U.K., Spain: Russia meddled in elections
LONDON — In a remarkable one-two punch aimed at Russian hackers, bots and trolls, the prime ministers of Britain and Spain have separately accused Russian entities — including some allegedly supported by the state — of meddling in European elections and have vowed to foil them.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Tuesday that an “avalanche” of bots spread “fake news” about Spain during Catalonia’s independence referendum last month and that Spanish authorities think over half of the accounts are in Russian territory.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday night charged that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia was attempting to “undermine free societies” and “sow discord” in Britain.
Philippines human rights
MANILA, Philippines — A spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday that President Donald Trump offered to return a fugitive who had fled to the United States and did not bring up human rights issues at all during the bilateral meeting a day earlier.
Spokesman Harry Roque’s account of the meeting in an interview with The Washington Post appears to contradict White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said “human rights briefly came up” as the two leaders discussed the Philippines’ bloody fight against illicit drugs.
U.S. funds Israeli defense
WASHINGTON — Congress is poised to provide Israel with another $705 million for that country’s missile defenses — the second largest annual installment of such aid to date.
The House plans to vote this week to approve a fiscal 2018 national defense policy conference report. The Senate is expected to follow suit soon and send the bill to the president. And whenever Congress completes work on a defense appropriations bill, lawmakers are highly likely to provide funding.
If the $705 million is appropriated, it will bring the amount of U.S. money spent on Israeli missile defenses to more than $5 billion over the past 13 years.
Italy politician joins ISIS?
MILAN — A few days before Christmas last year, Fabrizio Pozzobon, a plumber from the Venice area, left Italy. Telling his family and friends that he was going on a short vacation, he boarded a plane to Istanbul and vanished.
Italian authorities now fear that Mr. Pozzobon, 51, could be in Syria fighting with the Islamic State or another jihadist group. It might be yet another story of a disaffected European man being recruited to fight for Islamist extremists were it not for one fact: Mr. Pozzobon used to be an activist and elected official for a xenophobic far-right party that often attacks Muslims.
The U.S. continues to weigh renewing sanctions on Myanmar as international frustration over the country’s treatment of its ethnic Rohingya minority rises, according to a senior State Department official.
With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arriving in Myanmar on Wednesday, the U.S. will look to engage the country’s military leaders and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in addressing the violence against the Rohingya, according to the official, who asked not to be identified previewing Mr. Tillerson’s visit.