The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Air Date: 
March 02, 2016

Photo, left: 
Co-hosts: Gordon Chang, & Daily Beast.
Hour One
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 1, Block A:  James Holmes, Naval War College professor of strategy; former surface warfare officer; in re:   SecDef warned China not to [misbehave] in  the South China Sea; so China instantly sends out a bunch of boats to Jackson Atoll [a rock that sticks up out of the water] to drive away Filipino fishing boats. The US is basically ‘way behind the times.  So Ash Carter threatens them after they do it.  Urgh.  [The red line that‘s a tiny thread.]  Prof Holmes – does the aggressor have the lead position? Yes – first grab something then dare the other guy to do something, Potential high cost and awkward. Ergo, China has the initiative and Washington is clueless.  We need to prevent China from taking [critical assets].  We could have US Navy swarm Scarborough Shoal before China starts its ”reclamation” – it’s not reclaiming anything, it's starting trouble from scratch.
Philippines marooned an old WWII US navy ship and keeps a small contingent to guard it.  Philippines has been penetrated by Chinese money, esp in Manila, but Filipinos prefer not to [succumb] to China.  To draw a line as the SecDef did and then not back it up is [guaranteed to look ridiculous].  Filipino entire defense budget could buy exactly one Arleigh Burke-class ship per year.  ;
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 1, Block B:  Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch Asia Division, in re: North Korea has just fired missiles into the East China Sea. Cyberspace Administration of China: disconnected major blogger, Ren Zhiqiang, from his 37 million followers and also clipped his Weibo connections – his  37 million followers are up in arms against offensive censorship.    Chinese Party does this all the time.  A real estate tycoon Party stalwart, Mr Ren, who’s enormously profited from the status quo; when someone like him expresses concern, it's a big step.  In China when you're shut down, it's strictly an electronic switch. You log on and nothing exists.   For this guy, the local Party Committee in Beijing said he’d “be dealt with seriously.” This could be the tip of a very nasty iceberg.  Note an increasing list of people paraded in front of TV cameras; increasingly scary.  Xi Jin-ping cares naught about critics; he’s fulfilling his historical dcstiny. Ren challenged Xi directly: unusual , as he has a lot lot to lose. 
“The real estate mogul Ren Zhiqiang, a politically connected former soldier, was a social media star in China, celebrated online for his business acumen and sharp tongue. His verified account on Weibo Corp.’s Twitter -like social media site attracted more than 37 million followers, until it was shut off on Sunday. The Cyberspace Administration of China, the main Internet regulator, said in a statement posted online that Mr. Ren’s Weibo account and another account of his on a similar site run by Tencent Holdings Ltd. were ordered closed because he had used them to “publish illegal information, which had a negative impact.” ren-zhiqiang-on-social-., media-1456712781
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 1, Block C: James Taranto, WSJ editorial, in re:  June 2015 in Deer Valley, Utah, a spa retreat: very well financed, dominant members of GOP. [Disclaimer: I wasn’t there then –JT]  Movers and shakers failed to anticipate the Trump phenom. One was excited about Scott Walker, or Carly Fiorina, or  . . .  No  one expected Trump actually to announce.   Trump has scored about 35% so far; seven of ten; has a dominant but not a majority position, Party is not gathering around him: Trump is a complete outsider, so no pol careerist or donors was prepared. Also, the GOP main base is conservative, which Trump is not. He does best among moderate GOP. Ergo, he lacks institutional and ideological support.  The conservative candidate is Ted Cruz; won Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska last night.  What's left of the GOP field: 20 years ago Kasich as a Newt Gingrich conservative, not lib fave.  [etc]  Ted Cruz, establishment gadfly and much disfavored, may be the Party’s last hope; Rubio – immoderate.  GOP intellectual conservatives – very ideological - have joined vs Trump, who’s the opposite.  . . .  The Right to Rise PAC (was Jeb Bush) denounced Rubio.  Tomorrow Romney will speak; he was subjected to this sort of ad – “he’s a plute who abuses the common man”; Trump, never Bush, has populist appeal. 
