Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 7, 2017

Macron leads as France heads to the polls, reporters prohibited at Kushner investment events in China, and more


Macron leads as France heads to the polls

Despite suffering a major data breach Friday, centrist Emmanuel Macron is believed to maintain a 60-40 lead over far-right Marine Le Pen as France heads to the polls Sunday to pick a new president. With runoff turnout expected to top 75 percent, French voters will centrally weigh in on France's place in Europe: Macron supports robust integration into the broader European community, while Le Pen promotes a populist, nationalist vision that prioritizes French interests. Immigration, security against terrorism, and a lagging economy are also expected to shape voters' decision. Victory projections will be available around 2 p.m. ET.


Reporters prohibited at Kushner investment events in China

Journalists were banned from two investment and immigration events in China featuring Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the son-in-law of President Trump. One event was in Beijing on Saturday and the other in Shanghai on Sunday; both invited wealthy Chinese citizens to invest at least $500,000 in Kushner development projects so they could obtain an EB-5 investor visa to the United States. Attendees were urged to invest sooner than later in case the Trump administration made that visa more difficult to obtain. In Beijing, reporters were initially allowed to observe the event but then ejected. An organizer told The Washington Post journalists must leave because, "This is not the story we want." In Shanghai the next day, reporters were not allowed to enter the publicly advertised "private event."


Leaked memo suggests big cuts to federal drug agency

The Trump administration is considering a 94 percent budget cut, from $364 million to $24 million per year, to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONCDP), a leaked proposal from the Office of Management and Budget reveals. The cut is an unexpected move from an administration that has otherwise taken a hardline stance on the drug war, particularly in the choice of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Critics inside ONCDP as well as activists outside the agency warn that the cuts, if implemented, would have dangerous results for the opioid epidemic.


Commerce secretary says Canadian trade threats 'are inappropriate'

"The Department of Commerce's recent preliminary decision to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber was based on the facts presented, not on political considerations," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Saturday, arguing that any "threats of retaliatory action" from Canada "are inappropriate." Ross was speaking in response to Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau's Friday comment that Canada might impose export duties and limitations on the U.S. in reaction to the "unfair" 20 percent lumber tariffs. American lumber producers say the duties merely level the playing field, because their Canadian competitors save money by growing trees mostly on government land.


82 abducted Chibok schoolgirls freed in Nigeria

Three years after being kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists, 82 more Chibok schoolgirls were freed in Nigeria on Saturday and safely transported to the capital city of Abuja. This is the largest single release of the abducted girls and is thought to be the result of secret government negotiations or perhaps some military action. "We were told that Boko Haram was trying to negotiate for the release of some of their top commanders in custody of the Nigerian security services," Al Jazeera reported. A total of 276 girls were kidnapped and 113 remain missing.


Trump suggests federal assistance to HBCUs may be unconstitutional

President Trump suggested he may consider a federal financial assistance program for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) unconstitutional in a signing statement accompanying his Friday approval of the spending package that funds Washington through September. The statement says the Trump administration "shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender," including the HBCU Capital Financing Program Account, "in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment." It is unclear whether the White House actually intends to defund the program.


ISIS attack kills 2 at U.S.-occupied base

Two people were killed and six more injured in an Islamic State suicide attack Sunday on an Iraqi military base where U.S. troops are stationed. The casualties are not reported to be American. The ISIS attackers were able to sneak onto the base because they "were wearing uniforms like the Kurdish peshmerga and had shaved their beards to look like us," one Kurdish officer reported. ISIS issued a statement claiming responsibility for the incident and exaggerating the casualty toll on U.S.-allied forces.


San Diego police fatally shoot teen pointing BB gun

Police in San Diego, California, on Saturday shot and killed a 15-year-old boy who was pointing a BB gun in their direction and did not drop it when asked. Two officers were sent to a high school parking lot to perform a welfare check on the boy, a visit instigated by a call later determined to be made by the boy himself, who told police he was unarmed. "Both officers drew their weapons while repeatedly giving the male commands to drop his handgun," says a police report of the incident. "The subject refused to comply. Fearing for their safety, both officers fired their weapons." Neither details about the boy nor the officers' body camera footage have been released.


U.S. Olympic bobsledder found dead at training center

U.S. Olympic bobsled champion Steven Holcomb was found dead at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, on Saturday. He was 37. No information on the circumstances surrounding Holcomb's death has been released. In 2010, Holcomb's bobsled team won the first U.S. gold medal in the event since 1948. Holcomb himself competed after overcoming depression and a degenerative eye disease two years prior. "Steve was a tremendous athlete and even better person, and his perseverance and achievements were an inspiration to us all," said a statement from the U.S. Olympic Committee.


Always Dreaming wins the 2017 Kentucky Derby

Always Dreaming and jockey John Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby by more than two lengths on Saturday, putting the Thoroughbred in position to compete for this year's Triple Crown by winning the upcoming Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Always Dreaming was one of several favorites to triumph in Louisville this year; other top choices Classic Empire, McCraken, and Irish War Cry finished 4th, 8th, and 10th, respectively. "This is the best horse [trainer Todd Pletcher] and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with,'' Velazquez said of Always Dreaming after the race.


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