The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Air Date: 
July 10, 2013

Photo, above: 


Co-hosts: Gordon Chang,, and Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show

Hour One

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 1, Block A: Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania, in re: China's response to the disturbances in Egypt. Xi Jinping, hard to read, is called a reformer but that's dubious.  He's surrounded by advisors, but the  state has walled off all avenues to changed. At the same time, China has to change. In The Leopard: If things are going to remain the same, things are going to have to change. The leadership of China – the Standing Committee - has an immense stake in the present system – billions of dollars; wd lose their power and their fortunes.  Maybe a hundred people have major positions, few can agree with each other, esp in matters of substance.   . . .  How to reconcile a dynamic society with maintaining exact stability? Can't be done.  Reforms need to be structural; and can’t have structural economic reform without structural political reform. They’ve devastated the rural, agricultural society while lavishing help on the urban mfrg society.  How to maintain parity between urban and rural earnings? Leaders have made a desert. Can't fix it without giving the land back to farmers, but the Party owns the land and the billionaires control it.  Coming to a roadblock.  Egypt frightens the billionaires who dominate China.

State media warn of the dangers of copying Western democracy in the wake of Egypt's military coup.  Commentaries in the People's Daily Overseas Edition, the Beijing Daily, the Oriental Morning Post and many other state-run media reiterate that "Western-style democracy" is not a one-size-fits-all solution for developing and non-Western countries with different cultural traditions.  The official Xinhua news agency says the unrest in Egypt shows that the West's "export of democracy" is a "faulty diagnosis" rather than a panacea for the problems of developing countries.  "Certain Western countries should take the situation in Egypt as an example, engage in serious reflection, wake up their brains and not readily find fault with other countries. This will leave some face for them," it adds.  A bilingual editorial in the Global Times believes that developing countries that have copied Western-style democracy have often come to "grief". . .  

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 1, Block B: Scott Warren Harold, Associate Political Scientist at Rand Corporation, in re:  The PLA Navy has naval exercises with Russia (the largest China has ever conducted with a foreign power, although this is a new arena for China) in the Sea of Japan: China wishes to intimidate the Japanese – near the Senkaku Islands, which Japan is universally recognized as owning but China considers to be its own.  Carries implications for Japan and the US; but not to be overstated because China is just beginning to do large naval exercises. In some ways, China and Russia will sometimes be arrayed vs the US – human rights and democracy – but they deeply distrust each other, are competing for the same resources in Central Asia and elsewhere . Russians have no way to defend eastern Russia and is very nervous, while China has long thought about taking over resource-rich Siberia.   US not allowed to do aerial surveillance of China within 200 nautical miles, but China is doing that up in Japan's space.  "The Chinese are arrogant and the Russians are prickly" – not necessarily wrong, but won't serve us well in diplomacy.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's recent summit drew wide international attention. Are we witnessing the dawn of a new alliance?  On March 22nd, shortly after assuming the post of President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping headed off to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Observers were watching the two leaders closely, looking to divine whether or not they could overcome past divisions to achieve a new level of cooperation in bilateral ties. What came out of the two leaders' meeting and what does it augur for the future of Sino-Russian relations? Three major areas appear to have been the focus: managing expectations about the relationship; expanding bilateral trade in energy and arms; and cooperation on international security affairs. Drawing on press reports from China and Russia we have attempted to determine how much progress was actually made on these issues at the summit.

Framing the relationship between Beijing and Moscow is an issue with both domestic and international implications for both countries. Domestically, Beijing's leaders want to convey to their people that China's rise is accepted and respected by major world powers. Similarly Russia, whose relations with major Western powers has deteriorated since the re-election of President Putin, appreciates the respect that comes from Xi Jinping's selection of Moscow for his first visit abroad as China's new leader.  Bilaterally, both Beijing and Moscow are looking to leverage their relationship to enhance their leaders' standing domestically and maximize their influence among world powers. At the same time, they hope to avoid the costs they would incur if other states felt the need to counter-balance a renewed bond between Russia and China. Neither party seeks a world where their relationship is viewed as the second coming of the Sino-Soviet axis of the Cold War. In the realm of bilateral energy trade, China's goal is to acquire as much cheap and reliable energy as possible without . . . [more]

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 1, Block C:  Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, and Dr Paal Brekke, Norwegian Space Center, Northern Lights, a Guide, in re:  periodicity of Northern Lights discovered by Dr Schwabe in 1863: 11-yr sunspots. Another scientist reviewed records back for decades, to 1765. When the Sun ? peaks, it's 2 yrs after maximum solar activity. Coronal holes.  Eruption from sunspot regions and coronal holes are both sources of Northern Lights. Ten or fifteen times this past winter, cd see them far south in US. [more]