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 1, Block D: James Taranto, WSJ editorial, in re: Brian Pagliano has been offered immunity anent the Hillary Clinton FBI investigation; “wrap it up in the coming months” – May? November? 
Hour Two
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 2, Block A:  Andrew Collier, Orient Capital Research (Hong Kong) managing dir, in re: For years, China has been advised to downsize its massive employment in unnecessary - or actual zombie - firms. About half the coal companies are owned by private firms, but gov is much more careful in firing state-owned coal companies. Lose 1.3 million jobs in the next three years?  Overcapacity for decades; then construction boom expanded heavy industry for the property mkt, but it's all collapsing.  Wuhan city.  Note that 70% of social svc payments come from local govts! . . . Bloomberg: Steel mill near Beijing where someone tried to sell it, but workers were enraged because they were used to stealing vast quantities of ingots and producing private steel.   Very large layoffs for some time to come in order to countervail China’s inking GDP.
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 2, Block B:  Dan Schneider, exec dir of the American Conservative Union (founded in 1964 by William F Buckley, Jr), CPAC’s [Conservative Political Action] sponsor; in re:  the conservative view of the growing partnership of China and Russia and the role of foreign policy in the presidential campaign. Gordon Chang will be moderating a panel on China and Russia on Thursday afternoon at 5:25 PM, with Chiron Skinner, and Rep Ron De Santis; on the challenge they pose to the international system. Wide diversity of opinion amongst conservatives on how to respond to Russia and China now.  Can C-PAC explain this in three paragraphs?  Unhh – we've got classical conservatives, libertarians and populists.  These three strains diverge on foreign policy.  Some say that the US has [misled] Russia and this is basically blowback; others say that a stronger response is needed.   Pres G W Bush took democracy on the road to liberate other societies; some advocate a humbler approach to national security.  . . .  We’re in a huge room; many attendees have no idea what the threat is. Among those who are informed, a real sense of unease – look at military capabilities of China and Russia; world in jeopardy.   Reagan spoke of the nature of authoritarian regimes.  US president has demonstrated intentional weakness, which encouraged an aggressive posture toward the US.   Note China swarming Jackson Atoll, reminiscent of Scarborough Shoals.  Note also Syria. 
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China sent several ships to a disputed atoll in the South China Sea, preventing Filipino fishermen from accessing traditional fishing grounds and raising tensions in the volatile region, Philippine officials said on Wednesday. China had sent as many as seven ships to Quirino Atoll, also known as Jackson Atoll, in recent weeks, said Eugenio Bito-onon Jr, the mayor of nearby Pagasa Island in the Spratly Islands.
The Spratlys are the most contested archipelago in the South China Sea, a resource-rich region and critical shipping lane linking North Asia to Europe, South Asia and the Middle East. "This is very alarming, Quirino is on our path when we travel from Palawan to Pagasa. It is halfway and we normally stop there to rest," Bito-onon told Reuters.
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 2, Block C:  David Feith, WSJ Hong Kong, in re:  new sanctions to stop provocations by DPRK, North Korea.  Enabling or ignoring the North Korean predator?  Adjectives fly but there’s major problem with enforcement – “Trumpian.”  We've gone through five sets of sanctions; isn't it up to the US to say enough is enough? The key test of the financial sanctions that the US pushed through is if they’re willing to demand that the Chinese banks [quit or slow down their backing of DPRK nukes]. People say China is squeezed ‘twixt Kim and avoidance of instability; OK, but  the public debate needs to recognize material facts, such as China’s endless record of playing defense for DPRK at he UN but actively helping DPRK build weapons.   Could hit LA or New York from a moving truck because in 2011 China gave North Korea highly sophisticated weaponry.    Bank Delta Asia in Macao.
