The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Air Date: 
March 27, 2013

Photo, above:  Hale-Bopp comet over Joshua Tree; see below: Hour 1, Block C, David Livingston, The Space Show, and Alan Hale, founder of Earthrise Institute and discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp.


Co-hosts: Gordon Chang, David Livingston

Hour One

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Rick Fisher, Senior Fellow, Asian Military Affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in re:  DF21 F: medium-range missile can take US aircraft carriers out – if it works, as it depends on satellites. Eventually we'll have  a counter, but might take ten years   PLA Navy has agreed to join in a naval drill in RimPAC: 22 nations, 42 ships & subs participate. Why have the US Navy welcome the PLA Navy?  If we invite them to our most sophisticated party, maybe China wil play by the rules – not.  Will use this as an intell-gathering opportunity, and to drive wedges between US and its regional allies. Over thirty years of trying to engage the PLA, it’s never given us one moment of genuine partnership; have been clear that they use interactions with US and allies for their purpose: prepare for future conflicts. A century ago, Adm Leahy attended an event in Japan with Yamamoto. Now, we're mixing socially with a fleet that wants to and will tangle with us.    State and Natl Security Council want to use mil engagements to oblige China to use more rule-oriented  behavior. In 2011, a Chinese general spoke of a surprise nuclear attack on the US. We could have an actual skirmish as early as this year.  In 1922 a junior US officer spent two years in Japan and learned the language. He ater applied that to cracking the Imperial code in WWII.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Bruce Bechtol, author of the upcoming book, The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean Threat in a Changing Era, in re:  North Korea doesn’t really want war, but it's gravely concerned about sanctions (diminution of moolah for the kleptocracy).  China's going through its own leadership transition – troubled and not consolidated The PLA military has the closest links to DRPK mil; this is not Chinese strategic thinking. Kim Jon-eun is not firmly in control, so China can’t influence DPRK institutions as much as it wants.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . David Livingston, The Space Show, and Alan Hale,  founder of Earthrise Institute and discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp, in re: Hotel Mars, episode n.  PANSTARRS: was closest to the US about three weeks ago,  still low on horizon in twilight, is now fading.   Hale-Bopp was intrinsically very large and bright, may have been the second-brightest ever seen in history.

ISON later this year, around Thanksgiving, the comet that's approaching very close to Mars in October of 2014, plus events like the recent asteroid flyby and Russian meteor. Comes extremely close to the Sun, then moderately close to Earth as it recedes. Good viewing geometry for the Northern Hemisphere.

Automated telescopes.

Also: Potential 'Comet of the Century' Not Brightening as Expected   The promising Comet ISON continues on its way in toward a late November rendezvous with the sun, cosmic close encounter that will bring the celestial object to within 800,000 miles (1.2 million km) of the sun's surface. Many have already christened ISON as the "Comet of the Century," but this may be premature, since the comet’s performance will hinge chiefly on whether it can survive its extremely close approach to the sun on Nov. 28. During that encounter, the comet will approach close to the sun's surface —called the photosphere— while also plunging through its intensely hot corona whose temperature exceeds 1 million degrees Fahrenheit (555,000 degrees Celsius).   [more]

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Victor Chan, author, Tibet Handbook: A Pilgrimage Guide (1994);collaborated with HH the Dalai Lama on the Wisdom of Forgiveness, in re: Tibetans's struggles with the PRC; Dharamsala troubles.  Walked around Mount Kailash, the most sacred mounain for pilgrims in all Buddhism and Hinduism; th center of the universe. Pilgrims prostrate themselves yard by yard t get there, then to circumambulate the mountain.  Also was first foreigner to reach all three of the most sacred and inaccessible pilgrimages in Tibet: Kailash, Tsari, Lapchi. Had permission to travel with His Holiness around much of the world, even the Arctic Circle. In the course of that, we met many interesting people, and I was able tor write some of the tales; in process, illuminate how His Holiness really is.   A total of 111 Tibetans have self-immolated. Horrific way to die: most drank kerosene, then doused themselves, then lit a match; an act that's not violent to others, rather, it protests the inequities against  the Tibetan people.

