Thursday, 6 October, 2022
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GLOBAL PULSE: Comey’s G-Man act, Corbyn loses but wins big and Kenya’s Lunatic Express

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Weeks after being described by Donald Trump as a “nut job,” James Comey on Thursday deftly recast his confrontation with the president as a clash between the legal principles at the foundation of American democracy, and a venal, self-interested politician who does not recognise, let alone uphold, them. That is how The New York Times editorial described the fired FBI director’s testimony. The Washington Post said that he “painted a picture of a president grossly abusing his executive authority. The Republican effort to minimise the president’s transgressions served only to make those senators look small”. The paper also called it the “performance of a lifetime” and said Comey decided to play two roles at once: The prototypical G-man, always on the straight and narrow, dedicated only to truth and justice, and the aggrieved victim of an undisciplined, line-crossing president.


In Britain, the far-left firebrand leader Jeremy Corbyn was almost written off when the election campaign began. Many had believed he was headed for political oblivion. A punching bag of the British tabloids, he was branded as being sympathetic to militant groups. But a projection based on official results put the Conservatives in first place, but falling short of a majority. Corbyn’s Labour made unexpected gains. Because Labour was preparing for a crushing defeat, the outcome will now be cast as a victory for the leftist ideas Corbyn champions. In the mould of Bernie Sanders in the U.S., the 68-year old Corbyn sought to deliver “socialism of the 21st century”. Calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to quit rose but the result also threw into disarray the country’s plans for leaving the European Union.


A sex education video competition for young people in Malaysia had a category on preventing homosexuality. But following a huge outcry among the activists, the government has finally removed the category. The reason given by the health ministry is that the category could increase hatred and violence against LGBT people. The ministry even replaced the “gender identity disorder” category with one on gender and sexuality. Homosexual activity is illegal in Malaysia under both secular and religious laws and is punishable by a prison sentence or corporal punishment. Deputy Director-General of Health Lokman Hakim Sulaiman had previously defended the contest categories, saying their aim was to promote creativity, not to discriminate.  The guidelines had cited LGBT people as suffering from “gender confusion”.


First Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar over its support of terrorism. Now they are designating designated dozens of people with links to Qatar as terrorists, intensifying a row that threatens the region’s stability. In a diplomatic and economic campaign to isolate Qatar, the four countries said in a statement that 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities Qatar Charity and Eid Charity, were named. The list also includes prominent businessmen, politicians and senior members of the ruling family including a former interior minister. Meanwhile, Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera said that it was under a widescale cyber attack which had targeted “all systems”. Al-Jazeera has long been a source of conflict between Qatar and its neighbours, who accuse the broadcaster of bias and fomenting trouble in the region.


Nairobi just opened its sleek new 300-mile railway, built by China. But it comes with a huge price tag. The government spent $4 billion on the railway connecting the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, the most expensive infrastructure project since Kenya’s independence 54 years ago and one-fifth of its national budget. Amid the fanfare there is a growing question: How can the country repay its monstrous debt to China? The loan has already pushed the Kenyan debt above 50 percent of output, and imports of Chinese supplies and materials is worsening trade imbalance with China. At the new railway, pamphlets were in Chinese, some staff members wore uniforms of red and gold, even the music on the train wasn’t Kenyan. Kenyans already have a nickname for it: the Lunatic Express 2. The last expensive one was built by the British in 1901.

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