The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Air Date: 
July 24, 2013

Photo, above: View from Mars Orbiter Showing Curiosity Rover at 'Shaler'


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

Hour One

 Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Anne Stevenson-Yang, co-founder of J Capital Research based in Beijing, in re: China's PMI and banks.  China ha been counting road-building as part of its GDP instead of as a cost against GDP.  When China put a dollar into the economy, used to get 83 cents, now gets 17 cents.  Money now is – all borrowed; creating more debt than can be serviced.  Even Krugman, George Freedman, and others, have spoken of China's economy hitting the Great Wall

Japan scrambled fighter jets July 24 after a Chinese Y-8 early warning plane flew through international airspace near Okinawa prefecture's main island, Reuters reported. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters he sees the action as part of China's maritime expansion

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation, in re:  Joe Biden travels to India for strategic and economic policy consultations.

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block C:  Hotel Mars, episode n.  Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, and Michael J. Listner, Esq,, Space Law and Policy Solutions, Inc, in re: Space Law: Is Asteroid Mining Legal?  No law forbidding mining the resource; not clear that a private person or corporation is allowed to harvest.  Geopolitical envt might require agreements: "profit-sharing" sort of  arrangement. Article advises commercial space actors take a proactive approach and self-regulate in order to [cut off at the pass] the G-20. Focussed on suborbital community; asteroids constitute windfall profit, seen as a common heritage of mankind.  Expect agreements between countries for rights to go harvest, then share profits.  Note cattlemen who drove cows north to excellent grazing, self-regulated and kept govt out.  Article III of Outer Space Treaty: any US corporation's activities performed in outer space are under jurisdiction and responsibility of US govt. If launched on the Ariane, e.g., that country also would be share responsibility and liability.  How can a nation-state lay claim to outer space?  Think of the East India Corporation.  Colonies traditionally sponsored by a nation-state; does the Dutch govt want to establish a colony? A sovereign claim on the our world in violation of the treaty?    Withdrawal provisions in Outer Space treaty of 1967 – a powerful document, signed by many nations, incl US, Russia, China. If any of those three withdrew, provisions still in effect – ratified law and customary law.  Moon treaty ratified by a bunch of countries but not by the big three, so is considered weak.  Coming: law courts on the surface of Mars.

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Parris Chang, 張旭成,Penn State professor emeritus and Taiwan Institute for Political, Economic and Strategic Studies, in re: Stop Taiwan’s traitorous Quisling. Both China and the US unceremoniously intervened in  Taiwanese elections, to the distress of Taiwanese. He seems to be heading toward handing Taiwan over to China – cutting down defense spending, diminishing the number of troops; says that Taiwan's relations with China are as good as or better than its relations with other major powers. "Service trade agreement" is suddenly being taken up by a huge influx of Mainland capital. Making it easy for China to eat up Taiwan.   Taiwanese citizens wish to be independent but fat cats are making pots of money by selling to Mainland, and Beijing has decided that it's easier to buy Taiwan than propagandize its way in.   AS the Chinese economy's bubble is bursting, our destiny is being damaged.  Some people are noticing that we need to broaden our trade with other major powers.  China's approval ratings in Taiwan are way low; were they reporting accurate numbers, probably would be even lower inside Mainland.

[On 20 July,] the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is electing its chairman and tens of thousands of its members have been mobilized to vote for the incumbent — President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Pundits liken the election to a mid-summer festival political farce, as Ma is the only candidate in the ballot, while another possible rival was disqualified on “technical” grounds, ensuring that Ma would be the winner.  Nonetheless, Ma has taken a month-long leave of absence from his presidential duties to campaign all around Taiwan to solicit votes from the KMT’s rank and file. . . . [more]  Foreign journalists who write about Taiwan are apt to dwell on Ma’s accomplishments in cross-strait ties. Thus far, Taiwan has signed a landmark trade pact — the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) — with Beijing, including 17 agreements to lift cross-strait tariffs on goods and investment barriers. A service trade agreement has been initialed, but not yet reviewed and ratified by the legislature. Both the opposition and KMT legislators have serious reservations about the agreement, which would allow China’s capital and huge service industry to enter Taiwan’s market and could adversely affect thousands of Taiwan’s small and medium-sized enterprises. . . . [more]  Since Ma came into office in 2008, Taiwan has progressively tilted toward China, as he has been conscientiously pursuing a policy unification with Beijing in close and active collaboration with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). His recent acceptance of a “one China” framework is the latest indication of the KMT policy to move toward unification. This would further explain the rationale behind his efforts to retain the KMT chairmanship. As the position extends until 2017, Ma would be in a position to set and direct the cross-strait agenda after he steps down from the Presidential Office in 2016. Regardless of which party is in power after 2016, Chairman Ma would be able to visit China and hold formal meetings with Xi to forge a new cross-strait relationship. Does Ma aspire to become a Taiwanese Quisling? The Taiwanese who cherish freedom, democracy, independence and do not wish to live under Communist rule must do what they can to deter the would-be Quisling from selling out Taiwan to China.

