Power Finance
17 декабря 2017, 22:19

SPD leader wants Merkel to relinquish finance ministry: Handelsblatt

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) leader Martin Schulz wants Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives to leave the powerful finance ministry to his center-left party in coalition talks, a report in business daily Handelsblatt said.

11 мая 2017, 23:28

It's deal-making time: Trump's trade envoy is confirmed

Robert Lighthizer won Senate approval Thursday to become President Donald Trump’s top trade envoy, finalizing after nearly four months the team dedicated to what has become one of the president’s signature policy issues.Lighthizer, a former deputy U.S. trade representative who has spent the last two decades defending the domestic steel industry from allegedly unfair foreign competition, was confirmed by a vote of 82-14 after a staggering series of procedural delays in Congress — even though his nomination was relatively uncontroversial.Now that he’s cleared the Senate — becoming the final Cabinet-level official to win confirmation — Trump’s strategy for reversing a trade dynamic that he believes hurts the average American worker can finally reach full speed. It’s an aggressive agenda that centers around negotiating a better version of the North American Free Trade Agreement and establishing bilateral deals with allies like the United Kingdom and Japan.Lighthizer will also be tasked with making good on Trump’s campaign promises to act tougher toward China, crack down on enforcement of existing trade deals and bring manufacturing and other industrial-sector jobs back to the U.S., particularly throughout the Rust Belt.Since Trump has lacked his leading trade representative, “the administration has kind of been shooting blindfolded on trade,” said Caroline Freund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Now, you have someone with a plan who is going to take aim and strike.”The 24 hours that preceded Lighthizer’s confirmation saw a final political surprise after Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) turned against their party to oppose Lighthizer, who served in the USTR office under the Reagan administration. The two outspoken Republicans said they had concerns about the extent of Lighthizer’s support for free trade and whether he would adequately champion U.S. agricultural interests in future trade negotiations. And Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) also flipped his support for Lighthizer on Thursday, saying he worried his policies would hurt ranchers and farmers in his home state. “In light of the current agricultural crisis facing much of rural America, if we are not open to new trade opportunities, farmers and ranchers in Colorado and across the country will continue to struggle to make ends meet,” Gardner said in a statement.But their opposition did little to affect Lighthizer’s path to confirmation, as progressive Democrats like Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) had already publicly supported the veteran trade attorney, who had cleared the Senate Finance Committee unanimously last month.“I have confidence that Robert Lighthizer will work to pursue a trade agenda that is coherent, constructive, and will deliver for American workers, and I will support his nomination,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the powerful Finance Committee that vetted Lighthizer, said in floor remarks shortly before the final vote.Some Democrats joined with McCain and Sasse in opposing Lighthizer’s nomination, most notably Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who sought to tie his vote to the fallout surrounding Trump’s decision to sack FBI Director James Comey this week.“Agree w Nom Lighthizer on trade but voted no after what happened this wk,” Schumer posted on Twitter minutes before the confirmation vote was announced. “GOP must agree to [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions & [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein mtg w full Senate.”Lighthizer, who was announced as Trump’s choice for USTR on Jan. 3., takes office in the Winder Building with the foremost task of taking the lead for the U.S. in a renegotiation of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, a policy prize that the win-hungry president is eager to seize. After months of pointed rhetoric geared toward gaining bargaining table leverage for Trump, businesses and industry coalitions in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. want to move past the tweets and posturing and hear in formal talks what exactly the Trump administration wants from a reboot.Despite heavy attention on his plans to reopen the agreement, which Trump pledged to do on the campaign trail, the administration has been statutorily barred from meeting with Canadian and Mexican officials until Lighthizer could be confirmed and hold meetings with congressional advisory committees from both chambers. Once those meetings happen, the administration will send formal notification to Congress that it plans to reopen the agreement, kicking off a 90-day consultation period before talks can formally begin.That timeline puts the first round of trilateral talks somewhere in late summer, giving officials a tight window in which to make any substantive changes before Mexico’s stated goal of wrapping up the process by the end of the year.Though widely considered a possibly-too-ambitious goal by many trade experts and former officials, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acknowledged the timeline earlier this week and said U.S. officials would be working to conclude talks “as soon as possible.”"Once we get going, I promise you this administration will not be a source of delay,” he said during remarks at the State Department.Beyond NAFTA, Lighthizer is likely to make his international debut as U.S. trade representative in just over a week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s trade ministers’ summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. The two-day meeting of APEC trade ministers will provide Lighthizer with his first opportunity to meet with his counterparts — and, perhaps more notably, to defend his boss’ move at the start of his presidency to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.The proposed Pacific Rim trade deal is expected to be a major topic of conversation in Hanoi, with the ministers from the 11 other TPP nations — the United States excluded — planning to meet on the sidelines to discuss potential ways to move the agreement forward without its most powerful member.Lighthizer’s confirmation also solidifies the administration’s trade-focused triumvirate, joining Ross and Peter Navarro, director of the White House's Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, to give Trump what officials have described as a one-two-three punch on trade issues.Lighthizer’s role differs somewhat from the others, however, in that he is Congress’ main point of contact on trade policy — a point that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) emphasized previously in urging support for his quick confirmation.“In order for Congress to have an effective voice in shaping our nation’s trade agenda, we need to have a fully staffed and functional USTR office,” the Finance Committee chairman said in floor remarks before the confirmation vote. “This delay has only served to weaken Congress’ position in trade policy and hampered our ability to provide the new administration with substantive input."

16 января 2017, 10:49

Pound falls to lowest level since flash crash on Brexit worries - business live

Britain scores badly for economic inclusivity - WEFChinese GDP set to miss target - presidentFTSE 100 hits new record highPound slumps on renewed fears of hard Brexit ahead of May speechBanking sector under pressure after agency cuts Italy’s credit rating 2.54pm GMT The pound has stabilised a little after its plunge to a three month low earlier in the day. But the fears of a hard Brexit, prompted by comments from the UK government ahead of prime minister Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday, mean that sterling is still down around 1% against the dollar.It is currently down 0.8% at $1.2078 against the dollar and 0.6% against the euro at €1.1384. 2.38pm GMT The UK Treasury has welcomed the upgrade to its forecasts by the IMF. It said:The fundamentals of the UK economy are strong, and today’s IMF forecasts confirm their view that the UK was the fastest-growing major advanced economy last year. We have reduced the deficit by almost two thirds, cut taxes for millions of working people, and employment is at a near-record high. The Autumn Statement reaffirmed the government’s commitment to return the public finances to balance as soon as practicable, while providing flexibility to support the economy as we exit the EU. Continue reading...

29 ноября 2016, 18:26

German minister praises French candidate Fillon’s economics

Germany’s powerful finance minister is praising conservative French presidential candidate Francois Fillon’s economic program as strong and says he hopes that far-right leader Marine Le Pen never becomes president in France.

