The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Air Date: 
January 08, 2014

Photo, above: the Honorable Prime of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wazed.  See Hour 3, Block A, Sajeeb A. Wazed, Bangladesh Awami League, on Bangladeshi elections. 


Hour One

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 1, Block A: Anne Stevenson Yang, co-founder of J Capital Research in Beijing and author of China Alone: The Emergence from, and Potential Return to, Isolation, in re: The producer price index has been steadily declining for two years due to the credit glut: vast overcapacity in industry, yet given  credit on order to maintain the GDP target.  Credit in China is increasing by 20-30% each year! Like a crack addict, becoming ever more dependent and emaciated.  Now, either increase by 80% to pay back old credit, or else go into decline.  Rock and a hard place. Not only is unsustainable – you suck the life out of the rest of the economy and oblige everyone to pay back the debt.  Ann has gone to shadow banks all over he country to see how this actually works.  (Even G Soros acknowledges a problem.)  "They have to do [this and that] to fix it" or else, "Oh, the masterful leaders have it all under control."  The banking system is integrated into the political system and the economy and cannot be changed.  Very hard to predict when the jerry-rigged system will decline; I don't happen to see how it can last much past 2014.

Anne Stevenson Yang's observations on Chinese crime.

Beijing is full of anecdotes these days about robberies, foreigners' detained without notice to their embassies (or parents, for the panicked family of one teenager over the holidays), petty extortion (getting knocked off your bike or having your car blocked by someone who then claims compensation), and assault. Perception of crime is always subject to reporting bias, but this period reminds me of the crime waves before 6-4 and before the Olympics, when rent-seeking by police, who had seen their off-the-books compensation drop during periods of high inflation or negative growth, rose to operatic levels. In a system like this one, there's a blurred line separating those who enforce and those who break the laws. What's sometimes portrayed as anti-corruption—the fall in luxury sales, for example—reflects, I believe, the general reduction in lucrative transactions and is mirrored by a fall in consumer spending in all categories that we're able to track. 

When companies aren't making big-ticket deals, there's less falling off the tree for authorities. Their income drops but not necessarily their obligations, and there tends to be a turn toward pettier types of extortion, like the kidnapping rackets by police that were rife before the Olympics. Fat times breed 村霸 and 土霸; what we really have to worry about now is the, what, 独裁 恶霸 Whatever one might call the rackets run by the top.

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 1, Block B: Kelley Currie, Senior Fellow with the Project 2049 Institute, in re: Burmese govt has sunk $25 billion into the Irawaddy project - the M_____ ____ dam,  to no good end.  Co-organized and paid for by China, which will get 90% of the electricity, in the middle of holy ground for indigenous people.  After the Chinese group went and made a presentation, the Burmese parliament "freaked out," as did the civilian population.  China has told he Burmese govt: if you cancel, you'll have to compensate us for our expenses plus damages – hardball.  The entire Burmese population oppose the dam, only a tiny number of thugs who profit under the table favor it, so it's surprising to see China pull this. Before the  political "opening," China plundered countless millions of rare and precious trees.  China now blame the US for all this. 

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 1, Block C: Hotel Mars, episode n.  Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, and Jeff Foust, The Space Review, in re: to celebrate private space – success in the Solar System – first make money in it! The profit motive drives risk-taking.  Falcon 9's second entry: Cygnus Capsule: competition holds prices down; and if one rocket goes offline, another one flying the American flag carries on.   At Wallops Island flight facility: Antares launch scrubbed due to space radiation; no impact on space station.  Orbital resets Antares launch for Thursday. Designed to carry cargo; returns with trash and burns up in the atmosphere.  Radiation shielding typically doesn’t apply to electronics and launch vehicle. Wallops launched Ladee last year. See:   for viewing guides. Both Dragon & Cygnus can carry several tons to space station; Dragon can return into atmosphere, whereas Cygnus cannot.  Some Russian, European and Japanese rockets are the same.

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 1, Block D:  Sadanand Dhume, AEI & WSJ, in re: U.S.-India Honeymoon Is Over.  For the Obama Administration to allow this to reach he point of arrest of a diplomat – and then strip-search her – suggests incompetence on the part of the US, and the Indian reaction is childish.  This incident wouldn't have created such a splash had he relations been solid.  India felt that under the previous Administration, the White House really "got" India. where as this one is [clueless].  Note arson attack on the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where the US offered to pay costs of re-painting.  Imagine he US doing this with a friendly nation . . .   BJP and the coming Indian elections; Congress doesn’t want to be seen as eek, so stands up for the dip; BJP plays the same game. If the dip is prosecuted, this goes farther downhill. However, if she gets dip immunity (she was also accredited to the UN), then this can be papered over. Too much at stake for both sides here.   Note widespread Despair over the Obama Administration's clumsiness with intl relations. 

The End of the U.S.-India Honeymoon  New Delhi's overwrought reaction to a diplomatic kerfuffle jeopardizes ties that had been strengthening.     America's clumsy handling of the Devyani Khobragade case and India's response to it have dealt a severe setback to bilateral relations.

