The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Air Date: 
January 23, 2013


Photo, above: Davos as infotainment. – Financial Times: The World Economic Forum has been going since 1971 and can pull 2,600 professionals away from their desks without knowing precisely why they come is quite an achievement. Any event that can charge SFr22,000 ($23,600) per seat – and up to SFr500,000 for membership – has things to teach rivals.  Quartz, the business news publication, this week unveiled the “confidential” list of Davos attendees, reinforcing the notion that the 0.1 per cent is up to no good. “It allows bankers or people in business to meet and make deals they couldn’t legally do in their offices,” says Richard Saul Wurman, founder of the Ted conferences.


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

Hour One

Wednesday 23 Jan 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Anne Stevenson-Yang, Research Director of J Capital Research, in re: her recent findings as she travelled across China; her research on financial institutions and others creating scrip as a replacement for China's official currency.

Wednesday 23 Jan 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Lily Kuo, Quartz (digital news magazine by Atlantic Media) in re: Chinese inequality has gone off the charts in recent years.

qz.   com/45367/china-release-inequality-data-for-first-time-in-years-pegs-it-just-below-us/

Wednesday 23 Jan 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: David Livingston, The Space Show, and Wayne White, President & CEO,
SpaceBooster LLC, in re:  Bigelow plans to launch inflatables.  What rights for Bigelow in low-Earth orbit?  US law - can it sue China if space junk from the Chinese anti-sat test of 2007 damages Bigelow property?

"Real Property Rights in Outer Space, and Implications of a Proposal for Real Property Rights in Outer Space."  Note:  Nations can enact real property laws that are legal under the Outer Space Treaty if they base their property rights on jurisdiction over facilities, people, and safety zones, rather than on territorial sovereignty, which is prohibited by the Treaty.  Property rights based on jurisdiction are identical to traditional property rights, except that these rights cease to exist when facilities are removed and human activity ceases.  Parties to the Outer Space Treaty, including the United States, do not have any jurisdiction to recognize or grant property rights beyond areas encompassing facilities, regular human activity, and safety zones.  This means that the Space Settlement Act violates the Outer Space Treaty, because it would grant title to large areas of unoccupied territory.  This also means that you can't establish a valid property right over a celestial body, like the asteroid Eros, just by filing a claim.  There must be a physical presence of a facility, and/or a continued human presence in a given area, in order for a nation to grant property rights.

Wednesday 23 Jan 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Naomi Rovnick, Quartz, in re: Caterpillar scandal and the China fraudsters. Caterpillar Takes $580 Million Charge After ‘Misconduct’  18 Jan 2013 Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, said it will take a $580 million writedown after discovering accounting'' misconduct . . .

China does have courts and permits civil suits, but foreigners aren't allowed to win unless the top political leadership decides it's in China's interest to appease angry barbarians.  Discovery is extremely limited. 

Hour Two

Wednesday  23  Jan 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  . Richard Fisher, Senior Fellow, Asian Military Affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in re: Japan Threatens to Fire on Chinese Fighters — China Says 'There Will Be No Second Shot' ; China's Buying a Fleet of Russian Bombers Perfect for Taking on the US Navy  Business Insider ‎  ‪Chinese websites are again reporting that Russia has agreed to sell Beijing the production line for the Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber at a cost of . . ."

Wednesday  23  Jan 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . Nury Turkel, former president of the Uyghur American Association, in re: recent developments in East Turkestan, which Beijing calls Xinjiang [translation: "Ne Territories" – refers to China's having seized these lands in the late Nineteenth Century].  There's been an absence of news, apart from a series of stories about the Chinese taking resources out of the region.  In the past, these quiet periods have been preludes to sporadic insurrections in the region as resentment grows.  China continues to dig into East Turkestan's natural resources while aggressively portraying Uyghurs' legitimate demands and grievances as violent separatism. Importantly, the Uyghurs are not benefiting economically from these energy-specific exploration.  Further: China's misuse of its diplomatic and economic influence that results in refoulement of Uyghur refugees [from the countries listed in this article: Henryk Szadziewski: 2012 - The Uyghur Human ... - Huffington Post].

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Refoulement: the expulsion or return of a refugee from one state to another where his life or liberty would be threatened.

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Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Anjali Trivedi, NYT, in re: In Rumtek, a Generation of Buddhist Monks Loses Hope

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, Asia Wall Street Journal, in re: In an editorial last week, the WSJ criticized Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-yin’s “Negative Pro-Interventionism,” his departure from the philosophy of positive noninterventionism that guided policymaking for such a long time (and won plaudits from the likes of Milton Friedman). Basically, the speech was larded with references to “market failures” that are merely market outcomes the government doesn’t like. What’s intriguing, though, is that this bread-and-circuses strategy so far is not rescuing Leung’s deteriorating popularity. The free-market business types recognize the deviation from the policies that made Hong Kong rich - while the pro-government socialist types don’t think he went far enough.

Hour Three

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Bruce Bechtol, Angelo State, in re: North Korea. The Musudan was tested by Iran in 2006 after the North Koreans sold 18 of them to Teheran.  North Koreans were present at the test (and probably ran it). 

Correspondence: The New York Times in fact is confused by North Korean missiles: it's published a really interesting article that's in error because of [its] profound confusion about North Korean missiles.  The lede of the article is that “North Korea is moving mobile missile launchers around the country, some carrying a new generation of powerful rocket . . .” What this must mean is that the US IC has satellite images of shiny new TELs at missile units around North Korea, which is usually a sign that new missiles are being deployed.

