Centrist Macron, far-right Le Pen in battle to lead France
PARIS (AP) — Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen advanced Sunday to a runoff in France’s presidential election, remaking the country’s political landscape and setting up a showdown over its participation in the European Union.
French politicians on the left and right immediately urged voters to block Le Pen’s path to power in the May 7 runoff, saying her virulently nationalist anti-EU and anti-immigration politics would spell disaster for France.
“Extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France,” defeated conservative candidate Francois Fillon said. “As such, there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right.”
The selection of Le Pen and Macron presents voters with the starkest possible choice between two diametrically opposed visions of the EU’s future and France’s place in it. It sets up a battle between Macron’s optimistic vision of a tolerant France and a united Europe with open borders against Le Pen’s darker, inward-looking “French-first” platform that calls for closed borders, tougher security, less immigration and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.
With Le Pen wanting France to leave the EU and Macron wanting even closer cooperation among the bloc’s 28 nations, Sunday’s outcome means the May 7 runoff will have undertones of a referendum on France’s EU membership.
Tight, tense French presidential vote echoes around world
PARIS (AP) — Whatever the result of France’s presidential election, the choice will resonate far beyond France’s borders, from Syrian battlefields to Hong Kong trading floors and the halls of the U.N. Security Council.
The future of Europe is at stake as this country chooses a president in an election unlike any other, one that may reshape France’s post-war identity and indicate whether global populism is ascendant or on the decline.
As untested centrist Emmanuel Macron and nationalist Marine Le Pen head into a May 7 runoff after dominating Sunday’s first-round vote, here are a few reasons why this race matters:
RISK OF A FREXIT
Le Pen hopes to pull France out of the European Union and its shared euro currency — a blow that would be far worse than Britain’s exit and could spell death for the EU, the euro and the whole idea of European unity borne from the blood of World War II. France is a founding member of the EU, and its main driver along with former rival Germany.
Unconventional Macron faces unprecedented challenge
PARIS (AP) — French centrist Emmanuel Macron faces an unprecedented challenge in his quest for the French presidency: A newcomer to politics, he was virtually unknown to most of his countrymen just three years ago.
Now the tenacious 39-year-old with strong pro-business and pro-European views, and an unconventional love story, is poised to face far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the May 7 presidential runoff.
A joyful crowd of some 2,000 supporters gathered at his election headquarters in Paris cheered wildly at the announcement that Macron will advance to the second round. Their enthusiasm only grew when major rivals Socialist Benoit Hamon and conservative Francois Fillon conceded defeat, then urged voters to vote for Macron in the runoff in order to defeat Le Pen.
In an American-style move unusual in French politics, Macron appeared on stage hand in hand with his wife, Brigitte, both waving at the crowd with tears in their eyes.
Brigitte Macron is 24 years his senior — the same age difference as Donald and Melania Trump— and Macron doesn’t hide that she is his closest adviser.
10 Things to Know for Monday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
1. WHAT TRUMP SAID ABOUT HIS FIRST 100 DAYS
As he approaches the milestone, the president tells The Associated Press: “It’s a different kind of a presidency.”
2. WHY TRUMP FACES A TOUGH WEEK AHEAD
He’s juggling a renewed health care push and a looming budget deadline. It’s all complicated by a potential showdown with Democrats over paying for a border wall.
Trump at 100 days: ‘It’s a different kind of presidency’
WASHINGTON (AP) — For nearly 100 days, President Donald Trump has rattled Washington and been chastened by its institutions.
He’s startled world leaders with his unpredictability and tough talk, but won their praise for a surprise strike on Syria.
He’s endured the steady drip of investigations and a seemingly endless churn of public personnel drama.
“It’s a different kind of a presidency,” Trump said in an Oval Office interview with The Associated Press, an hourlong conversation as he approached Saturday’s key presidential benchmark.
Trump, who campaigned on a promise of instant disruption, indirectly acknowledged that change doesn’t come quickly to Washington. He showed signs that he feels the weight of the office, discussing the “heart” required to do the job. Although he retained his signature bravado and a salesman’s confidence in his upward trajectory, he displayed an awareness that many of his own lofty expectations for his first 100 days in office have not been met.
Trump heads into tough week with budget, health care battles
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is heading into one of the most challenging weeks of his presidency, juggling a renewed health care push and a looming budget deadline. It’s all complicated by a potential showdown with Democrats over paying for a border wall.
