The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Air Date: 
October 09, 2013

Photo, above: Dr Wang Bing-zhang, a democracy activist imprisoned in China in BeiJang Prison, Shaoguan, three hours north of Guangzhou. See: Hour 1, Block D, Ti-Anna Wang and Alfred Miller.


Co-hosts: Gordon Chang,; Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show.

Hour One

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 1, Block A: Walter Lohman, Director of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, in re:  Pres Obama has elected not to attend APEC in Bali or ASEAN in Brunei (and cancelled mtgs in KL and Manila), has elicited much criticism, incl China's accusation that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a tool for aggression in East Asia. George Bush, much criticized, too, managed to get to every ASEAN meeting.  Xi Jinping says, "The ocean is vast because it admits hundreds of rivers" – Asia should be one big family, hearkening to the old Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere: China as senior member and the US nowhere to be seen.  China's neighbors are "freaked out" while Pres Obama is not there.  Xi tries to use Confucianism to gather . . .  but most of East Asia is not Confucian.

US shutdown helps China take Apec centre stage; Xi offers $100bn contracts  Taking advantage of the US government shutdown, China has taken center stage of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Indonesia and proposed a 'maritime silk route' connecting China and South East Asia. 
US President Barack Obama has cancelled his visit to the Apec summit and dispatched secretary of state John Kerry to the meeting because of the budget crisis at home. [more]

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 1, Block B: Sara Cook, senior research analyst for Freedom on the Net and East Asia at Freedom House, in re: Apple slammed in China for pulling firewall-busting app OpenDoor  -  allows people to access info on websites that'd otherwise be blocked in China, and also permits the user to maintain anonymity. Thousands of downloads a day; "great big red fist came down on Cupertino and Cupertino acceded."  Not for the first time.  Freedom House issued a map of Internet non-freedom; blue = closed and awful; a great big blue blob over China.  Beijing has commercial firms do its dirty work.  Less Internet freedom than there was a year ago; China rushes to have other nations prevent Net access.  A race toward authoritarianism; concomitant with diminution of democratic societies.   People attacked or killed because they liked someone on Facebook.  On 1-100 scale, China is 86 (which is bad), Vietnam less worse.  Note that free or fairly free are scattered around  the world, whereas closed countries are in an arc from China around parts of Central Asia into such paragons as Somalia.  Not accidental. In Zambia and Ethiopia, likely that China is helping, but China invests in widely infrastructure, giving tyrant a big card to play against possible democratic donors.

New Report: Internet Freedom Deteriorates Worldwide, but Activists Push Back

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 1, Block C: Thomas A. Olson, New Space Business Plan Competition (and advisor to, and investor in, three tech startups); Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, in re: New Space Business Plan Competition is a project of Space Frontier Fdn that focusses on the burgeoning new space industry: need to demonstrate ROI & capacity to contribute something to opening the space frontier.    3D printing; Made in Space is customizing it for use on ISS. CubeSat: payloads piggyback on Arianes all the time; some CubeSats are being made in universities. Minirocketship aboard a Soyuz, put a CubeSat on a smaller rocket and shoot it into higher orbit.   There are maybe nine commercial satellite competitions in the US now; in contrast, there are thousands in academe all over he world.  No cost to attend; at Stanford in Palo Alto, 24 October, 8:30AM to 7:30 PM. Presentations all morning, then speakers & panels in afternoon as judges deliberate; then a party. Investors, entrepreneurs, Stanford students. Boot camp: two days leading up to competition in which participants can practice their presentations, get critiques from professionals.

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 1, Block D:  Alfred Miller, Columbia J-School; Ti-Anna Wang, advocate for Chinese dissident families; in re: imprisonment of Dr Wang Bing-zhang, a democracy activist imprisoned in China in BeiJang Prison, Shaoguan, three hours north of Guangzhou. A tale emblematic of the brutality of Beijing: Dr Wang left to study medicine in China; on finishing his studies, he defected to start an overseas Chinese democracy movement, In 2002, travelling in Vietnam, he was kidnapped; been in prison in southern China since then. Daughter last saw him in December 2008; saw him alone, he looked very different: shaved head, white hair, wearing jumpsuit. Very subdued demeanor. Charged with espionage and terrorism, given a life sentence, which is unusual.   Daughter has been outspoken and lobbied for him in Washington; she's no longer allowed to go to China, Last person to see  Dr Wang was his sister, in August of 2013; she was heartbroken: his mental health is broken, he experiences paranoia, has a huge range of emotions. We’ve been working at this case for ten years with little measurable success – may be hopeless.  He was accused of trying to blow up a Chinese embassy Thailand, which is fantastic and not relevant to Dr Wang.  One concrete piece of evidence: in fact, Ti0anna and her brother were sent to Thailand with a piece of evidence to clear their father's name; they met the Royal Thai Police colonel who ran the investigation- he exonerated Dr Wang.  What Beijing does is try to instill defeat in people, which works with some but builds fortitude in others.  Ti-Anna was born in 1979 and named in honor of Tian An Men. 

Hour Two

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 2, Block A: Stephen Yates, CEO of D.C. International Advisory and former adviser to Vice President Cheney, in re: Xi: 'The Taiwan escapade cannot go on forever" – to force Pres Ma of Taiwan to make more concessions.  Ma Ying-jeou's popularity at home is down, maybe cannot deliver; also, US is preoccupied elsewhere. In the past ,Mao & Chou suggested that China cold wait a  long time as long as Taiwan didn’t declare dependence Different from now, forcing Taiwan to concede now. In TW, about 9% want reunification with the Mainland; therefore, it'd require coercion. Top leaders do not make accidental statements, was deliberate as a change of tone and substance.  Art of War-like to approach it mildly. However, trendlines not moving toward Mainland so the only tools Beijing has left are violent. Yike – Taiwan will not just roll over. US Pacific Fleet would respond if the takeover was military; today, they can use hot money flows, social media, many tools to manipulate outcomes.  China has dramatically expanded its . ..  Ma's polls are 8-9$=%, top; he's been authoritarian and undermining Taiwan's democratic institutions, and the economic benefit has been directed toward Mainland rather than Taiwan.  Question: Xi may be feeling pressure from his military – "Push now or we'll do it"?  Yes - Chinese mil is most militarily-indoctrinated group in the country, and also needs to have a continuing raison d'etre.

China's Xi says political solution for Taiwan can't wait forever  Chinese President Xi Jinping told a senior envoy from self-ruled Taiwan on Sunday that a political solution to a standoff over sovereignty lasting more than six decades cannot be postponed forever, drawing a cool, non-committal response.  China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since Nationalist forces, defeated by the Communists, fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has never ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control.  While relations have improved dramatically since the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou was elected Taiwan president in 2008, with a series of trade and tourism deals signed, there has been no progress towards political reconciliation or a lessening of military distrust.  Speaking on the Indonesian resort island of Bali ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Xi told Ma's envoy to the meeting, Vincent Siew, that political issues could not be put off forever.  [more]

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 2, Block B:  Bruce Bechtol, author of The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era, in re:  North Korea puts army on alert, warns U.S. of 'horrible disaster'  North Korea said on Tuesday its military would be put on high alert and be ready to launch operations, stepping up tension after weeks of rhetoric against the United States and South Korea, whom it accuses of instigating hostility. Reclusive North Korea has often issued threats to attack the South and the United States but has rarely turned them into action. Such hostile rhetoric is widely seen as a way to push its domestic and international political agenda. A spokesman for the North's military warned the United States of "disastrous consequences" for moving a group of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into a South Korean port. "In this connection, the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command to re-examine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations anytime," the spokesman said, referring to the Korean People's Army (KPA). "The U.S. will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces' nuclear strike means," the spokesman said in a . . .   [more]


 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 2, Block C: Sadanand Dhume, AEI, in re: India. 

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re: Japan Airlines.  Tokyo-bound flight from Moscow, a 787 Dreamliner, was obliged to turn around; so Japan has just committed 7 billion euros to buy 31 A350 planes from Airbus.  Retired the huge fleet of Boeing 747s.

Hour Three

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 3, Block A:  Gordon Chang,, in re:  . . .  "The nature of these governments matters," said Ronald Reagan. At ASEAN, Pres Obama's absence is viewed with dismay. 

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 3, Block B:  Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, and Gene Countryman, KNSS, in re:  ACA/Obamacare: HHS, K Sibelius, claim there'll be no details of sign-ups, exchanges, till mid-November. 

Wichita: in Kansas, zero have been enrolled; a hospital has successfully enrolled two people. All the other offices won’t return phone calls; one person said, "Information will have to come back to me from DC" (by Pony Express? by semaphore?).

