The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 17 April

Air Date: 
April 17, 2014

Photo, above:  Rohingya children, Rakhine State. See Hour 1, Block C: Steven L Herman, VOA, Southeast Asia Bureau Chief/Correspondent.


Hour One

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Eli Lake, senior national security correspondent, Newsweek/Daily Beast, in re: "Ask Valodya" TV session, Snowden asked the Russian president, Does the Russian intell svc practice mass surveillance on its people the was the US does on its?"  "No, we can’t afford it, and also our laws would never permit it,"  V V Putin replied with very dry humor.  This rubbed a lot of US intell officers the wrong way. Recall the torture of Sergei Magnitsky. There's no check at all on the FSB and what it can do.  Snowden's question to Vladimir Vladimirovich: Does it look as though Snowden is moving into the Kim Philby chair in Moscow?  No – he's responsible for creating in James Jesus Angleton a level of paranoia that . . .  Snowden has bungled his way into Moscow; nothing suggests he was a [real, or serious] agent.  Now that he's in Russia, and in June he has to be granted continuing asylum or else be sent back to US and espionage charges. He's clearly participating an a day of propaganda. In Geneva, Kerry and Lavrov met. Putin has been doing very provocative things: using Snowden as a spokesman, buzzing US warships in neutral waters, menacing troops in eastern Moldova . . .  Showing his true colors: red.

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block B:  Jed Babbin, American Spectator, in re:

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Steven L Herman, VOA, Southeast Asia Bureau Chief/Correspondent, in re: maybe as many as 9 people harassing foreigner suspected off links to Hezbollah, somewhere on the loose in Thailand; they swore to create an attack in Bangkok during Water Festival, which is also Passover, while Southeast Asia attracts many young Israelis.  Many kinds of criminals attracted to Thailand as it’s a good place to lay low and plan.  We still need more confirmation from reliable sources on the Hezbollah story.  Airplane, MH370: the fifth mission of the Bluefin 21, USN submersible, is starting.   Reportorial fatigue – and the families are in great pain; strained relations between China and Malaysia while China has been blamed for unprofessional conduct and false leads.  At that depth, it may take a long time and a lot of money.  Pulitzer Prize: human trafficking, nationalist discrimination, Rohingya [roh-hin-jya], Muslims in northern Burma: two Pulitzer Prize reporters –Phuket 1 and his reporter -  have been charged with defamation, face up to 7 years in prison plus a large fine for excerpting one paragraph from a Reuters Pulitzer-Prizewinning article, accused of  defaming the Thai navy.  Rohingya are outrageously persecuted and abused by many hands in Asia; are a stateless people who've lived for centuries along the Bangladesh-Burmese border.  One of the oldest mosques in Rangoon; Burma will not recognize them as a minority group.  See them as a threat to the Buddhist majority, have few people to defend them, no one wants to recognize them. 

The world's most unique water festival – Thailand's Grand Songkran ...

Bangkok to Phuket Songkran Bus Crashes and Flips: One Dead ...

Thailand's Political Unrest to Dampen Songkran Holiday Spending

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block D:  Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: Putin having a good year.  He illustrate the difference between someone who knows what he's doing and his US counterpart, who's muddling.  Stat, CIA, WH: do they know that it’s game over in Ukraine?  No. A potential overt action – Donetsk leaflet demanding Jews' register; probably a clumsy deed by the West. No strategic vision of focus in Washington; being played for domestic politics.   DCI Brennan went to Kyiv to consult why? Because he's a clown!   If he has to go secretly, use tradecraft.  Obviously the Russians knew of his arrival; al amateur hour on the part of Barack Obama, The incompetence reinforces the Russian OV and story that the US tried to create a coup in Ukraine and that intell services are meddling, whether these are true or not, Russian story is that the US is "attacking democracy."  Russians; there was an elected president in Ukraine, overthrown by the US.  Recall the recording of the disgraced Victoria Nuland of State Department.  Whole world was shocked.   Russians' acting in their natl interest and are clear; US has no clue, will depend on European decision – and the Europeans are scared to death. 

Hour Two

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block A:  Daniel Henninger, WSJ, in re: Cold War 2.0, the Videogame  Russia is sweeping the table with the West. Russia will control most of the instruments of power in Eastern Ukraine, and Kyiv won’t be dong much about it.  Roll back the clock to Cold War: Soviet tanks in Berlin, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Afghanistan – here, they haven’t even need tanks.  Stalin locked up Romania, Bulgaria, and the four above, to prevent them from aligning with the West. Putin is doing the same thing here and now.  The Poles have been explicit in saying this; the intimidations against them and the Baltics will resume. . . . If we moved two NATO brigades into Poland against its eastern border, that'd persuade Moscow that we intend to honor our commitments.

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block B:  LouAnn Hammond,, in re: New York Auto Show. Mood is good, but there weren't that many journalists at the show. New York is the home of the fashion industry and is the last US show of the year, so the show is more like a party with lots of news but lots of nighttime parties. It's more about lifestyle entertainment: so you have Ford celebrating the Mustang's 50th anniversary by cutting a Mustang in 7 pieces in order to get it on the elevator to get it to the top of the Empire State Building, which is where the first Mustang was unveiled.

General Motors showed off its new 2015 Corvette Z06 convertible and Chevy Trax, a compact SUV that will be coming to America standard with backup camera. Barra was there and answered all the recall answers - ad nauseum. All the behind-the-scenes chatter is that Akerson still knew about the impending recall issue and that's why he left.  Barra knows the world is watching GM and said so at the Automotive Forum before the auto show.