The symbolic 100-day mark for the administration is Saturday. That’s the same day government could shut down without a budget deal. Trump has announced a rally in Pennsylvania that day.
Despite Trump’s dismissal that the 100-day marker is “artificial,” the White House is planning a packed week of activities leading up to Saturday. Trump will sign executive orders on energy and rural policies, meet with the president of Argentina and travel to Atlanta for a National Rifle Association event. Top aides will also fan out around the country to promote the administration.
Aides stressed on Sunday talk shows that funding a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and a vote on an effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law were priorities. But they also suggested a shutdown could be avoided.
“I don’t think anyone foresees or expects or would want a shutdown,” said budget director Mick Mulvaney on “Fox News Sunday.”
AP Exclusive: The sad saga of North Korea’s ATMs
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — No modern airport terminal is complete without an ATM, and Pyongyang’s now has two. But they don’t work — because of new Chinese sanctions, according to bank officials — and it’s not clear when they will.
ATMs are an alien enough concept in North Korea that those in the capital’s shiny new Sunan International Airport have a video screen near the top showing how they work and how to set up an account to use them. The explanatory video is in Korean, but the machines, which are meant primarily for Chinese businesspeople and tourists, don’t give out cash in the North Korean currency.
ATMs are not entirely new to the North.
Years ago, the Ryugyong Commercial Bank installed one in a midrange tourist hotel in central Pyongyang frequented by Chinese. Another ATM was spotted at the airport last year, but it never appeared to be turned on. Additionally, customers who flash the bank’s gold or silver ATM cards at two upscale stores that sell a wide array of imported foods and luxury items qualify for discounts.
How much North Korea’s ATMs have actually been used is a matter of debate.
Scams push foreclosure fraud to limit, taking victims’ homes
NEW YORK (AP) — The phone call came as Raymond Murray neared the bottom of his luck. His wife had died, his career had been ended by injuries, and struggling to get by on his disability check, he had scraped together just enough to pay a lawyer to avoid imminent foreclosure on his modest Brooklyn home.
The voice on the line offered a godsend: No more attorney fees, no more foreclosure, a lower monthly mortgage, and all this help for free.
Murray was soon picked up by a black Mercedes-Benz, off to meet the man on the phone. Not long after, he was back at the office again, property deed in hand and a ring of people around a conference room table, finalizing the supposed fix to keep him in the home he hoped to die in.
Eventually, the blessing Murray thought he had found was revealed as a curse. Amid unfulfilled promises, unreturned calls and unwelcome visitors at his door, the truth became clear: This aging immigrant, who thought he’d realized an American dream, was scammed out of his home.
Around the U.S., deed theft has emerged as one of the most sophisticated and devastating frauds ever to menace homeowners. Foreclosure “rescue” scams that have stolen thousands of dollars from individual homeowners in the years since the housing collapse have been pushed by savvy perpetrators to their limit. They use lies to convince the desperate to sign over their title, then force them into homelessness or a years-long legal battle.
Bloomberg to world leaders: Ignore Trump on climate
NEW YORK (AP) — New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg urged world leaders not to follow President Donald Trump’s lead on climate change and declared his intention to help save an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions.
Bloomberg, who considered a presidential bid after serving three terms as New York City’s mayor, addressed his intensifying focus on climate change in an interview with The Associated Press. He said there was no political motive tied to last week’s release of his new book, “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet,” co-authored by former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.
“I’m not running for office,” the 75-year-old Bloomberg said.
Instead of helping to re-ignite his political career, he said the new book offered a specific policy objective: To help save an international agreement, negotiated in Paris, to reduce global carbon emissions.
The Trump administration is debating whether to abandon the pact as the president promised during his campaign. Under the agreement, the U.S. pledged that by 2025 it would reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels, which would be a reduction of about 1.6 billion tons.
James helps Cavs hold off Pacers, earn sweep into 2nd round
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — LeBron James stuck to the old script Sunday.
Again, he bailed out the Cleveland Cavaliers. And again, he sent the Indiana Pacers home for vacation.
On yet another milestone day for basketball’s king, James’ crowning achievement was making the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:08 to play and helping the defending champions hold on for a series-clinching 106-102 victory at Indiana.
“You have to mentally challenge yourself every year and go out and try to do what’s right — putting your body on the line, putting your team on the line and trying to be successful,” James said. “It’s very hard.”
But the four-time MVP makes it look easy. He finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks.