JERUSALEM – In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis tried to allegorise about a reality which he admitted he could not imagine, but tentatively hoped to suggest. The US-Israeli relationship, to most, seems like an unbreakable bond, and any potential divorce might be regarded as unimaginable. But when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US President Barack Obama on July 6, they will discuss a relationship that is on the rocks, despite an annual US$2billion in aid and – in keeping with the traditional parameters of the relationship – Obama’s repeated commitment to Israel’s security. Stirring things up in advance, Michael Oren,Israel’s Ambassador to the US, spent Sunday and Monday denying media reports that he told Israeli diplomats that a “tectonic rift” was emerging between the two countries.
MANILA — In a first for The Philippines – a country with intermittent electricity supply and a history of electoral fraud – a computerised system is being used instead of the manual count used in most other countries. Despite 11th-hour glitches that meant the recall and re-programming of 76000 flash cards used to scan votes, the election commission (Comelec) remains confident that “the elections will go through”, according to Comelec chair Jose Melo. It is still not clear, however, whether the equipment will be ready and distributed across the whole archipelago in time. The election commission nonetheless is resisting calls from candidates and media to conduct a manual count in parallel and as a back-up to the computerised alternative, as Filipinos prepare to vote for a successor to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, choosing from 3 main contenders have been described as a saint, a CEO and a movie star. The ‘saint’ in question is Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino, son of former President and democracy icon Cory, who died in August 2009.