lone wolf" inevitably is a mistake – there's always an emir, someone who generates the thought and helps with planning.   Commissioner Kelly deserves so much credit in New York, as do the city and state for funding anti-terrorist work.

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Matt Siegel, NYT in Australia, in re: Risdon prison, Tasmania.  MARK BRANDON READ – now famous for being notorious in Australia, the most notorious criminal in Melbourne; spent 25 years or more in two different prisons; now considered to be an author and painter - sat quietly drinking lemonade in a small garden behind his favorite pub, the back of his chair positioned against an aging red brick wall that afforded him a clear line of sight to all possible escape routes. He looked affable enough, and the silver-plated dentures that long ago replaced his upper front teeth only added to the disarming smile that he occasionally flashed to great effect.  But before any real conversation could get started, the man better known by the nom de guerre Chopper wanted to make something perfectly clear: the number of murders attributed to him — roughly 19 at this point — is grossly exaggerated. “Look, honestly, I haven’t killed that many people,” he said matter-of-factly before finally settling on a number that he said felt more accurate: “probably about four or seven, depending on how you look at it. [Says he killed only "bad guys," no "good guys." Has had up to 19 murders attributed to him. Is a canny showman.] In his 58 years, Mr. Read has been many things to many people: . . .” [more]

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Nicholas Wapshott, author, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage, in re: Margaret Thatcher.   Churchill got a royal funeral. Mrs Thatcher chose the hymns for her funeral (in St Paul's Cathedral, C of E, where Nelson was buried); grew up a strict Methodist, played the organ n the church chapel. She eventually dispensed with that, arrived at the true faith of he conservative party In a party of aristocrats and landowners, she was a child of the working class and brought herself up through sheer ability. She was not only a great statesman but also a great military leader. Churchill did not leave the country in prosperity – it had survived; took a long tie to pay debts and get back on its feet; Thatcher deconstructed the wartime welfare statism – became socialist as infrastructure was taken over by the state. Thatcher's most popular move was to [sell? give?] homes to everyone living in state-owned housing. Also moved the whole country toward entrepreneurialism. Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko; then realized that Gorbachev was the coming leader; Thatcher called Reagan, said "This is a man you can do business with," and Reagan, Thatcher and the Pope all helped move toward the end of the Soviet Union.

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Paul Sperry, IBD, and author, The Great American Bank Robbery: The Unauthorized Report About What Really Caused the Great Recession, in re: ACORN Clones Secretly Advising Obama's Credit Cops - The federal credit watchdog agency created by financial reforms to help prevent another crisis is taking key housing policy advice from some of the same militant housing-rights activists who promoted risky subprime lending before the crisis. The radical activists play a formal — and often secretive — role in influencing policy at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency that has the power to police virtually every financial transaction in the U.S. for "fairness." Over the past six months, they've met behind closed doors with top CFPB officials to help draft aggressive new "fair-lending" enforcement rules. They are among the 25 taxpayer-compensated members of a recently impaneled Consumer Advisory Board that was set up to provide "information, analysis and recommendations" to CFPB. The board's charter states "the director shall appoint the members without regard to party affiliation." Yet almost all are Democrats and some are major party fundraisers. A few are trial lawyers who make a living suing banks. Some have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grant money. CFPB is not only paying these housing-rights zealots for their advice, but is contracting with them to help it investigate lenders. Overall, the agency awarded an eye-popping $150 million in contracts and services in 2012. CFPB Director Richard Cordray appointed the board members to three-year terms starting last year. He himself was appointed to a five-year term by President Obama while Congress was in recess. Senate Republicans are trying to block his formal confirmation, while conservative groups challenge the constitutionality of CFPB's unique organization and budget. The $600 million agency is independently funded and largely unaccountable to Congress. Its shadowy group of advisers raises new questions about undue influence and transparency at the controversial new agency. - Radical Influence . . .   [more]

