French campaign watchdog examines election-eve Macron leak
PARIS (AP) — France’s election campaign watchdog is investigating a hacking attack and document leak targeting presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron that his political movement calls a last-ditch bid to disrupt Sunday’s tense runoff vote.
Fears of hacking and campaign interference have simmered throughout France’s high-stakes, closely watched campaign — and boiled over Friday night as Macron’s team said it had been the victim of a “massive and coordinated” hack.
His political movement said the unidentified hackers accessed staffers’ personal and professional emails and leaked campaign finance material and contracts — as well as fake decoy documents — online.
The perpetrators remain unknown. While the hack is shaking up the already head spinning campaign, it’s unclear whether the document dump would dent Macron’s large poll lead over far-right Marine Le Pen going into the vote.
After ditching France’s traditional left-right parties in a first-round election, voters are now choosing between Macron’s business-friendly, pro-European vision and Le Pen’s protectionist, closed-borders view that resonates with workers left behind by globalization. The future of the European Union may hinge on the vote, also seen as a test for global populism.
In long-feared twist, online leak rattles French campaign
PARIS (AP) — Many feared this was coming.
For months pundits and journalists worried over the possibility that a strategically timed leak could destabilize France’s election, a replay of the obsessively covered disclosures that some Americans blame for scuppering Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and many others fear are sapping popular faith in Western democracy.
Late Friday, with only minutes left before France’s presidential campaign duel was due to cease fire for the weekend, it came.
Well, maybe it did. Or not.
It’s hard to tell with so little time to evaluate the mass of material suddenly leaked online. And that might be the point.
AP PHOTOS: A selection of pictures from the past week
Highlights from the weekly AP photo report, a gallery featuring a mix of front-page photography, the odd image you might have missed and lasting moments our editors think you should see.
This week’s gallery features images of visitors playing on tidal mudflats in Japan, Iraqis returning to liberated Mosul and protesters marching in Caracas, Venezuela.
This gallery contains photos published April 23-28, 2017.
See the latest AP photo galleries: http://apne.ws/TXeCBN
Request an early sign of ties between Flynn, top Russian
WASHINGTON (AP) — In late November, a member of Donald Trump’s transition team approached national security officials in the Obama White House with a curious request: Could the incoming team get a copy of the classified CIA profile on Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States?
Marshall Billingslea, a former Pentagon and NATO official, wanted the information for his boss, Michael Flynn, who had been tapped by Trump to serve as White House national security adviser. Billingslea knew Flynn would be speaking to Kislyak, according to two former Obama administration officials, and seemed concerned Flynn did not fully understand he was dealing with a man rumored to have ties to Russian intelligence agencies.
To the Obama White House, Billingslea’s concerns were startling: a member of Trump’s own team suggesting the incoming Trump administration might be in over its head in dealing with an adversary.
The request now stands out as a warning signal for Obama officials who would soon see Flynn’s contacts with the Russian spiral into a controversy that would cost him his job and lead to a series of shocking accusations hurled by Trump against his predecessor’s administration.
In the following weeks, the Obama White House would grow deeply distrustful of Trump’s dealing with the Kremlin and anxious about his team’s ties. The concern — compounded by surge of new intelligence, including evidence of multiple calls, texts and at least one in-person meeting between Flynn and Kislyak — would eventually grow so great Obama advisers delayed telling Trump’s team about plans to punish Russia for its election meddling. Obama officials worried the incoming administration might tip off Moscow, according to one Obama adviser.
It’s ‘Trumpcare,’ and GOP faces political fallout
ATLANTA (AP) — It’s “Trumpcare” now, and Republicans have to answer for it.
After dozens of symbolic votes, House Republicans finally pushed through a bill to gut Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, with President Donald Trump hailing the replacement as “a great plan” that has “really brought the Republican Party together.”
Democrats are giddy about what could be severe political consequences for the GOP.
Even though the Senate still has to act, Republicans now largely own a measure that would curtail, and in some cases take away completely, benefits Americans have embraced after seven years. Chief among them: a guarantee of paying the same amount for coverage regardless of health history. Budget analysts estimate 24 million people would lose insurance over a decade, 14 million in the first year, and older Americans would face higher costs.
The Senate likely will revise the bill, but 217 House Republicans voted yes.
Relative calm in Syrian safe zones after deal implemented
BEIRUT (AP) — Relative calm prevailed Saturday in wide parts of war-ravaged Syria despite sporadic violations and clashes after a deal to set up “de-escalation zones” in mostly opposition-held areas went into effect, opposition activists and government media outlets said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties after the plan hammered out by Russia, Turkey and Iran — the latest attempt to bring calm to the country — kicked in at midnight Friday.
