The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Air Date: 
April 24, 2013

Photo, above:  A police officer sets fire to boxes of confiscated counterfeit alcohol in Guiyang, capital of southwest China’s Guizhou Province.


Hour One

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Fraser Howie, co-author of Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise,  in re:  fresh threat from the PLA over joint exercises, US-Japan: "These exercises constitute a strategic threat to the PLA" –  at a moment when the PLA has physically invaded Ladakh (q.v.). The weakening and stuttering of the Chinese economy generates aggression from the party. HSBC managers' index fell to 50.5, which is not insignificant. China has made tremendous efforts to improve the economy, with small effect.  Zombie loans to conceal bad assets on bank balance sheets. China has not reversed the laws of economics.  Last year was not 5.5 – was more likely in threes or fours; now growing at 2 or 3%; the deceleration is the real story.  "A 53-yr-old Taiwanese man tested positive for H7N9 avian flu."  Low contagion rate, but high mortality

Chinese manufacturing shows April slump, raising fears about economy  THE preliminary HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, a gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity, fell to 50.5 in April, compared with a final reading of 51.6 in March, HSBC Holdings PLC said today.  A reading above 50 indicates expansion from the previous month, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Sarah Cook, a senior research analyst for Freedom on the Net and East Asia at Freedom House,

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block C:    Hotel Mars, episode n. David Livingston, The Space Show, & William J. Borucki, space scientist, astrobiology and Space Research Directorate, Ames Research Center; also
detection of extrasolar planets, planetary lightning; in re: NASA's most recent press conference on Kepler 62: Earthlike planets in a habitable zone. Two planets, one warmish, with an ocean; another, cool, rather like Mars, ice mostly at the poles abt 1200 light years.  Found 380 planets the size of the Earth, none in a habitable zone; those that re, are 40-60% bigger. Too big, become gas planets like Neptune. Need to see three transits [orbital years?]; we've found 122 days, another – rocky planet – has 267-day period. Looking for stars bright like Sol. Earthlike: needs to be within 25% size of Earth, and have water on surface, If too close to star, oceans boil; if too far, they freeze. A cooler star, such as Kepler 62 planets are, is OK.  Our Sun wasn't always this temperature; once, the Earth was molten and later may be an ice ball, so the habitable zone my go to Mars. Kepler 62 planets orbit a K star, 7 billion years old, so any life there will have had 2 billion years longer than us to develop. Peanuts: Lucy is asked, "Is there intelligent life on those stars?" Of course not, or they would have contacted me by now." Turns out our Sun has rather low variability. We've looked for three years, expected to find an Earth-habitable zone already, but will have to keep looking.

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Jillian Kay Melchior, in re: China's Fake Alcohol in a country where knockoffs abound. Thirty-seven thousand bottles confiscated; bartenders seem to be buying them. Black mkt is challenging consumer. One is methanol, will blind you; another is _______.  In China, you get what you pay for; and sometimes, not even that.

Hour Two

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  Bob Collins, former senior Pentagon analyst now based in South Korea, in re: FBI and CIA separately investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev; FSB again asked CIA to look; CIA tried to put him on a no-fly list. Yet 2012, Jan to July, he flew into the Caucasus and back.  DPRK and Iran in an oil deal: from Iranian POV, isn’t abt uranium ore from North Korea; rather, wants titanium from there, as well as mining technologies – DPRK has excellent mining technology; also, it’s a great cover for proliferation financing.  China supplies 90% of North Korea's oil, can distance itself from this bad odor by bringing the Iranians in and paying Iran for the oil.  Korean Peoples Army is involved in DPRK bz; how much is ___?   Party determines how much and how; the KPA – the only institution there to have the machinery – does the labor.  his describes how China has maintained North Korea all these years –  USSR/Russia, China, South Korea and the US are the nations that DPRK uses as dupes.  China's North Korea envoy is in Washington right now talking with the State Department!  DPRK uses Chinese banks, an d State doesn’t stop it.