07 сентября 2016, 21:19

Minister Who Masterminded Mexican President Peña Nieto's Meeting With Trump Ousted

Mexican President Peña Nieto accepted the abrupt resignation of his powerful Finance Minister, who was instrumental in setting up the controversial meeting with Donald Trump.

29 июля 2016, 12:15

Chuck Schumer's audacious prediction

Forget 2016: Democrats are on the cusp of a golden era, the incoming Democratic Senate leader says in a POLITICO interview.

05 декабря 2015, 00:59

How Google Is Cleverly Becoming Your Power Utility

It's quite fitting that while COP21 is going on in the background, with leaders and governments talking about climate change, Google announces 842MW of renewable energy purchased. While world leaders plan to make the world greener and promise money towards future research, Google is actually doing the work of moving us towards a greener more sustainable future. What you might not know is that Google's current renewable energy portfolio of ~$3Bn (investments and assets) makes it one of the largest renewable energy owning utilities in the world. Google has invested in Solarcity, Sunpower, Wind Farms in Carson County Texas, Jasper Power in South Africa, Clean Power Finance (a residential solar financing company) and runs several locations on hundreds of megawatts of clean energy with plans to run all it's facilities on renewables by 2025. That's more investments in renewables than even the most progressive US utility (in a glacial industry like the utility industry it's not quite hard to be called progressive)!! As with dinosaurs, what will kill you is not a bigger dinosaur. It is the meteorites you didn't even know were coming your way. Remember how Google powered Yahoo search? Guess who's wondering where the internet went now? What the utilities signing solar participation deals with Google don't seem to realize is that they have a powerful competitor on their hands. The industry forgets that Google had Powermeter (a dashboard for residential energy use management) that was shut down after 2 years it launched in 2010. What they don't know is that Powermeter was not a failed experiment, Powermeter was a 2 year beta test to learn things like how consumers only spend 6mins a year thinking about their energy (outside of paying their bills)! Sidenote: when Powermeter was shut down I sent an email to someone at Google trying to buy it for $10 or something ridiculous like that, I thought it would be a great 'win' for the company I'd founded then! Unsurprisingly I never got a response.. Still don't think Google is planning on becoming your utility? A few more indicators of intent: Nest: Unlike most analysts suggested, the Nest acquisition was not for data. It was the PowerMeter replacement with a product that actually manages the energy in your home rather than just measure and monitor the ~1400/year the average consumer spends. Most utilities are spending millions of dollars to own the connected home to hedge their future. While the utilities are trying to figure this out Google, through Nest and it's Google Fiber product in cities like Austin and Kansas City, already owns the Connected Home infrastructure layer...power over ethernet will get better. Toothpaste Test: Power (and energy) usage passes Larry Page's toothpaste test; Other than energy, I can't think of too many other things that you and I use all day and makes our lives better. Energy is probably the only thing left that passes this test that Google isn't currently involved in at scale. Power (the other one): What is more important than access to the internet for most of us? If you've read this far, you already guessed it; it's the energy that we use to power the devices that give us access to the internet. From Google's perspective why not control that too? From a systems perspective, one of the input flows for what makes our use of the internet possible is energy. Own the energy and you own another critical element in how you and I survive in this technology driven world we live in. Smart Cities/Infrastructure: Google is doing serious work, through Sidewalk (one of the few startups to have been spun out of Google), on smart city development and understanding. Energy is one of the 4 core elements of a smart city. The other three are policy, infrastructure and people. Google is making big and bold statements through investments in both energy and city infrastructure. Market Size: The global energy industry is one of the few Trillion Dollar opportunities left. It also just so happens that the product does not need customization in every new market you go into... These investments, these steps, are the elements of the long game where losses are incurred in the short-term (something the utility competitors cannot afford due to shareholder pressure) to lay the ground for long term competitiveness and outsize returns based on learnings from in-house experiments and external bets. It's the typical strategy for innovative companies. What would complete Google's move towards this inevitable future? It would be actually purchasing renewable energy and connected home assets of a utility. Or even the utility itself. One big one did just come up for sale... Now that's a #BigIdea... Coming soon! My ebook on systems thinking (and doing) for disruption. Sign up here! -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Выбор редакции
27 ноября 2015, 18:40

China, Czech pledge closer nuclear power, finance co-op

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Czech counterpart pledged to boost cooperation in nuclear power, finance and other sectors.

18 ноября 2015, 15:19

Индия продаст 10% угольной госмонополии за $3,2 млрд

Правительство Индии в среду одобрило продажу очередных 10% из 78,65% госмонополии Coal India Ltd., крупнейшей угольной компании мира, сообщает Bloomberg.

18 ноября 2015, 15:19

Индия продаст 10% угольной госмонополии за $3,2 млрд

Правительство Индии в среду одобрило продажу очередных 10% из 78,65% госмонополии Coal India Ltd., крупнейшей угольной компании мира, сообщает Bloomberg.

17 ноября 2015, 15:44

Britain to build cyber attack forces to tackle IS, hackers

CHELTENHAM, England (Reuters) - British spies are building elite cyber offensive forces to strike at Islamic State fighters, hackers and hostile powers, finance minister George Osborne said on Tuesday after warning militants wanted to launch deadly digital attacks.

17 ноября 2015, 14:03

FACT SHEET: Administration Announces 68 Cities, States, and Businesses Are Working Together to Increase Access to Solar for All Americans