     Parris Chang, professor emeritus of political science at Pennsylvania State University, is chief executive of the Taiwan Institute for Political, Economic and Strategic Studies. Previously, he was a Democratic Progressive Party legislator and deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council.

Hour Two

 Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Charles Burton, Brock University, in re: Wheelchair-bound man, Mr Ji, tried to kill himself (by bomb, after asking people to move away so they wouldn’t be damaged) at Beijing airport (Terminal 3, once the world's largest building), having been paralyzed because he'd been beaten by thuggish police into paralysis because he didn’t pay high enough bribes, now in debt and unable to father children. Was a motorcyclist taxi man, now wants compensation from the local govt.  Reminiscent of the self-immolation of the Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazi, starting the Arab Spring.  Also death of watermelon-seller under thugs Chung Gwon, pix circulated by Weibo.  Everyone in the Beijing airport has a smartphone; his issue was multiplied by hundreds of millions in moments.

Photo below: Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor who immolated himself in reaction to bureaucratic harassment, and in doing so ignited the Arab Spring.

The media have been extremely sympathetic, engendering concern among the thugocracy, which is delegitimizing itself one death at a time – exacerbated by regime's efforts to suppress information, of which everyone swiftly becomes aware. Regime fails both in economy and in creating an accountable and transparent, just, democratic, free society. Popular revulsion vs these thug tactics, strengthened by economic distress – many citizen have never witnessed a downturn. The Communist Party n longer has he power to shut down the conversation as social media are rising; the Party s slow-footed. Almost everyone in China has a smartphone with a camera. Deaths, women raped by officials, industrial accidents uncompensated, land and homes expropriations, police thuggery against illegal hawkers and against citizens who travel to Beijing to petition the government for redress. 

A wheelchair-bound man who set off explosives in the Beijing airport over the weekend failed to end his own life but succeeded in getting authorities to re-examine his complaints amid an outpouring of public sympathy over his plight. The bomber, Ji Zhongxing, set off a homemade explosive device after being stopped from handling out leaflets drawing attention to an incident that left him partially paralyzed. Mr. Ji, 34, suffered arm injuries in the blast, but there were no other casualties, according to the official Xinhua news agency.  Rather than condemn the bomber, Chinese social media users have instead expressed support for him, depicting him as a victim, not a terrorist. As evidence of his lack of malice, many pointed to eye-witness accounts and video (see above, but beware of graphic content) that suggested he told passersby to keep their distance before detonating the device.  “What a kindhearted man! Who else in this country can stand up and say ‘I’m more righteous than he is’!” Zhao Xiao, professor at University of Science and Technology Beijing, wrote on Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging service over the weekend. The post had been forwarded more than 50,000 times by Monday afternoon.  On Sunday, with public sympathy for Mr. Ji mounting, authorities in southern manufacturing city of Dongguan announced it had set up an investigation team to reexamine his allegations (in Chinese).    According to Xinhua, Mr. Ji’s family began petitioning the Dongguan police in July 2005, saying Mr. Ji had been paralyzed as the result of a beating he had received at the hands of informal police staff the previous month. Mr. Ji was working in Dongguan as a motorcycle driver ferrying passengers around town, and was carrying someone at the time.  A court investigation relying on testimony from the passenger found Mr. Ji’s injuries were the result, not of a beating, but of his motorcycle colliding with the police staff, Xinhua said.  In its announcement Sunday, the Dongguan government said Mr. Ji had already sued twice, asking for roughly 330,000 yuan  [more]

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at International Campaign for Tibet, in re: the masters of the Earth n Beijing were allowing photos of HH the Dalai Lama in Tibet in the East [in Amdo], but this "experiment" has suddenly been shut down; debate on administrators' perhaps allowing a tiny liberalization to defuse the tension.  Their Tibet policy is entrenched from the top, calcified under Hu Jintao; officials need to follow a line.  After mild loosening, another official went in to demand a harder line.    Perhaps the new dvpts, incl an interview by an academic, are a small window of tolerance, a trial balloon.

Current status of someone displaying a photo not good.  Xi Jiping's father knew HH the Dalai Lama, and his wife is Buddhist; still, a new leader is unable to change policies.  Leaders around the world have an obligation to approach Xi to find a way to address the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people.   The Party's first premise is power; also, minerals and timber are in Tibet, and there's an important strategic dimension as a buffer between China and India  GC: I'm a Christian, but I do subscribe to karma, and God will have his revenge on the despoliation of Tibet.  JB: And they’re afraid of a photograph of the Dalai Lama.  That's what frightens them.

