The John Batchelor Show

Thursday 3 April

Air Date: 
April 03, 2014

Photo, above: Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, heir-apparent to the Saudi throne, carries an unidentified child Emir during the traditional Saudi dance known as ''Arda'' at the Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh, February 18, 2014.


Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board.  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents. Sam 

Hour One

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block A:  Gene Countryman, KNSS Wichita, in re:  ACA in Kansas: can’t get the data.  Sebelius, who caught most of the spears in this situation and is from Kansas, wasn't even on the podium when the Mission Accomplished celebration occurred.     Town of 25,000 in Kansas has one hospital that'll lay off ten full-time and five part-time employees because of the "negative consequences" of the ACA. 

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block B:  Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re:  Benghazi: Mike Rogers's committee, receives Mile Morell, who was Deputy DCI (after Petraeus) and now works for  a policy shop in DC, one associated with Mrs Clinton.  Why was the memo on Benghazi rewritten to remove a lot of accurate info and inserting some video as the reason.  LJ: He lied. He wasn't even effective at lying as he kept contradicting himself – "I depended on the analysts" – but this wasn't a protest, it was a planned, organized attack.  In WH talking points, it was Morell who changed the talking points of the analysts, which stated clearly: "We know that elements of al Qaeda were involved." This means without a doubt. The Ofc of Public Affairs made the first change – it removed the reference to al Q.  Morell then rewrites in the memo: "We believe that extremists may have been involved."  What? Lie! Lipstick on this pig.   "Mike Morell had trouble with the facts."  He was clueless about what Susan Rice said on Sunday on all four ?  This thing lingers on is that underlying this was an effort by the Obama Adm to move weapons fro Libya through Turkey to Syria. Also covering up their sheer incompetence. Petty and bureaucratic – Mrs Clinton and her deputy Pat Kennedy couldn’t be bothered to pay for security upgrades when they thought the CIA should have done it. 

“But to be fair, and, in retrospect, what I wish I would have done, was to say to you, ‘Chairman, I do not know who took Al Qaeda out of the talking points, but you should know that I myself made a number of changes to the points.’ That’s what I should have said. I didn’t,” Morell said.

Morell also said there are things that both he and the agency “should have done differently,” but he dismissed political motivations.

Taking issue with Morell’s testimony was Rep. Devin Nunes. ”The problem is that you have all of these conflicting stories, right?” Nunes (R-Calif.), said to Morell, after questioning him on the sequence of dialogue regarding the attack.

“I read your testimony and you have an excuse for everything,” Nunes later added. “For everything . . . which is fine, but when the chairman asks you about when you sat next to Director of National Intelligence [James] Clapper in November of 2012, you don’t have an excuse, you only have an apology.”

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Tim Wilson, Australian Human Rights Commissioner,  in re: legislation making it illegal to say something offensive to anyone on a racial basis.  While none of us wants to offend r insult, to have such an overwhelming limit on free speech is absurd.  Everything is legal till it’s illegal: comes in conflict with real human rights, e.g., incitement to violence. There exists no right not to be insulted, and this is only for race, nothing about homophobia or misogyny, for example.  Consider the role of social conventions and norms, and how they function irrespective of the law. My job forbids me to say something homophobic; that's perfectly reasonable; if I don't want to be bound by that law, I can resign my job. We have no Bill of Rights; we protect free speech via public attitudes.    Restrictions on free speech always damage the poor and powerless; the rich and powerful can always get around things. 

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Dave Henderson, Hoover, in re: ACA, the challenge to the way the law is wriiten concerning states that have only Law was written badly.

Hour Two

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block A: Ted Deutch  (D-FL), in re:  Iran sanctions; Ukraine.  Astounding that the character that Iran is now sending as ambassador to the UN was a critical person it he 444 days of US hostages in Teheran. The Supreme Leader does this to thumb his nose at the US; 26 US Congressmen are strongly opposing allowing this guy into the US.  Iranian centrifuges will have to be shut down in large numbers; unless we see this there's no indication that Iran is serious so sanctions will tighten.  The breakdown between Washington and Moscow is problematic: hard to believe that Iran is serious or thus that Moscow is helping very much.  No indication that here's any interest in moving toward a comprehensive resolution.    Four hundred thousand rounds of Kalashnikov bullets and tons of missiles sent on a ship from Iran to Assad in Syria.  Iran is the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism.

