Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 24, 2017

Macron and Le Pen advance to second round in French presidential election, China urges calm as North Korea tensions rise, and more


Centrist and far-right candidate advance to presidential runoff in France

Centrist independent Emmanuel Macron led the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday, and will face far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a May 7 runoff. With nearly all of the ballots counted, Macron led the 11-candidate field with just under 24 percent of the vote, followed by Le Pen with 21.4 percent. The center right's Francois Fillon, the scandal-plagued former frontrunner, and far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon finished close behind Le Pen in a tight battle for third place. Fillon and other defeated candidates immediately threw their support to Macron. The vote marked the first time no mainstream party's candidate made it to the second run-off. Macron, a former investment banker and political newcomer, ran on a pro-European Union platform, while Le Pen, head of the anti-immigrant National Front, ran vowing to put "France first" and pull the country out of the EU, tapping into the rising nationalist tide that propelled President Trump's campaign and Britain's Brexit vote.


China's president urges calm as North Korea tensions rise

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged President Trump to show restraint as tensions rise over North Korea. The two leaders spoke by phone on Monday as the Hermit Kingdom prepares to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of its military on Tuesday. Korea experts fear that Pyongyang will mark the occasion with another provocative missile or nuclear weapon test. North Korea said Sunday that it was 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. Xi said he hoped "all sides exercise restraint and avoid doing things that exacerbate tensions." President Trump also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called on Pyongyang to end its "dangerously provocative actions" after it marked its last major holiday a week ago with a failed missile test.


Defense secretary makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived for an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Monday to assess the situation in the country as President Trump considers whether to send more troops to help government forces struggling to contain the Taliban insurgency. Mattis arrived on the same day Afghanistan's Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim resigned in the wake of a Taliban attack on one of the country's biggest military bases that killed at least 140 soldiers. Mattis last visited Afghanistan in 2013 as a Marine general and leader of Centcom. This time he is wrapping up a week-long, six-nation tour intended to strengthen relations with allies in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.


Trump administration presses for border wall funds as shutdown looms

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sunday called on Congress to approve funding to begin building Trump's promised wall on the Mexican border as part of a deal to avert a government shutdown. Lawmakers are heading into a week of negotiations on a stopgap spending bill necessary to fund government agencies beyond next weekend. Democrats have expressed strong opposition to a bill that would include money for the border wall. "I can't imagine the Democrats would shut down the government over an objection to building a down payment on a wall that can end the lawlessness," Sessions said on ABC's This Week.


French vote lifts stocks

U.S. stock index futures jumped by 1.2 percent early Monday and European stocks soared as investors expressed relief that centrist Emmanuel Macron had come out on top in the first round of France's presidential election. Macron is considered the favorite to win the second round on May 7, in which he will face off against second-place vote-getter Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front who has called for clamping down on immigration and pulling France out of the European Union. "While markets had deemed a Le Pen-Macron (run-off) as the most likely outcome, there was an element of uncertainty," said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz. "Now that this has been lifted, there will be a relief rally, bolstered by how quickly the mainstream candidates ... have endorsed Macron, the market's favorite."


CNN anchor says Ailes sexually harassed her at Fox News

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota on Sunday became the latest in a series of women to say that she had been sexually harassed by Roger Ailes when she worked at Fox News. Camerota said that Ailes, who was ousted as Fox News chief over harassment claims made by other women, had asked her to meet him at a hotel so they could get to "know each other better," and suggested that doing so would help her succeed at the cable news channel. "I knew in my head at that moment, I'm never going to that hotel under any circumstances, but I didn't know what that meant for me or my career," Camerota, now host of CNN's New Day, told CNN's Brian Stelter in an interview. "I remember thinking, 'Is this it?'" Ailes' lawyer, Susan Estrich, said he "vigorously denies this fictional account." Another woman, former guest commentator Debbie Schlussel, accused host Sean Hannity of sexual harassment, just days after the company forced out ratings-leading host Bill O'Reilly over similar allegations. Hannity vehemently denied the claim.


Saudi king rescinds pay cuts that stoked discontent

King Salman of Saudi Arabia over the weekend restored bonus payments for hundreds of thousands of civil servants that had been canceled in September. The oil-rich government had made the cuts as part of an effort to balance its finances, which have been undermined by low oil prices, but the move had provoked widespread discontent in a country where roughly two-thirds of the people with jobs work for the state. The king also rescinded 20 percent pay cuts for the government's two dozen ministers. King Salman also promoted two of his sons to powerful positions, making Prince Khaled bin Salman ambassador to Washington and Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman state minister for energy affairs.


American paramedic on Ukraine monitoring mission killed in mine blast

An American paramedic working for a European monitoring mission in Ukraine was killed and two other members of the team were injured on Sunday when their vehicle hit a mine. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the incident was the first time any of its members had been killed on patrol. The 700-member international observer mission reports on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where a 2015 ceasefire between government forces and pro-Russia separatists is frequently violated. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner called on Moscow to use its influence with separatists to ensure that the OSCE can "conduct a full, transparent, and timely investigation."


Conservationist and author Kuki Gallmann shot in Kenya

Conservationist and I Dreamed of Africa author Kuki Gallmann was shot in the stomach and seriously injured Sunday at her ranch in Laikipia, Kenya, while surveying damage done by arsonists, authorities say. Gallmann, 73, was airlifted to a hospital, where she underwent surgery and is in stable condition. Half of Kenya is experiencing a drought, and authorities say desperate herders are taking their animals to ranches that don't belong to them, staying there until they are driven from the land, and then moving on to the next one. This is leading to violent confrontations, with one ranch owner killed last month while inspecting damage done to his lodge by herders. The deputy chairman of the Laikipia Farmers Association said herders from a nearby community who have taken over Gallmann's land before are suspected in the shooting.


California professor develops vaccine for acne

University of California, San Diego, dermatology professor Eric Huang says he has developed an acne vaccine that can take care of the disease. "This is the first vaccine for human beauty," Huang told NBC 7 in Los Angeles. "I think this vaccine has a huge market in the whole world." Huang said after five years of work, they have come up with two types of vaccines — therapeutic and preventative — which will be given to children in elementary school. The vaccine has been tested on mice and worked well, Huang said, and now, he needs to team up with a pharmaceutical company for large-scale clinical trials; if that happens soon, after FDA approval, the vaccine could be available within three to five years.


British officials mourn death of MP David Amess
David Amess.
rest in peace

British officials mourn death of MP David Amess

Downfall of the anti-populists?
Picture of Damon LinkerDamon Linker

Downfall of the anti-populists?

The European right is in retreat
European politicians.
Picture of Ryan CooperRyan Cooper

The European right is in retreat

Queen expresses irritation with world leaders talk but 'don't do' on climate change
Queen Elizabeth II
God Save the Green

Queen expresses irritation with world leaders talk but 'don't do' on climate change

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