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Archive 1 (July 2015- March 2017)

Archive 2 (March 2017- June 2017)

Washington seeks to transistion responsibility for security to the Afghan government

For all intents and purposes, the president's mission to me was to transition the theatre

We had alot to do:

close down the theatre

transition NATO from main force, ground force unit to advisory force

move ANSF into lead

recover the Amer. 30k troops.

as they move into the lead for major combat operations in their own counter-insurgency campaign 

this of course raises the grave risk of the escalation of a conventional conflict into an all-out nuclear war

Therefore, the only way we can deal with this is through non-proliferation tools:

- reducing and eliminating nuclear materials


- keeping them very safe secure and well-accounted for.

  • extend the life of old warheads

alongside new technologies, antiquated sys are posing new threats refurbishing we should do to our nuclear stockpile

prospects of the diversion of nuclear material

concerns over the security of some countries nuclear facilities still linger

materials used in research reactors, spent fuel rods from power plants, these kind of material

if they were packed together with conventional explosives and just detonated in a neighborhood would create contamination, and mass panic and by contaminating an area, they would deny that area to economic use, make people move out of their homes for long periods of time till a cleanup could happen.

-Pervez Hoodbhoy

AQ Khan father of pak atomic bomb; the design of the centrifuge, these things that  spins really fast to enrich uranium, convinced pak govt to start building centrifugess from there he  branched out to sell tech or exchange w/ Iran N. Korea and Libya.

Ensuring nuclear security requires a multipronged approach

Focus is, to get all the countries that have nuclear materials to come to the table and pay strong attention to protecting them from theft

Reality is , our nuclear weapons, from our perspective, are deterrents against the use of nuclear weapons

So until you have sort of iron-clad guarantee that there is a revolution in thinking, and structures in place to safeguard us from  nuclear attack, we are not going to be empowered to remove our nuclear weapons.

Today, individual nation must adhere to global standards to safeguard their nuclear facilities and cooperate with global agencies to track the poss. threats

they have an interest in reducing the spread of  nuclear technology and poss. of weaponization

role of iaea is going to grow and should grow significantly, setting stds for not only safety  in nuclear plants  and arrangements and agreements in that regard ...also oversight to ensure civil nuclear functions are not potentially diverted to militarization

keeping the nuclear issue in the spotlight is vital as is guarding vs complacency 

whether we are talking about the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation or wether we talking about nuclear  materials in terrorist hands the threats remain with us

ever present issue in the backs of people's mind

most people are managing their own world, having economic difficulty, or worried about the future of their children.

tyranny of the urgent

... or things that have direct meaningful  impact on constituents lives, things that are measurable then again with no constiuency behind thoughful policy-making in nuclear security is simply harder to get to

the most essential questions about the future of humanity are just hard to get to.

Questions about existenital threats, the future of humanity, civilization itself, well that's important but we really don't have the time.

...most urgent question before us.

see the problem here?

the incentives to look at the harder deeper questions are not there for congress. There is no constiuency is behind it

proliferation is inevitable

more and more countries over time will acquire the materials needed to create nuclear weapons 

...more than 100 countries have also signed treaties creating nuclear weapon free zones with their neighbors. 

it's not that more and more countries want  them  it's that countries are actually trying to get rid of them and the countries that have nuclear weapons are struggling to hold on to them in the face of this enormous effort by the rest of the world to get rid of them inc. pub. opinion in many of the nuclear weapons states themselves and so the challenges we face is how do we face conc. of power, military pwr, sci .power. and of policy makers  who think that nuclear weapons are a way for their country to be strong.

Whether you believe nuclear weapons prevent  world wars  or pose an existential threat to humanity the need to safeguard nuclear tech wil continue to challenge world leaders for decades to come

cortney warren

  • The grid is many appliances all wired up taking energy from a single gigantic lake of energy. All power plants dump their energy into this lake and consumers pull it out. What makes this form of consumption, this form of wholesale/retail operation different is that the pouring in of energy and the taking out of energy has to balance within a fraction of one percent every second, there is no business like it.
  • The grid is every power plant, every transmission line,  every substation, every distribution line, every grid operator, every  electric utility , every utility truck, every line worker,  power pole, transformer, every meter and everything that uses elec. in the developing world all together  at once. It is the most complex human achievement in the history of our world.
  • Problem is, most of our grid was designed around using dirty fossil fuels converted into electricity at huge remote power plants and it still is.