Cadillac gave a bunch of photographers a Cadillac ELR and had an elr-exposure party

Nissan hosted a party in the village in a five-story house. The front doors were funky pieces of plywood painted black but when you went through the doors it was a 13,000-square-foot house fitted out with an indoor pool and a 900-square-foot rooftop. Nissan sponsors a couple of food programs so it was only fitting to have Marc Murphy, one of Chopped's famous chefs and a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp. Marc is also a member of the Food + Finance High School Industry Advisory Board, a member of the Leadership Council for Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry.

McLaren showed off its new 650S that you can own for a mere $265,500

Fiat Chrysler showed off the most product, including the Alfa Romeo C that it says will be coming to the United States. Expect Fiat Chrysler to bring their IPO out within the year.

I spoke with a couple of executives about Russia and they said things are looking grimmer than when we talked at the Geneva auto show. They're putting their bets on North America and Asia and not expecting growth in Russia.

NEW YORK — After many false starts, delays and years of waiting, Alfa Romeo offers the 4C this summer, its first car for sale in the U.S. since 1995, Harald Wester, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati said Wednesday. The first 100 4C's will be shipped to the U.S. by late June or early July, with a total of 850 to be shipped by the end of this year, Wester said Wednesday at the New York auto show.

Fiat Chrysler, the parent of Alfa Romeo, unveiled the 4C at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, heralding the Italian luxury brand's return to the U.S. after a nearly 20-year absence. Wester, however, refused to say exactly whether Maserati or Fiat dealers will be sell the Alfa Romeo 4C's. "This is one of the issues we are going to reveal May 6," Wester said, referring to a daylong conference in Auburn Hills in which Fiat Chrysler is to reveal a five-year product plan for all its brands.

Fiat has big plans for Alfa Romeo.  "It's clear that a car like the 4C with very limited volumes ... is just an appetizer," Wester said.  Fiat Chrysler has delayed Alfa Romeo's U.S. return several times since Fiat took control of its American partner in 2009. Many Chrysler dealers opened Fiat showrooms on the promise that they would be able to also sell Alfa Romeos. In January 2013, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the 4C would go on sale in the U.S. by the end of the year, but that didn't happen.

Alfa Romeo sold about 95,000 cars worldwide in 2013, but 85,000 of those were in Europe. Marchionne is betting the brand's re-entry to the U.S. will revive Alfa, which was founded in Italy in 1910. Wester said all Alfa Romeo models will continue to be built in Italy.  "For this complete reset to become successful, you need to set some pillars and stick to them. ... It needs to stick to its Italian-ness, its technical context" that Wester called "indispensable for a successful rebirth."

Wester said the 4C will sell for between $54,000 and $70,000. Already, the company has been contacted by more than 5,000 people who have expressed interest in the small performance sports car. Fiat hopes some baby boomers will associate the 4C with the Alfa Spider 1600 Duetto driven by Dustin Hoffman in the 1969 movie "The Graduate."  But that was 45 years ago, long before Fiat pulled Alfa out of the U.S. in 1995. Alfa Romeo's sales were modest through the 1980s, peaking at 8,201 in 1986.  That's a modest bar for the 21st-Century marketing plan. "If Alfa Romeo's potential in the U.S. were 8,200, I would have voted no," Wester said.

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block C:  Robert Zimmerman,, in re: The competition heats up: Russia is accelerating construction of its new spaceport in Vostochny.

The schedule doesn’t appear to have been pushed up, with the first launch still set for 2015, but they are going to initiate a second shift, and will have monthly meeting with the government to monitor progress. Under the top-down Russian way of doing things, this is how they make sure their high priority projects get finished on time and successfully.

Worlds without end: The existence of a Kepler-found earth-sized planet in the habitable zone has been confirmed.

The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada is planning additional glide tests in the fall. using its Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle. This is the same test vehicle that crashed last October during its first glide test when one landing gear failed to deploy properly. The glide test itself was a success however, as the vehicle did a controlled unmanned glide perfectly to the runway, and the failed landing gear was one that the spacecraft will not use once completed.

Note also that these announced flight tests will occur after NASA eliminates one of the companies competing for the final crew ferrying contract to ISS. This suggests that Sierra Nevada plans to continue development of Dream Chaser, regardless of whether they get the contract or not.

The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. While the host star is dimmer than Earth’s sun and the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, the positioning of the alien world coupled with its size suggests that Kepler-186f could have water on its surface, scientists say. In this new work, the Keck and Gemini ground-based telescopes confirmed Kepler’s discovery.

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Margo Kiser, Daily Beast, in re:  Kenyan death squads

Hour Three

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block A: The North Building by Jefferson Flanders (1 of 2)

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block B: The North Building by Jefferson Flanders (2 of 2)

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block C: Lee Smith, The Tablet & Hudson Institute, in re: Palestinian politics

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block D:  Paul Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re:  CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: CHIEF STRATEGIST  The chief justice’s subtle, incremental strategy to move the Supreme Court to the right. His approach—a very activist conservative campaign in cases on religion, racial discrimination, and campaign money—has at times confounded conservatives, who accused him of “tortured reasoning.” [more]

Hour Four

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block A: America's Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East by Hugh Wilford (1 of 4)

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block B: America's Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East by Hugh Wilford (2 of 4)

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block C: America's Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East by Hugh Wilford (3 of 4)

Thursday  17 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block D: America's Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East by Hugh Wilford (4 of 4)

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