The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Air Date: 
April 16, 2014

Photo, above: Donetsk, Ukraine, Pro-Russian rebels flying a Russian flag.


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

Hour One

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Harry Kazianis, managing editor for National Interest & non-resident senior fellow China Policy Institute, in re: Russia will sell to China the powerful S-400 air defense system, covering a large area.  China looks at Gulf War, at Taiwan crisis, China realized it couldn't catch up with the US ship for ship for decades, it decided to build  asymmetric forces: a host of ultraquiet subs, carrier killer missiles, and the like.  S-400 is part of this; it all raises thorny problems for the US.

Looks as though an important intellectual hurdle has been overcome as Russians now feel free to arm the Chinese. The inflection point for collaboration may be the Ukraine crisis, where Pres Putin turns away from antagonists in Europe and the US.  Moscow may have some remaining qualms: Chinese have long been caught stealing Russian mil technology; for example, a Sukhoi fighter was to have been built in China as a joint Russian-Chinese venture, but China stole the specs, cancelled the contract, and built its own version - which it then tried to sell in the intl market!

Henceforth, China will teach space sciences as a military practice. 

China's recently-laid hydrophonic observation and detection net:  the West has discovered its existence via the vast trove of open source.  South China Sea, Yellow Sea and East China Sea:  China is deploying advanced sonar nets, forcing US subs safely far away, perhaps so far out of range that US SLBMs wouldn't be able to reach China.  However; Japan and US can also put in countervailing advanced sonar nets. US has very quiet subs, and has a lot of capabilities in this realm.

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block B: Fraser Howie, co-author of Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise, in re: Chinese GDP expectation was 7.3% - and is 7.4% (soi-disant). Global markets ran with this (unlikely) datum. Chinese continue to outperform a sinking Chinese market.  Of course, you can’t really measure GDP in China – and the govt numbers are not accurate.  It's probably growing substantially less. Harder for small, easier for big, businesses.   Natl Bureau of Statistics says mfg constitutes 44% of the economy; svcs, 49% - but construction starts were down 22%. What's going up?  Not sure anything is. This is about politics, not economics.  Mao "was 70% good, 30% bad."  Why doesn’t China embrace the same model that works elsewhere?  For 20 yrs, all continuation of Party power was based on GDP growth; now, there's a real fear of diminution of confidence in the govt, leading to serious political ramifications.   During recent years, 20% of GDP growth was apartments or furnishing them!   They've been not for habitation but used to store money – a store of value, not for living in. Ghost apartments, ghost cities. Major loss of confidence.  By turning on the credit tap five years ago and building apartments, bridges, all sorts of unneeded stuff, there was generated an overhang for the next half-decade – or else there'll be a contraction.  Debt, overhang, unused infrastructure – problems too big to solve.  If local gripes feed back up into the inner sanctum, could be destabilizing. 

China's Long Road to a Shale-Gas Boom

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, in re: LADEE . . . for checking some dust, and for exploration: effect of the dust on humans (toxic to human respiratory system, and damaging to machines).  Lunar dust experiment: trying to find out if the effect they think occurs just between day and night – will electrical charges levitate this dusk high above lunar surfaces (surmised from Apollo).  Crashing LADDEE into the Moon because of ltd fuel; will do so on the far side to avoid hitting our landed rockets.  Seismometers from Apollo long since lapsed.  Russia talking abt returning to the Moon to stay, eke China, but not a whisper from the US.  Highest US political levels, to save money, WH has changed NASA's core mission.  Mars has a similarly-toxic dust problem.  US has most of the needed engineering; biological end – survival of people – is a little more difficult (need he lunar laboratory for solution – sublunar habitations; we're building a unit there, circular cylindrical structures, against microemeteorites. What US lacks its he will.  Need a leader to ay, "Going to the Moon is not just a goal of a few special interests, it’s in the interests of all Americans."

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 1, Block D:  Michael Auslin, AEI, in re: pending Cantor codel to China; 12 million Russians in Siberia facing 300 million Chinese, who covetously eye the minerals, timber and fresh water.  Beijing is flummoxed by Ukrainian referenda choosing national options – implication is that Chinese people might have a vote. Antipathy between Beijing and Washington in =s rowing, Recklessness of Chinese forces – in near future, could be a fighter pilot, an admiral of a few ships. Once a serious incident occurs how to you work your way out of it?

Hour Two

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block A:  Stephen Yates, chief executive officer of D.C. International Advisory and former advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, in re: – is running for Running for Idaho House of Representatives District 30A, Bonneville Co, including Idaho Falls. Idaho has a budding trade with Taiwan and its citizens may prove to value those relations. I'll try to remind people that just because we'd like a peaceful world, others haven't – Putin has decided in favor of aggression and we owe it to our allies to support them.

