Florida Governor Opposes Deals Between State’s Ports and Cuba
Erica E. Philips and Ariana Campo-Flores, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Florida Gov. Rick Scott threatened in his proposed budget to cut off funding for improvements at the state’s ports if they pursued deeper trade ties with Cuba. The budget bars $177 million in seaport funding from being put toward projects that “result in the expansion of trade” with Cuba, and comes after Mr. Scott said in a series of tweets last week that he opposed plans by ports in Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale to sign agreements with visiting Cuban delegations.
The Czech Foreign Minister Says His Email Was Hacked—And Hints Russia Could Be Behind It
Adam Taylor, THE WASHINGTON POST
Months before the country’s national election, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek has told reporters that his ministry’s email system was hacked by what appears to be a foreign state—and that the attack was similar to those carried out against the Democrats ahead of last year’s US election. The Czech Republic is due to hold its parliamentary election this October. Intelligence officials have already expressed concern that pro-Russian groups have infiltrated the Czech media system with the aim of influencing the vote.
Chinese Billionaire Xiao Jianhua Seized from Luxury Hong Kong Hotel, Source Says
Steven Jiang and Katie Hunt, CNN
A Chinese billionaire with Canadian citizenship has been seized from his apartment at the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong and taken to mainland China, a source familiar with the situation told CNN Wednesday. Hong Kong police said they were investigating the disappearance of Xiao Jianhua, who was reported missing Friday. Police added that they had received a request Saturday from a family member to drop the case. “We are still investigating and have reached out to the mainland authorities concerned,” the statement sent to CNN Tuesday said.
Private North Korean University Seeks Texas A&M Academic Help
The leaders of the only private university in North Korea asked Texas A&M University, known for its agricultural economics and public health programs, for help on Monday in teaching subjects such as how to grow food in a land of chronic shortages. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) was founded by evangelical Christians and opened in 2010, with students generally the children of the country’s elite. The PUST delegation said the requested help is not about politics but about using academics for humanitarian ideals.
Reports of Treason Arrests in Russia Are Fueling Intrigue Over Hacking Allegations
Howard Amos, TIME
In the days since it emerged that four men had been arrested on treason charges linked to cyber intelligence and Russia’s domestic security agency, conspiracy theories and speculation about the case have swept through Moscow. Specifics of the case are murky, and no Russian government officials have commented publicly. Llinking the arrests to the US election would mean joining the dots between a series of shadowy actors in the Russian internet world.
Tibetan Pilgrims See Passports Destroyed on Their Return
RADIO FREE ASIA
In a bid to tighten control over Tibetan travel outside China, Chinese authorities are seizing the passports of Tibetans returning from visits to Buddhist sites in India and Nepal, sometimes destroying the documents in front of them, sources say. Officials were particularly severe with Tibetans arriving at airports in Beijing and the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu on Jan. 12, a source in the region told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Trump’s Defense Chief Heads to Asia, Eying China, North Korea Threat
Phil Stewart and Nobuhiro Kubo, REUTERS
President Donald Trump’s defense secretary is expected to underscore US security commitments to key allies South Korea and Japan on his debut trip to Asia this week as concerns mount over North Korea’s missile program and tensions with China. The trip is the first for retired Marine General James Mattis since becoming Trump’s Pentagon chief and is also the first foreign trip by any of Trump’s cabinet secretaries.
Venezuela’s VP Granted Unprecedented Powers, Fueling Rumors of Succession
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has granted his newly appointed vice president, Tareck El Aissami, unprecedented powers that include the approval of all ministries’ budgets, the appointment of vice ministers, and full discretion to manage the expropriation of private businesses. The decree, made public Monday through the official gazette, states that the transfer of powers to El Assaimi, a self-professed radical Chavista, is aimed at “expediting the processing of certain matters.” Opposition leader Jesús Torrealba said Tuesday the decision represents a “progressive empowerment” of El Aissami, looking to gradually transform him into a “possible presidential candidate” of the socialist ruling party.