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GLOBAL PULSE: Israel is worried about intelligence sharing with Trump, a conservative cleric rises in Iran and Japan’s male-only royalty

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Can Trump screw up the world’s best intelligence relationship? That is between Israel and the U.S. The intelligence chiefs in Israel are up in arms. Cooperation with America’s agencies is deeply embedded in Israel’s intelligence community. The Americans have the edge when it comes to the technology for intercepting transmissions, but Israel is their eyes and ears in the Middle East. But Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu has instructed his officials not to react. “We have to rethink what to give the Americans. Until we are sure that this channel is as secure as secure can be, we must not hand over our crown jewels,” said one intelligence official. Russia is a major player in the war in Syria on Israel’s northern border, if the intelligence shared is not safely guarded, Israel faces a major threat to its security. 


A turbaned cleric from eastern Iran has been presenting himself as an anti-corruption hero and rallies support among the poor and the pious in an underdog effort to win the presidency in this week’s election. The 56-year old hardliner, Ebrahim Raisi, seems to have come out of nowhere, and is the current favourite for possibly being the successor to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi’s first commitment is to the Islamic Republic, and its ideology. But other candidates only talk about the economy. Many voters who strongly believe in the Islamic Republic’s anti-Western ideology or feel strangled by poverty, hail Raisi as a savior, But he has avoided talking about issues like the Islamic dress codes and segregation of men and women. Critics see him as an insider who has suddenly adopted the stance of a populist outsider and corruption fighter. 


Trump’s exhausted aides and deputies who are the frequent targets of Trump’s wrath struggle to control an uncontrollable chief executive. Some White House staffers have turned to impeachment gallows humour, others have started contacting consultants, shopping their résumés. And at least one senior staffer has begun privately talking to friends about what a post-White House job would look like. Trump has created a situation in which his team is increasingly unlikely to succeed. Those who remain fully loyal to Trump report a growing sense of isolation. Analysts asked if the White House would be able to focus on something as policy-intensive as an overhaul of the tax code when it seems to be engulfed in constant crisis.


There is an impending showdown between Germany’s Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Merkel warned that Britain would “pay a prize” for blocking free movement of workers from Europe. But May did just that. For the first time in decades, the election manifesto said Britain will “reduce and control” the number of people arriving from the European Union. In her election campaign, May is telling voters that she will be tough on immigration. Britain can’t be “half in and half out”, May said. “This is not meant maliciously, but you cannot have all of the good things and then say there’s a limit of 100,000 or 200,000 EU citizens allowed to enter the U.K.,” said Merkel, who is facing her own national election later this year. “We will have to think about which restrictions we make on the European side to compensate for that.”  


News that Princess Mako, eldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito, will surrender her royal status if, as is expected, she marries a commoner, has reignited debate on the male-only succession to the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. Under Japan’s controversial law, any female royal family member loses her status on marrying a commoner. The 25-year-old princess’s impending engagement to a law firm worker comes as Japan faces a shrinking imperial family and a possible future shortage of male heirs. It is already grappling with the thorny constitutional issue of 83-year-old Akihito’s possible abdication after he hinted last year he feared age could interfere with his duties. The possibility of allowing women to ascend the throne was debated a decade ago, but conservatives argued it would sever what they claim is an unbroken 2,600-year-long line of male succession.



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