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Steve Cook, Council on Foreign Relations, in re: Turkey, Egypt. Turkey:  Barring a new constitution giving the president new powers; Erdogan will be PM again.    . . . the extended political season in Turkey will be intense; a crackdown is coming, He threatened revenge against those who revealed corruption in his govt, and he'll do it.  Gulen movement, "a parallel state," failed in its strategy to get people to vote or other than the Justice and Dvpt Party, so Gulen will feel the wrath.  Is Turkey where Egypt wants to go?  The rural-urban divide is n longer as great as it was. Istanbul is a megalopolis.  Six million twitter users: generally, part of a disparate group, a minority; Ergdogan can bring out hundreds of thousands of protestors.  Turkish-Egyptian relations are bad – Erdogan has been outspoken against Sisi's coup; no Turkish ambassador in Egypt.  Israel: will Erdogan do anything official with Israel? Lots of noise, no action coming.

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Lawrence Schiffman, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Yeshiva University, in re: Dead Sea Scrolls. Nine tiny scrolls, phylacteries (tefillin), kept in pottery since ancient days. Both the scrolls and containers are usually broken; here, an Israeli scholar was able to recover extremely tiny texts, waiting on some high-tech analysis to figure out how to open them.  Which Biblical verses are actually contained there?  Some Biblical passages refer to putting word on one's head and heart.  Sub-Qumran [where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found] passages.  Shma Yisroel; Deuteronomy. Romans sweeping down the Dead Sea valley en route to Masada; people at Qumran would be murdered if they didn’t flee so hid texts in a cave; these were found by a Bedouin child after World War I.  n aftermath of Oslo, Palestinians demanded the Dead Sea Scrolls!  Many were purchased while Qumran was under Jordan.  See the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  How did Qumran serve?  Was a special religious community of a sectarian group that had broken away to move in the desert and properly observe the Lord's purity. Some think these were Essenes, but not clear.  128 BCE to 68 CE.  New Testament says that Pharisees wore "large phylacteries."  So much about the Judaism of the early centuries CE. 

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 2, Block D: David Andrew Weinberg, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, in re: Saudi Arabia, Gulf States. Pres Obama's trip to Saudi: probably not helpful. president's appearance at the king's special preserve was useful for its symbolism, but the fundamental disagreements not resolved. Mostly spoke on Syria and Iran: "a strategic conversation without any agreement reached."    The just-appointed deputy Crown Prince, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz (69 years old), is radically anti-American, after having been educated in the US and Britain.  Price Bandar is now somewhat out of favor; was the biggest promoter for radical jihadists in Syria.  Riyadh holds that the Alawites and Shia in Syria are evil. Relations with Russia: major photo of Bandar smiling with Putin.  A bold gambit by Saudis, but the it failed. We don’t know the goals of Saudi Arabia.

Hour Three

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block A:  Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re:  New, huge Hamas billboard in Gaza City: Maaschal and Haniyeh with Erdogan and Qataris. Kerry praised the Supreme Leader for a putative fatwah against nuclear weapons – which doesn’t exist.   Grand Battle in Syria: the Eleventh Imam, who lives in the Jamkaran Well south of Teheran, still speaks to Ahmadinejad. Jonathan Pollard has served 10,000 days in prison; even the former head of CIA and Schultz and Kissinger have all insisted that Pollard be preleased. No president has done this From the head of Notre Dame to many religious leaders, all say he must be released. Now Kerry, trying to sweeten has demanded that a group of conspicuously vicious Palestinian killers, tries to make Pollard a pawn in the picture; have him be released in exchange for mass killers.  Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state; yesterday signed fifteen . . .   Iran now names as its ambassador to the UN a man who boasts that he was the leader of the revolt that held 55 Americans hostage for 444 days in the American embassy: a direct slap at the US.  Congress now objecting vociferously. Iran;s head of IRGC that blew u Americans in Beirut; ships sent by Iran with missiles and tones of Kalashnikov rounds – Iran believes that there'll be no US resistance to even extreme provocations.  Egypt: al Sisi; Suez; need the economy turn around and an end to terror.  Looking at Gaza, see rockets fired against Israel, other violence, then a new, huge Hamas billboard in Gaza City: Maaschal [Hamas political leader]  and Haniyeh [Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Prime Minister, "one of two disputed prime minsters of the [Palestinian National Authority] with Erdogan and Qataris. Billboards in Gaza serve critical functions, are used as aggressive acts (sometimes show people being beheaded).