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Dr. Pal Brekke received a Dr. Scient degree in 1993 from the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Oslo with focus on the ultraviolet (UV) emissions from the Sun observed with instruments on sounding rockets and the space shuttle Challenger. His work focused on dynamical aspects of the Sun and measuring variations in solar UV radiation. Since 1993 he participated in the Norwegian involvement's in preparing the EUV spectrometers CDS and SUMER on Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and was in charge of developing analysis software for CDS. After the launch of SOHO in December 1995 he was part of the science operation team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In 1999 he joined the European Space Agency (ESA) as the SOHO Deputy Project Scientist stationed at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. He was also in charge of outreach and media activites, making SOHO to one of the most well known current satellite projects. He is now a Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Space Centre. He is a Norwegian delegate to the ESA Programme Board of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration and a delegate to the International Living With a Star.  He received a Fulbright Fellowship in 1994, ESA´s´Eceptional Achievement Award in 2002, Laurels for Team Achievements from the International Academy of Astronautics in 2003. Served on several NASA Review Panels and as referee for various scientific journals.

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Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 1, Block D:   Larry Wortzel, The Dragon Extends its Reach: Chinese Military Power Goes Global, in re:  China is a global force in space, in cyberwarfare, and in ballistic missiles & nukes; growing in capacity to project force.  Ballistic missiles are all on road or rail; a complex system. Already have planned how to take out US communications and satellites.  We don’t have to speculate, we can read what Chinese generals say: US is their main, potential enemy; consider that the US is out to undermine the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese sovereignty claims in the South and East China Seas. 

     They tell us often, including our flag officers, and we consistently ignore it.  The DoD is quite aware of the potential threat from China, thus have developed ___  strategy and ___; both strategic and operational.

     There are huge business interests and states that do a lot of trade with China are comfortable with the economic access.  China ultimately wants a string of bases across the world. From their operations in the Gulf of Aden and the noncombattent emergency effort they had to conduct in Libya, they see the need for logistical and combat support; their only visible efforts to establish a base structure are in Pakistan and Burma. Otherwise, they need to restore stocks and food, ammunition. China is trying to wean Central America from Taiwan and is working with nearly-socialist nations like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia, but not in a power projection capacity.

Hour Two

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 2, Block A:  Stephen Yates, CEO of D.C. International Advisory and former adviser to Vice President Cheney, in re: the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that begins Wednesday. China is doing ore by doing less; is the US trying too hard and feeding China's inflated view of its self-importance?  They have their own issues to focus on; the US seems just to show up, smile, attend meetings, and wait for the next. We also send too-large delegations – the more people, the less accomplished.   We owe it at least to our allies, and in fact to ourselves, for having contributed to a century of peace and dvpt in the region; China has no business meddling in external affairs when they have plenty of troubles of their own. Assertive mil, civilians taking cures from flag officers, and major political transition, No one person able to speak for all-China.  Problem for the intl community.  Useful to have huge mtgs when one side has just changed govts?  Maybe better to wait.  Climate change?  Share politically-correct thoughts. Chinese leaders don’t see a climate change problem, they see a pollution problem, will gladly accept tech help in cleaning up its space.  In DC, cant go for more than ten minutes without huge parade of black SUVs, motorcycles cops, and the like in screaming caravans.    "Stooges who work for dictators."   We tried to reach out to Hu Jintao in a worthwhile and instructive effort; Obama Administration is trying to reinvent the wheel.

Top U.S. and Chinese officials will meet in Washington this week for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a process launched five years ago to help the world's two largest economies manage an increasingly complex relationship. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will host Chinese co-chairs, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang. All four officials are new in their positions and leading their first S&ED talks, which include the heads of 14 U.S. government agencies and 16 Chinese state bodies. The meetings, a month after an informal summit between President Barack Obama and new Chinese President Xi Jinping in California, will give both sides a chance to . . . [more]

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 2, Block B:  Peter Navarro, business professor at the University of California at Irvine and producer of the documentary Death by China, in re: The economics aspect of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. A year ago, China was rubbing our nose in our economic troubles; now the show is on the other foot, and they have  real estate bubble that'll make ours look small. New leader looks slick and urbane, but his policies are Maoist and old-style Communist.  Using their antimonopoly laws against our companies.  A classic nontariff barrier.  The play real hardball; investigate Apple, pressured the to keep factories in China. Chinese firms making baby formula put melanine, a deadly poison, in to give a false red on the protein level; so mothers are buying foreign formula; now the govt pressures foreign firms to reduce prices to conform with domestic forces. Leather milk: they take pieces of cow and put them in milk to raise the protein level.

