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You’re fired! Donald Trump’s abrupt dismissal of FBI chief James Comey, which came while the bureau was still investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, has stunned the US. Some FBI agents were in tears as the news spread. “No one knew this was coming,” said one. The official reason for the “termination” was Mr Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, although he was praised for this by Mr Trump during the presidential campaign. This, coupled with the abruptness and timing of the dismissal, has prompted speculation of a cover-up, with US lawmakers taking to Twitter to express their concern.
Many see echoes of Watergate in Mr Trump’s decision. As Edward Luce points out: “It took Richard Nixon five months to fire the man investigating him. It took Donald Trump less than four.” An FT timeline shows the seeds of Mr Comey’s dismissal were planted nearly a year ago. Here is the memo recommending Mr Comey’s dismissal, decoded. It makes no mention of the Russian investigation. In the meantime, presidential business continues: today Mr Trump is to meet Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. (FT, Politico, Guardian, BBC, NYT, Reuters)
In the news
Will Moon bring sunshine?
Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s new president, offered an olive branch to Pyongyang at his inauguration on Wednesday. The 64-year-old successor to Park Geun-hye is open to what used to be known as the “sunshine policies” of greater engagement with North Korea, and is expected to reconfigure the region’s geopolitics. But on domestic policies he is likely to face a challenge from resurgent conservatives. (FT, Foreign Policy, NAR)
Europe underestimates joblessness
The eurozone’s labour market is in much worse shape than official jobs figures suggest, with workers unlikely to see real increases in pay because of the level of underemployment across the bloc. This is the finding of a new study by the European Central Bank, which has come up with a wider definition of unemployment to include workers who have become discouraged by the lack of job opportunities. (FT)
The $800bn ‘fruit company’
Apple’s valuation rose above $800bn for the first time on Tuesday, which is more than the value of Walmart, General Electric, Pfizer and Kraft Heinz combined. It is also the first time a US publicly traded company has hit that mark. (FT)
Poopootov cocktails in Venezuela
Opposition protesters in Venezuela have a new weapon against riot police: excrement. “They have gas; we have excrement”, reads an image on social media ahead of a planned “shit march” on Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest triple digit inflation, and shortages of food and basic medicines. But some opposition members say the strategy may backfire by increasing the already soaring rate of infectious diseases. (Guardian)
US to arm Kurds over Turkish objections
The Trump administration has approved a plan to provide Syrian Kurds with heavier weapons for the fight to retake Raqqa from Isis, despite vociferous objections from Ankara. (NYT)
The day ahead
Analysts expect the weaker yen to help Japan’s biggest carmaker beat its profit target when it announces fourth-quarter results. (NAR)
The US tech company releases its first quarterly earnings. But analysts are expecting the numbers to show that slowing growth and steepening competition are only making Snap’s life more difficult. (WSJ)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.
What we’re reading
African health becomes a big business
As African countries urbanise, disease patterns change and more people become able to afford healthcare or health insurance. And companies are spotting an opportunity. (FT)
Macron weighs up France’s biggest challenges
Martin Wolf on whether the president-elect can seize the opportunity his victory presents: “If he is to do so, he will need not only clarity and courage, but also luck. The reforms he plans could work, economically and politically, provided the eurozone’s recovery continues.” Here’s Gideon Rachman on how Macron’s win earns Europe a reprieve from the forces of populism. (FT)
Cannabis for the elderly
Scientists studying mice have discovered that the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, helps reverse brain ageing and restores learning and memory in the elderly — the opposite of its influence on the young. And they think it may have the same effect on humans. (New Scientist)
Going green in Russia
Opposition leaders in Russia are being splashed with green dye, known as zelyonka, by shadowy pro-government thugs. On its own, the dye — a widespread Soviet-era antiseptic akin to iodine — is harmless, if difficult to wash off. But mixed with other substances, it can be dangerous, as Alexei Navalny discovered when a March attack left him partially blind. (Economist)
How an Indian superhero beat Hollywood
Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, which opened at the end of April, has become the highest grossing Indian film in history, and its breakthrough in the US may be just as significant. (WSJ)
Video of the day
Trump fires Comey
US president Donald Trump’s dismissal of the director of the FBI has shocked Washington. The FT’s Ed Luce looks at the possible implications. (FT)