The establishment of safe zones is the latest international attempt to reduce violence amid a six-year civil war that has left more than 400,000 dead, and is the first to envisage armed foreign monitors on the ground in Syria. The United States is not party to the agreement and the Syrian rivals have not signed on to the deal. The armed opposition, instead, was highly critical of the proposal, saying it lacks legitimacy.
Details of of the plan must still be worked out over the next several weeks. There were limited reports of bombing in northern Homs and Hama, and the southern province of Daraa, areas expected to be part of the “de-escalation zones,” activists said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
It is not clear how the cease-fire or “de-escalation zones” will be enforced in areas still to be determined in maps to emerge a month from now.
Police officer free on bond in teen’s suburban Dallas death
DALLAS (AP) — A white Texas police officer faces a murder charge in the shooting of a black teenager after being fired earlier in the week, authorities said.
Roy Oliver turned himself in Friday night, just hours after the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest in the April 29 death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Oliver, a former officer in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, was later released after posting bail at the Parker County Jail in Weatherford, about 95 miles west of Dallas. His bond had been set at $300,000.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement the warrant was issued based on evidence that suggested Oliver “intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death.”
Oliver fired a rifle at a car full of teenagers leaving a party, fatally shooting Edwards who was a passenger in the vehicle. The teen’s death led to protests calling for Oliver to be fired and charged. On Tuesday, the same day that the officer was fired, news broke of the Justice Department’s decision not to charge two white police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the shooting death of a black man in 2016. And a white officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, pleaded guilty that day to federal civil rights charges in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2015.
Edwards and his two brothers and two other teenagers were leaving an unruly house party in Balch Springs when Oliver opened fire on their car with a rifle. The bullets shattered the front passenger-side window and struck Edwards. It took a few moments for Edwards’ 16-year-old brother, who was driving, and other passengers to notice that he was slumped over in his seat.
In Mosul, hunger grows amid slow advances against IS
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Aliyah Hussein and the 25 family members sheltering with her in Mosul’s western Mahatta neighborhood are surviving by picking wild greens growing in a park near their home. Hussein mixes the vegetables with small amounts of rice and tomato paste to make a thin soup that is often her family’s only meal.
Her cousin Zuhair Abdul Karim said on a recent day that even with the wild greens, the food ran out.
“I swear to God, we are hungry. (The Islamic State group) made us hungry. They didn’t leave anything for us, they even stole our food,” Hussein said. Her home sits just a few hundred yards (meters) from the front line in the battle for western Mosul.
As Iraqi forces continue to make slow progress in the fight against IS in the city, clawing back territory house by house and block by block, food supplies are running dangerously low for civilians trapped inside militant-held territory and those inside recently retaken neighborhoods. For families like Hussein’s, safety concerns make them unreachable for most humanitarian groups.
Although Hussein has technically been liberated, her neighborhood is still too dangerous for most humanitarian groups to reach. In the past week she said she received only one box of food consisting of rice, oil and tomato paste, barely enough to feed her entire family even for a single day.
Kipchoge falls 26 seconds short of 1st sub 2-hour marathon
MONZA, Italy (AP) — Eliud Kipchoge was 26 seconds from making history on Saturday but the Olympic champion finished just short of becoming the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours.
Kipchoge ran the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) in an impressive 2 hours, 25 seconds, smashing Dennis Kimetto’s world mark of 2:02:57 by 2 1/2 minutes and raising hopes that one of world sport’s most famous barriers can be broken.
“We are human,” Kipchoge said. “I am happy that I’ve reduced by 2 1/2 minutes the world record.”
The Kenyan added: “We are going up the tree … I have lifted a branch and I am going onto the next one. This is not the end of the attempt of runners on two hours.”
Kipchoge did break his personal best time of 2:03:05, which was set at the London Marathon last year.
Country legend Loretta Lynn hospitalized after having stroke
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music legend Loretta Lynn has been hospitalized after having a stroke, her publicist said Friday.
Maria Malta, a publicist for Sony Music, confirmed that the 85-year-old singer and songwriter was admitted into a Nashville hospital Thursday night after suffering the stroke at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
Lynn’s website says she is responsive and expected to make a full recovery.
It says Lynn has been advised by doctors to stay off the road while she recuperates, and upcoming scheduled shows will be postponed.
Lynn’s sister, the Grammy-winning singer Crystal Gayle, said in a statement emailed by her publicist, “Many of you have heard that my sister, Loretta Lynn, had a stroke. She’s a strong woman and I know she’ll come out of this. Our family appreciates your prayers, love and support. We pray for a speedy recovery.”