First round of French elections: In one of the most widely watched elections in recent history, French voters go to the polls for the first of two election rounds on Sunday.
Unlike previous presidential elections, the 2017 frontrunners consist of neither a Socialist nor a member of the Les Républicains, but right-wing populist Front National candidate Marine Le Pen and 39-year-old social liberal party En Marche! (On the Move) leader, Emmanuel Macron.
Ms. Le Pen is reportedly holding a slight lead according to early exit polls.
Under French election laws, the two leading candidates in Sunday’s first round will advance to the second and final round on May 7.
100 killed in Taliban attack: In one of the deadliest attacks on the Afghani military, Taliban terrorists attacked the Mazar-e Sharif military outpost in northern Afghanistan Friday, killing over 100.
According to official accounts, Taliban suicide bombers wearing Afghani military uniforms stormed the outpost and attacked Afghani military personnel leaving the base mosque and others outside the mess area.
It is believed ten Taliban terrorists were killed in the attack, some of whom officials say had successfully infiltrated the base prior to the attack.
Rand Corp. says ISIS caliphate foundering: A new study published by the non-profit policy think tank Rand Corporation has concluded the Islamic State is on the verge of collapse.
Citing territorial losses in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Nigeria over the last three years, Rand claims the terror group’s dream of establishing a permanent “caliphate” is dim. Since 2014, the group has ceded 57 percent of the territory it once controlled and 73 percent of the people it once ruled.
Rand, however, says the danger from the terror group will not recede exclusively with ISIS’ loss of dominion: The institute reveals ISIS’ terror attacks outside have increased and U.S. leadership will be a key element in the defeat of the militant group in the long-term future.
Russian think tank developed plan to undermine U.S. election: Seven current and former U.S. officials claim to have seen several documents originating from a Russian think tank which outline the Kremlin’s attempt to influence the November 2016 presidential election.
The foundation, the Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), allegedly prepared a paper outlining options including the use of social media and state-run media, including RT, to encourage U.S. voters to select a candidate with a friendly stance toward Russia. A second paper warned Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election.
RISS has dismissed the claim as “fantasy.”
Nigerian protests inspire education reform: Following one week of protests in which one student was killed, Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou has named Yahouza Sadissou to the position of education secretary.
Students had rallied to seek improvements to living conditions, the release of scholarship money and reform to prevent interruptions to academic semesters. Protests saw over 300 arrested and over 100 injured in clashes with police.
In addition to a cabinet shuffle to address the growing protests, Issoufou ordered the release of several jailed students and dispatched negotiators to begin talks with restive students.
Russian-born hacker sentenced to record prison term for cybercrimes: A federal judge in Washington state imposed the longest ever sentence in American history on a computer hacker Friday, condemning 32-year-old Roman Seleznev to 27 years behind bars for a massive credit card theft scheme which victimized millions.
Seleznev, the son of a Russian member of parliament, stole nearly 3 million credit card numbers and hacked into over 500 U.S. businesses over a 15-year period, resulting in the total loss of $170 million.
First indicted in 2011, Seleznev was arrested in 2014 by the U.S. Secret Service in the tiny South Asian island-nation of Maldives and charged with 40 criminal counts, 38 of which he was eventually found guilty.
[The Telegraph] [Business Insider] [Reuters] [Deutsche Welle] [Al Jazeera]