The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 24 April 2014

Air Date: 
April 24, 2014

Photo, above: Thirty baleen whales found in the Chile Desert, after a mass dying 9 million years ago. Why.  See Sid Parkins, Hour 4, Block D.


Hour One

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Amity Shlaes, chairman, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, in re: the New Deal was tested with a chicken case: health laws suddenly forbad customers's picking their own chicken at the butcher's.  US law contradicted Jewish religious laws.  Case went to the Supreme Court.  The little chicken men prevailed, as the Justices actually made fun of the NRA's overreach (same day as a number of cases, all of which were reversals for Pres Roosevelt); everyone in the room laughed. This may be the fate of the Affordable Care Act.  Too many impingements; Hobby Lobby is fighting its current case to the Supreme Court.  Incidentally, same for No Child Left Behind. 

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block B:  Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: NYPD's Twitter Outreach Backfires in Most Predictable Way Possible  Twitter has been around for eight years, and it still hasn't quite sunken in that it's a terrible place to promote your brand. Especially if your brand is police brutality, unnecessary roughness, and racial profiling.  The NYPD took a stab at some Twitter outreach Tuesday afternoon with this call for photos of citizens and their friendly neighborhood cops: [more]  Does the NYPD have to engage in social media? You bet – gotta communicate with people.  . . .  We're headed to tweets of crime scenes, including families.  In San Francisco, every homeless person busted gets videotaped; if you do a good and dignified job, that's fine. 9/11 building: hundreds of millions of dollars; Larry Silverstein argues over every nickel, for hours and days. He refused to pay Liebeskind, the architect (whom I represent).  The denouement was . . .

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Rich Lowry, NRO, in re: EARTH DAY Questions for Tom Steyer  An Earth Day conversation about warming.  The Tom Steyer Veto  A $50 million check can buy you one.  Tom Steyer, billionaire hedgie, has financial interests in solar energy development; has offered $100 million to Democrats IF the important middle portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline is not built. Mirabile dictu, it's stalled.  Good for citizens to exercise their right to influence the political process, as do the Koch brothers and George Soros, among others, On the merits, however, the latest report asserts that Keystone would have zero effect on global warming.  It certainly would create thousands of roughneck jobs.  Mrs Clinton was long inclined to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The biggest opportunity is for a serious Democratic candidate to come in and challenge Mrs Clinton – whoever it is, would have to be someone to the left of Mrs Clinton (oops – Elizabeth Warren?), because that's where the oxygen is. Will Mrs Clinton now move to approve the pipeline, will she go that far to the center?  Might be really frightened about giving any leeway to her left. 

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block D:  Ying Ma, Hoover, in re: "Should China Just 'Shut Up' About Its Territorial Ambitions?"  Is North Korea a tool that China uses to disrupt relations, including now, with Pres Obama visiting?  Beijing has more control over Pyongyang than anyone else, but not limitless, as relations between the two are sometimes very por.  Meanwhile, China is picking fights with a number of nations – Japan, the Philippines, others. Strategy? Since the financial crisis, Chinese upper echelons speaking of the decline of America, plus this now being China's time to shine.    China's defense minister chastised the US Secy of Defense: "Don't you do a NATO on us!" (i.e., don't try to surround us with your allies).

Hour Two

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block A: Andrew J. Tabler is a senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute; in re: Syria, more chemical weapons; Lebanese elections.  South China Morning Post says that North Korea is preparing to do a foutrth nuclear test just as Pres Obama arrives in South Korea –  as a provocation, on a scale of one to ten, it’s abut seven thousand.  Syria:  the Syrian war is accelerating ; Pres Obama said that over 80% of chem. weapons were gone thanks to American leadership, but no one else thinks that. In fact, Assad has consistently refused. SO far, 160,000 people have died in the conflict; becoming increasingly sectarian with Shia backed by Iran, al-Q by Sunnis; all extremely bad news for the US.   War between the regime and the opposition is becoming increasingly sectarian and violent.   Whack-a-mole – driving the regime crazy; intervention of Hezbollah and the Quds Force in Syria cobbled together.  Russian policy in Syria and regionally.  Difficult to have a policy in Syria designed to use diplomacy to put he country back to together and rely on Russia to do that when Russia is completely an adversary in Europe and elsewhere.   Number of foreign fighters is ncer4asng exponentially When these trained jihadists return to their home countries -- ?  Many may dies in Syria; when the remainders return, they'll be hopping mad because the US and Europe haven’t helped them.  Lebanese elections: president controls the army, which is working with Hezbollah to contain factions returning from Syria.   Nothing easy. 

