Political power and electrical power are inextricably linked. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger

Earlier this millennium, a series of power brownouts and blackouts in California led to the recall of a sitting governor and a special election for his replacement: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Argentina’s leadership is running for reelection this October, and if it can’t keep the lights on, it may not be welcomed back to power.

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Around the world, from Argentina to Venezuela, Bulgaria to California, state and national governments need to deliver citizens electricity or face voter wrath. Argentina is now facing a political challenge more severe than the one in California a generation ago. Electrical blackouts just plunged the entire nation of 44 million people and some of its neighbors — Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Chile — into the dark.

One of the most important functions of any modern government is to keep the juice flowing. Electrical power is the driver of modern society, keeping industry chugging along, hospitals working round the clock and refrigerators, air conditioners and computers whirring. In most modern societies, government runs, manages or regulates the power grid. That means that any failure, disruption or collapse of that grid reasonably is pinned on government leaders. READ MORE

The Europeans have a different, darker Green New Deal

Continental elections last weekend gave anti-nuclear Green Parties a huge boost, installing the Greens into a European Parliament kingmaker role. As a result, the rest of Europe is likely to follow the lead of Germany’s environmental party and movement, turning further against civilian nuclear energy and, especially, against coal-fired plants. 

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The effect will be not only to clean up local air, but also to hand over Europe’s hard-earned cash and hard fought independence to Russia — a nearby nation with abundant and available natural gas. Tragically, a Europe without nuclear power plants and absent dirty, polluting coal-fired plants is a geopolitically weakened Europe dependent on Russia. READ MORE

Trump has traded American values, interests and dignity for the false promise of Putin’s friendship

Donald Trump is likely to go down as the president who lost Russia. Not for lack of trying to make good with Moscow. In fact, it is because he has tried so hard to make it right and to pursue a personal and respectful relationship with Vladimir Putin that his ability to make any meaningful deals with Russia is doomed.

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The result is an American foreign policy that is stuck with a confrontational posture and caught in a tit-for-tat policy trap preventing the pursuit of real U.S. interests with Russia. The reason is an underlying popular belief that President Trump has been incapable, at best, and, at worst, actively curried personal and political favor from Moscow over the years — regardless of what the Mueller report says or how it is interpreted.

From his 2016 campaign fumbles to his presidential summit stumbles, Trump has made an unending string of unforced errors that have caused Americans to question his motivations. That perception and reality actively limit his latitude for dealing with Russia. 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

Russian President Vladimir Putin praises and warns U.S. at end-of-year press conference

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his year-end press conference, where he praised President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. He also warned of the growing threat of nuclear war between Russia and the United States. Markos Kounalakis, a foreign affairs columnist for McClatchy News and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, joins CBSN with analysis. VIEW HERE

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Russia’s got the gas and is ready to set fire to our system of democracy

Every morning I wake up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee from my Moscow-manufactured coffeemaker and commute in my Russian car while making hands-free calls on my latest Siberian smartphone.

Just kidding.
 

Russia makes nothing I own. Nothing I need. Nothing I consume. I don’t watch Russian movies and don’t use Russian software. Look around your own home. How many Russian appliances, food stuffs, or clothes are made in the world’s largest landmass nation? Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

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If you’re worried that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is poised to take over the world, rest assured. It is not. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, once called Russia “a gas station masquerading as a country.”

He’s right. Russia today is mostly a great big oil and gas conglomerate. Energy resources make up around 70 percent of Russia’s total exports and more than half its budget revenues.

Russia also has a lot of bombs. Really big bad ones. Weapons of mass destruction.  READ MORE

CNN Newsroom: A look at NATO & Montenegro

Kounalakis on if US should defend NATO countries: "We answered that question a long time ago"

Markos Kounalakis, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, discusses the uncertainty around President Trump's comments about NATO.     CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Markos Kounalakis, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, discusses the uncertainty around President Trump's comments about NATO.   CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

The Other White House Correspondents Dinner – Russia Edition

On the banks of the Moscow River, standing tall, a gleaming white edifice, the site of the 1991 Russian resistance, where Boris Yeltsin climbed atop a tank and stood up against a Soviet military coup, is the Russian White House - the “Bely Dom” on the Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment.