Including Commitments to Scale Up Solar Access and Decrease Energy Bills in the Nearly 50 Percent of Households and Business that Cannot Install Solar Systems The Obama Administration is committed to addressing climate change, promoting clean energy, and creating good paying jobs.  That is why, at a National Community Solar Summit at the White House today, the Administration is announcing 68 cities, states, and businesses are joining together to promote community solar, with an emphasis on scaling up solar for low- and moderate- income households. Community solar allows multiple households and businesses to pool their resources and invest in shared solar systems to save on their energy bills. Today, private sector organizations are building on the initial commitments announced in July, bringing the total number of pledges to advance community solar and scale up solar and for low- and moderate- income households to more than 20,000 households and $545 million across 21states. Actions like the ones announced today, will help the U.S. transition to cleaner sources of energy faster and ensure the opportunity to access clean energy is available to those who need it most, putting the U.S. on a strong playing field to secure an ambitious climate agreement in Paris.    Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased nearly twenty fold. Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. However, nearly 50 percent of American households and businesses are renters or lack the capital and adequate roof space to install solar systems. Community solar has the potential to unlock economic growth across the United States while providing clean solar power to historically underserved communities and allowing them to benefit from the falling costs and increased deployment of solar. Low-income households, which spend four times greater proportion of their income on energy than the national median, can see significant benefits from community solar. Access to solar power could substantially reduce the energy burden of low-income households by providing stable electricity prices below local utility rates. STATE, LOCAL, AND PRIVATE SECTOR COMMITMENTS TO INCREASE ACCESS TO SOLAR ANNOUNCED TODAY Scaling Up National Community Solar Partnership Members: To unlock access to solar power for these Americans, in July the Administration launched the National Community Solar Partnership. The partnership is a collaboration between the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), representatives from solar companies, NGOs, and state and local community leaders. The members work together to leverage the interest in the public and private sector to expand access to community solar, with an emphasis on low- and moderate- income households, while utilizing the technical expertise of DOE and its national laboratories. This includes working on greater utilization of existing federal and state resources, sharing of best practices at the state level, development of new financing arrangements and business models, new approaches to customer acquisition and community building, and multifamily deployment considerations. Today, we are announcing that, since July, more than 40 companies, organizations and universities have joined the effort to increase access to community solar, nearly tripling the number of partners to 68: 3Degrees – San Francisco, CA Amazon – Seattle, WA Arcadia Power – Washington, DC BARC Electric Cooperative – Millboro, VA Black Rock Solar – San Francisco, CA Bishop Paiute Tribe – Bishop, CA BlueWave Capital – Boston, MA Citi – New York, NY Clean Energy Collective – Louisville, CO Clean Energy Solutions – Boston, MA Colorado State Energy Office – Denver, CO Community Energy, Inc. – Radnor, PA Connecticut Green Bank – Rocky Hill, CT Cook County Department of Environmental Control – Chicago, IL District of Columbia Department of the Environment – Washington, DC Ecolibrium3 – Duluth, MN Elevate Energy – Chicago, IL Everyday Energy – Carlsbad, CA First Solar, Inc. – Tempe, AZ Fresh Energy – St. Paul, MN Global Green USA – Santa Monica, CA Grand Valley Power – Grand Junction, CO Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance – Cincinnati, OH GRID Alternatives – Oakland, CA Groundswell – Brooklyn, NY Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism – Honolulu, HI Inovus Solar – Boise, ID Institute for Sustainable Communities – Montpelier, VT Interstate Renewable Energy Council – Latham, NY Massachusetts Clean Energy Center – Boston, MA Massachusetts, Dept. of Energy Resources – Boston, MA Meister Consultants Group – Boston, MA National League of Cities – Washington, DC Next Step Living – Boston, MA Northwest SEED – Seattle, WA Pedernales Electric Cooperative – Johnson City, TX Pfister Energy of Baltimore – Baltimore, MD Posigen – New Orleans, LA Razor Sharp Solar – Littleton, CO RE–volv – San Francisco, CA Rocky Mountain Institute – Boulder, CO RREAL – Pine River, MN Sacramento Municipal Utility District, - Sacramento, California State of California  State of New York Solar Energy Industries Association – Washington, DC Solar Electric Power Association – Washington, DC Solar Gardens Institute – Westminster, CO Solar One – New York, NY SolarCity – San Mateo, CA Solstice Initiative – Boston, MA Spear Point Energy – Aspen, CO SunShare – Denver, CO Sustainable Capital Advisors – Washington, DC Tucson Electric Power – Tucson, AZ TegDB – Richmond, TX The Solar Foundation – Washington, DC University of Houston – Houston, TX University of Maine – Orono, ME University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Department of Energy U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Vermont Energy Investment Corporation – Burlington, VT Vermont Public Service Department – Montpelier, VT West Monroe Partners – Chicago, IL Vote Solar – Washington, DC Private Sector Companies Announcing Commitments to Increase Financing for and Deployment of Community Solar Across the Country: Today, private sector organizations are building on the initial commitments announced in July, bringing the total number of pledges to advance community solar and scale up solar and for low- and moderate- income households to more than 20,000 households and $545 million across 21 states. Clean Energy Collective (CEC) is announcing that it has developed the first program that allows investor-owned utilities to own and rate-base community arrays without non-participant subsidization or upward pressure on rates. This program builds upon its industry-leading efforts to partner with utilities in implementing community solar programs. Prompted by New York’s newly enacted shared renewables program, CEC is bringing community solar to New York, empowering residential and business consumers to tap the financial and environmental benefits of local shared renewable energy generation—regardless of income level, home or business location, or property ownership. Development is already underway on more than a dozen project sites from the five boroughs of New York City to upstate. Groundswell is committing to convene five community solar projects that will serve low- and moderate-income communities in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast over the next 18 months. This builds on Groundswell’s seven years of experience educating, engaging, and organizing economically diverse households and small businesses to switch to affordable renewable energy. These projects will make solar available to the nearly 50 percent of customers who currently cannot access it, while also delivering more distributed generation capacity that promotes reliability, resiliency, and sustainability across the power grid. First Solar, Inc. and Clean Energy Collective, LLC (CEC) are announcing today that they are partnering on  an initial four community solar projects that will serve customers of Black Hills Energy (Pueblo, CO), CPS Energy (San Antonio, TX), Nueces Electric Cooperative (Corpus Christi, TX), and Holy Cross Energy (Rifle, CO). Combined, these projects introduce the concept of community solar to nearly one million potential residential users, many of whom would not be able to install solar on their own homes. RE-volv is announcing today the launch of a crowdfunding platform in early 2016 to finance solar energy systems for nonprofits and cooperatives. RE-volv recently won support from the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative Catalyst program to develop the platform. This will allow them to build a revolving fund that will finance 200 community-based solar projects across the country over the next three years. Sustainable Capital Advisors is committing to deploy $25 million of private capital in order to finance community solar projects serving low- and moderate-income communities throughout the U.S. over the next 18 months. The project will focus harnessing the collective financial strength of diverse communities through aggregation and other pooling mechanisms. Solstice Initiative committing to deploy community solar to 1,000 Massachusetts households over the next year. This commitment builds on the Solstice Initiative’s ongoing Massachusetts pilots, which transform local organizations such as churches and workplaces into solar hubs, and which has already enrolled members in 1.5 megawatts of community solar. RREAL is committing to deploy 450 kilowatts (kW) of community shared solar for low-income households in Minnesota over the next 18 months. One of these community shared solar systems will be sited on tribal land. This commitment builds on the company’s success in community and low-income solar, having installed solar electric and solar thermal systems benefiting over 430 low-income households to date. Bath, Alleghany and Rockbridge Counties (BARC) Electric Cooperative is announcing that they are moving forward on building of their 500 kW of community solar facility, the first community solar installation in Virginia. Everyday Energy is committing to deploy 28 megawatts (MW) of shared solar PV to multi-family affordable housing properties throughout California over the next 12 months, utilizing virtual net metering that primarily benefits low-income renters. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation is announcing today a new commitment to deploy three or more community solar systems in Vermont over the next three years. This commitment builds on the launch of a new business subsidiary, Sun Shares LLC, which is aimed at using the innovative design strategies of community solar brought to the employer/employee benefit sector. Next Step Living is committing to generate at least 20,000 reservations for community solar arrays over the next 12 months. This commitment builds on successfully securing nearly 11,000 reservations to date. BUILDING ON EXISTING INITIATIVES AND RESEARCH The National Community Solar Partnership was formed in response to the research of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) 2012 Guide to Community Shared Solar, which provides a framework for the development of this model for solar deployment in communities. The SunShot Initiative is also seeking applications for the next round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, which includes community solar. In addition, the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is helping local governments and utilities create community solar programs through the following initiatives: Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) is establishing a national recognition and technical assistance program for local governments to make their communities more solar-friendly and ignite local solar markets. The SPARC designation will spur communities across the country to earn recognition for achievements that distinguish them from their peers as they eliminate market barriers and reduce soft costs. SunShot Incubator program provides early-stage assistance to help startup companies cross technological barriers to commercialization while encouraging private sector investment. Three recent projects, from the Clean Energy Collective, Sunvestment Group, and Village Power Finance, are tackling the technological barriers of managing community solar projects. Solar Market Pathways program supports 15 SunShot projects that are advancing solar deployment across the United States. These projects take a variety of approaches to develop actionable strategic plans to expand solar electricity use for residential, community, and commercial properties. Seven projects are currently developing best practices and toolkits for launching community solar projects across the country. SunShot Catalyst Energy Innovation Prize is an open innovation prize challenge that aims to catalyze the rapid creation and development of products and solutions that address near-term challenges in the U.S. solar marketplace. The current prize cycle features two companies, SunSwarm and MapMySolar, which are building prototype systems to make it easier and faster to deploy community solar. Solar Utility Networks: Replicable Innovations in Solar Energy (SUNRISE) program is helping utilities develop adaptable and replicable practices, long-term strategic plans, and technical solutions to sustain reliable operations with large proportions of solar power on the grid.

