The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Air Date: 
July 16, 2013

Photo, above: Iranian tankers illegally reflagged, many flying a false flag of Tanzania or Zanzibar, then carrying weapons systems across the world ocean to rogue regimes, including North Sudan, al Qaeda in West Africa, supplies to and from North Korea, perhaps nuclear material to South America.

Reflagging Iranian tankers   Tanzania has said a shipping agent based in Dubai had reflagged 36 Iranian oil tankers with the Tanzanian flag without the country’s knowledge and approval. Tanzania said it was now in the process of de-registering the vessels after an investigation into the origin of the ships concluded they were originally from Iran.

Tanzania confirms reflagging Iran oil tankers  Tanzania launched an investigation last month over accusations that it had reflagged oil tankers from Iran and asked the United States and European Union to help it verify the origin of the tankers flying the east African country’s flag. A report with the investigation’s findings was discussed in the House of Representatives of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania late on Friday, and the minutes of that debate were seen by Reuters late on Saturday.  Reflagging ships masks their ownership, which could make it easier for Iran to obtain insurance and financing for the cargoes, as well as find buyers for the shipments without attracting attention from the United States and European Union.

The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) changed the names and flags of many of its oil tankers ahead of the EU ban, part of sweeping economic measures aimed at pressuring Tehran to end its nuclear program.  [more]


Hour One

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti  (1  of 4)  DCI, then Leon Panetta, overrides the Secretary of State and the US ambassador to Pakistan, assets its right to run drones.  . . .  US Code Title X and Title L.  After 9/11, lines blurred between CIA and military. "It's not assassination if you’re going after combattents."  Under Ollie North, et al., CIA starts to draw up plans to hunt down Hezbollah and others using Lebanese hit men – including Patrice Lumumba.

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti  (2  of 4)   In early 2001, 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, in Indian Sprigs:  take the unarmed Predator, already proven in surveillance, is armed with a Hellfire missile.  First successful test in February 2001. Allowed CIA to return to ObL's training camps and fire right then.  Extraordinary development. Sandy Berger apoplectic on hearing the explanation that using a missile is different from sing a 7.62 round to kill someone.  Rummy eager to dvp JSOC.  Special Forces usu trained foreign troops or else were Delta Force or SEALs; these were trained to do 24- or 48-hour missions; not trained or equipped or funded to run their own wars. This was corrected – Pakistan, Yemen, et al., when Rumsfeld saw the utility of  special teams. CIA can use DoD tactics and vice-versa.  ("Pakistan: an army with a nation attached.")  US and ISI worked adequately together under Musharref. Bush believed that he'd come to the US side – it was a lot murkier than that, esp in considering the Taliban, which the ISI had created and held to be a valuable bulwark against Indian influence.

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti  (3  of 4)  SEAL force grew from several dozen to several hundred; disagreements about the wisdom of using Special Forces for surreptitious attack; CI and DoD realized that rules were needed. These two made arrangements about who'd take charge in which ops.  How do you take effective actions against terrorists inside a country with which the US is not at war? 

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti  (4  of 4)

Hour Two

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Claudia Rosett, FDD, in re:  Have Tehran's Tankers Hijacked the Tanzanian Flag?  When President Obama visited Tanzania last week, he praised the East African country as a place with which he feels a “special connection.” A glitch he did not mention is that Tanzania has developed a special connection of its own — to Iran’s main oil tanker fleet. Since turning up last year as a leading flag of convenience for sanctioned Iranian ships, Tanzania just can’t seem to cut itself loose.  That’s not for lack of Tanzanian promises. Last summer, a number of U.S. lawmakers voiced bipartisan protest over Tanzania’s flagging of at least 36 sanctioned Iranian vessels, urging that the Obama administration penalize Tanzania itself unless it kicked this habit. Tanzanian authorities first denied there were any Iranian ships registered under their flag. Then they conceded there were, but said that all such ships would be deregistered. By last December, they were saying the deregistration was complete.  That’s not what ship-tracking data suggests. Analysis of information on Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database shows that dozens of tankers blacklisted by the U.S. as owned by the government of Iran are still signaling as flagged to Tanzania.

