Runaway Spoon

Listen Up, Mr. President

March 8, 2017

Mere moments after Rudy Giuliani spoke at the Cybersecurity Conference at the Google headquarters conference room in DC on Tuesday, the media lit up with no-fake news that WikiLeaks purportedly revealed a trove of CIA documents.

No conspiracy theory here.  Just the facts.

Giuliani is an informal security advisor to the White House.  He is chair of cybersecurity, privacy and crisis management practice at Greenberg Trauig LLP.

As keynote speaker, Giuliani gave tips to some 350+ diplomats, foreign embassy staff, USA officials and corporate investors at the Cybersecurity Conference, sponsored by four countries, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

The Trump supporter also had a bit of advice for the President: ratchet up cybersecurity in government. Security intrusions, he said, is a “looming problem” 

Overall, the former New York City mayor gave this counsel and suggestions to the packed conference:

-- There never is 100 percent security. What is called the “Black Web” is where most cybercrime lurks.

-- All corporations and professional users of the internet should not totally depend on their in-house security folks.  He recommended that a couple of times a year, they should bring in outside security experts  --  a cyber doctor -- to test their systems and make them free of intrusions.  He compared this to a human who gets a medical checkup annually.

He advised that all personnel in a business, government and foreign entities should have thorough identification protection

“You don’t need to hack me” personally to breach my security network, said Giuliani.  Often, hackers start lower in the pyramid – such as secretaries -- then work their way up to get what and where they want.

Giuliani warily beckoned the group to “try to make a guess” what will happen five years from now in the rapidly changing realm of cyber-ism.  He shook his head and  indicated that nobody knows right now.

The one-day cybersecurity conference was sponsored by The Visegrad Four Countries, which jointly promote their businesses. 

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Torschlusspanik Hymnal

January 29, 2017

Jeb Bush (left) and son George P. Bush (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Jeb Bush (left) and son George P. Bush

Three tenors of foreign policy -- former Sen. Sam Nunn, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates – sang from the same hymnal about America’s dealings with Russia at the pre-Alfalfa luncheon Saturday: those sanctions aren’t working well and this nation should get busy restoring its status around the world.

"The 3 Tenors of Foreign Policy” luncheon at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ headquarters drew 350 from the centers of power in D.C. and elsewhere from across the nation.  It was a prelude to the Alfalfa Club Dinner that night.

Kissinger and Former Sen. Al Simpson and wife Ann Simpson (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Kissinger and Former Sen. Al Simpson and wife Ann Simpson

Perhaps the collective foreign policy sentiment could be summed up in one marvelous German word:


Rough translation: Hurry up, get in, before the doors close.

Most of the remarks centered on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“…he is kind of a bully who will keep moving ‘til somebody stops him,” said Gates.  “Over the last few years,” Gates went on to say, “we have put ourselves on the backburner” in the Middle East compared to the actions of Russia, Iran and Turkey.  Make no mistake, he said, “The Russians are here for the long term.”

Sam Nunn (left),  and Walter and Didi Cutler (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Sam Nunn (left), and Walter and Didi Cutler

On sanctions, Gates said: “the problems with sanctions is they don’t work very well….as far as sanctions to try to get Russia out of the Crimea…forget it…we like sanctions in this city because they are easy.”

Nunn described what is happening between the USA and Russia as “a dangerous situation….” and, to begin with in this new presidential era, “I would start with military communications.” Nunn, former Democratic senator from Georgia and CSIS chairman emeritus, testified at Senate hearings on behalf of Trump nominee Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State and for Gen. Jim Mattis as Secretary of Defense.

Robert Gates (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Robert Gates

Nunn also said the U.S. should be working economically to assist Ukraine.

Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a guest in the audience, was invited to address the gathering. He called Tillerson “uniquely qualified” to be Secretary of State because of his relationships worldwide and for his “insights.”

As far as the Crimea is concerned, Corker said, “That is over.”

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Make Way For The Hungarians

January 23, 2017

Ambassador Dr. Reka Szemerkenyi (Photo by: Jay Snap for The Hungarian Embassy) Ambassador Dr. Reka Szemerkenyi

Outta the woods and into the mainstream.  Here come the Hungarians.

A post-inaugural reception the day after President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office drew transition team representatives and members of Congress to the future home of the Hungarian embassy.

It was a high-regard tip of the hat to the new Trump Administration.  Even, a Hungarian dog showed love. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, said he got a “juicy, warm kiss” from the big Komondor dog named Chauncy at the entrance.

It was far more than symbolism. Speaker after speaker, including the Hungarian ambassador, Dr. Réka Szemerkényi, spoke of their beliefs – not unwarranted -- that economic and cultural ties between the two countries will get stronger under the Trump Administration.

Hungarian Ambassador Szemerkenyi with George Pataki (Photo by: Jay Snap for The Hungarian Embassy) Hungarian Ambassador Szemerkenyi with George Pataki

To be expected, since the Trump family has roots in Eastern and Central Europe. First Lady Melania Trump is Slovenia-born. The President’s paternal side is German stock.  His three oldest children have Czech heritage.

Hungary’s embassy is moving its official digs out of a hard-to-find wooded place near Rock Creek Park. Its new location is a huge mansion on Rhode Island NW between 15th and 16th  streets near Scott Circle.

The Feast (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) The Feast

The mansion is still a work in progress, with the name of the old tenant, American Coatings Association, yet remaining outside. The clues to the days ahead are evident: The Hungarian flag flies overhead. A statue of a Freedom Fighter with the engraving “Budapest 1956” is at the front.

The subtle, beautifully decorated reception rooms speak of elegant Old World class. Appropriately so, a string band played soft music at the reception.  YES! guests could hear one another. The cuisine was the center of attention, with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs cooked perfectly; hearty bacon strips, breads, quiche, desserts, and more.

To raise its diplomatic profile in the Trump Administration, in Congress, and around town, the embassy is planning concerts, seminars, and other get-togethers at its new location.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said that after Hungary came out from under the yoke of communism, many consider Hungary “the gold standard of Europe….President Trump opens the door for all of us. We look forward to working with his administration.”

Former New York Gov. George Pataki, of Hungarian descent, praised the fresh start.  “Hungary has always been a great friend of the United States…But “sadly,” he said, the U.S. has not always been a great friend to Hungary. “But that will change,” predicted Pataki, a Republican. Adding: “This new administration, just as Hungary has, will control its borders.”

The new Hungarian Embassy (Photo by: Jay Snap for The Hungarian Embassy) The new Hungarian Embassy

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., also said he, too, foresees deeper cooperation between the two countries.  Travelling specifically to D.C. for the reception was Deputy Assistant Secretary Kristof Altusz of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary.

Others attending included  Piodtr Wilczek of Poland,  Amb. Petr Kmec of Slovakia,  DCM Zdenek Beranek of the Czech Republic, European Union Ambassador to the USA David O'Sullivan, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.,  Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.,  Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and former Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D.  Both Blackburn and Nunes are on the Trump transition team, as were other attendees from the president's presidential campaign.

Others among the 400 guests were American Heritage VP and head of personnel transition in State Department James Carafano former FBI Director William Webster  and event planner Lynda Webster;  and PEN/Faulker Foundation executive VP Willee Lewis and  journalist Findley Lewis.  

Rep. French Hill, R-Ark) a member of the Hungarian-American Caucus, spoke at an evening concert at the embassy.




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