Trump pinata
Trump pinata

-Analysis-

Last week, just a day after the abrupt dismissal of FBI Director James B. Comey set off the worst round of criticism Donald Trump's young presidency, the next — and perhaps even more damaging — controversy was being ignited. The Washington Post is reporting that Trump allegedly revealed highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during a White House meeting last Wednesday. "I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day," the Post reports Trump boasting to the visiting Russians.

Though blended in with lingering questions about the Trump campaign's possible links to Moscow, the episode reveals, above all else, a troubling picture of the president's basic competency as commander-in-chief — and could undermine Washington's relations with its allies, particularly in the fight against terrorism.

The Post quotes anonymous U.S. officials as saying that "Trump's disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State (ISIS)" and could "hinder the United States' and its allies' ability to detect future threats." National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster denied the claims yesterday and said The Washington Post"s allegations were "false," without elaborating.

The international press was quick to raise serious worries. In The Guardian, reporters Julian Borger and Sabrina Siddiqui write that "Donald Trump's Oval Office boasting to the Russians, if confirmed, could wreak its deepest and most enduring damage on vital intelligence-sharing by U.S. allies." Because of "Trump's cavalier attitude towards state secrets and his chumminess with Moscow," allies — including in the rest of the Five Eyes alliance (Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) — could refuse to share crucial intelligence with Washington, possibly resulting in lasting impacts on security and counterterrorism. "People may die, including American citizens, if fear over Trump leaking leads to refusal to share sensitive information in the future," the newspaper quotes Richard Nephew, a former NSC and state department official as saying.

A troubling picture of the president's basic competency as commander-in-chief.

In Germany, meanwhile, Süddeutsche Zeitung calls the revelation Trump's "next Russian problem" and correspondent Thorsten Denkler writes that it could "reignite the debate" in Germany over whether the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) should continue to cooperate with the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.

Several news reports speculated that the sensitive intelligence information shared with Russia originally came from a Middle East country, and could jeopardize formal and informal intelligence-sharing agreements. In January, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Israeli intelligence officials had expressed concern in classified discussions after Trump's election that sensitive information would be leaked to Russia — and from Russia to Iran — because of Trump's close ties to the Kremlin.

It may be much too soon to say with certainty whether the claims will cause direct damage to Donald Trump, who seems to not only play, but also be judged, by a different set of rules at home. But where the crucial sharing of sensitive intelligence is concerned, the president's big mouth may have already left lasting damage in the global fight against terrorism.


*Tamar Shiloh Vidon contributed to this item.

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

¥10,000

In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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