With the so-called Khobragade affair, involving the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, stretching into its third week with little sign of resolution, it looks increasingly likely that the damage to U.S.-India ties will be long-term. Widely held assumptions in Washington and New Delhi‹that both countries had found a way to forge a stable, mutually beneficial partnership‹turn out to have been premature.

By now the bare bones of the controversy are well known. On Dec. 12, U.S. marshals briefly arrested 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, a mid-ranking Indian diplomat posted as a consular official in New York. Authorities allege she falsified visa documents for a maid-cum-nanny by promising her more than an American minimum wage while in fact paying her much less. Ms. Khobragade's family denies the allegation . . .

Hour Two

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 2, Block A:  Bruce Bechtol, Angelo State, author of The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era, in re:  rumor that Kim Jon-eun had his uncle killed by throwing him in a pen with 21 starving dogs.  Probably not true, but shows that some faction in China that disfavors China's supporting Kim has released this tale in order to destabilize Beijing's relations with Pyongyang.  How Eun probably did kill the uncle was to put him and his sidekicks in front of a firing squad using armor-piercing shells.  Rodman helps Eun by getting huge attention of the North American press – Rodman's antics, not the human rights depredations, the starvation and freezing, the tortures.  The uncle had great power over the foreign service, so ambassadors too many countries have been forced back to DPRK under armed guard.  All this upsets a major economic relation: with China.  Not clear that even the Chinese know why the uncle was purged.  When Eun took over in 2011, he knew nothing Is this a chair that takes an idiot and turns him into a monster??

U.S. Congressman, North Korean Exiles Ask Rodman to Call Off Pyongyang Game Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the upcoming exhibition match in North Korea "bizarre and grotesque."

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 2, Block B: Christian Whiton, Principal of D.C. International Advisory and author of Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War, in re:

Exclusive: China may raise Iran oil imports with new contract: sources.   How China Is Behind the Nuclear Program of Iran—and Every Other Rogue State. Beijing proved masterful at enabling Pyongyang to expand its program, and did the same for Pakistan. Now it’s Tehran’s turn.

---China absolutely depends on Iranian oil.  Comes through the Strait of Malacca. Meanwhile, Iran depends on foreign purchases.  China's foreign policy differs from the US's – it doesn’t dvpt relations with govts, it pays money.  Wants votes in the UN to protect itself from global condemnation for its nondemocratic practices. Democracies don’t understand the importance of symbolism to tyrannies.  "Commies love pageantry"  is what they say at State.  Without legitimacy, tyrannies need pageantry.  China reuses to take a long-term view to see that feeding Iran in the long term will bite them.  Similarly, propping up DPRK is not wise.  Gordon: "If we had a half-decent foreign policy, we'd really be dangerous."

Exclusive: China may raise Iran oil imports with new contract: sources  . 

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 2, Block C:  Mari Saito, Reuters, in re: Seiji Sasa, former wrestling promoter now sends workers to clean up nuclear clean-up site.  Sasa finds homeless people at the train station, and for a large bounty sends them back into the disaster zone – low wages (when paid), fearful conditions.  Ministry of Environment (in existence for only ten years) is supervising the clean-up.  Nonprofit organization has helped homeless people for many years; seen the situation consistently deteriorate. Now it’s up to church leaders to pick up ht pieces.  Big contracts to top contractors, whereas people at he bottom get minimum wage (when theyre paid): this has been going on for a few generations.  Hundreds and thousands of people "must return to their homes," so the clearing has to go on. An elder has been clearing radioactive rubble, paid $50 a day then had room and board deduced – "It's better for me to live on the street."  The longer they work, the more money is docked for expenses as they’re trapped in a hideous dorm. Extremely abusive to desperate men. 

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re: rare earths.  In 2010 it looked as though China had all the rare earth needed; China using "trade restrictions" – shakedown – against the EU and the US and Japan.  Now the great big meanies have lost focus: for yeas tried to disrupt a normal market, but mkt forces trigger responses that strike back as more mining comes on line – and smuggling from within China increased.   This occurs ten years after China joined the WTO – in order to bring China into world markets behavior, but Beijing cares naught for others's rules.  Now, China can’t help but get integrated: all the damage they did to their own interest when they fought WTO commitments. Chicken, shoes, tires, women's lingerie. 

Hour Three

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 3, Block A: Sajeeb A. Wazed, Bangladesh Awami League,  in re: Bangladeshi elections.    BNP govt wanted a "neutral " & unelected govt; Court ruled that unconstitutional.  Biggest problem has been BNP pouring petrol on public busses and burning many civilians to death. We've plead with the opposition to stop but they continue.  This has made he BNP very unpopular.  These acts of terror:  mostly home-grown. Unfortunately, BNP is allied with Jamaat al Islami, which has been associated with most terrorist attacks in Bangladesh.  Earlier: massive grenade attack, the 500 simultaneous bombings nationwide within 30 minutes, and govtl Ministers assassinated. 

BNP-Jamaat cadres have attacked minorities in Jessore and Dinajpur in retaliation for voting in the national elections. In Jessore 150 Hindu houses were ransacked, looted and burnt by Jamaat terrorists. In Dinajpur over 100 Hindu houses and shops were vandalized and burnt by BNP-Jamaat cadres. Our Government's local officials are assisting the victims. We have already arrested some of the perpetrators. 

