Monthly Archives: March 2023

EP 639 US and Russia Waging New Battle for the Arctic

With a hot war raging in Ukraine, it is easy to lose sight of a zone of growing tension in the cold ice terrain of the Arctic. American military planners have taken notice of the growing Russian military presence building land bases and launching a string of provocative aerial missions. America is playing catch-up in a climate where it has little experience and capabilities, knowing that the threats of climate change and the Russian dominance of the Arctic demands a more comprehensive strategy. Our guest, journalist Kenneth Rosen explored the activity in the region in a lengthy article online in Politico Magazine. We discussed with him the various challenges for America as it builds its fleet of nuclear-capable icebreakers, ships and submarines, in a region where experts agree any battles in the future will be fought in the air or on water. More importantly, he discusses the need for America to have a more comprehensive strategy, with its Allies, in order to address the growing importance of the Arctic.

EP 638 Data Trafficking is the New Superpower Battleground

Tik Tok. Huawei. Tencent. Giant Chinese companies have become controversial players in the United States as we try to determine their motives and whether they are just another arm of the Chinese government as they vacuum up incredible amounts of data on American citizens. Data which we willingly provide as we ignore terms of service so we can post another picture or video or interact with our friends. And given the lax regulation of social media companies in America, allowing them to sell our information as a key part of their revenue stream, our data flows like a faucet to China at a moment in time when they are severely restricting the information coming back to us. In her book, “Trafficking Data”, author Aynne Kokas explains how, in her view, China is winning the battle for digital sovereignty as it more broadly defines information that is important to its national security. Beijing is collecting data on people nearly everywhere. Their platforms track people’s preferences and whereabouts, while also giving the Chinese government control over a powerful tool for shaping people’s worldview.

BARRY SUSSMAN Unsung Hero of History

Check out this link to Larry’s song about Barry Sussman the unsung hero of Watergate

Give it a listen


EP 637 Should You Buy Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency has been in the news recently and not in a good way. The chicanery of Sam Bankman-Fried and the FTX Exchange now stands in league with other great financial swindles, like Bernie Madoff’s. There are large questions that need to be addressed both about the economic utility of this relatively new asset class and the role that government oversight should play in the regulation of it. To address those issues and all things cryptocurrency is Lee Reiners, the Policy Director of the Duke Financial Economic Center and a lecturing fellow at Duke University. He explains what cryptocurrency is and why in his mind it has a murky future given that it does not perform the common functions of money, as we know it, and its volatility makes it, indeed, risky business.

EP 636 An ‘Imperial Supreme Court’ Asserts Its Power

The conventional criticism of the current make up of the U.S. Supreme Court is that it is populated by a majority of rabid right wing partisans, overturning precedents in order to achieve political objectives. And that its decisions are out of step with a majority of Americans. Our guest, Mark Lemley, Professor of Law at Stanford University, has an even more searing critique as he argues that the Supreme Court is making an unprecedented power grab as it takes decision-making away from both other government institutions and individuals and retains authority never before envisioned for itself. Of all the trampling he sees to Congressional authority, administrative agencies of the federal government, and state legislatures, his clearest red flag is the impact this Court is having on lower federal courts and their role in our delicate republic. It’s such an important topic not getting the attention it deserves.

EP 635 Why Do We Have a Teacher Shortage in America? There Are Many Reasons

The American public education system, K-12, is plagued with problems at this moment.  On the heels of a pandemic that turned teaching from one of the most impactful, personal professions into one in which remote exchanges were dominant, this just begins to scratch the surface.  We find an inability to recruit enough qualified college graduates into the teaching profession, stagnant compensation, which certainly contributes to the former, heavier workloads and declining prestige for those who enter the field. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students graduating from college with bachelor’s degrees in education fell from 176,307 in 1970-71 to 85,058 in 2019-2020.  And wages are essentially unchanged from 2000 to 2020 after adjusting for inflation.  Matthew Kraft of Brown University and, our guest, Melissa Arnold Lyon of the University at Albany, State University of New York, in their 2022 paper “The Rise and Fall of the Teaching Profession: Prestige, Interest, Preparation, and Satisfaction Over the Last Half Century,” tracked trends on “four interrelated constructs: professional prestige, interest among students, preparation for entry and job satisfaction” over 50 years.  She has a conversation with me about their findings.

Link to Paper discussed in this podcast


EP 634 Architect Whose Firm Designed New Sandy Hook Elementary School Describes Changes

While the community’s shock over what happened in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School can never be erased, the new school built nearby is meant to refocus thoughts to the future and designed to make it less susceptible to anything like it ever happening again. There is no way to harden a school beyond the possibility for an attack, but there are many approaches you can take to minimize the risk, according to Jay Brotman, Managing Partner of Svigals and Partners, the architectural firm in New Haven, Connecticut chosen to rebuild the school. In the podcast, he describes the approaches taken to both secure the facility, but still make it warm and inviting for students and teachers. The philosophy employed, and substantial input gathered from the community incorporated into the new design, is contained in the firm’s paper entitled “Building Safer Schools That Don’t Look Like Prisons”. This is an important conversation as communities address this issue nationwide.