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Three stories in the key of: With Sons Like These

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.

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It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

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Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

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110: At least 110 people were killed in Nigeria's conflict-ridden Borno state on Saturday, when armed men attacked agricultural workers as they tended their fields. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the brutal attack, but analysts say the assault was likely the work of Boko Haram or Islamic State-linked groups that have gained a foothold in the Sahel region in recent years.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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