Iran's oil ministry says the country should export oil to North Korea  Iran's oil ministry says the country is considering exporting oil to North Korea as a way to improve its battered economy. The official IRNA news agency quoted on Saturday Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi as saying talks are under way between Tehran and Pyongyang on oil exports. An oil deal would bring the two nations deeply at odds with the U.S. and the West closer together. In September, they signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement. A delegation from North Korea's oil ministry is currently visiting Iran.  [more]

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  Nitin Gokhale, anchor with New Delhi Television in Leh, Ladakh, in re: More than a dozen Chinese soldiers, a platoon, continue to be stationed  a remote camp some 10 kilometres (6 miles) within Indian territory  in Northen Ladakh.  "India will take every step to protect its interests," Defence Minister AK Antony said today.  The Indian army set up its own temporary camp just 500 meters (1600 feet) from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers after the incident on April 15.  "On April 17, 5th Battalion of Ladakh Scouts was sent to the sector to take on the PLA challenge and they are also camping there now," a senior official said to Reuters.    Chinese soldiers still inside Indian territory; eyeball-to-eyeball situation. Testing Indian patience and preparedness; close to Subesector North, and Karakoram Pass.  Unresolved border dispute for fifty years, although trade has blossomed.  Last time this occurred was in 19__.  Chinese strategy has been to keep India off balance by nibbling border incursions. While this is occurring at 17,000 ft in Ladakh, China is also sending out sea missions to challenge Japan.  Soldiers are abt 100 miles away in Shiok, and the Karakoram Pass is 16 km north of that.  Indian army has a full division stationed in Ladakh (permanently); China probably will leave in its own good time. Tit for tat?  What China wants is for India not to dvpt infrastructure in this region, and to quit patrolling there. Have had two flag meetings.

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Sadananad Dhume, AEI, in re: Chinese su go into Indian territory, lave a lot of Chinese-marked trash, "Like a dog pissing to establish a boundary," and then go away. This time, they’ve camped 10 km inside Indian territory and are staying Indian govt is playing into their hands – have not pushed back; and you're not rewarded for weakness against a bully.   Still much bitterness in India for China's villainy 50 years ago.  Indian elections next year; pols need to look strong enough or be voted out.  "Weakness is provocative."  The ludicrous notion of the BRICS – a new paradigm invented by a Goldman character.  Eight Chinese vessels are at this moment antagonizing the Japanese in the Diaoyutai/Senkakus.  Two fights vastly far apart – coordinated? Yes – a very poor decision, as China is not equal to all its neighbors plus the US; I read this as a sign that something is desperately wrong in China to create this very bad strategy.  This is the one land border that the Chinese have not settled. "China's peaceful rise"' has to be permanently put to bed as a bad joke.  They create provocations and blame the victims; a Third Reich practice, very worrying, Nobody saw this coming, It makes no sense for them to pick this fight. We sometimes give the Chinese too much credit for being smart. This is stupid.  Revert to plan for democracies to align themselves. This is clearly an advantage for the Indian opposition party since this one is seen as weak.

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re:  Is China truly the number-one market for cars? Potentially – in 2020 cd be selling more cars than in US & Europe together.  Chinese auto mfrs are struggling in their home market –they have no mkt pressures so produce whatever they fancy, which doesn’t correspond with what people want to buy. Govt shovels money into the govt-sponsored enterprises, no market discipline. A good case study of how govt support can be a disaster.  The last emperor, Emperor P'u-I, rode around in a Buick, so Chinese consumers want Buicks.   Lots of first-time car buyers, they’re smart and getting more knowledgable; so safety and quality are central. BYD, a battery mfr, now is making electric cars (Warren Buffet is an owner); the basic problem is that the technology is new, speculative.  Thomas Friedman assures us that the Chinese model is vastly superior to anything we dopes are doing.

Hour Three

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Gordon Chang,, in re: Does a slowing Chinese economy put pressure on the party leadership to prove its legitimacy – not longer economic, replaced now by nationalism?  China  has just threatened the US and Japan for holding their annual joint military exercises. The PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) is a creature of the Chinese Communist Party. As North Korea receives shipments of oil from Iran, and North Korea has no money to pay, China is likely paying Iran under the table

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  . John Bolton, AEI and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; author of Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, in re:  Susan Rice followed her talking points to her own detriment [anent Benghazi].  Iran, chief global funder of terrorism. . . . The potential implications are enormous. Before we engage in a contentious debate about privacy versus security, or embark on expensive programs of increased precautions and domestic defenses, we need to know more. The far better approach may well be to take the fight to the terrorists overseas, rather than adhering to a Maginot Line approach here at home. In the iconic phrase, if we play only defense, we have to be right every time, whereas the terrorists only have to be right once. Our future safety and critical aspects of our way of life depend on thoroughly investigating the Boston bombing's international implications.