What kind of new missile, however, is impossible to fathom because the authors conflate two different missiles — North Korea’s KN-08 ICBM and the Musudan IRBM (~3,000 km range). Here are the important parts of the article:

The discovery by American intelligence agencies that North Korea is moving mobile missile launchers around the country, some carrying a new generation of powerful rocket, has spurred new assessments of the intentions of the country’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, who has talked about economic change but appears to be accelerating the country’s ability to attack American allies or forces in Asia, and ultimately to strike across the Pacific.

The new mobile missile, called the KN-08, has not yet been operationally deployed, and American officials say it may not be ready for some time. But the discovery that the mobile units have already been dispersed around the country, where they can be easily hidden, has prompted the White House, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies to reassess whether North Korea’s missile capabilities are improving at a pace that poses a new challenge to American defenses. The more immediate mystery for the administration, however, is what North Korea may intend with the intermediate-range KN-08, which was first shown off by the North in a military parade last April. At the time, many analysts dismissed it as a mock-up. In fact, it has never been test-flown. But parts, including the rocket motors, have been tested separately, according to officials familiar with the intelligence reports, who described the missile developments on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the assessments.

Officials familiar with North Korean missile technology say the KN-08 weapon is designed with a range capable of striking South Korea, Japan and parts of Southeast Asia — although with uncertain accuracy.  Let’s tease these statements apart.

The KN-08 ICBM.  In April 2012, North Korea paraded what appeared to be a multi-stage ICBM through Kim Il Sung Square. Secretary Gates went out of his way in 2011 to mention such a missile, directly calling it a road-mobile ICBM. It was this missile that was carried by Chinese TELs, exported in apparent violation of Security Council sanctions.  And it was this missile that was the subject of a debate on this blog about whether it was a fake or not.  This is as good a time as any to plug three papers — an assessment of the KN-08 prepared by reader John Schilling, Nick Hansen’s contribution at 38North and Markus Schiller’s new RAND monograph, "Characterizing the North Korean Nuclear Missile Threat."

The Musudan IRBM.  Two years prior, in 2010, North Korea paraded a new intermediate-range mobile missile through Kim Il Sung Square.  The so-called Musudan just happens to be “intermediate range” and “capable of striking South Korea, Japan and parts of Southeast Asia.” (NASIC described it as a one-stage IRBM with a 2,000 mile or ~3,200 km range, which perfectly corresponds to “parts of Southeast Asia.” A Wikileaked US cable to MTCR states put the range at a bit more with a smaller payload — 4,000 km with a 500 kg payload.) Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker have their doubts about this one too, but I am rather more convinced. The two missiles have some things in common — neither has been flight-tested — but, as the Times writers were told, there have long been reports of ground-testing for Musudan (SS-N-6 type) engines that might power one or both missiles. (See a long post on the Musudan, including claims of static engine testing, in a post entitled, "Origins of the Musudan IRBM.")

One supposes the simplest explanation is that North Korea has deployed the Musudan IRBM, not the KN-08, but how the KN-08 got into all this is hard to fathom.  On the other hand, perhaps it is KN-08 units that have been seen in the field.  In this case, the range of the missile was simply misstated. That requires the least rewriting of the original text, but it requires burying the lede — RED KOREAN MOBILE MISSILE CAN STRIKE U.S.  Can’t imagine they would let that one pass unremarked. Finally, it’s possible that the IC has concluded the KN-08 range is simply not much better than the Musudan and isn’t an ICBM at all.  That also requires burying the lede: U.S. REDUCES ESTIMATES OF NORTH KOREAN MISSILE.

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  . Bret Stephens, WSJ, in re: Obama's You're-On-Your-Own World  /  GLOBAL VIEW  George McGovern wanted America to "Come Home." In Obama's second term, he may just get his wish.

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . Tyler Rogoway, AviationIntel, in re: The F-35 Saga | aviationintel

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Michael De La Merced, in re:  Dell and MSFT romance for a private buyout.  DEALBOOK  Microsoft May Back Dell Buyout  An investment by Microsoft — if it comes to pass — could be enough to push a leveraged buyout of the struggling computer maker over the goal line.

Hour Four

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Francine Lacqua, Bloomberg TV, in re:

the Davos mood, and a Hollywood celebrity party for Zimbabwe.

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  James Taranto, WSJ, the Clintons prepare for 2016, on Benghazi and on guns.  Bitter Clingers Again
The bigotry behind the push for gun control. 

Wednesday  23 Jan 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Michael Listner, Space Review, in re:

Wednesday 23 Jan 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Michael Auslin, AEI, in re: India's Missing Women The American; Chennai-- “I’d like to be a sales manager one day,” muses the young lady with whom I’m having coffee in one of Chennai’s upscale hotels. “But my parents have arranged a marriage for me, and it will be finalized next year.” Her disappointment is palpable, yet muted by the odd formality with which she describes her upcoming nuptials, a mood matching the sober-if-stylish sari she is wearing. Like many of India’s young urban women, Sita is educated and holds a professional position, yet her skills and dreams come second to respecting her parents’ wishes. As the country continues its torrid growth and its middle class expands, the evidence is mixed at best that traditional social bonds will loosen for many, perhaps most, Indian women

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