They’re not with her. Centrist Emmanuel Macon has crushed right-wing nationalist Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s French presidential election, ushering in a “new page” of “hope and confidence” in the republic’s history, Macron said. European leaders breathed a sigh of relief, as Le Pen sought a vote on abandoning the EU. European Council President Donald Tusk called it a victory “over tyranny of fake news.” Many leftist voters vowed to abstain from voting for business-friendly Macron, but he still got 65 percent of the vote — despite a potentially damaging hacked document release.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Maybe it’s best not to go there. North Korean authorities have detained American Kim Hak-song, state-run media reported today, for “hostile acts” against the regime. Reportedly “doing business in relation to” Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, he’s the fourth U.S. citizen held by the Hermit Kingdom in what’s been called ”hostage diplomacy” as tensions escalate in the country’s nuclear standoff with Washington. Analysts say it’s probably protection for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un while U.S. President Donald Trump ratchets up efforts to disarm the rogue nation.
Someone remembered. The Nigerian government says Boko Haram militants have released 82 of the 276 kidnapping victims whose plight gained international attention in the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign promoted by then-U.S. first lady Michelle Obama. The international Red Cross negotiated the release in exchange for an unspecified number of suspected militants. Fifty girls escaped soon after the 2014 raid on their school in the northeastern town of Chibok, and 21 were freed in October, so more than 100 remain unaccounted for. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari plans to welcome the victims today in the capital, Abuja.
The battle is won. Republicans celebrated Thursday after the House of Representatives narrowly passed Obamacare replacement legislation. Now the bill faces a more difficult test in the U.S. Senate, whose leaders plan to use a procedural maneuver to avoid the normal 60-vote requirement needed to bypass a filibuster. But finding 51 votes will be challenging, as some of the chamber’s 52 Republicans have expressed concern about House version. By Congress’ own assessment, it would strip coverage from millions of Americans, but Democrats are cheering — for the massive voter backlash they expect next year.
It’s the last place you’ll look. Far beneath the heart of Colorado sits the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a Cold War project that’s regaining relevance amid North Korea’s nuclear taunts. It’s the ultimate Armageddon retreat: The midcentury complex shelters denizens monitoring threats from within a mountain missing some 693,000 tons of granite. Stocked with everything from 6 million gallons of water to underground power generators and massive “Wal-Mart” supply cabinets, the concrete bunker provides the best seats from which to observe the demise of humanity as we know it.
This campaign is just beginning. As Iraqi-affiliated forces liberate Western Mosul, reluctant jurists have joined the struggle. They listen to victims and accused ISIS fighters in a seemingly quixotic effort to provide justice — if not reconciliation — if and when the guns go silent. It’s the first time the world-reviled group’s members have had to face their victims this way. But judges say that with little evidence other than prisoners’ repetitive denials, few accusers are likely to find satisfaction, and the innocent may suffer punishment alongside the guilty.
Know This: Always Dreaming has won the 143rd Kentucky Derby, as expected, with longshots Lookin At Lee in second place and Battle of Midway in third. White House adviser Jared Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, appeared at a Bejing event touting U.S. visas for those who invested $500,000 in a New Jersey apartment complex. A grand jury has charged eight Penn State University students and their fraternity with involuntary manslaughter in a 19-year-old pledge’s February hazing death. And more than 50,000 residents of Hannover, Germany, have been evacuated during one of the largest World War II bomb disposal operations since the 1940s.
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There’s a price on his head. With an approval rating of 40 percent after just 107 days and protests regularly accompanying policy announcements, some think the Trump presidency’s on borrowed time. Declining support and a dearth of administrative probity are leading some to actively plot his removal. One option is impeachment, while others are looking to the 25th Amendment, which permits the replacement of a president deemed unfit for duty, spurring a host of doctors to scrutinize Trump’s tweets and other utterances for signs of mental and physical incapacity.
It’s crushing work. KFC, Taco Bell and the federal government all buy chicken processed by Case Farms’ 3,000 workers. To handle all that business, the firm relies on undocumented immigrants who, a new investigation shows, are forced to endure well-documented health hazards on North Carolina and Ohio factory floors awash in fowl blood and guts. When one worker lost a limb to the company’s machinery, he and others were reportedly fired. Now the largely Guatemalan workforce has organized, but Case may simply find other immigrants — or machines — to stamp out those nuggets.
It beats a crystal ball. After historic polling misfires last year for Brexit and U.S. electoral prizes like Wisconsin, pollsters are trying to figure out what went wrong. One worry is that landlines, the pollster’s tool of choice since pre-1960s door-knocking, are used in only half of American households. Plus, people don’t even answer their cellphones anymore. That’s made online tools an essential part of the prediction market — even if Facebook doesn’t think its data is reliable — while pollsters will continue cold-calling older and rural voters.
It’s serious comedy. With both xenophobia and his show Master of None on the rise, Aziz Ansari is fast becoming a left-wing hero and comedic salve for America’s minorities, despite his reservations. For Ansari, the Carolina-born son of Muslim Indian immigrants, comedy grows best in the mundane and relatable turf that rocked Seinfeld. Yet he jokes he only breezes through airports because “everyone at Homeland Security knows who I am.” The reason that punchline lands — that so many people like him get hassled — is what’s forcing him into the political spotlight.
They’re finally admitting it hurt. Since Olympic gymnast Jamie Dantzscher sued USA Gymnastics in September, charging she’d been sexually abused as a teenager by team doctor Larry Nassar, more than 80 alleged victims have come forward. The scandal exposed a relentless gold medal pursuit that reportedly left young athletes feeling intimidated — to the point where they hid injuries and may have opted for private, unsupervised doctor visits. Legendary Olympic team coaches Martha and Bela Karolyi deny fostering a “toxic” training environment, but Nassar’s ongoing lawsuit and Michigan criminal case promise more painful testimony.