Are Russia-Linked Internet Bots Making The World An Angrier Place?

ABC News Online: Russia-linked internet bots trying to make the world an angrier place

When a big contentious story breaks, chances are hundreds of Russia-linked bots and trolls will soon be tweeting about it.

Moscow denies meddling in the 2016 US presidential election that brought Donald Trump to power, despite fresh claims from American intelligence agencies continuing to build a case that they did.

But there's also an increasing body of evidence to suggest Russian agents don't need a US election to keep themselves busy stirring the pot in other parts of the world.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: I feel very angry right now. :)

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 22, 2018

DW: What foreign powers want from the Syrian war

The Syrian opposition and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are not the only groups fighting in the conflict. Other countries have also intervened to pursue their own interests.


What it's done: Tehran has been one of Assad's strongest advocates, supporting loyalist forces with money, weapons and intelligence. Iran has also sent military advisors from its Revolutionary Guard to Syria and directed fighters from Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based militant group backed by Iran, which is also involved in the conflict.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Analysis, And Editorials -- February 22, 2018

Foreign Powers Compete for a Slice of Syria -- Christoph Reuter, Spiegel Online

The danger from ISIS and al Qaeda is still present -- Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard

What Iraq’s Reconstruction Conference Revealed About Its New Friends and Partners -- Ellen Laipson, WPR

South Korea's Olympic gambit traps both Kim and Trump -- Peter Apps, Reuters

At Olympics, U.S. and Korean leaders revive familiar roles -- James Dobbins, Reuters

China Is Tightening the Screws on Taiwan. Will Trump Act? -- The Cipher Brief

Duterte to China: ‘if you want, just make us a province’ -- Richard Javad Heydarian, Asia Times

‘Enforcer’ Wang could be let loose on US to quell trade dispute -- Gordon Watts, Asia Times

China scare spreads to New Zealand -- Alan Boyd, Asia Times

'Global Britain' on the Line in the South China Sea -- S. Joshi & E. Graham, The Interpreter

Ethiopia’s Unrest Invites Global Competition -- Allison Fedirka, Geopolitical Futures

Is Russia Europe’s Biggest Threat? -- Judy Dempsey, Carnegie Europe

Italy's Election Could Change Everything -- Scott B. MacDonald, National Interest

Italian election’s biggest winner is Europe -- Jacopo Barigazz,

A Latvian Test for the European Central Bank -- Bloomberg Editorial

'Low-Yield' Nukes Are a Very High Threat -- James Stavridis, Bloomberg

Tehran Warns It May Withdraw From The Nuclear Deal If International Banks Continue To Shun Doing Business With Iran

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi speaking at the Chatham House think tank in London, Britain February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

Reuters: Iran says may withdraw from nuclear deal if banks continue to stay away

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran will withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if there is no economic benefit and major banks continue to shun the Islamic Republic, its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday.

Under the deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Despite that, big banks have continued to stay away for fear of falling foul of remaining U.S. sanctions - something that has hampered Iran’s efforts to rebuild foreign trade and lure investment.

Read more ....

Update: Iran Might Ditch Nuclear Deal Before Trump if It Fails to Pay Off (Newsweek)

WNU Editor: The problem is that Iran openly supports groups that have been designated as terrorist organizations .... Hezbollah and Hamas to name a few. No bank will want to position themselves to be liable in the event that one of these groups conduct a terror attack .... and an Iranian banking-link to them is found. The penalties will be severe.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister: U.S.-Russia Ties Will Be Difficult To Repair

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (file photo)

Radio Free Europe: Moscow: U.S.-Russia Ties Will Be Difficult To Repair

Russia says it would be "very difficult" to improve relations with the United States, which have plummeted to levels not seen since the Cold War amid crises in Syria and Ukraine, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on February 21 accused Washington of trying to meddle in Russia's internal affairs ahead of its presidential election next month after the United States indicted 13 Russians for an alleged covert efforts to interfere in the U.S. polls.

"Paradoxically, the Americans are taking steps towards meddling in our internal affairs and exacerbating tensions in bilateral relations ahead of the presidential election" in Russia on March 18, Ryabkov told the news agency Interfax.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: U.S. - Russian relations will work on some common national security issues .... and ignore the rest. We are now in a mini-Cold War

Will Resumption Of U.S.-South Korea Joint Military Exercises Mark The End Of The Current Diplomatic Outreach To North Korea?