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Unbeknownst to most is that they, too, have an annual correspondents dinner. It is lesser known because it is held in an undisclosed location, in a bunker near Gorky Park. The few surviving Russian White House correspondents gather to celebrate their dwindling numbers, giving scholarships to the families of “missing” and defenestrated journalists.

This year’s guest speaker was comedian Wolf Sheepovich Michellovskaya. As always, it was held on May Day, International Workers Day, and portions were surreptitiously recorded. President Vladimir Putin was not in attendance, off instead to Sevastopol to celebrate the holiday in a springtime pageant and parade in his honor.  READ MORE

Trump’s awful phone diplomacy boosts Russian meddling in Mexico vote

Phone calls are not President Trump’s best tool for international charm offensives. He hung up on Australia’s prime minister a year ago, nearly changed U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China in another conversation when he was president-elect, and, this week, further offended Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The end result of the Feb. 20 call is that Peña Nieto canceled, for a second time, a planned White House visit. It may also have locked in a win for a far-left presidential candidate in the July 1 Mexican national election — an election in which the Russians are working overtime to actively disrupt and influence.

In this photo taken Jan. 28, 2017, President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Transcripts of President Donald Trump’s conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia in January offer new details on how the president parried with the leaders over the politics of the border wall and refugee policy, with random asides on subjects including drug abuse in New Hampshire. Alex Brandon AP

In this photo taken Jan. 28, 2017, President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Transcripts of President Donald Trump’s conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia in January offer new details on how the president parried with the leaders over the politics of the border wall and refugee policy, with random asides on subjects including drug abuse in New Hampshire. Alex Brandon AP

The president’s poor phone etiquette further jeopardizes the already slow progress in the NAFTA renegotiation, adds a new strain to diplomatic relations with a border neighbor, hinders cooperation in combating drug trafficking and makes immigration issues even touchier. And with every notching up of tension with Mexico, the Trump border wall becomes an even harder sell in the nation he insists must underwrite itREAD MORE

Christmas comes early for Vladimir Putin

Christmas came a little early for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin this year. Russia usually celebrates the holiday on January 7th, but President Putin’s present arrived a month early when he announced his intention to remain in office via a national voting process. He has unofficially already won.

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“Election” formalities are scheduled for March 18, 2018 and the legitimizing process will cost $300 million. The leading opposition candidates are already dead or disqualified. The handful of colorful and credible also-ran candidates will do their best, but be left in the dust. Putin losing the Russian presidential election is as likely as Siberian palm trees and banana plantations. Merry Christmas, Vlad.

If there is one global leader who has been winning so much he should be sick and tired of winning, it is Putin. He will enter his next term as the longest serving Russian head of state, winning his fourth non-consecutive six-year presidential term. Putin has already surpassed previous record holder Leonid Brezhnev’s 6,602 days in office, but unlike Brezhnev seems fit and in fighting form.  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

American companies are funding the Kremlin’s info war against us

Consumers have power. Companies know it. Just look at how quickly Keurig pulled its ads from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show over his coverage of Roy Moore’s alleged child molestation. Indeed, strategically spent big media money can take down talk show hosts, cut into the bank accounts of pro athletes and even elect an American president.

Imagine if consumers demanded the same kind of accountability from the American corporations that are bankrolling Moscow’s information-warfare campaign against U.S. voters.

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Western advertising has been filling the coffers of Russian propaganda outlets, underwriting a racistmisogynistanti-American media that keeps Vladimir Putin in place and actively threatens America’s political system. Writing in The Daily Beast, Mitchell Polman states clearly that “without those ad dollars it would be difficult for Russian media to function.”  READ MORE