Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 8, 2017

Centrist Emmanuel Macron wins France's presidential election, North Korea arrests a fourth U.S. citizen, and more


Centrist Emmanuel Macron decisively defeats far-right Marine Le Pen in France

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right rival Marine Le Pen by a landslide in France's presidential election on Sunday. Macron, a political newcomer, said in a speech after the 66 percent to 34 percent vote that France had "turned a page in our long history." He reached out to supporters of Le Pen, who appealed to nationalists with an anti-immigrant "France first" message, saying that he understood their anger and it was his "responsibility to hear them." Macron promised, however, to strengthen both France and Europe. "This is our civilization that's at stake, our way of life," said Macron, France's youngest leader since Napoleon Bonaparte and the first president in its modern history not to belong to the center-left or center-right parties. Le Pen conceded, thanking her supporters but saying France had "chosen continuity."


North Korea detains a fourth American

North Korea said Sunday that it had detained another U.S. citizen, the fourth now taken into custody in the reclusive communist nation. North Korean state media said that the latest detainee, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology professor Kim Hak Song, was arrested Saturday on charges of engaging in "hostile acts." "The relevant authority is currently carrying out a detailed investigation into the crime of Kim Hak Song," Korean Central News Agency said. The case came as tensions are rising between the U.S. and North Korea over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons programs. A State Department official said the U.S. is aware of the latest arrest, but declined to comment further.


Ousted Obama DOJ official to testify on Michael Flynn's Russia contact

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is scheduled to testify before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Monday about her warning to top White House officials about contact between President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The hearing will mark Yates' first appearance on Capitol Hill since Trump fired her for refusing to defend his now-withdrawn first executive order restricting travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority nations. Yates is expected to testify that she warned White House counsel Don McGahn days after Trump's inauguration that Vice President Mike Pence's statements on Flynn's discussions with Kislyak, which reportedly touched on U.S.-imposed sanctions, were inaccurate, potentially exposing Flynn or others to manipulation by Russia. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also is scheduled to testify before the committee, which is investigating Russia's efforts to influence last year's presidential election.


Texas governor signs bill banning sanctuary cities

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), appearing via Facebook Live, signed a bill Sunday night banning so-called "sanctuary cities" that refuse to comply with requests from federal authorities to help enforce immigration laws. Under the bill, police can now ask anyone they detain about their immigration status, and officials have to comply with federal requests to hold suspects who might be deported. "We all support legal immigration," Abbott said. "It helped build America and Texas. But legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed dangerous crimes." The bill was opposed by every major police chief in Texas, as well as Democrats, and immigrant rights activists, who call it unconstitutional and pledged to fight it in court.


Trump prepares flurry of judicial nominations

President Trump is expected to announce 10 appointments to lower federal courts on Monday to start what is expected to be a wave of nominations. There are more than 120 openings to be filled. The White House counsel, Don McGahn, said Trump would be fulfilling a promise "to appoint strong and principled jurists to the federal bench who will enforce the Constitution's limits on federal power and protect the liberty of all Americans." Jonathan H. Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, said Trump's list of expected nominees includes "incredibly strong" judges from the judicial mainstream. Liberal groups disagreed. Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, said Trump was trying to "pack the federal courts" with "ultraconservatives" hand-picked by conservative groups such as the Federalist Society.


Authorities confirm death of ISIS leader in Afghanistan

Afghan officials and the Pentagon confirmed Sunday that Abdul Hasib Logari, the head of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, was killed last month during an operation conducted by Afghan and U.S. forces. Two U.S. rangers were killed during the April 27 raid in the eastern province of Nangarhar, along with 35 ISIS fighters and commanders. Hasib became the terror group's leader in Afghanistan after Hafiz Saeed Khan was killed in a 2016 drone strike. ISIS has been active in the country since 2015. The affiliate, also known as Islamic State Khorasan, has been blamed for several recent attacks, including an assault at Kabul's main military hospital that left dozens of patients and employees dead.


50,000 evacuated in German town while WWII bombs defused

German authorities evacuated about 50,000 people from the city of Hannover in northern Germany on Sunday while experts defused three British bombs from World War II that were discovered at or near a construction site. The evacuation was the second largest of its kind ever carried out in the country. The bombs were discovered weeks ago, but it took time to come up with a plan to move what amounted to 10 percent of the city's population out of the danger zone while bomb squads were sent in. Two more suspected bombs turned out to be harmless scrap metal. The city set up programs including museum tours, children's films, and sports to keep evacuees entertained until it was safe for them to return home in the evening.


Trump's travel ban faces appeals court test

President Trump's revised temporary travel ban faces a significant test on Monday when a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, will hear arguments on its constitutionality. The first version of the ban, issued in January, restricted travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, even legal permanent residents. Judges blocked the order, and the White House issued the revised ban weeks later, removing Iraq from the list of affected nations and exempting green-card holders, but opponents challenged it, citing Trump's vow to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. as proof he was discriminating against Muslims based on their religion in violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause. Administration lawyers say the measure does not target Muslims, but is necessary to provide time to improve vetting procedures to keep out terrorists.


Obama urges lawmakers to preserve ObamaCare

Former President Barack Obama accepted the Profile in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library on Sunday night, and used his speech to call on members of Congress to preserve the Affordable Care Act. Obama urged lawmakers from both parties to have the courage to "champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm." "Courage does not always mean doing what is politically expedient, but what they believe deep in their hearts is right," he said. The House last week narrowly approved the GOP's alternative health plan, which supporters say is necessary to protect Americans because ObamaCare is imploding. Obama, in his first remarks since the House vote, praised the courage of lawmakers who voted in 2010 to "insure millions" even if it cost them their seats. The House GOP plan, which could leave millions more Americans uninsured, faces opposition from moderate Republicans in the Senate.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 leads the box office with $145 million debut

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 kicked off the summer movie season by hauling in an estimated $145 million in its North America debut weekend. The sequel, which cost about $350 million to make and market, led the box office with an opening that was 54 percent stronger than the original 2014 hit, which made $94 million in its first weekend on the way to a $773 million worldwide total. Director James Gunn's hit features an intergalactic band of misfits, and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper. The films have turned what was once a little-known crew in Marvel's stable of super heroes into a huge franchise.


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