Fossil fuel generation is still only 33% efficient, that has not changed since the time of Thomas Edison in 1882. You say how can that be, 33%, as if your making a meal for your family and two-thirds of your food that your cutting up on your cutting board, you just throw it away. What other industry can you get away with that. In some ways, we have the same electrical grid we had in the 1940's and 1950's. The meter, that gizmo that turns in proportion to how much electricity going into your home, that's been around for a 100 years. The power lines that carry the high-voltage through the countryside, some of them are 40,50,60 years old. Somewhere along the line, the electrical business, the electrical power business, stopped being at the leading edge of innovation, and I don't know if we can ever catch up.

Why are we wasting our resources, why do we have such inefficient energy systems. When we got down to that I-phone, which has more compute power than the entire country did when we landed on the moon,  in your hand, We did that  because we figured out how to get  better than 99% efficiency in that phone. We done it, when we do that grid we got more power than  we can consider needing. Unquestionably,  we have to come into balance with the energy picture. Balance means, we only use amt the energy on a daily basis that we gain from the sun and geothermal and that it, anything else is working outside of our natural cycle and we will be in trouble

Smart appliances are either turned on/off at the behest of the grid operator depending on the available supply by way of the smart grid. (potential privacy issues).

  • has about all the energy it can handle, load does not match the production of the solar panel
  • integration problems, let's think about it, how are we going to do this and be intelligent about it.

Schewe's book is too historical and ends up recommending solutions via massive switching to renewable sources. Other than nuclear power, currently going nowhere in the U.S., that's unrealistic due to their intermittent nature. However, I found that combining information from Schewe with other sources creates a very useful overview of our power grid, its problems, and a proposed solution by expert engineers in the field.

The modern electrical grid is one of the greatest and most expensive achievements of the industrial age. It's a highway for delivering electricity to millions and a quasi NATO defense alliance of utilities pledged to help each other in time of need. It's not the only important grid, however - drinking water spreads through an expensive underground network of pipes, gas for heating and cooking through under-street mains, sewerage lines ferry unmentionable fluids and particulates, the phone grid and the railroad grid are others. Schewe's book begins with the 8/14/03 electrical failure in North America (Cleveland, Detroit, NYC, Toronto, etc. - eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces) that disconnected 50 million. Hundreds were stuck in New York elevators, its electric trains refused to budge, water and gas were no longer pumped, etc., etc. The 'good news' is that the next day, atmospheric sulfur dioxide was down 90%, ozone down 50%, and soot particles down 70%. This was not the first time - 11/9/65 30 million in the Northeast found themselves w/o power - a power surge in Canada a tripped a cascade of automatic circuit breakers. Since then we've had deregulation - a spectacular failure. PG&E and other utilities in California were bankrupted by Enron's manipulations that included asking independent power generators to shut down to drive up prices.

America's electric power system evolved without clear awareness and analysis of future needs. Once 'loosely' interconnected networks of largely local systems, today they increasingly host large-scale, long-distance movement of wholesale power from one region or company to another. Likewise, the connection of distributed resources, primarily small generators and a growing number of renewable sources, is growing rapidly. In terms of the sheer number of nodes, variety of sources, controls, and loads, electric power grids are among the most complex networks made.

The U.S. electrical network includes some 15,000 generators with an average thermal efficiency of 33% at 10,000 power plants, 211,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, and 5,600 distribution facilities. In 2002, the installed generating capacity in the U.S. was 981,000 MW, operating at 44.7% capacity. Demand increased by about 25% since 1990, and planned transmission lines for 2004 - 2013 totaled about 7,000 more miles. An estimated 281 GW of new generating capacity will be needed by 2025, implying a need for about 50,000 miles of new transmission lines.

There are three 'interconnects' in North America - the Eastern (eastern two-thirds of the U.S. and Canada, the Western - covering the rest of the two countries except Texas, and Texas. Within each, all generators are tightly synchronized, and any failure in a generator is immediately covered from other parts. U.S. power grids have about 150 control area operators using computerized control centers. Generators are baseload (running all the time to supply minimum demand), peaking (run only to meet needs at maximum load), and intermediate (the rest).

Transmitting electric power over large distances can create losses up to 7.5%, primarily in the form of heat - reduced by increasing the voltage and decreasing the current). Capacity of overhead lines varies with voltage and distance - a 765 kV 100-mile line has a maximum capacity of 3.8 GW; this drops to 2 GW at 400 miles. As lines get warmer, they sag. The standard material for overhead conductors is aluminum conductor steel reinforced - fibers of aluminum twisted around a core of steel fibers. Efforts are underway to increase capacity to 5X at current costs by 2010, with an ultimate goal of a 50X improvement by 2025.