Undo Orwellian `grid` surveillance of Tibet: Rights group    Zee News: A human rights group has expressed concern over China`s new surveillance system in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and asked it to dismantle ...

Hour Two

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  . Kelley Currie, Senior Fellow with the Project 2049 Institute, in re: Hundreds of troops kept an uneasy calm in central Myanmar on Saturday after martial law was imposed to quell three days of bloody unrest between Buddhists and Muslims that is testing the country's nascent democracy. The official death toll in the worst-affected town of Meikhtila stands at 11 dead, although local estimates put it as much as four times higher. Burned corpses still lay uncollected by the roads on Saturday, said Reuters reporters in the city 540 km (336 miles) north of the commercial capital [more]  Rohingya are an ethnic minority in Burma. Have been badly discriminated against for their entire sojourn of generations in Burma; subjected to intense abuse. Somewhat similar to Indonesia as Suharto's rule was collapsing. A friend of mine who was in Rangoon posted, "I hope the Burmese love freedom more than they hate minorities." This is the military egging people on; it violated a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin, serious fighting for the last  year and a half, where the Kachin were doing well, so the army brought in heavier and heavier arms. Kachin refugees spill over into China, so China is trying to broker a ceasefire.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . Charles Ortel, Managing Director of research firm Newport Value Partners, in re: Angela Merkel depicted on a placard with a Hitler moustache.   Nicosia: firewall around Cyprus?  Limit bank withdrawals to a few hundred euros.  A few weeks ago, a 12% "'tax" was simply a confiscation of property; investors around the world suddenly viewed the European banking system with a jaded eye. Meanwhile, at the same time the London Whale showed that JP Morgan was unaware of what as going on internally. Damaging repercussions in Spain and Italy.  The peripheral banks passed stress tests!   Money moves at the speed of light. Recall 2007 when money grew on trees; corrections move ht other direction, starkly, rR Federal Reserve System. The ECB has total assets of 200 bil euros – not a lot.  Between 16 March and now, while banks were closed, depositors got tons of money out of Cyprus into other banks in the UK ad Russia, neither of which is in the EU.  Russians: Let the Euros fumble, then ride  and take financial control in Cyprus. As a prize, take the nat gas and perhaps install bases.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . Didi Kirsten Tatlow, NYT, in re: China in Africa. VIEW FROM ASIA  ‘Oh Boy! So Many Questions!’ about China in Africa. Xi Jinping's maiden voyage to Africa to BRICS meeting in South Africa. Had lots of business to do there, also has strategic goals; went there immed after the Moscow Kremlin, his first intl visit.  the Russian-Chinese border is enormous; have historical ties, long and complicated. Alliance is somewhat warming; PLA understands Putin's tyrannical grasp over his society. Beijing thinks too much land was given to Russia under Jiang.  Africans regard China:  Tanzanian leader spoke of "colonialism."  Being called "colonial" in Africa is difficult for China.  Xi sees Africa as a resource treasure and as a source of many votes in the UN General Assembly, Mao cultivated African nations exactly for this purpose. Kenya's large port, Lamu: China is providing construction, development, highways, pipelines.  Goal is to have PLA Navy call in the port.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Joseph Sternberg, WSJ Asia editorial board, in re: When China, long almost the sole source (98% of production) of rare earths for electronics mfrg, in a fit of abuse first cut off Japan, then the US and the EU in a predatory tantrum.  Japan now has discovered a huge reservoir of the most important rare earths 6 km underwater, in the sea off Japan.   What the Maoist/Marxist School of Economics missed is that markets actually work.   China established the Dept of Intl Economy to use economic leverage to obtain geopolitical goals.  Dumb and dumber.  Scarcity drives innovation; by China's creating a rare-earths scarcity in the world , it obliges Ford and Honda to create brand-new ways of mfrg.

