New South Korean President Moon Jae-in
New South Korean President Moon Jae-in
Rebecca Aydin

-Analysis-

Having spent his whole life running a family business, Donald Trump is still adjusting to the strategic art of control required to effectively run the White House — and help lead the world.

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, making him the shortest serving director since the 1920s. Comey had orbited in and out of Trump's favor since the real estate tycoon had made the leap into politics. Comey closed the Hillary Clinton email investigation in July 2016, only to reopen it in October, just before the election. Though Trump has praised Comey's "guts' in that investigation, his administration is now citing its mishandling as grounds for his termination.

Democrats suspect the firing may instead be part of a cover-up of connections between the Trump campaign and administration and Russian meddling in the U.S. election. In March, Comey had affirmed that the FBI was "investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government."

Whatever the reason, the abruptness of the firing seems to follow a pattern of haphazard decisions and bad attempts at defending them. Trump gave the axe to former acting Attorney General Sally Yates (stated reason: for opposing his immigration ban) and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (stated reason: for having lied to Vice President Mike Pence regarding conversations with the Russian ambassador). Most recently, he fired the White House's Chief Usher Angella Reid, the first woman and second African-American to hold the position.

His hard line on North Korea may have been dramatically undermined.

Though he may believe he had legitimate grounds in each case, Trump increasingly looks like a screaming orange toddler banging his fists on his Oval Office desk in a much higher-stakes version of his reality TV show.

While Trump attempted to exert control over his own administration yesterday, he also saw another example of the limits of his powers far away from home. Washington's sudden shift last month to a harder line on the regime in North Korea may have been dramatically undermined by Tuesday's election of a new president in South Korea.

Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party is a former human rights lawyer and the son of North Korean refugees. He is in favor of opening dialogue with Pyongyang and envisions economic integration between North and South Korea. Moon Jae-in is also advocating for cooperation between South Korea, the U.S., and China in order to prevent nuclear escalation, and even said he would be willing to meet the North's leader Kim Jong-un.

Back in Washington, among the many things the U.S. president has floated in recent weeks, was a similar kind of "personal" offer/dare to meet the dictator in Pyongyang. Trump, it seems, believes in the strategic art of unpredictability.

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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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