Senkakus, Diaoyutai - Chinese coast guard vessels have ploughed through waters inappropriately. Neighbors are having a fantasy that China won’t actually clam the territories.  The minimal resistance, poorly-thought-through options, US Cabinet officials' [blathering] – China has learned from Putin.  Shinzo Abe said thiw]s is similar to 1914; Aquino said, "No, 1938." Recall Secy Clinton at the ASEAN forum to push back on an aggressive claim – China has aggressed over time and over distance. The nations under attack have so far failed to mount a collaborative effort to resist. China's claims of resources are really about breaking out of an island chain – they’re not really hemmed in, but have old concerns and new aggression.  A small demonstration of power on China's part will force others to recalibrate since Washington shows no interest in stepping in – has usual formulaic outreach of phone calls, feckless UN representations, et al.    Chinese incursions into air and sea space.  Iran is wholly unafraid, as is Beijing, seeing no meaningful penalty

Chinese ship sails into disputed waters, says Japanese coast guard.

Stephen Yates is running for the Republican nomination for District 30A of the Idaho House of Representatives. More:

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, in re: A criminal conspiracy that sells drugs, nukes, counterfeit money, fake Viagra, smuggles endangered species, pornography, counterfeit cigarettes – it’s called a sovereign state, passed in Pyongyang. Probably the grimmest on Earth.  It’s a threat to the planet.  Yesterday published a report: "Illicit." Damages everyone, including China.  North Korea's primary goal is survival of the regime.  This regime is committing heinous acts as a matter of state policy.  The Kim regime brings govt assets to the table: recall supernotes, counterfeit $100s produced there, printed on presses bought in Switzerland.  The US Dept of the Treasury discerns counterfeits because their printing is better than American.  The Chinese banking system moves DPRK counterfeit bills.  China is raiding operations of Chinese military drugs distribution in southern China, only.

North Korea's Illicit Economy, Includes Fake Viagra and Smuggled Ivory

Here's the full report:

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block C:  Sadanand Dhume, AEI; in re: Indian elections of 214 million voters, with Rahul Gandhi seeming to be losing.  In Congress Party, succession has to stay in the family; but Rahul has shown very little aptitude for politics. No spark by mid-forties suggest it won’t come.  Congress believes in handouts and weak socialism, but no governing principles. Gandhi family acts as glue: the Gandhi-Nehru Party.  Been in power for almost a century. Spent billions of taxpayer money to build natl infrastructure, airports, and bridges and roads named after one or another family member.  If Modui wins this election, the real test will be, can he win re-election when Congress isn’t burdened by Rahul, for example? He was living in London doing well; he chose politics, which now is more competitive and harsher than it was for his father.  Win or lose, Congress will still have huge power in both Upper and Lower Houses.  It's more bipolar politically – two big parties will get more than half, but there are powerful regional parties. India's Communists are just about to be obliterated. 

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re: . . . until 2009, Japanese politics wasn’t really competitive.  We’re seeing a bit of tentative progress on political problems.  . . . Things will backslide in many realms if Abe doesn’t press ahead.

Yes, Abenomics Is Working  Lackluster headline data notwithstanding, Japan's companies respond to an unprecedented policy push.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces mounting skepticism about the scope of the economic reforms he's promising, and this month's consumption-tax hike is widely expected to dent growth at least for the rest of this year. Yet before Japan watchers fall back into their customary pessimism, it's worth giving Mr. Abe—and Japan—a second look. Behind the dour headlines, animal spirits are stirring.  Consider wages, currently a source of controversy. Wage growth would undoubtedly be a sign that Mr. Abe's plan to boost corporate earnings through yen depreciation is having the desired wage-push inflationary effects. Skeptics make much of the fact that the latest data show wage growth of only 0.3%.

But aggregate data notwithstanding, don't lose sight of the fact that in the face of deflation, more than 100 of Japan's leading companies have announced wage hikes. Change in corporate Japan normally begins with the most respected companies showing the way. And the labor market is tight, suggesting that wage hikes will become more widespread soon. Part-time worker pay is rising at a 3% clip, the number of job applicants per job opening is declining, and companies have already announced plans to increase hiring of new graduates this spring.

Other important changes are brewing in the labor market. Uniqlo, one of Japan's largest retailers, recently announced that it will convert its 16,000 temporary staffers into permanent workers. Part-time and full-time but "non-regular" workers have grown to over 35% of Japan's labor force over the last two decades, mostly because . . .

Hour Three

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block A:  Monica Crowley, Fox, in re:

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block B:  Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal, in re:

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block C: Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast, in re:  Eastern Ukraine.

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 3, Block D:   James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, in re: US Census continues to gather data in fairly normal fashion, but extracting and interpreting data have shifted radically that there's no further continuity of understanding, Should have begun this mode several years ago or else  waited another few years. As is, no way to see the effects of introduction of Obamacare.  Is this politicization of Census data?  Widely entertained as a thought. 

Hour Four

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block A:  James Gilmore,, in re: Ukraine crisis, the inadequacy of the Obma admin response, the conflicted road ahead in Europe.

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block B:  Bob Zimmerman,, in re extreme caving.

Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block C:  Charles Blahous, Hoover, Mercatus Center, The Secret Assumptions Behind Federal Budgets by Charles Blahouse21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century


Wednesday  16 April 2014 / Hour 4, Block D: Eli Lake, Daily Beast. Inside CIA Chief’s Mission to Kiev

by Eli Lake, Josh Rogin The head of the CIA just made a secretive journey to Ukraine—to do what, he won’t say. But the answer could change the power equation in the hottest of geopolitical hotspots.



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