       A US court has sentenced a Chinese national to more than five years in prison for illegally exporting military trade secrets to China.  Federal agents say they discovered the computer when Liu returned to Newark Liberty International Airport in November 2010. Liu was convicted in September 2012. Technical military data covered by US export regulations cannot be taken out of the country without a license. "Instead of the accolades he sought from China, Sixing Liu today received the appropriate reward for his threat to our national security: 70 months in prison," prosecutor Paul Fishman said. Liu's lawyer, James Tunick, said that Liu had made "a terrible mistake" by having the files on his computer and taking them to China, but that "it didn't rise to the level of a criminal act." "He never intended to harm anyone," he said.

Hour Three

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Gordon Chang,, in re:  Russians and Chinese view the West with similar eyes. Siberia has 8 or 9 million people; Chinese want Siberia back, thinking that Russia stole in a hundred years ago.  Oops.

    Africa exporting raw materials to China, which then returns finished goods t Africa for sale, Same as the hated colonialists did.

   BRICS mtg; establish a development bank to rival the World Bank; but the members have rather different goals. 

     China couldn’t intimidate the Japanese over Senkakus, so set fire to a Vietnamese fishing boat with flares.  Aggressive bullying.

War of words continues following CCTV attack on iPhone manufacturer.   Days after China’s state broadcaster CCTV attacked Apple for allegedly providing Chinese users with an inferior service , Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily officially waded into the row on Wednesday.  In a harshly worded commentary titled “Let’s strike away Apple’s unparalleled arrogance,”  the paper criticised Apple for being “dishonest,” “greedy” - and above all - “arrogant.” Page 5 of People's Daily on March 27, 2013. The editorial sits at the top of the page.  In particular, Apple has returned the considerable contributions China has made to its revenue, the editorial said, with a “swaggering arrogance” that must have originated from the "traditional superiority enjoyed by westerners". 

      “[Apple must have thought] why does a developing ancient oriental country deserve the same customer service as their western counterparts?”, the commentary said.  The Daily also blamed the “greediness of capital”, since Apple has “gone crazy” chasing after profit, it claimed.  “If offending Chinese customers reduces cost for Apple at zero risk, why not?,” asked the editorial. It then went on to urge stricter law enforcement to prevent loopholes in the market.  “If you insist on challenging Chinese customers’ love and patience, and continue to be heedless, then your business will eventually decline no matter how glamorous or successful your brand is,” it said.  The Daily rolled out the commentary days after netizens lashed out at CCTV for picking on Apple and avoiding more serious domestic issues in its annual consumer rights show aired on March 15th.  CCTV’s show backfired after online evidence suggested that the crew had invited a few celebrities in advance to post Weibo messages attacking Apple. In an official statement released by Apple last week in response to CCTV’s accusations, the company denied imposing double standards on Chinese customers and said its practices were "completely legal".But this appears to have failed to appease the authorities.Preceding the attack from People's Daily, Miao Wei, head of China’s ministry of Industry and Information Technology,  said during a summit  on Monday that while Chinese phone makers [5] have produced an excessive number of phones, the nations’ young people are lining up all night long to buy the latest iPhone models.  [more]

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  . Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal, in re: Kirchner Tries to Starve the Independent Press  Argentina's government employs tax inspectors and advertising boycotts to punish critics.  The recent announcement by Brazilian mining giant Vale that its planned $6 billion potash project in Mendoza province is no longer viable reflects the loss of business confidence. The company, which has already invested $2.2 billion, stopped work in December, citing difficulties due to Argentine inflation, an overvalued peso and increasing demands from labor and from local governments. Now it is suspending the project. The government has raised the possibility of nationalizing the investment. The meltdown of the Kirchner economic model explains the heightened effort to destroy the independent media. Not that her administration has ever been a beacon of tolerance. There have been criminal actions against newspaper officials for editorials it didn't like, attempts to gain control of the country's domestic newsprint supply, and the passage of a law that politicizes the granting of broadcast licenses and the sale of spectrum. Then there was the September 2009 raid by some 200 tax agents on the daily Clarín, and the deployments of pro-Kirchner mobs to block the distribution of some newspapers that do not toe the Kirchner line.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . Scott Atlas, Hoover (David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow and member of the Working Group on Health Care Policy), in re: When Is an Insurance Exchange Not a Marketplace?  But the reality of the ObamaCare exchanges is quite different. Government regulations delineated in the ACA will distort market forces so severely that these exchanges are destined to fail. The government exchanges force sellers to price their insurance products based on arbitrary, wholly artificial criteria - price fixing by government regulation that dictates profit and cost percentages (“minimum loss ratios”), rather than determining price by the marketplace; they force the coverage to be bloated by defining an extensive and naively considered list of coverage (ironically named “minimum essential benefits”) that directly causes higher prices for all consumers, many of whom we now know would choose cheaper, less extensive coverage; and they force sellers to disregard the projected risks fundamental to pricing all insurance premiums.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: 'AMERICA IS THE CENTER OF ALL CONSPIRACIES'   Iranian official: Israel will cease to exist.     The chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said two days after Khamenei’s speech that Israel will cease to exist should it attack Iran. Boroujerdi blamed England for what he called “the formation of Israel on parts of the Muslim territories” and asked, “How can the Zionist regime face a strong state like the Islamic Republic of Iran while it cannot defeat guerrilla groups and politico-military groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah or (Palestinian) Islamic Jihad and Hamas? [more]

