North Korea: Running on Themes


Yes. North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are scary.   This has been a problem passed from Clinton to Bush to Obama and now to Trump.   Problem is any easy solution, like direct military action, is only likely to make things a lot worse.    Imagine a solution that everyone  in the area, South Korea, Japan and China, to name a few, are  strongly opposed to, and that South Korea is the likely target of retaliatory strikes.  Trump ran a campaign of full of themes.  Now the reality sets in.   North Korea is not solved by tweets.

Kim Jong Un’s regime takes paranoia to extreme levels, maybe because their leader believes in an eventual war with the US or because it works.  I believe it is the latter,  because it distracts from the collapsing economy.   Trump, much more than other presidents are playing right into the regime’s game of paranoia and nationalism.

Diplomacy has to be a back door, quiet process of compromise, to lift sanctions.

Washington Post contributer, Fareed Zakaria got it right:

Trump’s bluster and bravado on North Korea will only make the U.S. look weak

Stay tuned,



Paris Climate Agreement

This international agreement was signed in April 2016, by President Obama.   A short summary of the agreement is given in Wikipedia as follows:

Paris Climate Agreement

Critics immediately charged that the agreement is really a treaty and requires 2/3 vote from the Senate to become binding.   IF what  the conservative Heartland Institute said was true, then Obama should have been impeached:

“It is an absolute disgrace that President Obama would assume powers found nowhere in our Constitution to sign a treaty that has never been considered by our Congress — which would reject it if given the opportunity,” said Jay Lehr, science director with the outspoken free-market group Heartland Institute. “To take such a hollow and illegal step as he ends his presidency should tarnish his legacy forever as a man who thought himself king, not president.”

So, President Trump can declare this Agreement to be a Treaty,  and send it to the Senate for approval.   But, he would be opting for a quiet burial in the Senate and that would be pretty obvious.

But,  Trump likes Executive Orders and the agreement seems really to fall into this category because the agreement does not legally compel the US to cut back carbon emissions.

The real zinger is that three of the major coal companies (Arch, Cloud Peak, and Peabody)  want the US to stay in the agreement, as they see the advantage of having  a major pro-coal power  “at the table.”  Otherwise, European leaders will lead the show, not good for the international interests of US companies.

Pulling out of the accord will not go over well with Chinese leaders, who are aggressively cutting their own emissions.  The smoke from coal burning has created a real health concern in many Chinese cities.  We need Chinese cooperation desperately to reign in North Korea’s nuclear program.

Right now, our new Secretary of Energy seems most content with cleaning house, removing any global warming believers as possible.  With the new, ineffective DOE, a policy change to do nothing, seems likely.  I believe Trump has said he is studying the options on climate change and our commitment to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement.

The smaller countries who have signed the agreement, are likely looking to the US to help them with alternative energy sources.  This doesn’t mesh well with Trump’s hyper nationalistic themes.

A meeting is scheduled for May 18, 2017 in Bonn.   Four top polluters, China, India, US Japan and the EU have ratified the accord.    Russia looks like the major climate change denier as it has not ratified the agreement,

   List of carbon emissions by country 

Does Trump really want to join Russia and be the world’s second climate change denier?

Stay tuned,


A Seat at the Table for the Devil

The Paris Climate Agreement was considered a major breakthrough by most environmentalists.  The US was e in a leadership role recognizing  carbon emissions reductions requires international agreements, particularly from Brazil, India and China.

Trump vigorously campaigned against the Paris  Climate Agreement.   He said repeatedly the Agreement  was against our national interest, and was a job killing/ coal industry destruction plan.  The Democrats were trying to put the coal industry out of business.

Now, two of the largest coal companies,  Peabody and Cloud Peak are urging Trump to break his promises and stay in the Paris Climate Agreement.     Murray Energy,  a private company which bills itself as America’s largest coal company, wants Trump to pull out.  Robert Murray was at the signing of the Executive Orders to rescind the Clean Power regulations.

The reasons to stay in, is to keep EU leaders from taking control and setting tight international  environmental standards on the burning of coal.    This would hurt US export of coal, which declined by 23% in 2015.  The 2016 figures have not yet been released, but I don’t expect any better numbers. Our exports are around 74 million short tons.  Major declines in exports were from UK, Italy and South Korea in 2015.

It is also quoted in the article below that pulling out of the Accords might affect World Bank funding for international coal projects, which would hurt only the very large coal companies. Most of the coal companies operate only in the US.   Peabody coal owns coal  mines in Australia.  It may be there is concern with World Bank financing new coal generating plants.  Being part of the Accords can give the major platform to promote “clean coal technology.”

US Coal Companies ask Trump to stick with Paris Climate Deal

Trump’s campaign rode on Republican rhetoric and the highly simplistic theme of  America First.   The most pro-coal industry president we ever had, may end up doing more harm than good to his supporters.

Stay tuned,







Overbooking is good!

Overselling occurs. A lot of businesses do it.  They promise goods and services that they may not be able to deliver.  It isn’t the very prevalent overbooking that gets people riled;  it is getting bumped from a flight.

However, it is a way to keep fares low, because statistically there are a significant number of no-shows.   The infamous United flight with the dragging of a passenger down the aisle will likely never be repeated.   Whenever they need more seats, they will simply increase the rewards until they get people to give up their seats.

Apparently, UAL had limits on what they could offer passengers and 800 dollars was the maximum the airline could offer without special authorization.   One dragged passenger, and a video that went viral,  instantly made every carrier to reconsider bumping policy.

A strange dynamic sets in when the airline ups the ante for seats.   In the UAL case, if $800 doesn’t  works,  they could have up the bid to $900.  What happens when 50 or more passengers want to take the deal?     The airlines is suddenly in a crunch to select  one additional passenger, which they have to do in a random, unbiased manner.  This takes time.  Remember, the plane was on the tarmac,   ready to take off.  What happens if they go higher?   The $800 volunteers are not so happy now.   Best to give the same to all volunteers.   Youtube videos have a huge impact.

The overbooking situation is more likely to occur before boarding.  No drama or Youtube videos at this point.  It can actually be a happy moment if the airline provides enough cash or other benefits.

It was revealed that the passengers who paid the least for their seats, are the ones that are placed in the potential bumpees (yes, I made up this word) pool to be randomly selected.  So, you full fair business folks flying UAL have nothing to worry about.  Of course, I’m joking as passenger dragging is not about to happen at least for overbooking.

A lot of stuff doesn’t happen on major carriers, such as getting a boarding pass,  only to find a passenger sitting in your seat because the airlines screwed up.   These were human mistakes particularly when computer systems were down or very slow.

Bumped luggage.  It happens!  The airlines should offer money for your luggage to take a later flight.  My wife was flying to Brazil on Christmas eve, and her flight was delayed for hours.   Her baggage arrived on a later flight, about 10 hours later.  It took about another 4 hours for delivery.   So, I believe the delay was in loading  postal  shipments, so it was in their interest, to delay the passengers stuff until these shipments were loaded.  Then they didn’t have enough space for luggage.   I wouldn’t reveal the name of the airline, except is goes by the initials AA.

Unintended consequences and asymmetrical conflicts (you have to look up this one) are the norm.  In case you’ve been off the grid, Jimmy Kimmel lost no time in mocking UAL friendly skies theme:

Mock UAL Sketch

Perhaps next they’ll have a statue of the dragged passenger, with one hand clutching a boarding pass, surrounded by mountains of lost baggage.

Holiday travel is hell.  So are the days between holidays. Bad days to travel are Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Equally bad  are Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Stay tuned,