There was supposed to be a landmark meeting between the US and North Korea at the Seoul Olympics. It should have been a chance to start a diplomatic reconciliation. Vice president Mike Pence was set to meet a delegation from North Korea at the South Korean version of the White House. But alas, it was not to be, as on the day of the meeting (which was scheduled for February 10th), the North Koreans backed out of the meeting, allegedly upset at Pence’s stern public speech on the country’s human rights record.
FINSUM: North Korea has done very well politically at these Olympics, mostly by “humanizing” themselves to the world. However, a real diplomatic engagement would have been a great step.
There have been relatively few updates on the Trump probe in recent weeks. Ever since the debate over whether Trump should let Mueller interview him calmed down, there has been little news. Now, reports are coming out that a group of investors in the Kushner family business—the family of Trump’s son-in-law—have been subpoenaed by the IRS and the Department of Justice. However, at this point, reports say the subpoenas are unrelated to the more broad probe into the White House’s connection to Russia.
FINSUM: Hard to see what is really going on here, but suffice it to say that the overall probe is deepening.
We don’t run a whole lot of news on the geopolitical and military fronts, but we think we found a story today that everyone needs to be wary of. Bloomberg reports, along with confirmations from the US military, that US troops engaged and killed around 100 Russian soldiers, injuring 200 to 300 hundred. The soldiers were reportedly mercenaries fighting for the Assad regime in Syria who attacked a US held refinery/base. Russia says it had nothing to do with the attack and that it would not engage US forces.
FINSUM: This seems like it could spark a very tense geopolitical situation, but luckily it looks like Russia distanced itself very quickly and is not seeking any confrontation.
A couple of weeks ago all the talk was about how President Trump was eager to have a one on one interview with Robert Mueller in order to set the record straight. Now, the reports are shifting that Trump should not speak to Mueller. Republicans think not speaking would be wise considering new documents which reportedly show bias in the investigation. One explanation of the recent reports is that Trump is trying to see if not speaking to Mueller would be acceptable to the public, or whether it would hurt his image.
FINSUM: If you think this whole investigation is a witch hunt, then it makes sense that Trump should not take the risk of incriminating himself by talking to what is assumed to be a biased investigator. If you have the opposite view, then not talking looks like he has something to hide.
On the geopolitical side, most news is ominous. Countries disagree, threaten, embargo, or otherwise make antagonistic acts against one another. But sometimes you get a positive story. Today we want to report on one—the agreement between North and South Korea to compete under the same flag at the Olympics. The two countries, which have been at odds for many decades, will compete side by side in the games, with the women’s hockey team featuring players from both countries. Some see the agreement as placating an aggressive foe, but others see it as a sign of hope and progress.
FINSUM: We find this to be an undoubtedly positive progression, especially since just a couple of months ago the conversation was about how quickly North Korea could have tanks rolling through Seoul.
Fake news has become an important part of the American conversation. People discuss it at work, dinner parties, and at the kitchen table. But one fiercely contested question is whether the right or left side of the political spectrum puts out more fake news. Well, the British seem to have an answer, it is the right, according to the University of Oxford. The university analyzed near 100,000 social media posts to trace the source of fake news, and found that what it calls the “hard right” dominates the use of disinformation.
FINSUM: Obviously take this with a big grain of salt, but an interesting study nonetheless.