It is inevitable that such a huge grid built in a patchwork manner over 100 years will have reliability issues. Several cascading failures have occurred over the last 50 years. Stability requires the frequency and phase of all units remain synchronous within narrow limits. A generator that drops 2 Hz below 60 Hz will rapidly build up enough heat in its bearings to destroy itself, so circuit breakers will trip it out when the frequency varies too much. Much smaller frequency changes also create problems - a 0.030 cycle/second drop in frequency reduces power delivered in the Eastern Interconnect by 1 GW. Transmission and distribution losses in the U.S. have about doubled to 9.5% in 2001 from 1970 as a result of heavier utilization and more frequent congestion.

It is estimated that power outages and disturbances cost $75 - $180 billion/year. Lack of a coordinated national decision-making entity is a major obstacle. A self-healing 'smart grid' is needed providing more secure and robust operation, and security monitoring. Each breaker, switch, transformer, and busbar should have a processor that can communicate with other devices. Each high-voltage connection to a device must have a parallel information connection. Current operation, though heavily computerized, operates on a slower time scale and was developed in the 1960s. Much control is still based on phone calls between operators - especially during emergencies. Flexible ac transmission devices (FACTS) are a family of solid-state control devices that provide enhanced control of voltage, impedance, and phase angle of transmission lines - their use can increase capacity of individual lines by up to 50% and improve stability. However, there is a need to reduce the costs of FACTS technology - eg. by replacing silicon-based electronics with silicon carbide or gallium nitride.

Dynamic line ratings could use knowledge about weather and line sag to determine how much power can be transmitted safely through a line, instead of worst-case assumptions, typically allowing a 10 - 15% increase.

The cost of a self-healing smart grid is estimated at $10 - $13 billion/year for ten years. Our current failure costs, however, are not cheap either.

The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World 1st Edition by Phillip F. Schewe (Author)

International trade has transformed the way we live, the question of how open markets should be to competition can lead to intense political debate and occasionally war.

Supporters of free trade say, it creates the greatest amt of wealth for the highest number of people, representing the most efficient use of the worlds resources

Opponents say free trade eliminates jobs at home and makes the nation weak.

Basic idea of trade as economists have undesstood it for centuries, is that expands the pie, it makes the economy more efficient, it directs resources to comparitive advantages, as economist says. It also changes the income distribution.

competition for jobs, wages, for export opportutites in sectors that have not faced competition before.

Adv. in telecom, tech and xport have  "thrown open the door" to trade like no other time in history.

~Lead to the increase use of tech, labor saving tech that have damped the growth of employment  in particulaly the  manufactuing sector and people who are adversely affected by tech are becoming more vocal and pol. active

how much of Global Trade accounts of GDP, depends on measuring it, no  great statistic of value ?

Open trade has made it competitive for manufacturers in US but even more a lot of  tech changes, which means we can manufacture things with fewer people.

Govt can impose a tax or tariff on imports to favor domestic producers or protect against unfair practices.

The fact that we pay more for sugar  because we have restrictions on the import of sugar  from Brazil and other countries Thosee costs are very dissipated, very small,  for any one individual  but the benefits for the sugar beet farmers in ND are very conc. and so their is a natural pol. lobby fin favor for those things and put in place

Pol. / economic  rationale

Tariffs are coercion, govt stepping in to influence private xactions in a way that is unfair

Permit tariffs to be imposed if govt is engaing in unfair practices

non-tariff barriers, misalign lic. plate,not  tax but work in the same way

Govt  can also provide  finacial support to an industry in the form of a tariff

Protectionist in Ag, ,,heavy subsidizes for farmers that make it diificult for foreign producers to compete

In certain circumstances it would make alot of sense to subsidize farm production, insure your self-sufficent in food in case of crisis arises

Indirect subsidies in the prod. of goods in other counries, that actually lower the price. For instance, lack of environment stds, labor stds, governance structures where you have direct govt subsidies into bus. , where ours is indirect, all of these create an unbalanced playing field for trade. People begin to percieve this intuit it, and not sure it works for usa anymore.

Smoot-Hawley basically blocaked imports coming into the US and contributed to a decline in economic output and precipitious drop of unemployment and Great Depression

Nations had to choose a strategy for growth within the newly formed Bretton Woods system.

