- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2014

The U.S. and Cuba are enjoying a nice honeymoon following the recent reconciliation between the two nations after five decades of acrimony. But don’t get too chummy, warns one information security expert. “Apparently the United States has not yet learned its lesson of the downside of giving away communication technology to Communist regimes, and will once again pay the price. In a year or two when Cuba gets advanced broadband circuits promised by President Obama, the likelihood that we will see attacks on U.S. public and private networks emanating from Cuba is 100 percent,” predicts James W. Gabberty, professor of information systems at Pace University in New York City and an alumnus of both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University Polytechnic Institute.

“To Cuba, the internet is a veritable lifeline through which it will be able to concomitantly make accommodation bookings for the myriad future American hotels that will one day dot its coastline while simultaneously siphon intellectual property from U.S. industries, perhaps even our Hollywood movies that hopefully won’t offend Cuba’s communist regime,” Mr. Gabberty continues.

“When the day comes that Cuban-based cyberattacks penetrate U.S. networks, Cuba can simply follow China’s typical repudiation posture, and challenge the U.S. administration to prove it. That has worked for Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, and there is no reason to think it won’t work for Cuba,” he observes.

STILL NOT READY FOR JEB

Several polls now suggest Jeb Bush is coming into his own as White House hopeful, now that he’s tested the waters and waded in. But here is a survey that indicates public reactions are tepid at best. As in “meh.”

“GOP voters aren’t enthused about Jeb Bush running for president,” reports a Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday. “Just 33 percent of likely Republican voters nationwide believe Bush should run for president in 2016. Just as many (34 percent) disagree, while another 33 percent.” The survey of 1,000 likely voters was released Monday.

DON’T TAKE YOUR DRONE TO ANTARCTICA

The public is starting to get uncomfortable with drones, wondering whether those novel little flying machines with the nifty cameras are a good thing or a dicey thing. Privacy and security could be at stake here. Drones are multiplying, however, and concerns about them are now reaching to the far ends of the Earth. Really.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators is cautioning all potential travelers to Antarctica, who are hoping to fly a drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle - a UAV - to check with their travel agent or tour operator before packing their device. So reports Travel and Tour World, an industry source. “Opportunities may be limited until more is known about their safe and environmentally responsible use in this last great wilderness - particularly in the wildlife rich coastal regions of Antarctica. Tour operators will either prohibit the use of UAVs altogether or only allow them to be operated under strictly defined conditions,” the publication advises.

“But within the Antarctic Treaty System, the unique global partnership that designates the entire continent as a natural reserve, all human activities, whether for science or tourism, have to go through an annual environmental impact assessment by a relevant competent authority or government agency,” the publication says.

“Antarctica is still pristine with wildlife and landscapes that show little evidence of impact from direct human activity. To visit and operate in an environment like this comes with a responsibility to do so carefully and with minimal disturbance,” says Kim Crosbie, director of the aforementioned tour association.

“The use of UAVs is in a state of development and, until more information is available, member operators and competent authorities are taking a precautionary approach when it comes to their operation. The idea is to devise a pragmatic policy framework that will allow safe and environmentally responsible use under controlled circumstances.”

TED CRUZ WINS A PRESIDENTIAL POLL

A certain Texas Republican still has plenty of fans. Sen. Ted Cruz has won the Federalist Today Presidential Straw Poll with 26 percent of the nearly one thousand votes cast. “Placing a respectable second and third, Senator Rand Paul (22 percent) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (16 percent) showed that they also have considerable support among the ‘lovers of freedom and anxious for the fray’ Federalist faithful,” report David Corbin and Matt Parks, two analysts for The Federalist - a learned but vibrant online journal.

“The political insider would, undoubtedly, not be impressed. Good luck getting Senators Cruz or Paul elected President of the United States. Any such insurgent’s campaign will be undone by a press that favors Democrats, a bare-knuckles Republican establishment that favors milque-toast candidates, and a bewildered flyover electorate conditioned to favor one flavor-of-the-month insurgent presidential candidate after another, to the detriment of any effective insurgent candidacy,” say Mssrs. Corbin and Parks.

“These same insiders would have no problem envisioning a scenario in which insurgent Democrat Elizabeth Warren, establishment Democrat Hillary Clinton, or establishment Republicans Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, or Chris Christie win the presidency. Ruling-class smugness aside, these folks have a point: playing by the normal rules, the least likely outcome in 2016 is a victory by a Republican insurgent, even though 40 percent of Americans consistently identify themselves as conservatives (twice the typical number of progressives) But who says we have to play by their rules?” the pair ask.

“One scenario is clear: we’ll either hang together in 2015 - or be hung out to dry, once again, in 2016,” the two add.

MICHAEL SAVAGE REINVENTED

Indefatigable talk radio host Michael Savage is adding some noteworthy reinvention to his format after 2014 finally gives way to 2015. “Politics has always been the bread and butter of my show. I’m the one who has been promoting “borders, language and culture” for 20 years. But we all know we live in a one-party system that’s basically an oligarchy. To hear about politics every day is boring. I’ll continue to talk about the news when we need to talk about it. Next year, though, I’m moving into diverse lifestyle topics as well,” says the veteran commentator and author, who is heard nationwide by about 7 million listeners.

“I used to have a segment on the program, when I played ‘Dr. Savage,’ and callers asked me for help with problems in their everyday lives. Next year, we’re bringing that back. You can call in to me and, I’ll be your life coach. I can help people. That’s what I’ve been put on this earth to do. Many people in our world don’t have a wise father, uncle or older brother to turn to. I can play that role in their lives,” he advises.

Interesting idea. But the edge is still there. Mr. Savage adds that he will also have a section titled “unprotected talk” - which will feature unscreened calls for an hour.

AND IN SUMMATION

“As the year draws to a close, happy revelers jam New York’s Times Square to watch the traditional dropping of the illuminated ball, while in Denver a mellower throng gathers to ring in the new year with the lighting of the Two Hundred Foot Doobie. And all across America, voices join in singing Auld Lang Syne, the beloved traditional song that makes no sense. Which makes it perfect for 2014. Maybe 2015 will be better. We can hope, right? It might help if we stand downwind of Denver.”

- Predictions from Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry, in his “Year in Review 2014.”

POLL DU JOUR

74 percent of Americans support ending travel restrictions to Cuba; 49 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

68 percent of Americans overall support ending the trade embargo against Cuba; 80 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

64 percent of Americans overall support establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba; 49 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 11-14.

Nervous laughter, complaints to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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