Three stories in the key of: With Sons Like These

Last week, The New York Times reported that Trump had ordered his staff to grant a security clearance to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, despite objections from senior advisers.

The US president has the legal authority to grant security clearances to anyone he chooses, but the episode has raised fresh questions about whether the president's decision to empower Kushner on a host of sensitive briefs – in particular, relations with Saudi Arabia and broader Middle East peace efforts – threatens US national security.

But Trump isn't the only world leader whose kids (or kids-in-law) are creating headaches.

Here are three more examples:


In Turkey, strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year appointed his 40-year-old son-in-law Berat Albeyrak to oversee the treasury and finance ministry of the Middle East's largest economy. Like Kushner, Albeyrak has a background in business but is a policy newbie. Observers worry that he isn't prepared to push back against his father-in-law's demands to keep cheap credit and lots of cash flowing into the economy ahead of local elections later this month. That policy has stoked inflation and hobbled the currency as international investors lose confidence in Turkey.

In Brazil, right-wing firebrand Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency in part because he promised to clean up corruption. But barely two months into his term, Bolsonaro's eldest son Flávio is under federal investigation for money-laundering. It seems that young Flávio, a senator from the state of Rio de Janeiro, has transferred suspiciously large sums of money to his personal driver and made questionable purchases of luxury apartments.

In Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, son of the oil-rich country's president, lives a life of excess, which you can follow – along with 115 thousand other people – on his Instagram account. But "Teodorin," as he's known, has also repeatedly been forced to surrender property to foreign corruption investigators.

Several years back, he reached a $30 million settlement with the US Justice Department over misappropriation of public funds that forced him to give up a mansion and a Ferrari. (He did manage to avoid handing over a prized crystal glove worn by Michael Jackson.) Last year, Brazil seized $16 million in cash and watches from his entourage. Just a few weeks ago, Swiss authorities closed a 2016 money laundering probe with a settlement that requires Teodorin to sell two dozen of exotic cars to fund social programs in his home country.

Political leaders often see family members as among the few they can trust. But whether the problem is inexperience, incompetence, or greed, sons sometimes burden their fathers with bad news.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.