12 ноября 2015, 21:14

Schäuble Accuses Merkel of "Careless Actions" Warns Germany Faces "Avalanche” of Refugees; Reckless not Careless

Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, and someone of high enough ranking to actually matter, has had enough of chancellor Angela Merkel's reckless refugee crisis.In his second attack on Merkel in a week, Schäuble Warns of Refugee "Avalanche". Germany may be facing “an avalanche” of refugees triggered by “careless” actions, Wolfgang Schäuble, the country’s powerful finance minister, has warned in a thinly-veiled criticism of his boss, chancellor Angela Merkel.“You can trigger avalanches when a rather careless skier goes on to the slope ... and moves a bit of snow,” said the 73-year-old finance minister at an economic conference on Wednesday evening. “I don’t know whether we are already at the stage where the avalanche has reached the valley or whether we are [still] on first third of the slope [and there is more to come].” It was Mr Schäuble’s second attack on Ms Merkel’s refugee policy in a week. On Sunday he defended interior minister Thomas de Maizière after Mr de Maizière was forced by Ms Merkel to withdraw plans for denying most Syrian refugees rights to bring their families to Germany.Mr Schäuble’s intervention helped to force the issue back on the agenda — and gave Mr de Maizière backing to continue arguing for it, notably in a Bundestag speech on Wednesday, when the interior minister said: “We cannot double or triple our high refugee numbers through family reunion.”In a sign of the pressure Ms Merkel faces, officials confirmed this week that on October 21 Mr de Maizière had — without telling the chancellor — reimposed the so-called “Dublin rules” for Syrians. The EU regulations allow a country, such as Germany, to return refugees to the member state in which they first arrived in the union. The suspension of these rules was the key technical change Ms Merkel made with her “refugees welcome” announcement this summer. Ms Merkel’s power is being undermined by the challenges to her refugee policy. Still, few CDU/CSU sceptics seem prepared to seriously question her leadership, focusing instead on pushing her towards a harder line.She and Mr Schäuble worked closely as Berlin led Europe’s response to the Greek crisis. But a rift emerged over the country’s most recent €86bn bailout, with Mr Schäuble taking a harder line and, some believed, even agitating for a Grexit.If Ms Merkel were forced out, Mr Schäuble’s allies see him as a likely successor: he is Germany’s second most powerful leader and an increasingly critical voice on refugee policy.Mr Schäuble has repeatedly sworn his loyalty to Ms Merkel. But MPs say he cannot forget that he was groomed for the top job for years by former chancellor Helmut Kohl only to find himself embroiled in 2000 in a party financing scandal. That opened the way for the previously little-known Ms Merkel to take over the CDU party and, later, the chancellery.Reckless not CarelessMerkel's policies are not careless, they are downright reckless. A skier who does not know of avalanche dangers is careless. A skier who does know of the dangers and skies anyway is reckless. Similarly, accidentally not paying attention while driving is careless, texting while driving is reckless.   Merkel has intentionally disregarded repeat warnings regarding inane political decisions. She is reckless.Schäuble Misses Boat as WellSchäuble misses the boat as well. As I pointed out before, a policy announcement denying families the right to hook up later, is a message "Bring the Wife and Kids Now, While You Can".Merkel's symbolic actions to replace cash assistance with vouchers for food and shelter are as useless. When you have no food and no shelter, you are going to spend free money on food and shelter. In essence, vouchers are nearly as good as cash, just less flexible.As for interior minister Thomas de Maizière's plan to "return refugees to the member state in which they first arrived in the union" he and Schäuble need to think ahead. I ask what the hell is Greece supposed to do with 2 million refugees? Can't anyone in Germany look ahead?Obviously the EU's border policy rules of requiring refugees to register at the place of first entry is broken beyond repair. That has led to fence building all over the place except where a fence is desperately needed: between Turkey and Greece, and between Turkey and Bulgaria. Those two badly needed fences will block all land access to the EU.As late as November 5 Merkel Reaffirmed "Refugees Welcome" Policy Over Her Own Party's Objections.Discussion of Merkel's incompetence would not be complete without mocking her pledge to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and other small states incapable of handling the refugee flow.For details, please see EU Pledged to Relocate 160,000 Refugees in One Year - Results So Far, 147 in Three Months.Do you see the irony? Germany pledged to spread around refugees in Greece, but now Mr. de Maizière reinstituted rules allowing Germany to return refugees to Greece!Comprehensive SolutionTo date, I believe I am the only one who has outlined a comprehensive solution to this madness.Mish Proposed StrategyBlock the border between Greece and Turkey.Block the border between Bulgaria and Turkey.Stabilize Syria, even under Assad, but also seek promises of free Syrian electionsEliminate the free handouts.Give Turkey some aid for US/UK role in this mess.Stabilize Syria. Halt all US support for alleged "moderate" Al Qaeda rebels. Instead, arm the Kurds now fighting ISIS.Peak MerkelOn September 18, I coined the phrase "Peak Merkel".Today, Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, confirmed my analysis.Mike "Mish" ShedlockMike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

14 октября 2015, 00:48

Clinton crushes it

But Sanders recovers after a rocky start in the first Democratic debate.