Hour Two

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  . Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: [quick recap of Boston story]; two rockets land in Eilat, out of Sinai, a rogue state, a failed state, part of the governance of Egypt. At the other end of the rocket is a gang that's fearless of the Egyptian military. Israel is reluctant to anything that exacerbates the instability  Egypt. The Egyptian army is essentially helpless in the Sinai. Radicalization of some Bedouin, influx of Libyan weapons with fighters from all over – the wild wild west. Seventh time since 2010 that missiles have been fired at Eilat. If Israel retaliates, poses problems between Israel and Egypt  Sinai is increasingly a base of operation.  Egypt closing smuggling tunnels, Gaza-Egypt, to protect itself.  Al Qaeda is definitely in Sinai, has been for a long tie; one of multiple franchise. Presence here is a reflection of loss of control; Sinai threatens Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, Yemen. Hezbollah: overwhelmed by failure of Assad regime?  Don’t want to open a new front..; 1200 troops crossed over into Syria recently, are fighting in [?] Homs.  Heavily invested in Syria; will be reluctant to fight Israel right now.  Turkey: opera of visiting Gaza.  A fiction. Turkey blocked Israel's participation in the Mediterranean group – 6 Arab countries plus Israel. Turkey demanding hat the Gaza blocked be lifted despite the fact that it’s already been much lifted; effort to bomb synagogues. Erdogan's rhetoric is getting worse. Secy Kerry.

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Sarkis Naoum,  senior columnist and analysis for An Nahar (Lebanon); in re: Need coherent regional poicy; Arabs to unite with Syrian opposition and establish a real Free Syrian Army. The crisis in Syria drags on with consequences that are already reshaping the neighborhood. What's the future of the Assads and of Syria, itself?  What are the implications of the Syrian crisis for Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Iran?  A regional tour d’horizon: Syrian crisis: sectarian in nature, as the Alawites continue to support the al-Assad regime fearing retribution from the Sunnis while Christians and other minorities also maintain their allegiances accordingly. At its outset, unrest in Syria began as a movement of popular protest against the ruling regime; in time, sectarian tensions have taken on greater dimensions in the conflict, embroiling the country in its current state of civil war. "Even if Assad falls, the conflict will continue unabated."  Assad is not the sole decision-maker among the political and military elite in Syria. The military has historically played a significant role in Syria, and its leaders wield significant power over the decision-making processes in the country; their input will likely determine the outcome of the conflict. Projection that the Assad regime will fall in time – but a partial fall: it'll maintain power in certain regions while being forced to relinquish it in others. By this logic, Assad and his allies could sustain the conflict indefinitely.  Regional and international dynamics shape the Syrian conflict:  American, Turkish, and Arab hesitation to support the rebels has, in turn, empowered the Assad regime. Major powers need to form a consensus, work with the Syrian opposition to form a united Free Syrian Army. Caution vs direct Western military intervention, which would enflame a region already experiencing rising rates of Islamism and widespread discontent with US and European policies.    

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Douglas Murray, Henry Jackson Society assoc. dir, in re:  Baroness Thatcher, "freedom fighter" – at home, pulling the country out froma  mire in the 1980s; also abroad – with Pres Reagan and the Pope she helped defeat the USSR. An extraordinary and transformative leader; only one such person in a lifetime. MH: I was taken aback by the animosity expressed against her in England.  DM: Trades unions; the BBC went to he greatest enemies to write obituaries; head of Sinn Fein was invited to read her obituary despite the fact that they tried to murder her. Terrorists, Communists, all sorts of people hated her.

Al Qaeda in the US. "For over a decade, al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism have posed the most significant threat to US national security. This manifested itself most devastatingly on September 11, 2001. Since then, a number of aQ’s key leaders have been either killed or captured; however, the group is adaptable and its threat has diversified. AQ and its various franchises still aspire to attack US interests and, significantly, are still able to recruit US citizens to its cause.   Al-Qaeda in the United States shows how the terrorist threat within the US has developed, by profiling all AQ or AQ- inspired terrorists who were convicted in US courts (federal and military) or who participated in suicide attacks against the US homeland between 1997 and 2011." [more]

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Aaron David Miller, New Initiatives VP, and Woodrow Wilson Intl Center for Scholars; in re: meaning of Fayyad’s resignation. Middle East & Israel after Pres Obama’s visit. Heads of state visit. Palestinians face a leadership of historic proportions. Fayyad subscribes to accountability, democracy; but power in Palestine flows from association with the Great Leader (Abu Ammar) and grievances; Fayyad is in an envt hostile to his thinking. Since Israelis and Palestinians are not willing or able to deal with peace process from ht ground up, [it isn’t happening].  Does the removal of Fayyad mean this is the end of this process? Will expose the myth of Palestinian unity. It resembles Noah's Ark: 2 constitutions, 2 sets of security svcs, 2  different visions of what and even where Palestine shd be – Hamas and Fatah.  All dysfunctional.  Intention without capacity or capacity without intention – neither will work. People are too invested in the current "peace process" to try something else. Kerry has to operate in this tiny space.  Neither Israel no PA is prepared to pay the price to resolve the four or five core issues in the conflict. Of the four key players in this issue, only the Palestinians feel urgency to press for a two-state solution. 