        Tougher U.S. sanctions that took effect July 1 under the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA) are meant. among other things, to help shut down Iran’s  foreign-flagging operations, potentially targeting the provision of registry, flagging and classification services to Iran’s shipping sector. But over the past month, at least 39 Iranian oil tankers have signaled as registered to Tanzania, 34 of them since the beginning of July. That number accounts for well over half the crude carriers of Iran’s main tanker fleet, owned by NITC, formerly known as the National Iranian Tanker Company.  The most curious aspect of this continuing Tanzania connection is that according to Lloyd’s, only 12 of the 39 tankers signaling within the past month as flagged to Tanzania are actually registered there. The rest were previously listed as flagged to Tanzania. They now appear as flag “unknown.” But they have continued to identify themselves in shipping traffic as flagged to Tanzania. The tell-tale sign is a nine-digit number known as a Maritime Mobile Service Identity number, or MMSI, part of the onboard signaling system that transmits the registered identity of a ship as well as its location. The MMSI number is unique for each vessel, but the initial three digits identify the ship’s flag state (677 for Tanzania).

     Why might Iran engage in such artifice? Sanctions have made it risky in many places to service Iranian ships, and tough or impossible for Iranian ships to obtain reputable insurance and other documentation vital to international shipping. A foreign flag can help provide NITC tankers with a layer of convenient camouflage and access that they might not enjoy if flagged to their heavily sanctioned mother country, Iran.  That’s a serious problem for U.S. sanctions enforcers, who have been trying to curtail the oil income that fuels Tehran’s repressive, terrorist-sponsoring, nuclear-proliferating regime. Iran’s tankers are a big link in the oil supply chain. So, last July the U.S. Treasury targeted their owner, Tehran-based NITC. Stating that NITC, which claims to be a private outfit, is actually “a Government of Iran entity,” Treasury added NITC, plus a slew of its affiliates and 58 of its vessels to the U.S. sanctions list. More NITC vessels have been added since.

“We've chased them out of most of the reputable registries in the world,” says a State Department official, interviewed this week on background about NITC’s sanctions-dodging tactics. For some time, Iranian tankers have been trying to evade sanctions not only by changing names, flags and nominal owners, but by temporarily turning off their onboard signaling systems in order to mask oil smuggling, including ship-to-ship transfers at sea. Last December Reuters reported on three Iranian tankers that were  swapping signaling identities with other ships, apparently for such purposes as helping Syrian vessels mask their activities. But if Iran has adopted a policy of flagrantly violating maritime conventions by using shipping signals of countries where its ships are no longer registered, then according to this State Department official, that would be breaking new ground.

     Many of these Tanzania-signaling NITC tankers appear quite busy, traveling well beyond the Gulf, to places ranging from China to Syria (where Iran supports the Assad regime in its bloody fight to retain power). Take, for instance, one of these Iranian tankers, named the Baikal, previously listed by Lloyd’s as flagged to Tanzania; now listed as flag unknown, but still signaling as Tanzanian. In May, the Baikal departed Iran’s offshore oil export terminal at Kharg Island in the Gulf, transited the Suez Canal and called in mid-June at the Syrian port of Banias, before returning through Suez to the Gulf — where she last clocked in this Thursday, signaling as a Tanzanian-flagged ship, back near Kharg. While Iran in its sanctions-busting efforts has shuffled most of its merchant ships through a razzle-dazzle of name changes, flag states and shell company owners, the ships themselves can be identified by their unique hull numbers, or IMOs, issued under authority of the International Maritime Organization for the life of every large ship. Treasury, on its sanctions list, includes IMO numbers for ships, making it hard to argue that foreign registries have no way of knowing which ships U.S. sanctions authorities have blacklisted as Iranian.

      In the case of Tanzania, great murk surrounds the question of whether Tanzania is somehow a collaborator in Iran’s shipping schemes, or a victim. Since last August, Tanzanian authorities have repeatedly denied that their country is still providing cover to Iranian ships. Last December, Tanzania’s ambassador to the United Nations, Tuvako Manongi, told me that Tanzanian authorities were “just as frustrated” as their American counterparts that Iranian vessels kept showing up as Tanzanian. My more recent queries to officials at Tanzania’s embassy in Washington and U.N. mission in New York received no reply.  U.S. government officials have repeatedly ducked questions about the situation. When I asked a Treasury spokesman why . . .  [more]

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Charles Pellegrino, author and explorer, in re: The New Race to Space, How Maglev Launch Will Change the World.   Maglev launchers ($50/lb to get cargo into space, rather than $5,000/lb), then SunBurn: a very large system, start with throwaway nuke booster, then use the engine for ion propulsion, also a slingshot around and close to the Sun; after 20 or 30 years, would be at specific points from which to view other stars. By this, the Sun becomes a telescope!  Begin to be able to see continents and oceans on nearby stars. We have off-the shelf technology to builld the telescope, itself; maglev is also off-the shelf – StartTram could launch within 10 years.  Cd lift all the eqpt with the eqpt version of StarTram. We're building SunBurn to launch using either large chemical rockets or a throwaway nuke propulsion system; or accelerate over ten years with ion propulsion. Unmanned in these stages.  Putting observation platform way, way out where the Sun is distant, [weak] light. Kuyper Belt?  Would even pass Pioneer and Voyager.  Could resolve other worlds around other stars similar to our resolution of Mars from Earth.