There was a consensus that increased trade barriers contributed to war

You can think of it broadly Bretton Woods and GATT together two big liberalizing trade and monetary  and industrial liberlazation after WWII lead by the US

In those days, we were by far the biggest steel makers in the world, by far the biggest aiplane makers in the  world, car producers, whatever you wanted to look at. We had 1/2  the world's GDP. I think we were taking and did take a constructive approach by opening our mkts to others,  but we expected their mkts to be open  to us.

NAFTA has  been so controversial, is it maked a sea change in American trade policy. So if you look at the history of the global trade regime post WWII, what they called the GATT negotiations, which eventually became creation of the WTO. The countries involved in those were almost all reasonably wealthy countries.

We seek a new more open and global trading sys.

It was the first of its kind agreement, between very disparate levels of development economies.


Uraguay round

oversold  the upside and undersold the dislocations that are involve

If you want ot stabilize population flows,  you want Mex. economy to do well.

Unions in particular have been vocal in demonizing NAFTA claiming it  has undermined their collectivive bargining pwr and lead to stagnant or declining wages.

Accelerate outsourcing of good jobs to Mex.  

But that it  also established a set of rules , that were not good for democracies , because it elevated the investment to state dispute. which was the first time that it was put into a trade agreement  protect  corp interest leaves worker & enviroment vunerable.

Over view is, 25 years or so since NAFTA was put into place have definitely validated our criticism we made at that time.

The Unions have pulled out all the stops to persuade all the Dems,  of course Pres. Bill Clinton was Dem, to defeat NAFTA. At the end of the day they lost.

Clinton believed and I agreed with him then and I continue to agree with him now, that the future of the US lay in figuring out on how to compete more successfully in the world economy

The fact is NAFTA  has not had these ill effects, Manufacturing jobs have been in decline since 1979, NAFTA  took effect in 1994, between  1979  and  1993  those 14 years 2.7 million jobs,  and in the 14 years between 1994 and 2007 2.7 million jobs, same amt. the traj.  has been the same .

Trans Pacific Partnership a free trade agreement between  the US and 11 other Pacific Nations. Its a trade agreement that would eliminate most not all, but most trade barriers among the US, Japan , and 10 other coutries in the Asia-Pacific Region inc. some  quite low-wage economies like Vietnam

It is not just a pure lowering of trade barriers its sort of a a negotiated withdrawl from protectionist persepective 

It makes for great politics that trade agrteements like are going to hurt Amer. worker, they are also going to help Amer. coonsumers.

Alot of what TPP ls looking to do is buiiding relationships with other Pacific Nations to counterbalance China

Proponents of the TPP argue that if the US  does not ratify it, China will be more likely to succeed with its own trade agreement of  and set the tone of future global trade deals

About Amer. leadership in the world. we have negotiated, we have lead this negotiatiion, and if we can't  deliever, I don't understand how countries are going to negotiate with the US in the future.

Are we joining peacefully in Asia, or we turning our backs on it?

You cant escape the important political dimension, when you talk about tha politcal  trade agreement. That will be more important  in my judgement than the economic impact.

China has been accused of implementing protectionist policies like currency manipulation, to drive growth and create an uneven playing field.

The Chin. government has intervened in currency mkts to buy up US dollars, and what does essentialy is it makes Amer. products expensive ande makes Chin. products artifically cheap. It makes it harder for amer. bus. and workers to compete effectively. We don't have any enforceable currency rules in the TPP.

China was a huge offender in that regard, and that is one of the reasons  why our trade deficit  went to the roof in the 2000's very much laid low by unfair competiton with those cheap exports from China.

Amer. in the manufacturing sector see factories shutting down  while foreign made goods are flood the shelves of Amer. stores. To them, the US appears to be getting a raw deal. When you see factories closing  and you're reading that China is the world's second largest economy, that casuality is easy to make, but is not trade that is causing factories to close. Today our manufacturing sector, produces 3.5 times the output per worker hour  as we did in 1979 when we were in peak employment.

We have seen jobs move, jobs decline but not output decline.

You will  destruction  from trade, You will see the impact on the community,  What you won't see is the fact Amer. consumers who now get those appliance at  lower prices will have more resources to spend on other goods and services or put in the bank.

PTB will have to address and improve the lives of economic equality and opp. of those people who were feeling marginalized by globalization.

For a long time, the story of trade lwas that it lifts all boats equally. Yet the benefits of trade were diffuse and the costs conc.

But the cost have been conc. in certain places and what I think we're seeing is the cumalitive discofort caused by decades of rising economic comp. from the US.