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Michael Auslin, AEI, in re: Michael Auslin: Now Comes the Hard Part for Abenomics

Provocations in the East China Sea - Japan scrambled fighter jets July 24 after a Chinese Y-8 early warning plane flew through international airspace near Okinawa prefecture's main island, Reuters reported. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters he sees the action as part of China's maritime expansionIs China taunting Japan so soon after he election?  Is an ongoing attempt to probe on the water and in the sky– a continued policy of seeing what it can get away with and treading the line between reaction and [blowing it off].  Was an early-warning plane from China to see how well it can control area around the Senkakus, which is significant.  China seems to want Japan just to give up the islands, in the long run Japan will calculate that these small islands aren’t worth risking a real war with China. I testified to Congress today, to skepticism that the US has a [satisfactory] policy.   Monetary expansion & fiscal stimulus are Abe's first two arrows ( a small bump); third is structural reform, maddeningly silent about what they’ll do.  Betting too much on the TPP (Transpacific Partnership).  If Japan didn’t join or left TPP, it'd be doomed to perpetually playing catch-up.  . . .  Oddly, Japan worries more about a weak China than a strong one; were id really strong, might force Japan into the TP; otherwise, might calculate that it'd be better to stay out of the TPP. Still, have to worry about competitors on the value chain, incl Korea; shd get in soon and secure the leading role and establish rules. In the Senkakus, each side has painted itself into a corner so tightly that all we can hope is that each will release slowly. One miscalculation cd set of a chain reaction in Japan; China may have figured out that Japan is not a pushover.  What we don’t want is [it to blow up].

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re: Friends Like These  Obama will meet with his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang this week. The Communist Party has ruled Vietnam nontransparently for years – Vietnam was for a while voted he single most corrupt nation on Earth.  China and Vietnam are at loggerheads over South China Sea territories; Truong wants to join the TPP and get support.  US has interest in self-rule, human rights, open economy.  Vietnamese people are ever more interested in challenging their govt.  GC: We Americans do not understand the power of our ideas. These regimes are brittle.  Every time we speak with one of them, we legitimize them; need to be aware of the importance of our ideals. We can exercise great influence on human rights, mustn't be shy about using this leverage. Vide: Helsinki Accords scared the living daylights out of the Soviets.

Hour Three

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Melik Kaylan,, in re: How do social media empower people who otherwise seem powerless. Private vs public debate; state-run institutions inevitably become corrupt and rigid; we think that's a law of Nature, and that privately-run groups are more democratic and functional. However, the advent of this technology allows us to know what govt is doing simply be watching what the govt is doing –on videocam,  We the public need to be able to watch cameras on videocams – changes the whole balance of power.   I was in Tbilisi, Georgia, last fall in the elections. Michael Saakashvili instituted cameras in government house: enormous structure of glass, people inside and outside could look at each other; you cd get all the licenses and papers you needed in one day. Cameras on lines showed who was being slow. Put huge pressure on the bureaucracy to function better.  Government on camera all the time, within reasonable limits. AS it stands, there are huge numbers of cameras everywhere- we're already compromised – but officials see it, not us. We who pay for it should be able to monitor them.   Caveat: vids can be meddled with; in Istanbul in the park, fake counterpropaganda was being created by govt.  The govt was outed in about fifteen minutes; would be in China, too.  Saakashvili invented something that's a beacon to the world.

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Gordon Chang,, in re: Chinese economy is now bad enough that we need to be prepared lest we wake up one morning and the Party be out of power. The deal has been: you give us a terrific economy and we'll be docile; but in good times and bad, Chinese people want justice, which the Party cannot deliver. Ma Ying Jeou has an approval rating of ~20%; the party, were it to issue accurate numbers, would have less. PLA is the most powerful faction in the Communist Party.

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Tom Bergin, Reuters, in re:  Last week the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued an action plan for tackling what it calls corporate tax avoidance. According to the report, this has become a major political issue as citizens tire of paying higher taxes while companies often pay effective tax rates that are a fraction of statutory levels.  But powerful business lobby groups may make changing these laws difficult.  [more]

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Liz Peek, Fiscal Times, in re: Is Bernanke Blowing Smoke, or Bubbles?  Behind the “story of asset bubbles” she said, “there is usually explicit and purposeful financial institution involvement.

Hour Four

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Circle of Treason: CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed by Sandra V Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille  (1 of 4)

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Circle of Treason: CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed by Sandra V Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille  (2 of 4)

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Circle of Treason: CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed by Sandra V Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille  (3 of 4)

Wednesday 24 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Circle of Treason: CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed by Sandra V Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille  (4 of 4)