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Sid Perkins, Science Magazine, in re:  ScienceShot: Poachers Face the Nuclear Option  Atomic bomb testing could help reveal the provenance of animal parts.    ScienceShot: Gotcha! Spider Silk Grabs Electrically Charged Insects in Midair Webs are attracted to static electricity that builds up as bugs fly 

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  John Bolton, AEI, in re: These are the strategic interests in defeating the Taliban that justify our leaving forces in Afghanistan and continuing active military operations against them for as long as it takes. This is not the same as “nation building,” which rarely works in practice and which is also truly unpopular with American voters, who see it as a gravy train for ungrateful foreigners. We are not in Afghanistan to benefit the Afghans, but to benefit ourselves.

Thus explained, Americans are far more likely to support the necessary war against terrorism in Afghanistan. Of course, if our political “leaders” fail to make this case, we will learn the lesson only when the terrorists attack us again, perhaps this time with nuclear weapons.

We can avoid this outcome but it requires leadership plainly missing from Barack Obama. The question is whether Republicans have the capacity and the will to fill in the void Obama has left.

John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
 this article online.

Hour Three

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Stephen F Cohen, NYU, in reAnton Antonov-Ovseyenko, historian and survivor of Stalin’s gulag, dies at 93  Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, a Soviet historian and dissident who survived the gulag under Stalin and in later decades brought new attention to the scope of the regime’s barbarism, died July 9 in Moscow. He was 93. The cause was a stroke, said Russian scholar Stephen F. Cohen, who played a crucial role in the English-language publication in 1981 of Mr. Antonov-Ovseyenko’s best-known work, The Time of Stalin: Portrait of a Tyranny. “Anton was one of a handful of Soviets who were able and brave enough and resourceful enough to break the silence about the real history of the Soviet Union, which was completely falsified under Stalin,” said Cohen, a professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. “He told the truth as he knew it, the uncensored truth of the Stalin era.”  Anton Vladimirovich Antonov-Ovseyenko led a life that might be said to mirror the fate of his country.  He was born in Moscow on Feb. 23, 1920, just after the Russian revolution, into a prominent Bolshevik family. His father, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko, was a military commander who in 1917 led the revolutionary assault on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and, together with Leon Trotsky, helped create the Red Army.

     A founding member of the Soviet state, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko later served as adviser and arms supplier to the . . . [more]

     Antonov-Ovseyenko was "A compulsive truth-teller, and told that Stalin was one of the worst killers in history." His father, Vladimir, led the strike on the Winter Palace in 1917; the Bolsheviks thus came to power.. In 1930s, was commander of a group in Spain; also figures in For Whom the Bell Tolls.  Was executed by Stalin in 1937; son Anton arrested three times, spent 13 years in gulag.  In 1953, had one mission: to tell the truth about Stalin.  Portrait of a Tyrant (Russian title).  Andropov wrote a letter to Kremlin leadership claiming that Anton was out of control. In 2004, Anton opened in Moscow the first museum of gulags: the Museum of the History of Gulags*. In the 1970s, by chance Cohen lived among gulag survivors in Moscow. Khrushchev's speech denouncing Stalin was read all across the Soviet Union.   Societal divide: Stalin either was one of the greatest leaders in history, or he was a genocidal maniac.  The Western perception that Putin is pro-Stalin is fundamentally wrong; he's said the crimes of the Stalin era are unforgivable and must never be forgotten; also must ever forget the great Soviet victory over Germany.

* The mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, has made this museum the primary national memorial to Stalin's victims; it's reported that Sobyanin's grandmother was born in the gulag and, in any case, Sobyanin is "Putin's man," so clearly Putin approves.

Nadezhda Popova, celebrated Soviet ‘Night Witch’ aviator of World War II, dies at 91 Nadezhda Popova, a Soviet aviator who became one of the most celebrated of the so-called “Night Witches,” female military pilots who terrorized the Nazi enemy with their nocturnal air raids during World War II, died July 8. She was 91.  Her death was reported by the London Daily Telegraph. The place and cause could not immediately be confirmed. In a statement, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych called Ms. Popova’s life “an example of selfless service to Motherland.” Her “feats in the course of the Great Patriotic War,” he said, “will never be forgotten.”