John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . Aaron Klein, WABC, in re:  Why did the IDF’s top analyst drop his Syria WMD bombshell?   Was Itai Brun’s public declaration that Assad’s forces have used nerve gas an effort to push US intervention? Or was it an extraordinary gaffe?

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Aaron Klein, WABC, in re:  Looking to choose a new head of the Alawites?  Who is the opposition now? Both Russia and Israel have a lot of questions about the Syrian opposition.  Fatah's Force 17, presidential guard: Israel caught one of their cells planning attacks against Israel, coordinating with Hamas; it took money from Hamas to organize Hamas's military. 

Hour Four

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Eric Trager, Washington Institute and The Atlantic, in re:  Egyptian activists' desire for the military to return to power -- and the military's apparent desire to focus instead on its narrow economic interests. Based on reporting from Trager's recent trip to Egypt.  "During a recent trip I took to Egypt, non-Islamists openly admitted that their increasingly violent protests against the government of President Mohammed Morsi, including a string of arsons targeting Muslim Brotherhood headquarters nationwide, are intended to force the military to reclaim control. 'There will be bloody action in the street, and the army will come,' Heba, an Alexandria-based leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, told me. 'I don't want this, but the people will be happy.'  This weekend's anti-Christian violence in Egypt, which left six people dead, has amplified calls within the country for the Egyptian military to reclaim power. Those calls aren't new. Ever since Morsi's November 22 constitutional declaration, through which the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated leader declared virtually unchecked executive authority, non-Islamist activists have demanded the end of the Brotherhood's rule. Public support for a new military takeover then grew tremendously after December 5, when the Brotherhood used organized violence against protesters outside the presidential palace. According to one poll, 82 percent of Egyptians now want the military back in power." [more]

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Ken Croswell, Science magazine, in re:    Two items about the space beyond Pluto:  first is in the April 2013 Scientific American, about the search for new worlds New Horizons can visit after it passes Pluto. The second is in the April 2013 Smithsonian magazine, about how close or far Voyager 1--NASA's farthest spacecraft--is to the border of our solar system.  

WANTED:  NEW WORLDS BEYOND PLUTO  Scientific American, April 2013, page 25)   Scientists work to keep an intrepid spacecraft busy;  by Ken Croswell

In July 2015 the New Horizons spacecraft will venture past the farthest worlds NASA has ever visited:  mysterious Pluto and its many moons.  As if that achievement were not impressive enough, scientists are already plotting New Horizon's next move, seeking uncharted worlds beyond Pluto for the craft to study close-up. 

    Pluto is either the largest or second-largest member of the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, a region boasting 1,600 objects that astronomers have discovered and tracked.  But New Horizons will not pass close to any of them.  Because a good spacecraft is a terrible thing to waste, astronomers are looking for new heavenly bodies for the spacecraft to observe.  "We would be happy to find one," says Alex Parker, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  "And we would be ecstatic to find two."

    The search uses telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. Astronomers compare images taken on different nights and identify objects that move.  So far the project has netted dozens of small worlds, three of which will come within 10 million to 20 million miles of New Horizons in 2018.  From that distance, the spacecraft can search for moons, which reveal the main body's mass by responding to its gravitational pull.  But Parker wants more--worlds that the probe can approach from a distance of just a few thousand miles.  Then it can scrutinize them the same way it will Pluto.

    Unfortunately, such objects are now traveling through the worst constellation in which to find unknown worlds:  starry Sagittarius, which harbors the center of our Milky Way.  "It's very difficult to see these faint moving objects in front of thousands and thousands of background stars," Parker says.  Still, given the new worlds the search has already found, he is optimistic it will keep New Horizons employed long after it passes Pluto.

    [Notes:  New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006. Pluto now has five known moons:  Charon, Nix, Hydra, and two more yet to be named. Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980. Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter in 1979, Saturn in 1981, Uranus in 1986, and Neptune in 1989. The original Voyager project also included Pluto.]

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Eli Lake, Daily Beast, in re: GOP Benghazi Report Blasts Hillary

Wednesday  24 April 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Charlie Mead,  Bloomberg, in re: Apple’s $145 Billion in Cash Fails to Win AAA Debt Rating

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Hour 1:  Shaolin; Battlestar Galactica Season I

Hour 2:  Snowflower; Alien vs Predator

Hour 3:  Bourne Identity

Hour 4:  Bourne Supremacy; Battlestar Galactica