Pro-EU Emmanuel Macron becomes France’s youngest president
PARIS (AP) — Ripping up France’s political map, French voters elected independent centrist Emmanuel Macron as the country’s youngest president Sunday, delivering a resounding victory to the unabashedly pro-European former investment banker and strengthening France’s place as a central pillar of the European Union.
Macron, who had never run for office before, celebrated with thousands of jubilant, flag-waving supporters outside the Louvre Museum in Paris on Sunday night. The European anthem “Ode to Joy” played as he strode out to address the swelling crowd.
“France has won!” he said. “Everyone said it was impossible. But they do not know France!”
Marine Le Pen, his far-right opponent in the runoff, quickly called the 39-year-old Macron to concede after voters rejected her “French-first” nationalism by a large margin. Le Pen’s performance dashed her hopes that the populist wave which swept Donald Trump into the White House and led Britain to vote to leave the EU would also carry her to France’s presidential Elysee Palace.
Macron told the Louvre crowd that the Le Pen vote was one of “anger, disarray.”
Banker, economic adviser and now youngest French president
PARIS (AP) — Emmanuel Macron has been a star student, a champion of France’s tech startup movement, an investment banker and economy minister.
But the man who will become France’s youngest president has never held elected office. After a campaign based on promises to revive the country through radical pro-business measures and pro-European policies, the 39-year-old centrist independent defeated far-right rival nationalist Marine Le Pen and her protectionist, anti-immigration party.
In his victory speech, Macron vowed to “rebuild the relationship between Europe and the peoples that make it.” He pledged to open a new page for France based on hope and “restored confidence.”
It won’t be his first experience in the challenge of reforming France.
He quit his job as a banker at Rothschild to become Socialist President Francois Hollande’s economic adviser, working for two years by Hollande’s side at the presidential palace.
Analysis: Despite Le Pen’s loss, European populism lives on
PARIS (AP) — It’s a triple-whammy. The last six months have seen three European elections and three defeats for far-right populists. The tempting conclusion is that populism’s destructive ability to dismantle old worlds without having credible blueprints for building new ones has been contained for now — at least in western Europe.
In Austria, in the Netherlands and now in France, not only were there no cigars for Norbert Hofer, Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen, but they got, at best, no closer than sniffing distance to power. Hofer came nearest, with 46 percent of the vote for Austria’s presidency in December. Le Pen lost by a projected 30 percentage points in Sunday’s presidential runoff to Emmanuel Macron, an economically liberal, socially responsive middle-way pro-European.
European moderates and the political establishment can release the breath they’ve been holding. The populist contagion that convinced 52 percent of Britons last year that their future would be brighter outside the European Union and made working-class Americans believe that a reality TV star would champion their interests from the White House has been kept offshore, quarantined, away from the heart of mainland Europe.
But for how long?
Despite the electoral setbacks, populism is down but not out, still growing in strength and influence.
Trump tries to pressure Senate Republicans on health care
BRANCHBURG, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans on Sunday to “not let the American people down,” as the contentious debate over overhauling the U.S. health care systems shifts to Congress’ upper chamber, where a vote is potentially weeks, if not months, away.
Some senators have already voiced displeasure with the health care bill that cleared the House last week, with Republicans providing all the “yes” votes in the 217-213 count. They cited concerns about potential higher costs for older people and those with pre-existing conditions, along with cuts to Medicaid.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican whose vote will be critical to getting a bill to Trump’s desk and who voiced similar concerns, said the Senate would not take up the House bill.
“The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our bill, and I’m convinced we will take the time to do it right,” she said.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, also said the version that gets to the president will likely differ from the House measure. Such a scenario would then force the House and Senate to work together to forge a compromise bill that both houses can support.
Family sues Texas officer, department in 15-year-old’s death
DALLAS (AP) — The family of a black 15-year-old shot and killed by a white suburban Dallas police officer has sued the officer and his department, accusing the department of inadequately training the officer and ignoring warning signs that he was prone to erratic behavior.
Jordan Edwards’ funeral was Saturday, one week after he was shot dead in a vehicle leaving a house party in Balch Springs, Texas. According to the Edwards family’s lawyers, Officer Roy Oliver fired his rifle at the vehicle as it was driving away, piercing a passenger-side window and striking Edwards.
Oliver was fired last week and arrested on a murder charge.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, says police should have known Oliver had “exhibited a pattern of escalating encounters with the public,” including a prosecutor’s complaint about his aggressive behavior detailed in personnel records. The complaint said prosecutors had a hard time getting Oliver to attend a trial and used language vulgar enough that one prosecutor sent an intern out of the room. Oliver received a 16-hour suspension over the complaint.
But the lawsuit also blames Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber and the department for having “failed to provide adequate training to Oliver on appropriate methods and techniques to control situations similar to the one” that occurred on the night of April 29, when police were called to investigate underage drinking at a chaotic house party with dozens of teenagers.
