The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Air Date: 
December 12, 2012

Photo, above: In Mali, sanctimonious Islamists in immaculate kuffiyas. By no means are most Tuareg people fond of political Islamism.  They're a historically Berber people with a traditionally nomadic pastoralist lifestyle, the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa. Tuareg languages have an estimated 1.2 million speakers. Most Tuareg live in the Saharan parts of Niger and Mali but, being nomadic, they move constantly across national borders, and small groups of Tuareg are also found in Morocco, in southeastern Algeria, southwestern Libya and northern Burkina Faso, and a small community in northern Nigeria.  The Tuareg adopted camel nomadism, along with its distinctive form of social organization, from camel-herding Arabs about two thousand years ago, when the camel was introduced to the Sahara from Arabia. Since that time, they had operated the trans-Saharan caravan trade connecting the great cities on the southern edge of the Sahara via five desert trade routes to the northern (Mediterranean) coast of Africa. The Tuareg once took captives, either for trade and sale, or for domestic labor purposes. Those who were not sold became assimilated into the Tuareg community. Slaves and herdsmen formed a component of the division of labor in camel nomadism.  . . . At the turn of the Nineteenth Century, the Tuareg territory was organized into confederations, each ruled by a supreme Chief (Amenokal), along with a counsel of elders from each tribe. These confederations are sometimes called "Drum Groups" after the Amenokal's symbol of authority, a drum. Clan (Tewsit) elders, called Imegharan (wisemen), are chosen to assist the chief of the confederation. Historically, there are seven recent major confederations.


Co-host: Gordon Chang,

Wednesday 905P Eastern Time: Toshi Yoshihara,  John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Naval War College, in re:  China sends four warships to travel in Japanese waters, to alarm Japan over Senkakus; behind the nonmilitary vessels are the Chinese navy.   Law of  the Sea treaty: "No foreign power may introduce its warships into any a nation's economic zone without its approval."  China doing this anyway, laying a double game. China is surrounded by islands that other countries can claim in their EEZs – those neighbors could shut China out of its EEZ.  A new version of MAD – could have no-man's lands so dangerous that no one would dare to go in.  The George Washington based at Yokusuka is vulnerable to a missile attack.  US strategy in the East depends on forward bases, for maneuverability and rapid arrival, as well as air superiority in a pinch.  In the Cold War, US maintained a skimpy force with a nuclear threat against the old Soviet Union.   China,  however, thinks that the stakes are so high for China but the US wouldn't risk a major war for Taiwan, for example. China believes it should make the opening move, control tempo of conflict, and de-escalate at will.  This describes the conduct of the Japanese navy until Midway in 1942. Didn't work the last time.   Has China thought this through carefully? Looks like not.

. . . It was cold in the 1950s; a hundred thousand Chinese troops came suddenly and the US barely held on to get back to Chosun Reservoir, First Marine Division.

Wednesday 920P Eastern Time: Stephen Yates, CEO of D.C. International Advisory and former adviser to vice president Dick Cheney, in re: A123 sale, bidding war among American, Europeans and Japanese; bought by a Chinese military-affiliated company. US Congress: "No way."   US but $200 mil to save the company in order to keep US jobs. When Japanese bought Rock Center, it wasn't going to pickup and go to Tokyo.  Nexen in Canada bought by China in order to steal the oil-sands technology.    Chinese cut-outs show that they were concerned in the first place.  Can't divide this company to protect national security; Solomon couldn’t, the US can’t.

North Korea shoots a missile near the Philippines; China deploys four warships to Japanese seas; is China watching US reaction to gauge what it can get away with? Yes, with great attn to what will provoke a response for the US and its allies.  Missile flew directly over Okinawa – sovereignty – and China, as the sponsor of the DPRK - thereby challenges Japan's sovereignty.