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, The Washington Institute, in re: North Korea about to do its fourth nuclear test as Pres Obama arrives in Seoul?  The tunnel is closed.  Meanwhile , Donetsk;  US has sent 150 troops fro 173d Brigade to each of four nations – the Baltics and Poland.  A stew of toxicity; the one bright point may be Iran negotiations – Iran desperately needs an agreement of be crushed under oil sanctions, and Russia has no need to prevent under Realpolitik.   Putin cd try to cut a side deal with Iran to make a few concessions, and Obama could pronounce that acceptable.   . . .  No short-term alternative to Russian gas for Western Europe – 6 million Bbl/day.  Russia is maintaining a war to destroy most of the population of Syria if necessary in order for Russia to maintain its dominance.  Since 1991 the US thought that Russia had turned a leaf toward democracy – not at all.  In August Turkey will for the first time in history hold presidential elections; Erdogan probably win if the Kurds support him.  To rule as a one-man dictator, he'd  have to change the constitution.

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Ali Alfoneh, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, in re: Iran talks, IRGC challenges to Rouhani.  . . .  Iranian dips are watching US reaction to North Korea's nuke test: will it be as powerless as it was in Syria? Will its vaunted red line become a pink line?  . . .  Iran's military elite a threat to Rouhani, a civilian. A state within a state – the IRGC.  IRGC commanders occasionally signal criticism of Pres Rouhani; Revolutionary Guards's power may force retraction of any agreement made by Rouhani with the US or another entity. IRGC accepting concessions in order to lift sanctions, but once that's done, may rescind approval.   IRGC wants to have bomb first, then negotiate with US, same as Pakistan.  Iranian press rumors: IRGC planted stories of proposed Ambassador AbuTalebi's participation in 444 days of hostages – specifically to weaken Mr Rouhani, who made the appointment.  We see Pakistan and DPRK as failed states, but IRGC sees them as huge successes in [poking Western states in the eye].  Iran's nuclear program entirely in the hands of the Supreme Leader.

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block D:  Jonathan Schanzer, FDD, in re: Hamas/Fatah Unity. Turkey. As Abbas tries to merge PA with Hamas, he ceases pretending to be in favor of peace and also loses all chance of getting any funding from the US, as Hamas is specifically designated as a terrorist organization.  Abbas looks like a loose cannon; gave up on the US, has gone to the Arab League to ask for any lost funding as he applies to the UN, 15 conventions, all together 48 agencies and conventions.  He angers Congress, which has been waiting patiently for a long time. Now Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutsch (Republican and Democrat) are ready to have hearings to see why PA should be funded at all. Abbas also collects VAT and other taxes on Palestinian trade, which will not now go to Palestinians – a huge amount of money to be lost.  Maybe Abbas thinks he can obtain new patrons – Qataris and others – and just blow off the annoying US.  Since PA and Hamas are at war with each other and agree on nothing; all odd.  Abbas is 80 years old and in poor health; maybe calculating legacy. 

Hour Three

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Abbas's new moves at age 80, he's at an exit point, Dahlan, a long-time op who built his own, private militia; driven to exile & now has Gulfies's backing to challenge Hamas.   Abbas in the ninth year of a four-year term.  Abbas said he was demanding of the US a freeze on settlements plus a half-dozen demands; next day he changed his position entirely, Students ding research in Amsterdam found: after WWI, Amsterdam charged returning Holocaust victims (70% were killed) a total of $10 million in taxes for their real estate during their absence in concentation camps.   Current Amsterdam mayor says that they must be returned with interest! There were 42,000 camps: slave labor, concentration, death.  ___ synagogues destroyed on Kristallnacht.   Al Qaeda crews entered Jordan overland; Jordanian airforce blew them up.    July 20: deadline for a proposed agreement with Iran -  unacceptable; Iran is not in fact agreeing to do anything at all useful. 

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block B: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, and author, The Virtual Caliphate; Exposing the Islamist State on the Internet, which explores al-Qaeda's online presence; in re: Gaza; Hezbollah military/security threats facing Israel.

The Virtual Caliphate Book

Virtual Caliphate is one of the very best books I have ever read on how the Internet has totally transformed the international jihad in the past decade. Yaakov Lappin has written the definitive book on the most pressing national security issue we face today—the radicalization of Islamic extremists on the Internet. Lappin has demonstrated with mesmerizing detail how the global jihad village has emerged on the Internet. He has written a book that will capture the attention of anyone—from the public to senior policymakers—concerned with radical Islam. It is must reading.”
– Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and author of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us

Virtual Caliphate takes the reader into the heart of a disturbing and global Internet phenomenon. Lappin proposes a startling new way of viewing what jihadis are doing online, and his accessible prose invites readers from all walks of life to join him in exploring the jihadi Internet presence.”
– Yossi Melman, writer and commentator for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz

“In the grand debate about the role of Islam in the conduct of terrorism, Virtual Caliphate goes a step further by placing that debate in the context of the Internet. Lappin makes an outstanding contribution to the literature on how online tactics are used to break down the initial raw mindset of potential terrorist recruits and create a virulent anti-Western audience ready to perform or support terrorist acts. Virtual Caliphate is a must read for the general audience, students, and policy analysts in Jerusalem and Washington as well as in Cairo and Riyadh.”
– Raymond Tanter, emeritus professor, University of Michigan; adjunct professor, Georgetown University

“Lappin’s ‘Virtual Caliphate’ is essential reading for all those interested in understanding and countering the threats posed by extremist Islamists on the Internet.”
– Joshua Sinai, associate professor for research, counterterrorism studies, Virginia Tech, Alexandria, Va. (From Washington Times book review)

Yaakov’s recently published book, Virtual Caliphate (published by Potomac Books, Inc.) proposes that an Islamist state has been established on the Internet by jihadis.