On Thursday, Fonterra Cooperative Group said Beijing’s National Development and Reform Commission was investigating its business activities.  The statement by the New Zealand-based dairy suggested that Beijing’s probe of the pricing practices of the milk industry, announced by the NDRC on Tuesday, was broadening beyond makers of powdered infant formula.  Fonterra is not in that business.  Beijing has apparently launched a broad-based attack against foreign milk companies in China.  Yet last week Chinese regulators revealed . . .  [more]

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 2, Block C:  Isaac Stone Fish, Foreign Policy magazine, in re: The China-US strategic dialogue. Jim Lewis, former State official, speaking generally of cybersecurity discussions (applies to the whole mtg): [as Churchill said] "Why is this meeting happening? Because there are other options – but they're all stupid." No one expects anything, and no result occurs.  The purpose of these meetings is to have the meetings.  Nothing came of the Shirtsleeve Summit.  GC: "Just between the two of us, wouldn't it be better if we spent our time working with our allies who share our goals, interests and values, rather than a country that's trying to push us out of Asia?" We do: Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore; important to have open communications with [China, too]. Most of the conversation is how to make China a fair mkt for US bz; Chinese people think it's not fair for Huawei, inter al.  GC: China is barely in a position to deal with us on the economy on strategic issues.  ISF: Not as dire as you say.  They no longer speak of magic numbers, have downgraded to 6%. GC: They haven’t had 6% in a long time; it's a lot less that Steven Green's 5.5.  Total social financing increased by 52% in the last half-year. JB:  This is the same gang with the stimulus.  You're blaming Hu as though they were elected separately? ISF:   In the recent credit crunch they turned off the spigots. Trying to distinguish themselves from the previous feckless leadership. 

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re: HK has always had stamp taxes on property; keep tinkering with the Stamp Act, through several iterations. Not succeed in cooling the market, wind up rebuffing the principles that made them great initially.  Problem is that it's not a democracy; casting from one mode to another aimlessly.  Prices kept gong up, all they've done is reduced the number of transactions. Doing more of what didn’t work before. HK property tycoons have enormous Political and economic power: they'll be OK regardless because of the high demand for flats. Stamp duties have not suppressed that demand. Instead, interventionist tax policies have proven ineffective.  Once you give up on positive noninterventionism, then HK will lose the economic features that made it so successful.

In December 2010, this column warned that Hong Kong's unusual forays into property taxation threatened the territory's free-market tradition and would eventually reverberate outside the housing market. Subsequent developments have only reinforced this conviction. On Sunday, real-estate agents marched on the government headquarters demanding withdrawal of a series of new stamp duties intended to further cool the housing market. Last week, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion that was mostly negative on the tax measures. And well-known good-governance advocate David Webb keeps arguing the property taxes violate the territory's Basic Law, or mini-constitution. Taken individually, none of these three developments would amount to much. In combination, they highlight a looming problem for the government. To recap: Starting two-and-a-half years ago, the territory's government progressively introduced stamp duties intended to cool the property market. The first round imposed an extra stamp duty of up to 15% if a property was re-sold within two years of its purchase, to deter "speculators." . . . [more]

Hour Three

 Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 3, Block A: LouAnn Hammond,, in re: . . . remember when Joseph Sternberg saw parking lots stacked with copper; that was early evidence of the slowdown; and in Wenchou, where shadow bankers went belly up unable to sell in export markets. Now, bank defaults and much that 's inconsistent with a [healthy economy].   Abt 27.5 mill cars sold, but will be 16 mil by year-end; June & July always slow, then the number of car able to be entered into cities (air pollution) will lower. Exports to Brazil and elsewhere lowered (Brazil needs flexfuel); in June, car deliveries to dealers were up, but not as much as in past years. Loans not easy now. SUVs and bigger cars are doing well - GM beat analysts' estimates – SUV surged 35%  yoy.  Volkswagen, Audi, Chevy. "Imagine the Japanese not recovering in China!" The slide continues downward.

