The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Air Date: 
February 20, 2013

Photo, above:  Dukha people of South Siberia (see: Hour 3, Block D, Michael Balter, Science Now, How to Survive a Siberian Winter.)    Deep in the larch ["leest'venitsa"] forests of Northern Mongolia lives a tiny Turkic tribe known as the Dukha (or, "Tsaatan" in Mongolian). They have survived as nomads, moving camp 10 times a year across the mountains. Their existence is pinned on one animal: the reindeer.  . . . Dukha live in small groups, spread out over an area of some 6 million acres. Unlike most reindeer-herding cultures, the Dukha raise their deer primarily for milk production. Reindeer milk, reindeer yoghurt and reindeer cheese are the staples of the Dukha diet. Only a small amount of reindeer are actually slaughtered for meat and pelts.  The most important function of the reindeer is as a means of transportation. The deer may look small, but they have extremely strong necks from the heavy weight of their antlers, which weigh up to 50 pounds. From a very young age, Dukha children learn to ride the deer, often without saddles. The relationship between the Dukha and their deer is very loving -- these are the oldest domesticated reindeer in the world.

     When the Soviet Union collapsed, state-provided funding for the Dukha stopped, leaving them struggling financially to support themselves and to keep their deer healthy. Today, only 40-50 Dukha families remain, totaling somewhere between 200 and 400 people.

North Siberia: The Yamal Peninsula is a stretch of land that extends from northern Siberia into the Kara Sea, far above the Arctic Circle. With a territory around 1.5 times the size of France, and located north of Western Siberia, Yamal is a remote, wind-blasted place of permafrost, rivers and dwarf shrubs, which has been home to the reindeer-herding Nenets people for over a thousand years (the word Yamal in their language means "the end (of the world)". Today more than 10,000 Nenets herd 300,000 domestic reindeer on the pastures of the Arctic tundra. These nomads of the Siberian Arctic depend heavily on their reindeer herds, using them for food, clothing, tools, transportation, and more as they migrate more than a thousand kilometers across the tundra every year, from summer pastures in the north to winter pastures just south of the Arctic Circle. . . . Gazprom calls the Yamal Peninsula a strategic oil- and gas-bearing region of Russia. This sums up how they view the Nenets' ancestral homelands.  The Nenets have endured the challenges of colonial intrusions, civil war, revolution and forced collectivization. Today, their herding way of life is again seriously threatened. To survive as a people, the Nenets need unobstructed access to their pastures and an environment untouched by industrial waste. To the Nenets, the tundra is home, and the reindeer is their life itself.

A valuable source on indigenous peoples across Russia and the former Soviet Union is:  Introduction to Soviet Ethnography, ed. Stephen P Dunn and Ethel Dunn; publ. Highgate Road Social Science Research Station, Inc.; 32 Highgate Road; Berkeley, California 94707. LOC 73-87930. Three volumes; paper. (--JBS ed.)


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

Hour One

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Patrick Chovanec, Professor at Tsinghua University, in re: Chinese consumption in general and in particular; Chinese new year retail sales

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Bhuchung Tsering, Vice President for Special Programs, International Campaign for Tibet, in re:   China's latest narrative on Tibet

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . William Farrand, Ph.D.,  Senior Research Scientist,  Space Science Institute, NASA, in re: the 10-yr-old Opportunity, launched with Spirit (which expired); has travelled 22 mi on Mars. Amazing rovers.  Oppy; rim of Endeavor crater at Matijovic Hill. We lost a thermal instrument tachometer, and we’ve finally lost the radioactive sources for one instrument, but most of 'em still work. There's even some bite left in "Rat," the grinder we use to grind up stones.  When Spirit was still going, we were one big team – the Spirit and Opportunity teams are somewhat distinct. Gale Crater:

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Gordon Chang, in re: Tokyo's been wondering who put that letter opener into its back. Senior U.S. administration officials held secret talks in North Korea on at least three occasions in 2011 and 2012, The Asahi Shimbun has learned  .  Although the visits had potential implications for Japan, Washington did not inform its security partner at the time and only informally confirmed one of them when the Japanese side pressed, government and other sources in Japan, South Korea and the United States said.   North Korea’s Daily Double, by J. Michael Cole  Less than a week after Pyongyang defied the international community with a third nuclear blast South Korean sources allege that one day prior to the blast and despite increased scrutiny, North Korea tested a long-range missile engine.  Quoting unnamed South Korean officials, Yonhap News Agencyreported on February 17th that Pyongyang had carried out a combustion testing of the engines for the intermediate-range KN-08 missileat the Dongchang-ri launch site on February 11th, with the aim of extending the range of the missile beyond 5,000 km, as well as be able to deploy them.