No state in existence today matches the radical al-Qaeda vision of a caliphate. It is precisely this failure to create a homeland, Yaakov asserts, that has necessitated the formation of an unforeseen and unprecedented entity— that is, a virtual caliphate.

An Islamist state that exists on computer servers around the world, the virtual caliphate is used by Islamists to carry out functions typically reserved for a physical state, such as creating training camps, mapping out a state’s constitution, and drafting tax laws. In Virtual Caliphate, Yaakov shows how Islamists, equipped with twenty-first-century technology to achieve a seventh-century vision, soon hope to upload the virtual caliphate into the physical world.

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block C:  Geoffrey Norman, Weekly Standard.

He arrived without ceremony. No pomp, no pageantry. It was as far in spirit from Caesar’s entry into Rome as it could possibly have been. He had come to Washington to be made only the third lieutenant general in the nation’s history (George Washington and Winfield Scott were the others) and to assume command of all the Union armies and, consequently, the direction of the war from Texas to Virginia. He was being asked—commanded, actually—by civilian leadership to save the Republic. He was not the first. 

But when he appeared, with his 12-year-old son, in the lobby of Willard’s Hotel, the clerk did not recognize him. The oversight could be forgiven. He was dressed in a worn uniform that was anything but gaudy—no braided epaulets and polished brass, but merely the insignia of a major general, and, God knows, they saw enough of them at Willard’s. In the recollection of someone who had been in the lobby at the time, he seemed a man of “no gait, no station, no manner.” Of “a rather scrubby look withal .  .  . as if he was out of office and on half pay with nothing to do but hang round the entry of Willard’s, cigar in mouth.” And he had “rather the look of a man who did, or once did, take a little too much to drink.”

He asked about a room. The desk clerk sized him up and responded, condescendingly, that he supposed they could manage something. There was something on the top floor, very small. He said that would do, and the desk clerk gave him the register to sign. 

When the clerk read what the new lodger had written—“U.S. Grant & Son; Galena, Illinois”—his attitude changed instantly into one of complete and energetic sycophancy. Boy, fetch those bags! Best room in the house for the general!

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Isaac Stone Fish, FP

Nothing lasts forever, not even the Chinese Communist Party. Whether it will perish in a few years, or last for decades to come, there are a series of worrying indicators. Beijing has been slow to implement reforms that will orient the economy on a sustainable path. President Xi Jinping is knee-deep in an anti-corruption campaign against senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members unprecedented in its reach and scope in modern China, raising concerns about the party's ability to police itself. Meanwhile, outside the corridors of power, China's increasingly sophisticated populace is concerned with pollution, freedom of speech, and the country's relationship with its neighbors, especially Japan. It's impossible to predict the future, of course, and the CCP overcame greater challenges following Mao's death in 1976 and after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. But six months shy of the Communist Party's 65th anniversary of ruling China, it's worth emphasizing that the party and China are not the same thing -- China predates the party, and will outlast it.*


Hour Four

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Defining Ideas, and Chicago Law, in re: The Many Problems with "Equal Pay"  (1 of 2)

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Defining Ideas, and Chicago Law, in re: The Many Problems with "Equal Pay"   (2 of 2)

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block C: Sid Perkins, Science magazine, in re: BIOLOGY   Find Along Chilean Highway Suggests Mass Stranding of Whales Millions of Years Ago Scientists now think they have an idea of what caused the animals to wash up on an ancient shore

PALEONTOLOGY  ScienceShot: Dinosaur Chase—or Just a Walk on the Beach?

3D analysis of tracks left by two dinos may reveal nature of ancient encounter

Thursday  24 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block D: Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re: PROGRESSIVES TAKE ON TWITTER TAX BREAK IN SAN FRANCISCO Progressive leaders on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, along with members of SEIU, are demanding an end to a tax break which has revitalized a portion of the city. At the center of the conflict is Twitter, which agreed not to move out of the city because of the tax change.  The current conflict began in 2011 when Twitter announced it was planning to move out of San Francisco in order to avoid the city's payroll tax. Major companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook all have their headquarters located outside the city, which allows them to avoid this additional layer of taxation.

Rather than see Twitter close up shop, the city offered a six-year payroll tax break for anyone willing to move to a blighted district known as Mid-Market or, more colloquially, the Tenderloin. The companies would still pay tax at their current level but would not pay additional tax for new employees, an important consideration for a fast-growing tech company like Twitter.

In 2010 the Tenderloin had 31 percent of its storefronts vacant over a three-block area, the highest in the city. The stores that did survive were . . . [more]

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