Hour Three

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: "both men lingered in the area to see the results of their attacks"  a Young man wearing a black baseball cap and carrying a black backpack over both shoulders; anther white baseball cap turned around, carried black backpack over one shoulder. Report now: gunshots at MIT.   Mass General physician said it was a credit to Israel that the hospital had a quick and effective response team for terrorist attacks.  MIT: officer down.  Stata bldg.

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Congressman Ed Royce (CA-39; R), Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman, in re:  US Response to Syrian crisis. North Korea – human rights abuses, missile launch. Nuclear Iran Prevention Act.  First responders in Boston bombing: cold use the new technology in a way tat responded very quickly; at the same time, we're in a world where al Q can show you how to make a bomb in your mom's kitchen Info bounces around the Net so anyone with a grudge can dnload.   DPRK: nonproliferation, or countering the NKorean ability to dvp a weapon – what we worry abt is DPRK transferring the technology to Iran; tried to give to Syria, but Israel's response prevented that. US gave aid to North Korea in exchange for a promise not to have a nuke program; they used that aid to build two separate programs to make an atomic warhead. In 2005, US gave banks a choice: deal wit US or w North Korea (which is a global nexus of counterfeiting); we need to return to that type of sanctions.  Until we close those banks fronting for North Korea, we wont get the results that we want.  Also drug proliferation – meth – and missiles: all can be intercepted by ships on the high seas. Absent cash, Kim can’t pay his generals, which is quite awkward for Kim.  I argued with Chinese that they don’t want to see a nuclear arms race in East Asia – Taiwan, Japan, South Korea; but that's where we're headed with DPRK's behavior, which China can bring to a halt. 

One of the Subcommittee's main foci is the catastrophic, global threat posed by Islamist terrorism, especially the al Qaeda network. It also explored issues such as the ideology that inspires terrorism; terrorist financing; terrorist sanctuaries and failed states; and capacity-building of foreign forces to fight terrorism.  The Subcommittee's jurisdiction over nonproliferation issues is crucial given the severity of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands. In Congressional hearings in 1996, Royce warned of the terrorist breeding ground in Afghanistan where al-Qaeda was training. 

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  Edward Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: MIT shooting, cop down. Face of one of the two bombing suspects on video is clear. McVeigh in Oklahoma was apprehended at a traffic stop. Faisal Shazad (Times Square) was busted for imbecilic errors. EH: Need individual initiative; once in the Bronx when I was a young DA, a guy was holding hostages; the cop drove his car right through the glass window into the store, the gunman was so shocked that the cop immediately was able to arrest him. New York has a superb police force, but no one can stop a situation where one guy decides to blow up a basketball court.

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Heidi Przbyla, Bloomberg, in re: gun bill defeated and not looking back.

Hour Four

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: Shooting at MIT, police scanner reports that a policeman has died.  Mass has very strict gun laws; highly unususal for a gun to be at MT in Cambridge.  What struck me about the two guys in the bombing video was that they new what to wear where to go; had surveilled, conducted reconnaissance, knew how not to stand out. To fellows looked like young men, both with baseball caps, one forward, one turned back (odd tradecraft); first has backpack on both shoulder, with sunglasses, dark sideburn. Well planned, choreographed, practiced. Strongly suggests a local presence – whether there as students, or were from overseas and had spent time there.  These guys' comfort and blending in to the crowd is significant. CNN says it has video of them staying around to watch the chaos they'd set off. This is a team; Also bomb builders, scouts, infiltration and exfiltration specialists? Yes; when you  have two, you have a conspiracy. Not two college kids out drinking the night before. Were trained; had built similar devices before and set them off, practiced how to walk down a pathway; also exit strategy.  These two guys will not have  a good night's sleep till they're either captured or killed.  We now can track people in the US and overseas to a phenomenal degree more than a decade ago. Someone will now them. Someone will call in. They'll be apprehended.

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Abe Katsman, Daily Beast, in re: 

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Robert Zimmerman,, in re: Antares; Kepler

Thursday  18 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re: Mercedes highjacked by "two  men of Middle Eastern origin," run on to Memorial Drive . . . 20,000 people listening on Boston police scanner frequency. Cop said to be confirmed deceased.


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