U.K., Spain: Rus­sia med­dled in elec­tions

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - International -

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.

Myan­mar sanc­tions

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.

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