     Ms. Popova was among the first female pilots to volunteer for service in the Soviet military during World War II and became a squadron commander in her swashbuckling all-female regiment. She flew 852 combat missions — including 18 during one night — and was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union, one of the nation’s highest decorations.  Like American women in the age of Amelia Earhart, many Soviet women had become enchanted with aviation in the 1930s. They were initially rejected for combat service during World War II, but Soviet leader Joseph Stalin thought better of the decision in 1941, when Germany broke the Soviet-German nonaggression pact and invaded.  Led by Marina Raskova, a renowned aviator who would later die in a plane crash, three women’s regiments were born of necessity. While other nations employed female pilots largely in support roles, the Soviets dispatched their female aviators on delivery and reconnaissance missions, as well as daring raids to take out enemy targets. Treated in many respects like their male colleagues, the women did, however, receive larger soap rations.  Ms. Popova served with the night bombers, perhaps the most feared of the three women’s regiments. Their planes, rickety two-seaters made of plywood and canvas, were jerry-rigged as bombers.  The pilots achieved a degree of surprise by shutting down their engines in the last stages of their bomb runs; the Germans heard only the hiss of the air flowing across their wings and, likening the sound to that of a broomstick in flight, referred to the women as Night Witches.  “The Germans spread stories that we were given special injections and pills which gave us a feline’s perfect vision at night,” Ms. Popova told . . .  [more]


Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Stephen F Cohen, NYU, in re:  Putin Says U.S. Trapped Snowden in Russia  President Vladimir V. Putin said that the United States had frightened other countries that might have accepted Edward J. Snowden.   N.S.A. Leaks Revive Push in Russia to Control Net  Putin has major fish to fry in discussions with the US; has to figure out a way to get Snowden out of Russia while still looking good domestically.   The process is fraught with technicalities.


Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re: Helmet Water Leak Aborts Spacewalk; Astronaut OK   NASA seldom cuts a spacewalk short. Tuesday's problem left them with no choice. Parmitano could have choked on the floating water droplets . . .    The competition heats up: It appears that SpaceX has completed another test firing of its new Merlin engine.      A Russian news story reports that the spectacular Proton rocket failure two weeks ago occurred because a sensor was installed “upside down.”  The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada has completed its first tow tests of its Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle, now officially named “Eagle.”  These tests were merely to check out the craft’s landing systems, with it being pulled along the runway at 10 to 20 mph. Faster tests, followed by actual drop tests, are to follow.   . . .  information about Dream Chaser, itself.    Orbital Sciences has issued an update on its Antares launch schedule, with the launch window for the Cygnus demonstration mission to ISS now set for September 14-19.  The launch could happen sooner, if there are delays to the launch of NASA’s LADEE moon probe. Right now the two launches are coordinated to have LADEE launch first.

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Chris Drew NYT, in re:  787 Fire Inquiry Focuses on Transmitter  The emergency transmitter, which would send out the plane’s location in the event of a crash, is powered by a small lithium-manganese battery.  Airlines Confident in Boeing’s 787, but Doubts Linger  Asiana to Bolster Pilot Training

Hour Four

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Seb Gorka, FDD, in re: Blame Morsy   How to wreck a country in 369 days. Let's make this abundantly clear: No one should be pleased with the division and bloodshed playing out in the streets of Cairo right now, particularly as military repression escalates. But let's also make this abundantly clear: One man bears the ultimate responsibility for the crisis of leadership -- Mohamed Morsy[more]

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Jeff Tollefson, Nature magazine, in re:  Climate change: The forecast for 2018 is cloudy with record heat.  Efforts to predict the near-term climate are taking off, but their record so far has been patchy.

[Jeff came to Nature from Congressional Quarterly, where he covered energy, climate and the environment for two years. Before that he was a Knight fellow in science journalism at MIT; a science reporter at the Santa Fe New Mexican, where he covered Los Alamos and the national labs among other topics.]

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: David Drucker, WashingtonExaminer, in re:  Senate reaches deal to avert "nuclear option" - CBS News   Republicans agree to proceed with confirmation of executive branch nominees, but little else has changed in ...

Tuesday  16 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Bill Whalen, Hoover, Advancing a Free Society,  in re: Scandals and Animals

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