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NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil. Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity's arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover.  Detection of the substances during this early phase of the mission demonstrates the laboratory's capability to analyze diverse soil and rock samples over the next two years. Scientists also have been verifying the capabilities of the rover's instruments.  Curiosity is the first Mars rover able to scoop soil into analytical instruments. The specific soil sample came from a drift of windblown dust and sand called "Rocknest." The site lies in a relatively flat part of Gale Crater still miles away from the rover's main destination on the slope of a mountain called Mount Sharp. The rover's laboratory includes the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. SAM used three methods to analyze gases given off from the dusty sand when it was heated in a tiny oven. One class of substances SAM checks for is organic compounds -- carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life.  "We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Wednesday 935P Eastern Time: Hotel Mars, episode n.  Dr. David M. Livingston, The Space Show, and Dr. Paul Mahaffy, Principal Investigator for SAM (sample analysis at Mars), Chief of the Atmospheric Experiments Laboratory in the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA Goddard, in re: Curiosity SAM soils samples.  Scoops from 31 Oct and later: we did this to clean out any terrestrial [gunk] that may have come along. We found perchlorics and some interesting chemistry. We measure isotopes with SAM. Before now, we had Viking from XXeme (1976), Oppy and Phoenix landers.  Cannot yet confirm we found organic compounds; wd need to make absolutely sure that nothing we’re measuring came from Earth. We have five pristine glass containers mounted, doped with carbon compounds; can sample and [discern which is what].  Looks as though water is exchanging w atmosphere; that deuterium is five times higher there than on Earth; suggests what may have happened to its atmosphere over billions of years. Martian gullies: did the water persist for a long time? Microbes?  Also other isotopes: argon, krypton, xenon, the Noble Gasses, are addtl tracers of what may have happened to the atmosphere over time.  Rovers Opportunity and Spirit looked at windblown dust – ABS experiment. 

Wednesday 950P Eastern Time: Charles Ortel, Newport Value Partners, in re:  Jeff Immelt, GE, goes on a TV show watched by US intelligentsia, says of the Chinese Communist system: "It works!" State-run communism may not be your cup of tea, but it works."  I was a pallbearer for Reg Jones (former GE CEO), and he'd be spinning in his grave.  Chinese unemployment rate is probably 10 or 11%.  "Their govt works" – compared to what - to the US? To North Korea? IS this abt the Party getting rich?  Recall Brian Williams spoke of Apple: Great if the US pres cd order Apple to bring all its production back into the US [oops].  Since Immelt took over GE, its stock price has halved and he's doubled its debt. When the left says nutty stuff like this, . . .  . why is Immelt still in charge when he's basically run the company into the ground?  US [honchos]] seems to be terrified that the US is standing on th edge of an abyss. Immelt has Stockholm Syndrome – under pressure to put more of his technology into China he wont bring back jobs to here, he'll install robots.  China is completely opaque, not transparence with banks; the top guys are all crony capitalist s with billions of dollars stolen from the citizenry. Yeah, that works.  [Immelt also has recurrent clientitis. –ed]

Wednesday 1005P (705P Pacific Time): Alan Tonelson, Research Fellow at the U.S. Business & Industrial Council Educational Foundation, in re: (Xi Jinping and his family make money off the North Korean military; hence the missile launch earlier today.)  Christian Science Monitor pc – "Not even halfway through the Great Recession. What we usu think of as private-sector job formation is to a great extent a misnomer because so many of those jobs are in industries heavily subsidized by govt spending; both product demand  and svcs hiring levels thus are propped up – this has formed 40% of the new jobs since the crash.    Lenovo announced it'd put new jobs into North Carolina – Joint Congressional Intell Committee said that Huawei posed US natl security problem – thank Heavens.  Apple jobs coming back to US?

 Haier and GE are all bringing jobs back to he US. Scratch the surface of the GE story: $100mil of fed state and local govt subsidies out of an $800mil investment!  All the reports on skyrocketing Chinese labor costs: import prices from China are not rising – they’re falling. China has found a way to absorb the excesses.

Wednesday 1020P (720P Pacific Time): Scott Harold, Rand, in re: North Korea missile provocation, China PLA Navy provocation?  Why?

Wednesday 1035P (735P Pacific Time):   Jim Yardley, NYT in India, in re: Rahima born in poverty; her husband beat her almost to death. She left her child with her parents, travelled to Dakka, found work on the third floor of a clothing factory. When smoke filled the place, she ran to the stairs, was trampled almost to death.  The stairwell was the source of the fire; it was pitch black, acrylics smoke was asphyxiating people.  As she lay dying she thought of her daughter and simply managed to get up.    Meanwhile, some trapped men workers were trying to break open metal grills sealing the windows; at the last minute they succeeded, some jumped to the adjacent bldg, pulled through as many as they could to a bamboo scaffolding. A hundred thousand Bangladeshis attended the hundreds of funerals.  Moving to Vietnam, Cambodia, South America.  Next competitor may be Burma. There are 4,500 garment factories in Bangladesh, alone. Payment: $37/month.   Bangladesh is a big importer of oil, desperately needs the factories and the remittances from overseas.  There have been lots of fires before. The govt doesn't do its jobs. US calls Bangladesh not a terrorist-free nation, which adds billions in tariffs every year.