Military sources said the engines were intended for a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Despite frequent references to the missile as an ICBM, analysts doubt that at 18 meters long and 2 meters in diameter, the liquid-fuel KN-08 is large enough to carry enough propellant to attain such a range (that is, >5,500 km) — at least based on current North Korean technology. The alleged test may therefore have been intended for a larger-sized variant of the KN-08 IRBM.

Hour Two

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  .  Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania, in re:  Chinese anticorruption sweep

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . Dean Cheng, Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, in re: Chinese PLA "tied to" deep hacking of US sites, civilian and military.

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Claudia Rosett, FDD, in re: In a sold-out event, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, spoke on Wednesday evening at the Asia Society in New York

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, Asia Wall Street Journal, in re: the global intergovernmental currency wars, esp Japan and China.

Hour Three

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: . Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re: Last week, Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota attended the World Ag Expo in Tulare trying to lure those in the California dairy industry to his state and, before that, Governor Rick Perry of Texas visited to woo tax-weary businesses to his state. Branstad will be in California Tuesday and Wednesday.

California's budget windfall could end soon, officials say.  The governor's budget office advises in a report that the surprise $5-billion bump in revenue in January may be an accounting anomaly.   The surge of revenue that showed up unexpectedly in state coffers last month may well be offset by a revenue dip in coming months, according to Gov. Jerry Brown's administration.

The surprise money has been the source of much speculation in the Capitol. Unanticipated tax receipts filled state coffers with more than $5 billion beyond initial projections for January — more tax dollars than are allocated to the entire state university system in a year.  The revenue bump was historic. But the question for budget experts was whether lawmakers could begin allocating the windfall toward government programs and tax breaks — or whether the money amounted to an accounting anomaly.

Brown's budget office now advises in an official cash report that it is probably the latter. Lawmakers need not do much reading between the lines to understand that the governor does not see the revenue boost as an occasion to pack the budget with extra spending. The report says the extra money was "likely the result of major tax law changes at the federal and state level having a significant impact in the timing of revenue receipts." That is: Taxpayers were paying a share of their bill early, getting income off their books in the hope of limiting exposure to the tax hikes that recently kicked in. The administration was expecting that money to arrive in April. Now, officials are saying it won't, and that just as January's receipts soared, they'll be offset by a spring plunge.

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  David Sanger, NYT, in re: Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . James Huffman, Hoover Defining Ideas, in re: The Disenfranchisement of Rural America

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Michael Balter, Science Now, in re: How to Survive a Siberian Winter  Frigid populations have a trio of mutations that help them withstand the cold       28 JANUARY 2013 | SCIENCENOW

Hour Four

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Ken Croswell ScienceShot: Moon-Sized Planet Orbits Sunlike Star  Space telescope spots smallest world yet found circling another star like our own        20 FEBRUARY 2013 | SCIENCENOW

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Alan Levin, Bloomberg, in re:  Boeing Said Ready to Meet With FAA Friday to Propose 787 Fixes Boeing Co. officials are scheduled to meet with U.S. regulators Feb. 22 to propose fixes to the 787 Dreamliner in a bid to end the plane’s grounding, a person with knowledge of the talks said.  The proposal, which includes protections to ensure that another lithium-ion battery fire wouldn’t damage the plane or release smoke into the cabin, is subject to approval by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the meeting and asked not to be identified

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Michael Auslin, AEI & NRO, in re: China's Wall Crumbles  Years of speculation are finally giving way to some hard evidence of the Chinese government's role in cyber espionage.

Wednesday  20 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Betsy Hiel, in re:  Egypt’s ancient treasures being lost to looters   DAHSHOUR, Egypt — From a distance, it looks as though an animal has burrowed around the 4,000-year-old Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III. But thieves dug these holes. And Egyptian archaeologist Monica Hanna calls that “a catastrophe.”

“See the ancient mud bricks?” says Hanna, 29, peering into a pit. “It is very well structured.” She walks to another, followed by three pyramid custodians, and points into the 25-foot hole with a tunnel to one side. Here, she says, looters exposed what might be a burial shaft.

One custodian, Said Hussein, 32, tells her that as many as 30 armed men come nightly to dig for antiquities. They beat two custodians, broke an arm of one and “attacked the armed guards on the gate.” “Do they find anything?” she asks. “They only find pottery, stuff like that,” he replies. “A wooden coffin, that's what they take.” These “massive looting pits,” Hanna says, have made “Swiss cheese” of a two-mile-long field of five pyramids listed as a United Nations World Heritage Site.

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