The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 28 February 2013

Air Date: 
February 28, 2013

Photo, above:  Temple at Karnak: major fire?  The country is broke – has three months' worth of hard currency left, then the abyss – and the police, security forces and townspeople are robbing graves and irreplaceable historic sites to bring in money.


Co-hosts: Edward Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents.

Hour One

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Edward Hayes, in re: Oscar Pistorius murder trial.  Mother Bloomberg and the monster soda pops.

Since news broke of the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp on the morning of Valentine's Day, Oscar Pistorius has been at the top of the global news agenda. As the intense bail hearing progressed last week, the South African criminal justice system has also been on trial. It is truly unprecedented that international news channels interrupt normal programming for close to two hours to broadcast live audio from a Pretoria magistrate. Because Desmond Nair would not allow television cameras in his courtroom, they were forced to show static file images or live footage from outside the court while Nair's ruling on Pistorius's bail application was broadcast. During the hearing, the world listened while the cross-examination of the former investigating officer, Hilton Botha, revealed the propensity of police to bungle cases, either through negligence or incompetence. But it was the way Botha was recharged for attempted murder which exposed that the discord between the police and prosecutors, which almost led to violent confrontations between the two arms of state during the corruption trial of former police chief Jackie Selebi, has not gone away.

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Edward Hayes, in re:

San Diego Ex-Mayor Confronts $1 Billion Gambling Problem  A former mayor of San Diego spent the last decade wagering more than a billion dollars at casinos across the country, eventually liquidating her savings, auctioning her belongings, selling off real estate, borrowing from friends and taking more than $2 million from a charity set up by her late husband, a fast-food tycoon.   The former mayor, Maureen O’Connor, 66, blamed an addiction to gambling aggravated by a brain tumor for the gargantuan spree. Her lawyers said that while she had made well over a billion dollars in bets at casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and San Diego, her actual net losses were around $13 million. Federal prosecutors said it was impossible to know precisely how much Ms. O’Connor had lost over those years, but she emerged with her fortune gone and her health shattered. She took out second and third mortgages on her La Jolla, Calif., home to pay for the gambling. The former Southern California political power broker, whose husband, Robert O. Peterson, founded the Jack-in-the-Box fast-food chain, appeared in court in San Diego on Thursday to answer to charges that she had stolen money from her late husband’s foundation to fuel her addiction. [more]

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Lara M Brown, Villanova, and Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, in re: the politics of sequestration.

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover senior Fellow, in re: Why does the president disdain the hyperrich yet carry on in his leisure life as a one per center? You get the impression that he's in a time warp - didn’t make enough in Chicago to enjoy luxe – and is making up for it all right now.  Lecturing abt the evils of rich people. Gas in Selma, California, is currently $4.06 a gallon, not even during the regular driving season.

Hour Two

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Congressman Peter King (NY-2), in re: Pres Obama's visit to Israel, Homeland Security, sequestration and what it means for security. counterterrorism. Terrorism is no longer limited to bombings & hijackings in the digital age; attacks on computer networks & govt infrastructure systems are commoner than ever. What threats do the  US & Israel face? What's the Israeli contribution to US counterterrorism efforts? Is there cooperation between the two countries on cyberterrorism? Pete King has been a strong New York voice anent funding for those ravaged by the storm Sandy.  Tomorrow: sequester strikes; one area they'd look to cut wd be grants, which New York depends on to keep track of and unearth terrorists.  We definitely can find $85 bil to cut, but cutting a great deal from Homeland Security is unwise. Cut need to be surgical, selective; the president's overweening statements are inappropriate. Woodward was in fact right, and the Dem Party's attacks on him are unworthy. Oddest because Woodward is basically a supporter of this Administration.  Pres Obama in Israel: to check off the box, say he's been there. US support of Israel is smart because Israel sis our main ally in the most dangerous part of he world. It doesn't subscribe to the moral relativism that's degraded much of US discourse; Pres Obama decided this was arrogance, and since then he's treated Israel worse, and Netanyahu in particular, than America has ever treated any other ally.  Iron Dome may be discontinued if the sequester cuts include imprudent DOD cuts; Pres Obama can use this as an excuse to damage Israel. Cyberterrorism: yes, this is the extreme fight of the early Twenty-first Century. We need voluntary standards for the private sector – China and Iran are coming at us like a speeding train.