01 октября 2015, 22:39

The Bipartisan Push To Unwind Mass Incarceration Has A Terribly Long Way To Go

(function(){var src_url="https://spshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?playList=519123599&height=&width=100&sid=577&origin=undefined&videoGroupID=155847&relatedNumOfResults=100&responsive=true&ratio=wide&align=center&relatedMode=2&relatedBottomHeight=60&companionPos=&hasCompanion=false&autoStart=false&colorPallet=%23FFEB00&videoControlDisplayColor=%23191919&shuffle=0&isAP=1&pgType=cmsPlugin&pgTypeId=addToPost-top&onVideoDataLoaded=track5min.DL&onTimeUpdate=track5min.TC&onVideoDataLoaded=HPTrack.Vid.DL&onTimeUpdate=HPTrack.Vid.TC";if (typeof(commercial_video) == "object") {src_url += "&siteSection="+commercial_video.site_and_category;if (commercial_video.package) {src_url += "&sponsorship="+commercial_video.package;}}var script = document.createElement("script");script.src = src_url;script.async = true;var placeholder = document.querySelector(".js-fivemin-script");placeholder.parentElement.replaceChild(script, placeholder);})(); WASHINGTON - A new bipartisan overhaul of the criminal justice system would slightly reduce sentences for a small number of prisoners who meet strict criteria laid out in the package. Because it will not eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, as some advocates had hoped, the reform will likely do little to dent mass incarceration in the United States, though advocates are hailing it as a major step in the right direction. The watered-down proposal is the result of compromises needed to win the support of Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime hardliner on criminal justice policy, according to one source close to Grassley and another who cosponsored the legislation.  "We didn’t start off in the best of circumstances. Sen. Grassley was very skeptical, and said so publicly," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday. "There are parts of this bill I would have written a lot differently. There are parts of this bill he would have written a lot differently." "This proposal is a step forward, but I advised groups working on the issue for more than a year that this is the most they will get with the strategy they were using," said one person familiar with Grassley's thinking on the issue. The person argued that without showing Grassley that Iowans had moved on this issue and were being impacted by it, he'd be hard to turn around.  The proposal makes modest reforms to draconian mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. It would reform the controversial “three strikes” law, making it so that offenders with two prior drug or violent felonies do not automatically face a life sentence on their third offense, but 25 years. Right now, any prior drug felony can trigger enhanced minimum sentences, but the bill would limit this to “serious” drug and violent felonies. This part of the proposal can be applied retroactively. The package also attempts to deal with "stacking," which can pile consecutive 25 year sentences on a defendant for different parts of the same crime. A Utah man famously had two 25-year sentences stacked on top of each other, and enhanced with another five, to wind up with a 55-year penalty for selling weed. In the proposed legislation, those minimums would be reduced from 25 to 15 years and could no longer be stacked. Fifteen years for such an offense is better than 55, but also signals just how far the system still has to go. The package expands the scenarios in which judges can issue sentences below the mandatory minimum. But the exceptions are very narrow, mainly applying to drug offenders with non-serious criminal records who didn't play leadership roles in the offenses. One new safety valve, for example, still requires offenders to meet stringent criteria, including not being “a member of a continuing criminal enterprise,” cooperating with the government and not using a firearm.  The compromise finally came together Wednesday, Durbin said. "Yesterday morning on the floor of the Senate, Cory Booker, Chuck Grassley and I stood together and had the last handshake on the last provision," he said. Grassley was under pressure at home from the Des Moines Register, faced a grassroots push to moderate his hardline stand and was the subject of intense lobbying by his colleagues. The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont, said Thursday he agreed to get on board when many of the reforms were made retroactive.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former prosecutor and the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, is a cosponsor of the bill and had long pushed for it to address mandatory minimums in a more robust way. Rolling back such penalties had broad bipartisan support, yet at the insistence of Grassley, the final bill even includes new mandatory minimums for domestic violence and arms trading offenses.  The new minimums are a window into how mass incarceration grew to such heights in the first place. No politician wants to oppose tough penalties for spousal abuse or arms dealing; one year leads to another and before long, two million people are behind bars. Grassley said at a press conference Thursday that those two new minimums were important to him. "It looks like a relatively small mouse to come out of such a big mountain, but it's something," said Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy. "The debate in Washington has nothing to do with reality. Although it's not nothing: The federal system alone would be the biggest or second biggest state system, so it's not unimportant." The problem for Congress is that while it has authority over federal prisons and sentencing, the majority of those locked up are in state and local confinement. The federal prison population differs in significant ways from state prisoners and has a higher concentration of drug offenders and nonviolent criminals. Of the roughly 205,000 federal inmates, nearly half are in for drug offenses and another 1 in 10 are locked up for immigration offenses. That gives the legislation a better chance to help the population it applies to, but if it is copied at the state level, it will have diminished impact. "Most of this federal stuff matters as it influences state policy," said Kleiman. "In the federal system, nonviolent drug offenders actually matter. At the state level they simply don't." The compromise, however, may have been required to get something done. Obtaining Grassley's support gives the package a strong chance of moving through the Senate. Its prospects in the House are uncertain but it's not implausible that the package could become law.  The compromise is also a consequence of the sustained rhetoric around mass incarceration. While the language around criminal justice reform has gravitated toward "nonviolent drug offenders," the overwhelming majority of people in prisons and jails across the country are there for offenses categorized as violent that would disqualify them from relief under the bill. Mass incarceration is not primarily driven by nonviolent drug convictions, but rather by extremely long mandatory sentences doled out for crimes classified as violent. Often, there is an interplay between the two: a drug charge that is accompanied by a gun charge adds many years to a sentence. Few politicians, organizations or pundits are willing to stand up for people in prison for violent crimes, including crimes classified as violent that didn't result in any physical harm to another individual, such as gun possession, burglary or other property crimes.  "Sen. Grassley has long said that he was willing to have a conversation with his colleagues on a thoughtful approach to sentencing reform that didn't simply slice sentences across the board. His colleagues took him up on that offer. Grassley led months of bipartisan negotiations to get to this point," said Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley.   Chairman Grassley was born in 1933 and was elected to the Senate in 1980. That amount of seniority may make him ill-equipped to adapt to the new climate around criminal justice, but it gives him outsized power in the Senate. In an unfortunate twist of fate for the millions of people incarcerated, Grassley ought not even be chairman of the committee that oversees criminal justice. By seniority, he could have taken the gavel of the more powerful Finance Committee. But had he done so, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), himself born in 1934, wouldn't have been able to chair any of the Senate's significant committees. To help out Hatch, Grassley took one for the team and agreed to chair Judiciary. For that gentlemanly act, the criminal justice reform bill was dramatically weakened. "Obviously, I would have liked to have gone further but this is a negotiation and the progress that we have in this bill is extraordinarily significant," Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told The Huffington Post. Booker said he would like to return a lot more judicial discretion, perhaps eliminating some of the mandatory minimums or at least reducing them to a greater extent. But he said the proposal is nonetheless a “pretty significant demonstration” of Grassley’s commitment to reform. "I feel a lot of gratitude towards him today."  “This bill isn’t the full repeal of mandatory minimum sentences we ultimately need, but it is a substantial improvement over the status quo and will fix some of the worst injustices created by federal mandatory sentences,” said Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, in a statement. Kleiman, though, said that a provision of the bill that would allow prisoners to serve some of their pre-release time in alternative forms of custody had the potential to revamp the system. He has previously proposed a graduated re-entry system, whereby prisoners would slowly be given and earn new freedoms. Massachusetts, he notes, currently sends prisoners directly from a super max to the street when their term ends. "Right now we push the guy out the gate with 40 bucks and a bus ticket and say good luck to you and the Red Sox," he said. "It's insane." Sign up to get an email when reporter Ryan Grim publishes a new story. Enter your email address: -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Выбор редакции
15 августа 2015, 15:54