Subscribe to macroeconmic theory, that says there is a free movement of labor, So the painful aspects of trade, dislocations, are very real and there localized.

That is a problem but the US economy, has been good over the years at redeploying people who have lost their jobs, finding other jobs in other sectors. Although the last decade or so  the economy has not been good at that there has been alot of labor mkt friction. Its hard to move, because the healthcare is tied to their jobs.

We have a program called Trade Adjustment Assistance,, which is designed to help workers who are displaced because of trade and that has been around for decades but what  we said about of TAA,  is there is not quite enough of it and it has not been that effective.

Still most economist argue that free trade strengthens  the economy in the long run

In the abstract free trade is nherhently good becuase it enlargens the economic pie and allows societies to specializes on what they do best. But in practice we see that you know partiall liberalized trade regimes and some countries try to  protect mkt while trying to open mkt have created alot of dislocations and frictions.

The onus is not on trade, trade does its job, its suppose to grow the pie.

The onus is on domestic poliices, how do we overcome labor mkt friction so people do not lose there jobs can be remployed elsewhere.

The defenders of trade talk about how the pie has inc., this is almost the non-stop rhetoric...

Losers are saying That's fine, your getting the bigger slices, but what about us.

And since American politics internally turned away from income redistribution 35 years ago when R.Reagan became Pres. and we want to hear about our slice.

Trans Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed agreement between the US/EU, two of the world's dominant trading partners.

CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) EU/CANADA deal The  TTIP is a negotiation between the US and the EU and of course until Britain exited, Britain was one of the 28 countries that we were collectively negotiating with. The aim of the TTIP like the TTP was to achieve much greater integration between the US and European economies.

There is a lot of anxiety around consumer/environmental protections and what it will mean for Europe to tie its economy more closely with the US.  I think they are worried that US corps will take advantage of that, to weaken some of the European environmental and consumer protections.

The perspective is different in the developing world. Wealthy nations became industrialized before modern globalization. Emerging economies say that are at an unfair disadvantage because  they are forced to compete on a global stage, while their industries are still developing.

Climate change is sort of this area that we see this push that developed nations are saying, you known we have to pull down carbon emissions, that has to be a global effort and so you're are going to have to sort of pull back your carbon emissions, this is to India, China, Brazil. and those nations say wait a second you got to globalize spewing coal into the air, and now , you're expecting us not to do the same.

Growing anti-trade rhetoric has challenged mainstream Washington thinking on Globalization and its consensus on free-trade.

When I was a young man, the argument was the rest of the world will not be able to catch up, will never be able to compete with us, We are so efficient, we came out of the war unscathed. Well that began changing in the 1960's and 1970's, it was a story that was pretty well over. By that time , they were rebuilt, and pretty well modernize. We got fat and happy and now we are fat and unhappy.

I think we are at an end of an era. So this era that began Post-WWII in which we've seen a steady growth in these trade liberalizing agreements across the world, I think that has more or less run its course.

In the old days the debate was free trade vs protection and it was fundamentally an economic debate. What's happened as trade has moved to behind the border reg. is that were now talking about issues that involve the protection of consumers or the reg. of financial firms. and so we are moving deeply into areas that we use to think of as domestic policy, but are now becoming part of international policy.

When we negotiate trade agreements, it really matters who is sitting at the table and doing the negotiations. When you are writing the rules of the road, you can write them on behalf of multi-national corp. or you can write them on behalf of working-class people, or you can find a balance. That balance has been completely lost.

What people are now increasingly aware of, in Congress but also the public is that are trade agreements have been hijacked and that awakening which is now transpartisan, in the US, I think has permanently changed what will be tolerable both in trade-agreement policy making Like I think the days of the closed door trade negotiations with 600 corp advisors and everyone else locked out, so you get these agreements that have no place to go but the recycling bin, I think that's over.

What took so long for us to begin to argue about this, because the folks that have been hurt by globalization and their communities and they are not a trivial group. I mean, to be clear, they have also have been helped by low cost goods, but their jobs, wages, factories, and towns, have really been hurt. They finally found their voice in recent years.

As the break-neck growth of trade we have seen since WWII slows, calls are increasing to do more to help those left behind and to account for increasing inequality. But it is clear that no nation can compete today without finding a way to harness the pwr of the global mkts.

China is building up its maritime presence. Its ambitiously adv. its terr. claims to disputed island chains in the S. & E. China Seas. Is this maritime expansions and effort to project pwr. and deny access to what were once intl waters or a reasonable assertion of China's expanding capabilities.

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