South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks with president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam as Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, looks on.

Brian Padden, VOA: US, S. Korea Military Exercises Could End Outreach to Nuclear North

SEOUL — The resumption of U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, which were postponed until after the PyeongChang Olympics and Paralympics end in late March, could also mark the end of the current diplomatic outreach to North Korea.

The annual joint exercises include the Key Resolve strategic simulation drill, where U.S. and South Korean troops and military assets are deployed to respond to potential North Korean threats, and field exercises called Foal Eagle. Past drills involved nearly 20,000 American troops, 300,000 South Korean forces, and an array of bomber aircrafts, fighter jets and warships.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: North Korea wants to get rid of sanctions. They may walk away .... but doing so will alienate China and Russia who are supporting these talks, and it will not solve the problem of sanctions.

Who Snubbed Who In Korea? South Korea Is Blaming The U.S.

U.S. Vice President Pence and Kim Yo Jong

Donald Kirk, Daily Beast: Who Snubbed Who in Korea? Was it Pence’s Truculence, or Little Sister Kim’s Reticence?

The Trump administration, finally reacting to the diplomatic snafu at the Winter Olympics, blames the North Koreans. The South Koreans are saying, ‘Not so fast.’

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—Days after the snub seen round the world, when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence appeared ossified, staring ahead in stony silence at the Winter Olympics rather than glance at the sister of North Korea’s leader, who was standing behind him, the Trump administration has let it be known that, really, the other side balked.

Pence’s trip was widely derided, even by advocates of a hard line toward the North Korean regime, as a major diplomatic fumble. (He also managed to offend his hosts by declining to stand when North and South Korean teams marched under a single flag at the opening ceremony.)

Read more ....

Update: White House: North Korea Cancelled A Meeting With Vice President Pence At The Last Minute (February 21, 2018).

WNU Editor: The number one priority for the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in since his election win last year has been to position himself so that he can engage into talks with North Korea. But the problem has always been the same .... the North Koreans regard his government as a puppet of the U.S.. The above Daily Beast article even recognizes this  .... President Moon is still making U.S.-North Korean negotiations a top priority, almost a prerequisite, before he can accept Kim Jong Un’s invitation, delivered to him personally by Yo Jong, to meet in Pyongyang. What is my  take .... President Moon is in a bind. The U.S. is not going to get into a general conversation with the North Korea leadership just to make President Moon feel that this  process will lead to something. The U.S. will only engage when it knows what the outcome will be .... in short .... the diplomats will find common ground that the leadership can agree with .... and then build from there so that the leaders and/or senior officials can meet. But it is not going to happen .... because the problem has always been the same. The #1 goal of  the North Korean leadership has  been the to unify the peninsula under their leadership, and nuclear weapons has always been viewed as an important ingredient for them to achieve that goal. They are not going to bargain that away. It is only when that mindset changes .... that things may change .... and giving the visiting North Korean officials expensive meals is not going to achieve that .... It cost US$260 per meal to feed North Korean special guests, including Kim Jong-un’s sister during Olympics visit (SCMP).

North Korea Sends Controversial General To Attend The Closing Olympic Ceremonies

Heading south. (Reuters/Jung Yeon-je/Pool)

Qaurtz: North Korea is sending the suspected mastermind of deadly attacks on the South to the Olympics

Having already dispatched leader Kim Jong-un’s sister to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, North Korea is sending another big gun to mark the closing of the games.

South Korean officials said today (Feb. 22) that 72-year-old general Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the central committee of North Korea’s Workers’ Party of Korea, will lead an eight-member delegation to Pyeongchang for a three-day visit on Sunday (Feb. 25).

Read more ....

WNU Editor: This is a message to South Korea. For the South Korean families who have lost loved ones because of this man .... a bitter moment.

More News On North Korea Sending Its Controversial General To Attend The Closing Olympic Ceremonies

North Korean closing Olympics delegation includes man blamed for deadly sinking -- North Korea
Former Spymaster to Lead North Korea's Olympic Ceremony Delegation -- New York Times
Winter Olympics 2018: North Korea's General Kim Yong-chol to attend -- BBC
North Korean General Blamed for Sony Hack Could Meet Ivanka Trump at Olympic Closing Ceremony -- Newsweek
North Korea to send high-level delegation to Olympics closing ceremony -- ABC News
North Korea hardline general to attend Olympics closing ceremony -- Financial Times