A third bail-out gets the green light

A MONTH ago Greek membership of the euro was in peril, as Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s powerful finance minister, argued that Greece should leave the monetary union for at least five years in what he euphemistically called a “time out”. Any such exit, which would almost certainly have turned out to be permanent, would have undermined a founding principle of the monetary union—that those joining the euro do so irrevocably. Even after euro-zone leaders meeting at a crucial summit managed to agree upon a framework for a bail-out agreement on July 13th the chances of it actually being concluded and avoiding a “Grexit” seemed slim. Mr Schäuble made clear in the following week that he still thought Greece should be temporarily expelled from the euro while Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, said he did not believe in the agreement he had just made at the summit.Yet, on August 14th, the Eurogroup of euro-zone finance ministers gave the green light to the bail-out, the third since May 2010, in which Greece will get up to €86 billion ($95 billion) in rescue funding over the next three years. The next hurdle is getting the consent of...Continue reading

Выбор редакции
15 августа 2015, 15:54

Greece and the euro: A third bail-out gets the green light

A MONTH ago Greek membership of the euro was in peril, as Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s powerful finance minister, argued that Greece should leave the monetary union for at least five years in what he euphemistically called a “time out”. Any such exit, which would almost certainly have turned out to be permanent, would have undermined a founding principle of the monetary union—that those joining the euro do so irrevocably. Even after euro-zone leaders meeting at a crucial summit managed to agree upon a framework for a bail-out agreement on July 13th the chances of it actually being concluded and avoiding a “Grexit” seemed slim. Mr Schäuble made clear in the following week that he still thought Greece should be temporarily expelled from the euro while Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, said he did not believe in the agreement he had just made at the summit.Yet, on August 14th, the Eurogroup of euro-zone finance ministers gave the green light to the bail-out, the third since May 2010, in which Greece will get up to €86 billion ($95 billion) in rescue funding over the next three years. The next hurdle is getting the consent of the German Bundestag, but this is unlikely to be a problem since the bail-out now has the support of Mr Schäuble. Even if national parliaments in smaller countries were to balk at the agreement this would not derail it because the voting ...

15 мая 2015, 15:34

Women in Business: Elaine Zhou, VP Engineering, Captricity

Most recently, Elaine Zhou was the Senior Vice President of Development overseeing engineering and product development at Clean Power Finance, a solar financing company backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures. Before joining CPF, Elaine was Head of Engineering at Ask Partner Network, VP of Product Development and Technical Operations at PlanetOut, Inc., and Director of Engineering at HomeGain.com, Inc. Elaine's 18+ years of experience includes software application design and development, system infrastructure (DevOps) implementation, product development and process improvement with specific emphasis on the technical and process choices that enable scale. Elaine received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from UC Berkeley. In her free time, she can be found traveling usually to an island, paddleboarding Richardson Bay, hiking a local peak or discussing life in a startup over milk tea with her husband, Ken. How has your life experience made you the leader you are today? After my father passed away unexpectedly, shortly after my family arrived in America, I became my family's breadwinner. I worked multiple part-time jobs to support my mother and younger brother, and eventually put myself through college. I was fortunate to meet many people who helped me along the way, including Karen Greenspan, a former educator at the Community Educational Services, who opened my eyes to and encouraged me to participate in the world beyond the Chinese community. She, and the many others who helped me, made me a stronger person and made me believe I could succeed here. How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Captricity? Before Captricity, I worked for PlanetOut, a social and news network for the LGBT community. Interestingly, some of the key people who have helped me in my career were members of this community. Working for PlanetOut was a great technical challenge and also a chance to give back. Most recently, I worked for a residential solar financing startup whose mission is to make solar energy accessible to everyone -- another mission-oriented company. While I am passionate about software development, I now know I am happiest working for a company that uses software to make an important impact on the world. My previous roles have given me the technical and managerial skills to help the brilliant team at Captricity unlock, analyze and interpret one of the most important sources of rich information: paper. What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Captricity? Joining a team of extremely talented professionals is definitely the highlight. I believe I can have an immediate impact by streamlining our efforts, while learning so much from my team about computer vision, optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning, and considering how to get the most out of these and other cutting-edge techniques. I am too new to talk about challenges other than coming to grips with the amazing science that brings our solution to life. I'm really looking forward to bringing to market solutions that combine the life's work of so many gifted scientists and scholars. I know it will be both a humbling and rewarding experience. What advice can you offer to women who want a career in engineering? Men have historically set the standard for technical excellence in engineering, but I find that the profession is changing. Women are extremely capable of adapting to new environments and technologies, which is becoming much more important as the pace at which technology changes is accelerating. Women are resourceful and creative problem solvers and often play an instrumental role in getting technical teams past critical roadblocks. I think women should maximize these strengths and have more confidence in themselves, and know how important these skills are to team success. What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date? I've learned not to measure everyone with the same yardstick. A great technical team is like an orchestra, composed of many different personalities and skill sets. If you get the right person in the right role, they will help the team make beautiful music. Along the same lines, inspiration and solutions can come from anyone on the team. I have been surprised so many times that I now know the power of diversity always wins. How do you maintain a work/life balance? This question implies that I already have good work/life balance, which is a goal rather than a constant reality. Women make sacrifices and choices daily for whatever goals we set out to achieve. I'm lucky that I have a great partner. My husband and I both work for tech startups, so we both have very busy schedules and huge workloads. The good thing is that we can talk about our challenges and bounce ideas off each other. Despite his tireless effort to educate me about American popular culture, I still have a lot to learn -- though I've now started to appreciate live comedy and political satire from the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I also have to admit I've become a bit of an IMDb junkie. We do unplug whenever we can, though, and we try to keep an active lifestyle -- hiking, biking, and (my new love) paddleboarding. We take every opportunity we can to travel from the Bay Area backroads to islands off the beaten path that are full of culture and adventure. What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace? In tech, men working almost exclusively with other men has bred more aggressive behavior that tends to drown out women's voices. A woman's more soft-spoken nature can be seen as a lack of assertiveness or, worse, a lack of knowledge. In my role, I do a lot of recruiting. I can't tell you the number of times I've been mistaken for a recruiter rather than the hiring manager. As women, we need to show our chops in our own ways. Developing amazing solutions today is like creating great jazz. Each person has their strengths, but it's the ability to collaborate and play off of each other that matters most. Drown out any one instrument, and the whole solution comes apart. I find that women are ready collaborators and naturally encourage everyone to participate. We may not be the loudest, but we can play a vital role in the center of the scrum. How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life? My mentors have made a huge difference. Bill Bain, an artificial intelligence expert and all-around great guy, gave me the benefit of the doubt as a developer at a large company and hired me for my first startup job. He also challenged me to take on leadership responsibilities and guided me through my first managerial roles. Our CEO at PlanetOut, Karen McGee, was also a huge inspiration to me. She taught me that soft-spoken gals with inner strength and conviction do get ahead. She also taught me what it's like to be a leader and, at the same time, still be a genuine, down-to-earth person. Which other female leaders do you admire and why? When I was a kid, I idolized Marie Curie. In China, before I moved to the U.S., I actually started out studying to be a doctor. I was a year and a half into my education when we moved here. After my father died, I switched to Industrial Engineering and Operations Research when it became clear to me that this would be a faster path to supporting my family. Somewhere in both decisions, Marie Curie was the guiding light. What do you want Captricity to accomplish in the next year? I want Captricity to exceed our commercial and humanitarian targets, and also to demonstrate our end-to-end vision. Captricity is knocking on the door of harnessing machine learning and computer vision to extract the records and memories of millions of individuals, which are locked in handwritten pieces of paper. I want us to show how we can automate this entire process, from form recognition to data extraction to analysis and visualization. Making this information accessible to the businesses, governments and NGOs we work with will be transformational to both these organizations and the people they serve. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