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block B: Pinhas Inbari, Arab affairs correspondent, formerly & Al Hamishmar newspaper: now  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in re: Peace process, Palestinians to UNFatah's – Abbas's – position is nonrecogntion of Israel as a Jewish state.  This is a moment of truth:  Palestinians obliged Israel to accept them as a state; Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a state where Jews have rights in the Holy Land.  If Jews cannot re=be recognized to have rights, why continue? What’s the point?  Did Secy Kerry encourage Abbas to overplay his hand?  Abbas doesn’t want to sign anything.  What Kerry did was err; he forced the players to put their cards on the table; Israelis discovered the bald truth.   PA wants to use the UN against Israel, to declare Israel another South African Apartheid state, a colonial power.  Abbas's statement could be a conversation-stopper, but Israelis plough on.    Abbas's speech in Kuwait just before Kerry's visit: he wants to mobilize intl pressure on Israel, thinks he has to start with the Arabs.

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block C:  Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: Today’s high rate of technological and medical innovation has led to high levels of patenting which many believe will strangle the system. Not so. The high level of patent applications today is not a sign that the system is closing down, but rather that it is working. New patents need not create a “patent thicket.” They could easily provide new pathways that avoid the thickets of old. The old maxim still applies; “If it is not broken, don’t fix it.” Alice should not be the occasion for a major reconfiguration of the patent system, which in all likelihood would do more harm than good . . .  [more] (1 of 2)

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution, Chicago Law, in re: Today’s high rate of technological and medical innovation has led to high levels of patenting which many believe will strangle the system. Not so. The high level of patent applications today is not a sign that the system is closing down, but rather that it is working. New patents need not create a “patent thicket.” They could easily provide new pathways that avoid the thickets of old. The old maxim still applies; “If it is not broken, don’t fix it.” Alice should not be the occasion for a major reconfiguration of the patent system, which in all likelihood would do more harm than good . . .  [more] (2 of 2)

Hour Four

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Commander David Slayton, Hoover &, in re:  Time for Real Leadership on Climate Change, Energy, National Security by Commander David Slayton and David Titley

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Markos Kounalakis, Sacramento Bee,  in re: A Question of Turkey and NATO

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block C: Robert Zimmerman,, in re:  Brian Binnie, the man who flew SpaceShipOne for Scaled Composites, has left that company for competitor XCOR. It might simply be the man got a promotion, but it also might be that he knows the problems SpaceShipTwo is having and sees his chances of flying there going down. His willingness to work for XCOR instead could also be looked at as a kind of endorsement of that company’s chances of success.

NASA’s short statement, in connection to the Obama administration’s decision to suspend all non-ISS-related activities with Russia, is almost entirely a demand for more funding for its commercial space program:

NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space. This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration’s for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year. With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It’s that simple. The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America – and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same.

Though I agree with them about accelerating manned commercial space, I can’t help wondering if this suspension of activities was actually instigated to generate this lobbying effort. ISS comprises the bulk of the U.S.’s cooperative effort with Russia, and by exempting that from this suspension the Obama administration essentially exempts practically everything, making the suspension somewhat meaningless.  What the suspension does do, however, is highlight our fragile dependency on Russia, just as Congress begins debate on the 2015 budget.

In a vague announcement with unclear ramifications, a NASA memo today suspended “all contact with Russian government officials,” though it exempted all activities in connection with ISS.

Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine¹s sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted. In addition, multilateral meetings held outside of Russia that may include Russian participation are not precluded under the present guidance.

It appears they're suspending all NASA activities with Russia except ISS, which means that the most important and the bulk of the cooperative work will continue. However, it does mean that the Obama administration has decided to politicize NASA’s operations with Russia in a way that hasn't been done since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Thursday  3 April  2014 / Hour 4, Block D: Sid Perkins, Science magazine, in re: ScienceShot: Why the Zebra Has Its Stripes. Zebras’ boldly striped patterns have puzzled scientists for nearly 150 years. Researchers have offered a lengthy list of possible explanations, from confusing predators by creating a distracting dazzle when a herd gallops away, to helping the animals avoid biting flies. Support for the dazzler hypothesis comes from computer tests using people, who have trouble tracking striped, moving objects on a computer; while other studies have shown that the flies prefer to land on uniformly colored, not striped, surfaces. Now, a team of scientists reports online today in Nature Communications that it has tested these hypotheses—as well as suggestions that the stripes might cool zebras down or make them more attractive to mates—to see which one makes the most ecological sense. The winner: those pesky, blood-sucking, disease-carrying (such as parasitic trypanosomiasis) biting flies. The team discovered that  . . . [more]

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Hour 1:  Assassin's Creed. Mad Max. Anonymous. 

Hour 2:  Argo. Hurt Locker. 

Hour 3:  After Earth. The Village. Sherlock. 

Hour 4:  Persia. Day the Earth Stood Still. Battleship.


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