Trump’s Mar-a-Lago could be ‘Mar-a-Leako’ to our enemies

Friends and foes, foreign born and homegrown, regularly try to breach the tight security that surrounds an American president. No barrier is too big or technological hindrance too intimidating to stop concerted attempts to access the president and his data. While the risks of getting caught are huge, the rewards for success are immense.

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To get the goods — whether snapping a selfie, scoring state secrets or taking a potshot — the determined go to extremes to climb fences, get across gates and search for technological backdoors. Most disturbingly, the president sometimes ushers the ill-suited or ill-meaning through the front door and into the inner sanctum.

It’s time to close the windows, lock the doors, make new keys and develop new protocols. READ MORE

There’s a renaissance on the African continent that the U.S. can’t afford to dismiss

Ethiopia is the latest nation where an international aviation accident is in sharp focus, but the country itself is treated merely as the hazy backdrop and tragic context for a larger geopolitical story. This one involves Boeing, China trade wars and the credibility of American regulatory institutions.

All important stories, for sure, but Ethiopia is more than the tragically fatal scene of a plane crash. With more than 100 million people, Ethiopia is the second most populous African nation after Nigeria. Landlocked Ethiopia is also the continent’s fastest growing economy with arguably its most dynamic young leader.

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While other African countries, such as Algeria, struggle to put to pasture their near-comatose leader-for-life Abdulaziz Buteflika, Ethiopia broke the old clichéd mold of African strongman leaders who were generals or geriatrics and instead, almost a year ago, appointed a fresh and energetic reformer, the 42-year old prime minister, Abiy Ahmed. READ MORE

Trump’s foreign policy is pushing allies into China and Russia’s waiting arms

Nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula have diminished since last summer’s Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. In the run-up to this month’s Vietnam summit, Trump is acutely aware that a potential landmark deal on Kim’s complete, verifiable and permanent denuclearization would be a significant foreign policy win for him, the region and the world.

Unfortunately, that potential deal is where Trump’s foreign policy successes both start and end.

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By any other measure, the president’s aggressive pursuit of nativist policies has weakened America’s global leverage, given its adversaries strategic openings and made the world a little less safe for democracy and human rights. In normal times, this would be seen as a failure of leadership and a threat to America’s fundamental values, global stature and international dominance.

These are not, however, normal times. READ MORE

With Juan Guaidó seizing the presidency, Venezuela’s ‘Latin Spring’ is heating up

Arab Spring, move aside. Latin Spring is now blossoming, and if all goes well, it will be less bloody and a lot more successful at ousting corrupt leaders and promoting homegrown democratically elected representatives than the Middle East revolutions.

The North African and the Middle East popular movements that began in late 2010 shook up the power balance, catalyzed civil wars and further destabilized the region. Venezuela just experienced a so-far relatively peaceful and planned constitutional coup.

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It’s way too early to predict if the effects of Wednesday’s dramatic event will devolve into chaos or breed new forms of violence, corruption, juntas or dictatorships, but as with the Arab Spring countries, what kicked Venezuelans into action is that daily life hit rock bottom. Living conditions have gotten so bad that people’s hope for a better life completely dissolved. Ninety percent of Venezuelans today are living in poverty and over the last year had lost an average of 24 pounds. Citizens were both on the path to real starvation while on a strictly enforced diet from democracy. READ MORE

NBA player goes one-on-one with the petulant President Erdoğan

Shoot a 3-pointer, go to jail.

If Turkey’s spoiled-sport president gets his way, he will soon be locking up Enes Kanter, a Turkish-American star center for the New York Knicks.

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The reason for a just-requested Interpol “Red Notice” arrest warrant is not Kanter’s aggressive defensive style, it is his offensive speech calling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, among other things, the “Hitler of our century.” Erdogan returned the favor and labeled Kanter “a terrorist.

Unlike in the United States, where public figures can’t be libeled, criticism of the Turkish president is illegal. I can write that President Trump is a boob and feel pretty secure that the black helicopters won’t descend on my home. Well, maybe not totally secure as the U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr recently told the Senate that he “can conceive” of instances where journalists might be arrested. READ MORE

The West has long militarized space. China plans to weaponize it. Not good.

Neil Armstrong brought the world to the moon. As the first man to tread on that rocky surface, he reminded us that this was not only an American achievement but another link in humanity’s aspirational chain. It was “one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”

That happened almost 50 years ago.

Lunar landings are now back in the news, not because the marginal scientific or symbolic value of the current missions is high for mankind on Earth. Rather, it’s because national pride is driving America’s strategic competitors to escape gravity.

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China and Iran both are hard at work launching and lobbing rockets into space to show that America no longer has a monopoly on technological leadership. They are also using these blast-offs and landings to warn us of their ability to match and surpass America’s scientific prowess. For good measure, they also want to remind us that they can easily land a nuke on the U.S. homeland.

If the Apollo program was the height of astronauts exhibiting the right stuff, the Beijing rocket program is looking like a perfect example of the wrong stuff. READ MORE

Cowering for profits: US firms in China sell out America by bending to Beijing

American technology companies operating in China had a secret weakness, one that is not so concealed anymore. Not after an apparently bad miscalculation in which Intel gave the Chinese government an incredible security advantage that the tech giant withheld from the U.S. government. Oops.

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What happened? It appears Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel recently tipped off the Chinese government about flawed computer chips’ security vulnerabilities well before letting American government and industry officials know. Whether Intel did this consciously or accidentally, the move is deeply concerning because it could have handed China a digital key to unlocking secrets and proprietary data around the world. National security may have been compromised and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden has already called the episode "troublesome."

Even worse, Intel is not alone.  READ MORE

Star Wars and drone spies threaten America’s defenses

Star Wars’ newest episode “The Last Jedi” is hitting screens nationwide this week, but less entertaining is this season’s latest space weaponry and commercial drone deployments that increasingly threaten America’s national security.

Kim Jong Un may be planning to use his nuclear and missile technology not to land an explosion on U.S. soil, but to blast it in space. Such an explosion would trigger a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) that could cripple satellites and blind any nation that relies on orbiting communications for everything from airline navigation to financial transactions.

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A HEMP strike would bring about a “doomsday scenario” and an act of war that kills no one directly but plunges everyone into the first stages of a technological dark age. An October 2017 congressional hearing on this threat brought testimony that a North Korean HEMP attack could “shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of 90 percent of all Americans.”  READ MORE