07 мая 2015, 15:30

Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Parties Poised For Political Comeback

JERUSALEM (AP) — The formation of Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition government has cleared the way for Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties to return to power after two years in the opposition. This religious resurgence could have deep implications as the ultra-Orthodox seek to reinstate a system of subsidies and preferential treatment that have long angered Israel's secular majority, potentially setting the stage for a new round of the culture wars that have repeatedly plagued the country. Under Israel's system of proportional representation, the ultra-Orthodox long have enjoyed power and influence far beyond their numbers by providing a string of prime ministers the needed votes to guarantee a majority in parliament. As a result, they have won automatic exemptions from compulsory military service and large budgets for a separate school system focusing heavily on religious studies while largely not teaching math, English and computer literacy. This system has bred resentment among secular Israelis, who accuse the ultra-Orthodox of shirking their national responsibilities and posing a burden on the economy. Led by Yair Lapid's centrist Yesh Atid party, the outgoing government passed landmark legislation that aimed to gradually incorporate the ultra-Orthodox into the military and boosted their employment figures. Now, with Lapid in the opposition, the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties return to government determined to roll back on those measures. In the coalition negotiations, Netanyahu struck questionable deals with the parties that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The quick reversal of policies he previously promoted has drawn a strong rebuke — even from some supporters. The biggest fallout was Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's dramatic refusal to join the government. Lieberman said he couldn't live with concessions on the military draft and continuing generous funding for the ultra-Orthodox education system. The move leaves Netanyahu with a slim 61-seat majority in the 120-seat parliament, making him even more dependent on his ultra-Orthodox allies. Lapid charged Netanyahu with agreeing to a "clearance sale" of the country for the sake of politics. "Instead of using taxpayer money for security, education, health and welfare, he is using that money for political bribery," he said. "The prime minister is selling the country and presenting us all with the bill." The ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 8 percent of Israel's 8 million citizens, largely have been allowed to skip compulsory military service to pursue their religious studies. Older men often avoid the workforce and collect welfare stipends while continuing to study full time. Due to its high birthrates and unemployment, the ultra-Orthodox community is among the poorest in Israel. Ultra-Orthodox leaders insist their young men serve the nation through prayer and study, thus preserving Jewish learning and heritage. They say outside forces are putting their ancient brand of Judaism under siege and that integration into the secular military and workforce will undermine their lifestyle. But, quietly, there have been changes. A younger generation of ultra-Orthodox is joining the military and the workforce in growing numbers, particularly in the high-tech sector. Lapid's reforms helped give this trend added momentum. Shahar Ilan, the vice president of research and information at the religious equality group Hiddush, said ultra-Orthodox leaders didn't have their constituency's best interests in mind in trying to turn back the clock. "The more money they funnel to religious seminaries, the less incentive there is to go out and work," he said. "All the top economists agree that unless a large number of ultra-Orthodox men find work, the Israeli economy will face a major crisis." He said the new coalition agreements threaten to stunt a recent rise in employment among the ultra-Orthodox. About 70 percent of ultra-Orthodox women and 45 percent of the men hold jobs — an impressive increase but still far below the national average. An even greater concern is oversight over their independent school system. Since the religious tend to have large families, more than a quarter of all Israeli first-graders are ultra-Orthodox and the community is the fastest growing in the country. Government statistics project that if these trends continue, the ultra-Orthodox could make up 15 percent of the country's population by 2025. According to the initial coalition agreements, the ultra-Orthodox parties will control the health, economy and religious services ministries, as well as powerful parliamentary appropriations committees. The agreement with United Torah Judaism also includes clauses that will allow them to alter draft quotas. Moshe Gafni, an ultra-Orthodox lawmaker who is slated to become head of the powerful Finance Committee, said his community was actually the most discriminated against in Israel and their presence in the government was damage control against unfair persecution. "We've been through two very difficult years, not just the ultra-Orthodox but the entire country," he told the religious Kol Barama radio station. "I'm glad that I am coming back to a position where I will be able to do good for the entire people of Israel and the ultra-Orthodox community in particular." ___ Follow Aron Heller on Twitter www.twitter.com/aronhellerap-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 февраля 2015, 07:06