The Business Social Compliance Initiative – European – found a lot of major labels on the floor where people died. A lot of blame-shifting and denial. Everyone was "shocked! Shocked!" Inspection and auditing outsourced.  Recall Pakistani factory that burned, 200 dead, had been approved yet the workers were locked in.

Wednesday 1050P (750P Pacific Time):  Gordon Chang,, in re: in1948, an exercise to show Stalin that Berlin aggression would not stand, US sortied 700 aircraft to move in and out of Idlewild [current JFK airport in New York] to show we could do it; implicit was the notion that the US could nuke Moscow.  We can impose the 2005 sanctions to cut North Korea off from the _. Also must interdict North Korean shipping: board heir ships ad inspect t heir planes: NK has abrogated the Korean War armistice, meaning we have the right to board their ships, Otherwise, Iran will have a three-stage missile within the year.  Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Ecuador, Egypt, are on the list of those nations who soon could be nuclear. 

Totally evacuate Tokyo  one day; go on a war footing– don’t announce it; scare the bejeezus out of Beijing.

North Korea, however, has transferred itself to the Persian Gulf.

Wednesday 1105P (805P Pacific Time):  Robert Zimmerman,, in re: the North Korea rocket, what, how, why, what satellite, who else has this capability, what is significance? A success for North Korea; their April launch failed – rocket broke up between first & second stages; this time, all three worked and they put something in orbit.  It may now be tumbling out of control, but the goal was to show that they had a good-enough rocket.

Wednesday 1120P (820P Pacific Time):  Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: Iranian sleeper cells in US.   Syria's support from Iran continues undimmed; what does Iran want?  The bomb and a missile to launch it on.

Wednesday 1135P (835P Pacific Time): Benjamin Busch,

Dust to Dust: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]; 1 of 2

Wednesday 1150P (850P Pacific Time): Benjamin Busch,

Dust to Dust: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]; 2 of 2

Wednesday/Thurs 1205A (905 Pacific Time): Christopher Drew, NYT, in re:  early days and the teething problems of the Boeing Dreamliner 787; the first 9,000 hours in the air: complaints and positives.

Wednesday/Thurs  1220A (920 Pacific Time): Mark Schroder,, in re:  the Malian failed state and the plans to deploy military intervention - combination of ECOWAS troops with French assistance and US drones, to combat the AQIM and other marauders that swarm over Timbuktu and other desert provinces.

Wednesday/Thurs  1235A (935P Pacific Time): John Shiffman, Reuters, in re: the sad tale of Jihad Jane, Jihad Jamie, and Mohammed Khalid, convicted terrorist killers in jail for ever.

Wednesday/Thurs  1250A  (950P Pacific Time): Exeunt. Bill McGurn, WSJ, in re: what happened to the Bush Tax Cuts?  Why does the Democratic Party now celebrate the tax cuts it denounced for 12 years?  Why Washington is Wonderland, not Gotham.


The NASA Mars rover Curiosity drove 63 feet (19 meters) northeastward early Monday, Dec. 10, approaching a step down into a slightly lower area called "Yellowknife Bay," where researchers intend to choose a rock to drill. The drive was Curiosity's fourth consecutive driving day since leaving a site near an outcrop called "Point Lake," where it arrived last month. These drives totaled 260 feet (79 meters) and brought the mission's total odometry to 0.37 mile (598 meters). The route took the rover close to an outcrop called "Shaler," where scientists used Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument and Mast Camera (Mastcam) to assess the rock's composition and observe its layering. Before departure from Point Lake, a fourth sample of dusty sand that the rover had been carrying from the "Rocknest" drift was ingested and analyzed by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

Music (using New York City broadcast times)  

9 hour:   Babylon AD, John Carter, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

10 hour:   Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shaolin

11 hour:   Babylon AD, John Carter, Gears of War 2

12 hour:   Infamous, John Carter, The Expendables

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