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Michael Singh, managing director of The Washington Institute and former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council; in re: outcome of the P5+1 talks on Iran, and a new deal that the US reportedly offered. Last time we made a proposal to Iran, no response; again this time, no response. So now we offer them more, demand less; in other words, we're negotiating with ourselves.   In Kazakhstan, Iranians had bilateral mtgs with everyone but the US.  They've gamed the system and gained another two months. Initial reports out of Almaty are being called "positive" – but since months ago, the Iranians have vastly increase their nuclear infrastructure.  Our allies wind up being confused: what signal is the US sending by putting in a carrier then pulling it out? What kind of US commitment is this? P5+1 will meet again in Kazakhstan; no progress will occur unless Iran thinks the US position is serious [but it's not –frustrated editor].    If Iran makes a breakout, we need to review our options. But this cold extend out into the future; we need to take the timing and pressure our of their hands.  Syria?  So far, our position hasn’t changed.

die Speichellecker und Iran

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Amb. Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; former Legal Adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador of Israel to Canada; in re: 
today's UN conference. Amb. Baker spoke extensively today at the Incitement of Terror Conference at the UN, which discussed historical precedents of inciting violence and genocide in terrorism and how they're applicable today: with Iran’s threats to destroy Israel and the ways in which Hamas and PA demonize Israel. Amb Baker wrote a draft resolution that Amb. Prossor will introduce. A speaker today was  a Christian pastor who was tortured, now travels the world to publicize the fact that Christians are now the most persecuted people on Earth.  The UN has never agreed on a definition of terrorism; as soon as the Indians proposed a useful one, a bloc of forty-odd Islamic states prevented the UN from agreeing on wording on the ground that it would not be allowed to interfere in violence against Israel and others.  Incitement.  Draft convention.  Is Jerusalem Really Negotiable?  Jerusalem’s Place in the Peace Process.

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:    Steven A. Cook is Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; in re: Egypt.  Also, his new book, The Struggle for Egypt.    Egypt is out of foreign currency; has reserves for three months of food and fuel, then the cliff. Collapsing authority of the central govt.  Two billion dollars went to protect the Egyptian pound; IMF deal yet to be consummated. Saudi funds are to keep Egypt from either failing or succeeding.   Muslim Brotherhood, esp Freedom & Justice Party subgroup, oppose IMF deal. No parliament for another three months, Default: "We'll just wait for intl donors to blink." Egyptian nationalists will convince themselves that it’s everybody's fault but their own.  In Port Said, govt tried to invoke emergency law, martial law, and the citizenry simply refused.   Govt lost control of Port Said.

Can Egypt Survive Its Latest Crisis   Egypt is in the midst of a very serious crisis, says CFR's Steven A. Cook, who points to President Morsi's recent decision to declare a "state of emergency in the Suez cities of Port Said, Suez, and Ismailia, and in Cairo, which has been basically ignored." He says "these are worrying signs of a breakdown in social cohesion," and notes that Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El Sisi has threatened to intervene. Cook says, "the military is obviously concerned about this situation, and has at least contemplated what it might do in the event that the situation in Egypt really does get out of control." He adds that Egypt's economy is in "terrible" shape, with tourists staying away and virtually no foreign investment coming into the country. Yet despite these developments, he is doubtful that Morsi will accept a bid for a coalition government. [more]

Steven A. Cook’s 'The Struggle for Egypt' Captures Top Book Prize    Steven A. Cook’s The Struggle for Egypt, a chronicle of modern Egypt that culminates in the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, has been awarded the gold medal in The Washington Institute’s 2012 Book Prize competition. Cook, the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, will receive a $30,000 prize for his achievement, one of the most lucrative awards for nonfiction writing in the world.  The Washington Institute Book Prize is given annually to three outstanding new books that have illuminated the Middle East for American readers. Through this competition, The Washington Institute seeks to acknowledge the very best new works on the region and to encourage authors and publishers to produce books of unique quality and insight. The Book Prize, now in its fifth year, has been generously supported since its inception by Washington Institute Trustees Shelly and Michael Kassen.  The winners are selected by an independent panel of foreign policy specialists from academia and journalism. The 2012 jurors included Dr. Michele Dunne, director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council; Dr. Robert J. Lieber, professor of government and International Affairs at Georgetown University; and David E. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times.

