Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 23, 2017

France votes in presidential runoff, North Korea says it is prepared to bomb a U.S. aircraft carrier, and more

1

France votes in presidential runoff

French citizens head to the polls Sunday to vote in a runoff election that will pare down a field of 11 presidential candidates to the top two. No one candidate is expected to take an outright majority; rather, four candidates are in contention to make it to the second round: far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, center-right François Fillon, centrist Emmanuel Macron, and far-left populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Of these, Le Pen and Macron are generally considered the frontrunners in a close race, and Le Pen — an immigration and war on terror hardliner — is thought to benefit from the fear created by Thursday's terrorist attack in Paris. The vote between Sunday's winners will be cast May 7.

2

North Korea says it is prepared to bomb a U.S. aircraft carrier

North Korea on Sunday said it is prepared to bomb the USS Carl Vinson, a U.S. aircraft carrier leading a Navy carrier strike group toward North Korea in a show of force. "Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike," said an editorial in a newspaper run by the Kim Jong Un regime's Workers' Party. The article called the ship a "gross animal" and the potential strike "an actual example to show our military's force." The carrier strike group was first said to be on its way toward North Korea in early April, only to be sighted thousands of miles away, near Singapore. The Trump administration blamed the confusion on miscommunication, and the Vinson is now in transit to the Sea of Japan off the coast of North Korea.

3

March for Science draws huge crowds in cities worldwide

Saturday's international March for Science included events in more than 600 locations around the world. Comprehensive crowd size tallies have yet to be released, but police estimate tens of thousands gathered in cities including Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Today "we have a great many lawmakers — not just here, but around the world — deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science," Bill Nye the Science Guy told a cheering crowd at the main rally in Washington. "Their inclination is misguided, and in no one's best interest."

4

North Korea detains U.S. citizen

North Korea detained a Korean-American man identified only by his last name, Kim, at the airport in Pyongyang on Friday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Sunday. Kim is reportedly a former professor who was in North Korea working on relief aid projects. He is the third American citizen currently held by the isolated nation. The other two detainees were both arrested last year and sentenced to hard labor for subversive acts. Pyongyang has yet to comment on why Kim is in custody.

5

Pence: U.S. to honor refugee deal with Australia

The United States will proceed with an agreement with Australia to help resettle refugees, Vice President Mike Pence pledged Saturday. "President Trump has made it clear that we'll honor the agreement — that doesn't mean we admire the agreement," Pence said. The arrangement requires the U.S. to accept up to 1,250 refugees, many from Iran and Syria, from their present location in offshore detention centers in Australia. In return, Australia will accept refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. President Trump has called the agreement a "dumb deal."

6

Trump to hold Pennsylvania rally during press dinner

President Trump announced in February he would skip the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which is scheduled for April 29. On Saturday, Trump tweeted his alternative plans for that day: "a BIG rally in Pennsylvania." The last president to miss the dinner was Ronald Reagan in 1981; he sent a phone message instead of appearing personally because he was recovering from an assassination attempt. Trump's decision to decline has been widely interpreted as retribution for press coverage he considers unfair.

7

Trump tweets commitment to jobs, clean water on Earth Day

President Trump on Saturday offered an Earth Day message qualified by a reiteration of his economic priorities. "I am committed to keeping our air and water clean but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection," he tweeted. "Jobs matter!" Trump also released a more formal statement apparently in response to Saturday's March for Science rallies. "My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks," he said.

8

100-day poll sees Trump unpopular but maintaining his base

President Trump continues to have record-low approval ratings with the general public, but he is maintaining his core base of supporters, finds a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday in advance of the 100-day mark of Trump's presidency on April 29. A majority of Americans say Trump does not understand their problems, is not trustworthy, and is not guided by a clear set of principles. However, more Americans say Democrats are out of step with the public than feel the same about the GOP, and 96 percent of Trump voters said they would back him again today.

9

Sanders defends Coulter speech rights in Berkeley controversy

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday waded into the controversy surrounding free speech at the University of California, Berkeley, where pundit Ann Coulter was invited to speak and then temporarily uninvited following threats of violent protest. "I don't like this," Sanders said. "Coulter's outrageous ― to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation." Members of the Berkeley College Republicans, the club hosting Coulter, have threatened to sue their school if the speech does not happen.

10

Happy Days actress Erin Moran found dead

Former child star Erin Moran, best known for her role as Joanie Cunningham, little sister to Ron Howard's Richie Cunningham on Happy Days, was found dead Saturday in Indiana. She was 56. Moran began acting when she was ten, appearing in shows including Joanie Loves Chachi and Murder, She Wrote after her time on Happy Days. "Such sad sad news," Howard wrote on Twitter Saturday night. "RIP Erin. I'll always choose to remember you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs and lighting up tv screens."

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