States brace for big decisions under GOP health care changes
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — Even as the Republican health care overhaul remains a work in progress, states are planning for big changes that could swell the ranks of the uninsured and hit them with higher costs.
A key tenet underlying the GOP plan is to give states more authority over how to structure their health care markets. That approach is welcome in states that want fewer mandates from the federal government but is causing alarm in states that embraced former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
This is especially true for states that expanded their Medicaid programs and could now see a huge pool of federal health care money evaporate. They will face tough decisions about balancing costs and care.
States’ preparations come even as Republican members of the U.S. Senate promise significant revisions to the health care bill that narrowly passed last week in the House. Some governors already have begun pressing their senators to soften the bill in ways that would lessen the financial blow to the states.
The current GOP plan would undo a mostly federally funded expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income adults and allow insurance companies to charge far higher premiums on older Americans and some people with pre-existing conditions.
Nigeria leader meets Chibok girls, leaves for medical trip
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressed joy Sunday night at meeting with the 82 Chibok schoolgirls newly freed from Boko Haram extremists — then jolted the country by announcing he was leaving for London immediately for medical checkups as fears for his health continue.
“We’ve always made it clear that we will do everything in our power to ensure the freedom & safe return of our daughters” and all captives of Boko Haram, Buhari said on his Twitter account.
Minutes later, the 74-year-old president startled Africa’s most populous nation with the news of his departure. Buhari, who has missed three straight weekly Cabinet meetings, spent a month and a half in London on medical leave earlier this year and said he’d never been as sick in his life. The exact nature of his illness remained unclear.
“There is no cause for worry” about this latest medical leave, a statement from his office said, adding that the length of Buhari’s stay in London will be determined by his doctors.
Photos released by the government showed the rail-thin president standing and addressing the Chibok schoolgirls at his official residence Sunday evening, a day after their release.
Israel says Palestinian hunger strike leader ate in secret
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s Prison Service released footage on Sunday that it says shows the leader of a mass Palestinian hunger strike breaking his fast, a claim dismissed by the Palestinians as an attempt to undermine the open-ended strike, now in its 21st day.
Assaf Librati, a spokesman for the prison service, said strike organizer and Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti ate a candy bar on May 5 and cookies on April 27. He said surveillance was increased and Barghouti was caught on film eating.
Footage aired by Israeli media shows a prisoner sitting down fully clothed on a toilet unwrapping something and putting it in his mouth. Other footage shows a prisoner eating something near a sink.
Qadoura Fares, who heads an advocacy group for Palestinian prisoners, cast doubt on the footage, saying Barghouti is being held in solitary confinement and has no access to food.
“This is a fabrication,” Fares said of the footage released Sunday. “This is psychological warfare that we expected Israel to wage against the strike.” He said that “the prisoners will not buy this account from the Israeli side, and they will continue their strike.”
Welcome at the White House: Some labor unions over others
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says labor unions have an open door to his White House, but so far, he’s holding the door a little more ajar for some organizations than others.
Trump has put out the welcome mat for the nation’s construction trades, with whom he’s had relationships during decades of building office towers and hotels. Also invited in have been auto, steel and coal workers who backed him during the 2016 election.
But there’s been no White House invitation for other unions representing the sprawling but shrinking pool of 14.6 million workers who collectively bargain with employers in the labor movement.
“You can tell Congress that America’s building trades and its president are very much united,” Trump told North America’s Building Trade Unions, even as he pledged in the same speech, “America’s labor leaders will always find an open door with Donald Trump.”
But he has not courted all union leaders or advocated for all labor priorities. For example, he’s against a $15-an-hour minimum wage and has let linger a rule expanding overtime pay. Much like President Ronald Reagan did, Trump is not so much pursuing a labor agenda but one that appeals to those who share his “Buy American, Hire American” priorities and happen to be union members.
Grieving dad runs for school board in gang-scarred suburb
BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (AP) — Robert Mickens was just a regular dad who went to his daughter’s high school basketball games in their New York town, worried about whether she studied enough and sometimes got on her case for spending too much time gabbing with her friends.
Everything changed in September. That’s when his 15-year-old Nisa and her best friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16, were found beaten and hacked to death in the street, a killing authorities blamed on the violent gang MS-13, which has infested their school and gripped their Long Island community with fear.
Mickens is now turning his grief into action, running for the local school board to help change what he sees as a culture of gang violence that has claimed the lives of 11 people, mostly teenagers, in Brentwood and another neighboring town since the school year began.
“I just thought I needed to do something to make it better for other kids, to do more,” said Mickens, a 39-year-old nurse’s aide with a trade-school degree and no experience in education. He is among eight candidates on the May 16 ballot for three spots in the Brentwood Union Free School District, one of the state’s largest districts, with more than 18,000 students.
The board does the usual tasks: manages a $380 million budget, evaluates the superintendent and ratifies union contracts. But increasingly it has been grappling with how to handle the mounting MS-13 threat, which has made parents afraid to send their children to Brentwood High School and students fearful that any slight to the gang, particularly a refusal to join, could get them killed.
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