Hour Four

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  John Bolton, AEI, 931

Meanwhile, overall Middle Eastern stability continues to deteriorate ever more rapidly. Lebanon’s government just resigned under Hezbollah threats. Syria’s Assad regime last week claimed that rebels had used chemical weapons, while the rebels countered that it was the regime. The truth remains unclear, but the grave risk those weapons in terrorist hands pose to Israel, America or others does not.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government continues to threaten the Camp David peace accords, and Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned publicly of the Brotherhood’s desire to overthrow his regime and replace it with a version of Hamas.

Obama is a master of politics rather than statesmanship, and has a dim view of Israel. Nothing on his Middle East trip changed this reality.

(John R. Bolton is a former US ambassador to the United Nations.) Click here to read this article online.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Frank Bass, Bloomberg, in re:

Upper West Side Joins Boca in Most Credit-Card Complaints   When U.S. officials began collecting consumer complaints about credit cards, one goal was to identify patterns that could help them write rules protecting families with low and moderate incomes. Nearly two years later, it’s the well-to-do neighborhoods of Florida and New York that are supplying the most grievances to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an analysis of agency data shows [more]

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Robert Zimmerman,, in re:   Curiosity marks the return to full science operations by producing a new panorama.  The strange polar vortexes of Venus.   The large-scale cyclone extends vertically in Venus’ atmosphere over more than 20 kilometers, through a region of highly turbulent, permanent clouds. However, the centers of rotation at two different altitude levels (42 and 62 km above the surface) are not aligned and both wander around the south pole of the planet with no established pattern at velocities of up to 55km/h. The study also finds that even when averaged cross-winds are roughly the same at both altitudes, there is still a strong vertical gradient, with winds increasing by as much as 3km/h for every kilometer of height and leading to possible atmospheric instabilities.

Wednesday  27 March 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   James Butters, Bloomberg, in re:  Range Rover Sport Roars Into NYC at Star-Studded Reveal   Brand. Major brand. That’s how Tata Motors Ltd. (TTMT) wants luxury-car buyers to see its Land Rover sport-utility vehicle lineup. For the unveiling of its Range Rover Sport, the brand’s fastest model yet, it brought out big stars, including Daniel Craig, who has portrayed British spy James Bond in three movies, including 2012’s “Skyfall.” On the eve of the New York auto show, the British SUV brand owned by Mumbai-based Tata brought an array of stars including Michael Strahan, the former U.S. football pro turned TV host, singer Simon Le Bon of ’80s pop band Duran Duran, and Jade Jagger, the jewelry designer and model who is also the daughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

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Hour 1: Crysis, Tomorrow Never dies, Babylon AD, painted veil

Hour 2: the Expendables, Skyfall, Crysis

Hour 3: Rising Empire, Shaolin, The Expendables, Girl w the Dragon Tattoo, Zero Dark Thirty

Hour 4: Zero Dark Thirty, Downton Abbey, Star Trek