       "China's light-vehicle sales up 9% in June Automotive News China China's light vehicle sales totaled 1.4 million units in June, up 9 percent from the same month last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).  The market was fueled by strong demand for SUVs and MPVs, while sales of microvans plunged. Last month, SUV sales surged 34 percent year-on-year to 240,500 units. Sales of MPVs doubled to 84,400 units, and sedan sales increased 7 percent from a year earlier to 947,200 units. By contrast, microvan sales fell 26 percent to 131,400 units.  In the first six months, China's light vehicle rose 14 percent to 8.7 million units, outperforming analysts' forecasts early this year of 10 percent growth. However, June's results suggest that the market's growth rate is easing."

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 3, Block B:  Sadanand Dhume, Resident Fellow, AEI, and Twitter Quietly Changes India (WSJ), in re; twitter more popular in India among the better-educated and more affluent (interested in individual liberty, human rights). Facebook has 80 mil users, four times what twitter has. FB has a wider impact – n a small own, for example – but twitter is for opinion-makers, intellectuals.  I argue that the impact of social media on India's upcoming election will be meager, but its impact on Indian intellectual discourse will be vast. The contrast with China could not be more striking- China has banned twitter, while in India it's vibrant and active.  Think of a pyramid: Australia on top of India.  TV constantly flash twitter handles, also front-page reports on politicians' twitter fights, for example.  Loosening the control of the Congress Party, is a force for globalization and democratization.  Example: Islamization – cd have leftish argument, or cd argue that Islam is coming to grips with modernity.    . . . The premier's statement also suggested that Beijing may have more tolerance for a slower economy than previously thought. "I thought their bottom line for GDP [growth] was 7%," said Ma Xiaoping, China economist at HSBC. "Now it looks like it could be lower than that."

China Premier Li Keqiang [pron: kuh-jiang] repeated his commitment to steer clear of stimulus for the world's second-largest economy, even as contracting exports added to fears of a slowdown. China's key export sector shrank 3.1% in June compared with a year earlier, down from 1% year-on-year growth in May and the first contraction in a non-holiday month since the height of the financial crisis in November 2009. Imports fell 0.7% year-on-year, pointing to weak demand at home as well as abroad. Coming after a raft of disappointing data in April and May, June's weak trade results add to fears that economic growth in the second quarter has continued to slow. The median forecast of 18 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal tips gross domestic product growth of 7.5% year-on-year in the second quarter, down from 7.7% in the first. Financial markets appeared to shrug off the negative data, with key stock indexes in . . . [more]

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 3, Block C:  Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World by Shereen El Feki (1 of 2)

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 3, Block D: Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World by Shereen El Feki (2 of 2)

Hour Four

 Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 4, Block A: Jim Esthafiou, Jr, Bloomberg, in re:

QUEBEC TRAIN CRASH REVEALS TRANSPORT RISK. Report: North Dakota Oil Transport Risk Revealed in Quebec Blast  “Production in the state is rising so fast -- from about 150,000 barrels a day in 2008 to more than 790,000 today -- that pipeline construction can’t keep up. Railroads move 75 percent of its oil, including the load of more than 70 tanker cars that derailed and exploded July 6 in a small Canadian town, killing at least 15 and leaving dozens missing.” [more]

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 4, Block B: Bret Stephens, WSJ, in re:  GLOBAL VIEW    Can Environmentalists Think?

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 4, Block C: Elizabeth Rosenthal, NYT, in re: the cost of child birth in the U.S. Seven months' pregnant, at a time when most expectant couples are stockpiling diapers and choosing car seats, Renée Martin was struggling with bigger purchases.

At a prenatal class in March, she was told about epidural anesthesia and was given the option of using a birthing tub during labor. To each offer, she had one gnawing question: “How much is that going to cost?” Though Ms. Martin, 31, and her husband, Mark Willett, are both professionals with health insurance, her current policy does not cover maternity care. So the couple had to approach the nine months that led to the birth of their daughter in May like an extended shopping trip though the American health care bazaar, sorting through an array of maternity services that most often have no clear price and — with no insurer to haggle on their behalf — trying to negotiate discounts from hospitals and doctors. When she became pregnant, Ms. Martin called her local hospital inquiring about the price of maternity care; the finance office at first said it did not know, and then gave her a range of $4,000 to $45,000. “It was unreal,” Ms. Martin said. “I was like, How could you not know this? You’re a hospital.” [more]

Wednesday  10 July 2013/ Hour 4, Block D: Scott Atlas, Hoover &, in re: Happy Birthday to Great Britain's Increasingly Scandalous National Health Service