We Need a Manhattan Project for Cyber Security

By Marc Goodman Of the 6,494 words President Obama uttered in his January 2015 State of the Union Address, only 108 of them were dedicated to the topic of our growing technological insecurity. Sure, the leader of the free world has a lot on his plate, but the President's legislative proposal to "enhance information sharing" and "mandate national data breach reporting" are likely to have a minuscule impact on a serious and growing problem. Indeed, suggesting these measly offerings would make any meaningful difference in our global cyber security is akin to applying sunscreen and claiming it protects us from a nuclear meltdown -- wholly inadequate to the scale and severity of the problem. It is time for a stone-cold, somber rethinking of our current state of affairs. It's time for a Manhattan Project for cyber security. The major hacking incidents over the past few months, whether it was the Sony Pictures attack allegedly carried out by North Korea or the hundreds of millions of accounts penetrated at Target, Home Depot and JPMorganChase purportedly by Russian organized crime, make it clear that all our online data -- whether financial, personal or intellectual -- is at risk. But we have a bigger problem: Computers run the world. They run our airports, our airplanes, our cars, our hospitals, our stock markets and our power grids--and these computers too are shockingly vulnerable to attack. Though we're racing forward at breakneck speed to connect all the objects in our physical world -- the tools we need to run our society -- to the Internet, we still fundamentally do not have the trustworthy computing required to make it so. We've wired the world, but failed to secure it. Indeed, it has become plainly clear that we can no longer neglect the security, public policy, legal, ethical, and social implications of the rapidly emerging technological tools we are developing. We are morally responsible for our inventions and though our technological advances are proceeding at an exponential pace, our institutions of governance remain decidedly linear. There is a fundamental mismatch between the world we are building and our ability to protect it. Though we have yet to suffer the sort of game-changing, calamitous cyber attack of which many have warned, why wait until then to prepare?  There are good examples in history where we as a society have brought together expertise in anticipation of catastrophic risk before it occurred. When it was discovered in 1939 that German physicists had learned to split the uranium atom, fears quickly spread throughout the American scientific community that the Nazis would soon have the ability to create a bomb capable of unimaginable destruction. Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi agreed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to be apprised of the situation. Shortly thereafter, the Manhattan Project was launched, an epic secret effort of the Allies during World War II to build a nuclear weapon. Facilities were set up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Robert Oppenheimer was appointed to oversee the project. From 1942 to 1946, the Manhattan Project clandestinely employed over 120,000 Americans toiling around the clock and across the country at a cost of $2 billion. Those working on the Manhattan Project were dead serious about the threat before them. We are not. While no sane person would equate the risks from the catastrophic impact of nuclear war with those involving 100 million stolen credit cards, we must surely recognize that the underpinnings of our modern technological society, embodied in our global critical information infrastructures, are weak and subject to come tumbling down either through their aging and decaying architectures, overwhelming system complexities or via direct attack by malicious actors. It's high time for a Manhattan Project for cyber security. I'm not the first to suggest such an undertaking; many others have done so before, most notably in the wake of the September 11 attacks. At the time, a coalition of preeminent scientists wrote President George W. Bush a letter in which they warned, "The critical infrastructure of the United States, including electrical power, finance, telecommunications, health care, transportation, water, defense and the Internet, is highly vulnerable to cyber attack. Fast and resolute mitigating action is needed to avoid national disaster." Signatories to the letter included those from academia, think tanks, technology companies, and government agencies. These serious thinkers, not prone to hyperbole or exaggeration, warned that the grave risk of cyber attack was a real and present danger and called for the president to act immediately in creating a cyber-defense project modeled on the Manhattan Project. That call to action was in 2002.  Sadly, precious little has changed since then with regard to the state of the world's cyber insecurity; if anything, the situation has grown worse. Sure, there have been nominal efforts, but precious little substantive progress. What is America's overarching strategy to protect ourselves from the rapidly emerging technological threats we face? We simply do not have one -- a serious problem we may live to regret. A real Manhattan Project for cyber security would draw together some of the greatest minds of our time, from government, academia, the private sector, and civil society. Serving as convener and funder, the government would bring together the best and brightest of computer scientists, entrepreneurs, hackers, big-data authorities, scientific researchers, venture capitalists, lawyers, public policy experts, law enforcement officers, and public health officials, as well as military and intelligence personnel. Their goal would be to create a true national cyber-defense capability, one that could detect and respond to threats against our national critical infrastructures in real time. This Manhattan Project would help generate the associated tools we need to protect ourselves, including more robust, secure, and privacy-enhanced operating systems. Through its research, it would also design and produce software and hardware that were self-healing and vastly more resistant to attack and resilient to failure than anything available today. Such a project of national and even global importance would have the vision, scope, resources, budgetary support, and perhaps most importantly, a real sense of urgency required in order to make it a success. By bringing together those at the forefront of their respective fields, this Manhattan Project would also be able to forecast the troubling waters ahead. Though today's technologies have been a boon for illicit actors, they will pale in comparison to the breadth and scope of technological change that will rapidly unfold before us in the coming years. Soon a plethora of exponential technologies now just in their infancy, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 3-D manufacturing, and synthetic biology, will be upon us, and with them will come concomitantly profound, perhaps even life-altering, opportunities for good--but also for harm. In this exponentially accelerating world the ability of a single person to affect many -- for good or evil -- is now scaling exponentially, with implications for our common security. Despite this, we plod forward, adopting newer, brighter technologies, each promising to solve a new problem or deliver a particular convenience. The problem is not that technology is bad; in fact, science and technology hold the promise of profound benefit to humanity. The problem, as we have seen, is that those with technological know-how, be they criminals, terrorists, or rogue governments, can use their knowledge to exploit an exponentially growing portion of the general public to its detriment.  Last month, President Obama acknowledged "no foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families." But encouraging Congress to pass legislation on identity theft and data breach notifications is not nearly enough. There is a gathering storm before us. The technological bedrock on which we are building the future of humanity is deeply unstable and like a house of cards can come crashing down at any moment. It's time to build greater resiliency into our global information grid in order to avoid a colossal system crash. If we are to survive the progress offered by our technologies and enjoy their abundant bounty, we must first develop adaptive mechanisms of security that can match or exceed the exponential pace of the threats before us. There's no time to lose. Adapted for XPRIZE from the book Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman, available in bookstores and online Feb. 24. Marc Goodman has spent a career in law enforcement and technology. He has served as a street police officer, senior adviser to Interpol and futurist-in-residence with the FBI. As the founder of the Future Crimes Institute and the Chair for Policy, Law, and Ethics at Silicon Valley's Singularity University, he continues to investigate the intriguing and often terrifying intersection of science and security, uncovering nascent threats and combating the darker sides of technology. Follow him on Twitter @FutureCrimes. Visit XPRIZE at xprize.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and get our newsletter to stay informed.