This, unfortunately, is reminiscent of the attacks and atrocities committed against minorities after the 2001 elections in which the BNP-Jamaat won. Their cadres pillaged and burnt Hindu houses, often with families locked inside, raped girls and even threw infants on fires in at least two incidents.

The BNP-Jamaat have also continued their arson attacks on civilians. So far hundreds of civilians have been burned and/or in such attacks, mostly on public transportation. While Bangladesh has seen violent political protests in the past, these targeted attacks on civilians are unprecedented. These arson attacks have become frequent since October and have been on the front pages of newspapers almost daily.

Twelve people were severely burned on Tuesday, when a bus was set on fire and Molotov cocktails were hurled at a truck on the third day of the Opposition's four-day nationwide general strike.

Nine of them were injured when the bus was set ablaze in the afternoon at the capital's Matuail. Three others received burn injuries when miscreants hurled crude mombs at the truck at Gazipur's Kaliganj later at night.

Arson attacks and bomb blasts in the last three shutdowns in as many weeks have left many writhing in pain at the burns unit at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. Two of the injured have already died.

Several ministers and the Prime Minister's son Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed Joy had visited the injured at the hospital on Tuesday.

Visibly frustrated over the arson attacks, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia will be tried for these acts.

The BNP, however, blames the government for the violence claiming it wants to thwart the Opposition's movement.

Strikers set fire to the bus at Jatrabarhi's Matuail around 2:15pm Tuesday.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Wari division Deputy Commissioner Ilias Sharif told that the bus was running when it was set of fire.

"We suspect that someone posing as a passenger used petrol or gunpowder to set fire to it."

People immediately tried to douse the fire with the fire-fighting equipment from a nearby CNG filling station. But it was not until fire-fighters arrived at the scene that the fire was completely extinguished.

They sent the burned passengers of the bus to DMCH.

The injured have been identified as Dhaka Polytechnic Institute student Tarek Ahmed, 20, Eden College student Rabeya Aktar, 24, engineer Md Shuvo, 29, Abdur Rahim, 26, Abdul Mannan, 33, Abu Bakar Siddique, 30, Abul Kalam, 40, Khabir Hossain, 40, and Abdul Hai, 45.

Tarek told that he got on the bus from Rayerbagh to go to his friend's house at Chittagong Road. "Fire broke out on rear side of the bus out of nowhere when it was crossing Punom Cinema Hall."

The victim with the most burn injuries – 37 percent of the body – is Abdur Rahim of Munshiganj.

He hawks flower and lives at Shanir Akhra. His sister Nasima Aktar said he was the bread-winner in the family.

Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit Resident Doctor Abdul Mannan told that 15 percent of the bodies of five injured were burned, which made it impossible to say anything about their status before 24 hours.

The incident at Gazipur which left three people with burn injuries took place around 10:30pm at Ghorashal bypass's Murgaon at Kaliganj Upazila.

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 3, Block B: Thom Shanker, NYT, in re: Bipartisan Critic Turns His Gaze Toward Obama  Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s new memoir is the first describing the Obama administration’s policy deliberations written from inside the cabinet.

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 3, Block C: Arif Rafiq, PakistanRisk, in re: The Pakistani government is putting former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on trial. Sharing with you the analysis of his trial in my company’s new subscription newsletter, Pakistan Risk: Civilian Government Risks Army Backlash with Musharraf Trial

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 3, Block D:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re:  Consensus? IPCC lowers its predictions.   Consensus? Climate scientists predict the climate is warming faster than ever! [more]   Global warming scientists rescued from non-existent ice in Antarctica. Many links. You know the story.

Hour Four

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 4, Block A: John Shiffman, Reuters, in re:  In December 2012, Reuters correspondent John Shiffman wrote an in-depth account of how LaRose became radicalized and what drove her from the United States to Europe with the intent of killing in the name of Islam.  While reporting the story, Shiffman conducted the first and only interview with “Jihad Jane” herself and the first and only interview with her sister, Pam LaRose.

Here are Shiffman’s coverage of the pre sentencing filings from yesterday, audio of his interview with Colleen LaRose, and the original special report.

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 4, Block B:  Julie Bosman, NYT, in re:  Biography Casts Critical Light on Fox News Chief   Roger Ailes was so eager to influence national politics that in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, he told fellow Fox News executives point-blank: “I want to elect the next president.”

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 4, Block C: Big Guns. Brave Men: Mobile Artillery Observers and the Battle for Okinawa by Rodney Earl Walton  (1 of 2)

Wednesday  8 January 2014  / Hour 4, Block D: Big Guns. Brave Men: Mobile Artillery Observers and the Battle for Okinawa by Rodney Earl Walton  (2 of 2)

..  ..  ..


Hour 1:  Game of Thrones. Battlestar Galactica. 

Hour 2:  The Wolfman. Snowflower & the Secret Fan. The World Is Not Enough. 

Hour 3:  Kundun. Battleship. Land of the Dead.

Hour 4:  Season of the Witch. Battleship.