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火の粉を払う・かわいがってもらう

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Apr 27, 2014
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A couple of questions about Asahi articles again.

First article is about a controversy surrounding a Taiwanese idol who implied on TV that Taiwan is separate from China, only to publicly apologize later on: 台湾人アイドル「私は中国人」 独立派と非難され謝罪:朝日新聞デジタル
国民党の総統候補、朱立倫主席は交流サイト・フェイスブックに「16歳に対してこれはひどすぎる。周さん、帰っておいで」と書き込むなど、火の粉を払うのに懸命なようすだ。
What does this expression mean? I didn't manage to find an explanation. Is it "trying their best to start a fight"/"pouring oil on the fire"?

The second is about a case of harrassment of a young police officer by several of his superiors: 激辛カレー・生肉も強要 「部下に拳銃」警官に停職:朝日新聞デジタル
なめとんのか」と実弾入りの拳銃を数秒間向けた
What does this mean? Is it based on 舐める?

巡査が昨年9月、同僚男性から勤務中に丸刈りにしてくるように命じられたと署の幹部に申告し、問題が発覚した。府警は「巡査はかわいがってもらっているという思いもあったようだ」と説明しているが、パワーハラスメントに当たると判断し、処分した。
The victim was told to shave his hair off, and reported this to the office - but I don't quite get the quote in next sentence. "It seems like the (victim) police officer thought that maybe the (bully) colleague (of his boss) was having him ..." what exactly?
 
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