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GLOBAL PULSE: Trump fires FBI chief, Seoul elects a leader who wants to engage with North Korea, and the new non-voters in France.

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In a shocking move, American president Donald Trump has fired FBI chief James Comey. And CNN called it “a grotesque abuse of power”, the “kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies”. The New York Times called it “a tense and uncertain time in the nation’s history”. Was it a “Nixonian” act or “uniquely Trumpian”?

Comey was widely criticized by the Democrats for costing them the presidential election because of his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email irregularities. But Comey had called it “extreme carelessness” but not “gross negligence”, earning the ire of Trump’s team. Then, last week, he wrongly said there were “hundreds of thousands of emails” of Clinton’s with classified information. Officials said it “profoundly damaged public trust in the agency”.

Democrats now say they just lost one of their best chances for an apolitical probe into ties between Trump associates and Russia.



South Korea has elected a new leader who favours engagement with North Korea, at a time of growing regional tension over the regime’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes. Moon Jae-in, a Left-leaning liberal and a former human rights lawyer, recently declared that a decade of hardline policy towards Pyongyang was a failure.

His approach “may pose a challenge to an already wobbly U.S. position in Asia”, said The New York Times.

Any potential rapprochement with North Korea has to come at the cost of ties with its ally, the United States. Moon, a son of North Korean refugees, wants to seize the policy initiative from Washington after months of drift.

Moon’s other foreign policy priority will be to repair relations with China, which opposes the deployment in South Korea of a U.S. missile defence system.



A court in Indonesia ruled that the Christian governor of the capital, Jakarta, was guilty of blasphemy against Islam and sent him to two years in prison in a case seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim nation.

The governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was defeated last month in an election in which the blasphemy case was a major issue. His defeat was interpreted as a sign of growing power of Islamic conservatives.

Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia and hard-line Islamist groups celebrated the verdict.

Basuki was leading in the polls last year, but in September his campaign faltered when he attacked Muslim hard-liners who argued that Quran forbids Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim. He was accused of insulting the Quran in an aggressive campaign by the clerics.



France has a new opposition. Those who didn’t vote for either Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen.

A staggering 15.5 million renegades abstained or voided their ballots amounting to a third of the registered voters. More people abstained than voted for Le Pen, who won about 10.6 million votes. The number of blank and voided ballots was a record for France’s Fifth Republic, founded in 1958.

“I choose not to enter the game. The abstentionists are the new opposition,” a young citizen said. Some spoiled their ballot papers and experts described it as a militant rejection of “the political system” and called the historic non-participation rate a testament to “deepening polarisation and a sign of the tough road ahead for Macron”.

Some said that there is also a clear sense of unease with Macron among a large fraction of the electorate.



An Australian senator, Larissa Waters, became the first woman to breastfeed in parliament, a move that she said will promote the cause of “more family-friendly and flexible workplaces”.

“We need more women and parents in Parliament,” Waters said on her Facebook

Last year, the lower house joined the Senate in allowing breastfeeding, but no politician in either house had done so until now.

“Women are going to continue to have babies and if they want to do their job and be at work and look after their baby… the reality is we are going to have to accommodate that,” Labor Senator Katy Gallagher said.

Until last year, MPs in the lower house could take babies only into parliamentary offices or public galleries. Politicians have been permitted to breastfeed in the Senate since 2003.


Picture Courtesy: Facebook @FBI

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