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 2, Block D:  Francis Rose,, in re: Miller Statement on Sharon Helman’s Guilty Plea   Today Chairman Miller released the statement below regarding former Phoenix VA Medical Center Director Sharon Helman pleading guilty to a felony.    “While I’m pleased Sharon Helman is now facing some consequences for her criminal activity, I’m extremely puzzled as to why the Department of Justice chose to coddle her with a sweetheart plea deal that amounts to nothing more than a weak slap on the wrist. Such extraordinary leniency is an insult to the many veterans who suffered from the malfeasance and mismanagement of the Phoenix VA Health Care System. It’s also a reminder that to this day not a single Phoenix VAHCS employee has been successfully disciplined for wait-time manipulation and the department still refuses to punish two high-level Phoenix VA managers whom it found to have retaliated against whistleblowers. Enough is enough. It’s time for VA and the Senate to get in step with veterans and taxpayers and get behind commonsense proposals like the House-passed VA Accountability Act, which would enable the department to quickly purge corrupt and incompetent employees from the payroll and prevent convicted felons from sneaking out the back door with full taxpayer-funded pensions. Until then, VA’s accountability problems will only continue.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
The VA Accountability Act would give the VA secretary the authority to swiftly fire or demote any employee for poor performance or misconduct while protecting whistleblowers and limiting the agency’s ability to place misbehaving employees on paid leave. It would also give VA the ability to recover annuities on pensions of VA employees convicted of felonies committed on the job. It passed the House in July of 2015 and is pending in the Senate.  VA’s own internal probe finds impunity of agency leaders at scandal-ridden hospital
Hour Three
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 3, Block A:  Monica Crowley, Fox, & Washington Times Online opinion editor; in re:  The parlous state of the Republican Party, and their brethren in the Democratic Party. (1 of 4)
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 3, Block B:  Monica Crowley, Fox, & Washington Times Online opinion editor; in re: The parlous state of the Republican Party, and their brethren in the Democratic Party. 2 of 4)
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 3, Block C:  Monica Crowley, Fox, & Washington Times Online opinion editor; in re: The parlous state of the Republican Party, and their brethren in the Democratic Party. (3 of 4)
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 3, Block D:  Monica Crowley, Fox, & Washington Times Online opinion editor; in re: The parlous state of the Republican Party, and their brethren in the Democratic Party. (4 of 4)
Hour Four
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 4, Block A:  Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, in re: The parlous state of the Republican Party, and their brethren in the Democratic Party.
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 4, Block B:  Lara Brown, George Washington University, in re:  The parlous state of the Republican Party, and their brethren in the Democratic Party.
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 4, Block C: Vladimir V. Pitulko, Institute for the History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg; and Science magazine; in re:   Early human presence in the Arctic: Evidence from 45,000-year-old mammoth remains Earliest human Arctic occupation: Paleolithic records of humans in the Eurasian Arctic (above 66°N) are scarce, stretching back to 30,000 to 35,000 years ago at most. Pitulko et al. have found evidence of human occupation 45,000 years ago at 72°N, well within the Siberian Arctic. The evidence is in the form of a frozen mammoth carcass bearing many signs of weapon-inflicted injuries, both pre- and postmortem. The remains of a hunted wolf from a widely separate location of similar age indicate that humans may have spread widely across northern Siberia at least 10 millennia earlier than previously thought. 
Abstract: Archaeological evidence for human dispersal through northern Eurasia before 40,000 years ago is rare. In west Siberia, the northernmost find of that age is located at 57°N. Elsewhere, the earliest presence of humans in the Arctic is commonly thought to be circa 35,000 to 30,000 years before the present. A mammoth kill site in the central Siberian Arctic, dated to 45,000 years before the present, expands the populated area to almost 72°N. The advancement of mammoth hunting probably allowed people to survive and spread widely across northernmost Arctic Siberia.
   Evidence for human habitation in the Arctic before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which spans 26.5 to 19 thousand years ago (ka), is very rare (Fig. 1A and fig. S1). It has only become available in the past 20 years, with the discoveries of the Mamontovaya Kurya site (2) in the European Arctic and the Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site (RHS) in Arctic Siberia. Before these discoveries, researchers held that humans could not have started populating the Arctic regions until the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary (4). The recent discoveries indicate the presence of people in the Arctic at least at the end of marine isotope stage 3 (MIS 3), around 28,000 14C years before the present (yr B.P.) or slightly earlier, whereas older sites are found south of 55°N.  (1 of 2)
Wednesday   2 March 2016 / Hour 4, Block D:    Vladimir V. Pitulko, Institute for the History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg; and Science magazine (2 of 2)