Hitting Them Where It Hurts

Grind for August 6th
“It would be nice to spend billions on schools and roads, but right now that money is desperately needed for political ads.”
– Andy Borowitz

Not So Fast

The Headline

Trump Administration imposes new sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

The Grind

President Donald Trump this week announced new sanctions on Russia related to last year’s assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK’s intelligence services.

The sanctions, which prevent US banks from providing “any loan or financial or technical assistance” to Russia, add to August sanctions affecting the export of sensitive electronic components that could have military applications.

Both sets of sanctions were imposed under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act (1991), which calls for sanctions within 90 days of an attack unless the perpetrator provides reliable assurance that it will stop using chemical weapons.

The Background

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in March 2018 in Salisbury, England. Both spent weeks in critical condition before recovering some months later.

The attack was blamed on Russia after a team of scientist determined the Skripals had been exposed to the Soviet nerve agent Novichok.

The incident was a blow to relations between Russia and the West, with more than 20 countries choosing to expel Russian envoys in solidarity with the UK.

Russia continues to deny any involvement in the attack.

World News

The Headline

Japan downgrades trade relationship with South Korea

The Grind

The Japanese government on Friday approved legislation that imposes strict controls on industrial and high-tech exports to South Korea and removes South Korea from its list of preferred trading partners.

South Korean civilians reacted to the news by forming a protest at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. One protestor is in critical condition after he set himself on fire in protest.

The South Korean Government removed Japan from its list of trusted trading partners and threatened to pull out of a key military intelligence sharing agreement the two countries use to coordinate responses to threats from North Korea.

“Japan’s measure will add even more difficulties to our economy under these severe circumstances,” said South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “However, we will never again lose to Japan…We have come this far today by overcoming countless hardships.”

The Korean peninsula was a colony of Japan from 1910-1945.

The Details

Analysts interpret Japan’s decision as a response to President Moon’s foreign policy – which takes Seoul further from the US and Japan and closer to North Korea and China.

“Korean foreign policy is changing,” says Kunihiko Miyake, research director at The Canon Institute for Global Studies in Tokyo. “They know the Cold War is over…They know that China is on the rise. They know that the Americans are not dependable anymore.”

Japan’s announcement comes less than two weeks after military aircraft from China and Russia flew over a disputed region between South Korea and Japan.

South Korea accused the aircraft of entering its airspace and fired more than 300 warning shots. Japan accused the aircraft of entering its airspace and said South Korea had no authority to fire shots in the region.

Analysts suspect the incursion was designed to sow discord between US allies.

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