Hour Three

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Speaking at a United Nations conference in Vienna, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, declared, “It is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.” Further, Erdogan claimed: Zionism is a "crime against humanity" Read more...   Even the Russians said sanctions cd be eased only if Iranian nukes are peaceful – which they conspicuously are not. Khamenei and his minions say to Iranians, "We held firm, so the West is yielding to us." He's again succeeded in buying time.  I Iraq, Iran has another facility to dvpt plutonium, sat pix show it’s already active, Can produce two nuclear warheads [a year?] there.   New bldgs going up in Parchin. In Parchin and in Iraq: antiaircraft systems, missiles.   Syria: whole regions where local take control of their own supplies, schools, security. These are the citizenry, not rebels.   Weapons, pirates, gunrunners, all permeating Syria, and sweeping into  Lebanon and Turkey with the refugee crisis. This will continue for a long time, irrespective of when Syria falls.    A tanks shell fell in Israel today; not clear who fired it.  Lavrov in Rome, Kerry got Syrian Natl Council also to attend.   Missiles falling in Aleppo. Fighting at Lebanese border.  Media not focusing on the extent and depth of events.    Rebels claim they killed a high Hezbollah man.  Gaza: Hamas cooperating w IRGC – Iran helping w long-range missiles. Missile fired at Ashkelon, probably by al Quds Brigade.  In Cairo, court demands that the tunnels must be destroyed. Read more... 

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re:     Abbas doesn;t want another Inttifadah, but wants slight destabilization; wants not to negotiate with Israel; invented a story around the death of a Palestinian:  man had a heart attack, was given artificial respiration, which broke two collr bones then died. Abbas invents a tale that the porr man was tortured, An attending Palestinian physician confrims that there was no trace of torture.  Meanwhile, head of Hezbollah in Iran for cancer treatment. In "Eastern Syria" (meaning Western Iraq) the al Nusrah group - basically al Qaeda, composed of volunteers and mercenaries from Chad, Nigeria, Chechnya, the Mahgreb, south Asia - is an army of cutthroats and gangsters. HTis is the worst scenario we've seen: WEgyot, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, the surrounding ragion, is on the eto focus our en

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . Joshua Greene, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: BLUES BROTHERS:  Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles  The Simpson-Bowles roadshow and Fix the Debt campaign were intended to succeed in getting a deal to cut the debt where their eponymous commission had failed. Why isn't the country heeding their urgent warning? Bloomberg's enior national correspondent Joshua Green says that while Simpson and Bowles aren’t wrong about America's long-term problem, "the kind of high-minded bipartisanship Simpson and Bowles are selling is considered political suicide." The two also hail “from an era that has little connection with how Washington works anymore," "carry weight with editorial boards, network anchors, and pundits, not with Congress or the White House," and that "today all the energy in politics is at the grass roots . . .   Politicians and businessmen are usually seen as the villains.”  Read the full story…

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   John Tamny, RealClearMarkets, in re:  On Tuesday Ben Bernanke laughably asserted that he's got the best inflation record of any post-WWII Fed Chairman.  By that illogic, Kim Jong-un is tall.  Comically for Bernanke, by his very own Phillips Curve illogic that says growth causes inflation, his claim about his inflation record reveals that he believes he's presided over the worst economic performance of any Fed Chairman since WWII.   If Bernanke's Got a Great Inflation Record, Then Kim Jong-un Is Tall  In an exchange with Bob Corker on Tuesday in which the Senator called Ben Bernanke an inflation dove, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve responded that "my inflation record is the best of any Federal Reserve chairman in the postwar period." For the readers who presume this article to be satire, the link here will prove otherwise. Bernanke, the walking, tripping, living definition of systemic risk now views himself as a top-level inflation fighter in addition to being the world's foremost Great Depression expert, bank saviour, and so many other things. And it's President Obama who has the huge ego?

Hour Four

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Ben Protess, NYT, in re:   Nominee for S.E.C. Tries to Allay Skepticism  Mary Jo White, President Obama’s choice to lead the S.E.C., is telling Congress she can avoid conflicts of interest despite her long career on Wall Street.

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Henry Miller, Hoover, in re: "Investing in Bad Science"  

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Steve Greenhouse, NYT, in re: Low Pay at Weight Watchers Stirs Protest as Stars Rake It In      Hundreds of the leading weight-loss company’s rank-and-file workers are waging an open rebellion that has management scrambling to improve working conditions.

Thursday  28 February 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re: Space Engineering: The meteorite that landed in Russia on February 15  has now been traced to the Apollo family of near-Earth asteroids.

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