In our news wrap Wednesday, South Korea's new liberal president, Moon Jae-in, took the oath of office and vowed to unite the country and negotiate peace with foreign nations. Also, Kurdish fighters in Syria welcomed the Trump administration's decision to arm them with heavier weapons.
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In the day's other news — and there was other news — South Korea's new liberal President, Moon Jae-in, took the oath of office today in Seoul. The country's election commission officially certified Moon's victory, after he received more than 40 percent of the vote. His predecessor, Park Geun-hye, was ousted in a corruption scandal.
After Moon was sworn into office, he vowed to unite the country and negotiate peace with other nations.
PRESIDENT MOON JAE-IN, South Korea (through interpreter): I will urgently try to solve the security crisis. I will be always on the move for peace in the Korean Peninsula. If necessary, I will fly straight to Washington. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo, and, if the conditions allow, to Pyongyang as well.
President Moon's nominee to head the national intelligence service said that the new leader will only visit Pyongyang when — quote — "The North Korean nuclear problem begins to settle."
In Syria, Kurdish fighters welcomed the Trump administration's decision to arm them with heavier weapons. They said it will legitimize their fight to recapture Raqqa from the Islamic State.
But the move drew swift condemnation from Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He insists that the Kurdish forces are aligned with rebels battling his own government, and he warned that the arms decision could end up backfiring.
PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey (through interpreter): The fight against the terrorist organization Islamic State shouldn't be carried out with another terrorist organization. This kind of step would endanger the future of Syria and the region. We want to believe that our allies will prefer to side with us, not with a terrorist organization.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS said that the U.S. could start distributing arms and equipment to Kurdish fighters very quickly, and under close monitoring.
President Trump suffered a surprise blow in his effort to repeal an Obama-era rule restricting methane emissions in the U.S. Senate today. In a 51-49 vote, three Republican senators joined Democrats to support preserving the regulation, John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The rule limits methane leaks from oil and gas drilling on federal lands.
A journalist in West Virginia has been arrested for repeatedly asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about Congress' Obamacare replacement bill. Daniel Heyman, who is a reporter for Public News Service, was taken into custody last night. He was accused of causing a disturbance at the state's capitol by shouting questions at Price and at White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.
DANIEL HEYMAN, Public News Service:
What I did was, I was holding the phone out like this. And I was trying to get as close to Secretary Price as possible, for obvious reasons. And that was all there was to it. And I was yelling out questions. And that was it.
The criminal complaint alleges that Heyman aggressively breached Secret Service agents. He was later released on $5,000 bond.
The U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, was booed today as she gave a commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida. Students and alumni of the historically black college objected to her being the keynote speaker, after she said such institutions are pioneers of school choice.
The graduates jeered and turned their backs in protest, while DeVos sought to assure them the Trump administration supports historically black colleges and universities, also known as HBCUs.
BETSY DEVOS, U.S. Education Secretary:
While we will undoubtedly disagree at times, I hope we can do so respectfully. Let's choose to hear one another out. I want to reaffirm this administration's commitment to and support for HBCUs and the students they serve.
Petitions bearing some 60,000 signatures were delivered to school officials Tuesday demanding that DeVos' invitation be rescinded.
And on Wall Street today, stocks managed to mostly shrug off news of the FBI director's abrupt firing. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 32 points to close at 20943. The Nasdaq rose eight points, to post a record close, and the S&P 500 added nearly three.