California: State exchange: 16,000 households, but it's a little shaky. Day 8: more and more bz, govt, and consumers remarking on how this isn't working at all in Cali, in other states.  CoveredCalifornia is spinning as well as it can, which is pretty well, but facing structural problems.  A friend of mine just sent: "I just met with a senior economist with Wells Fargo and he's a thumbs-down on ACA, not only for health care but also for the economy."  "We may be looking at a total overhaul; it’s so entangled that we may not be able to fix this iteration." It came with another comment I won't post here . . . There's really no scenario where this ends well for the NPS. First, several of their workers have lost their wages, workers are working without pay, and when the dust settles, heads will roll in subsequent investigations. The NPS is making itself unpopular with the American public, which is stewing for vengeance as the weather turns cold and bitter.

Kansas: You have to sign up in order to sign up – get approved – and the go pick your plan; it seems to be complex. From an IT sources (a VP at a big IT/tech company) on the current conversion rates coming off the online exchanges:  "As someone who's done ecommerce for a long, long time, I [can attest] that a 99% abandon rate is pathetic for a commerce site...3% conversion is pretty common, 5% is pretty good, and the best sites are in the 10 - 15% range. And NOW it turns out that Obamacare's 1% conversion isn't even for purchases! It's for registration, which is a required before you can even shop. Absolutely pathetic."

SpiteHouse: National Park goons remove handles from trail water fountains

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 3, Block C:  Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal THE AMERICAS, in re: Bill de Blasio, From Managua to Manhattan  Bill de Blasio, candidate for New York City mayor,  combines the Sandinistas of the 1980s, but all took his honeymoon in Cuba.  On a Spanish-language NYC radio station, de Blasio spoke: "I don't excuse the undemocratic regime, but they've done some good things, such as heathcare." -- whoops – can’t get bandages, even aspirin, unless you’re in the Castro family. Not true for the last fifty years.  He also visited Nicaragua under Sandinistas, who wound up arresting even peasant women carrying vegetable to market: called them capitalist speculators; similarly with Miskito Indians on the coast. Bill de Blasio much romanticizes the benefits of Ortega's rule; e was close not only to Cuba but also to the Soviets.  He believes that some level of government repression is justifiable as long as you get some of the good outcomes that socialism promises.  The peasants in the highlands wanted nothing to do with the rightwing Somoza or the leftwing Ortega.

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 3, Block D:   Terry Anderson, PERC,, in re: Unlocking the Wealth of Indian Nations: $1.5 trillion of resources on Indian lands! – but the BIA holds the land in trust so Indians can’t get any of the benefits.  Note the video of Ron Kroskund: "It’s our right – we say yes or no; I don’t think the outside world should come and dictate what we should do with our properties." Ft Berthold land, in the middle of the Bakken: to drill for oil, immediately outside the res requires four agencies' clearing; inside the res, over forty.   The feds intrude and starve Indians.  Also bad news on Montna res.  "We've relegated them to poverty long enough. They can decide yea or nay, but it's their choice." The Bureau of Indian Affairs would be out of a job if we turned responsibility over to the tribes, whose rightful position that is – so the bureaucracy holds on to every little perquisite by tooth and nail.

Hour Four

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 4, Block A: Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss, Laurence Rees (1 of 4) Fuelled by hatred, incapable of forming normal human relationships, unwilling to listen to dissenting voices, Adolf Hitler seemed an unlikely leader, and yet he commanded enormous support and was able to exert a powerful influence over those who encountered him. How did Hitler become such an attractive figure to millions of people? That is the question at the core of Hitler’s Charisma. The acclaimed historian and documentary filmmaker Laurence Rees examines the nature of Hitler’s appeal and reveals the role his supposed “charisma” played in his success. Here is a fascinating social, psychological and historical investigation into the formation of a personality whose determination and vision would at the outset convince a small group of like-minded political and social outcasts but would eventually win over an entire nation and plunge the rest of the world into a cataclysm unlike any that had ever been seen before. Hitler’s Charisma is a natural culmination of twenty years of writing and research on the Third Reich and a remarkable examination of the man and the mind at the heart of it all.

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 4, Block B: Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss, Laurence Rees (2 of 4)

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 4, Block C: Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss, Laurence Rees (3 of 4)

 Wednesday 9 October 2013/ Hour 4, Block D: Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss, Laurence Rees (4 of 4)

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Hour 1

Hour 2

Hour 3

Hour 4