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iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Far-right populist Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron claimed victory in Sunday's first-round vote in the French presidential election.

Besting nine other candidates, the two will now face off in a second and final round on May 7.

Celebrating his advancement, Macron addressed supporters in Paris, in a speech that called for unity and reiterated his support for the European Union.

"The deep seated feeling, age old feeling that has always pushed our people forward, the commitment to our country, the collective interest over division, this is what has won tonight," he said as a sea of supporters waved French flags. "This election has opened the door to optimism, to a new path to hope for Europe for the world."

With his words, he drew a sharp contrast with his opponent, who has floated the idea of referendum -- dubbed "Frexit" -- on whether to leave or remain in the E.U.

Favored to win the second-round, Macron -- a 39-year-old former government minister who has never held elected office -- was quick to cast himself as a political outsider, saying, "I have heard your expectations, for true change, for true democracy," and urged his voters to "start writing a whole new page in the political history of our country."

Le Pen, who appears to have come in second place, according to exit polls, said that the victory was an "honor" that she received "with humility and gratitude."

"From now on I have an immense responsibility of defending the French nation, its unity, its culture and its independence," she said. "The French must take advantage of this historical opportunity offered to them, because what is at stake here is the wild type of globalization endangering our civilization."

"The survival of France," was at stake in the second-round vote, she said.

She took shots at the European Union and sitting President François Hollande during her speech, before concluding and leading her supporters in singing the French national anthem.

Reports suggested that protesters in Paris have clashed with police in demonstrations against Le Pen's victory.

Sunday's result marked the first time that no major-party candidate would contest the second-round vote.

"This is still an anti-establishment outcome, even though Macron represents a centrist platform," Erik Brattberg, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Europe Program, told ABC News. "Worth watching now is whether other French politicians will be rallying around Macron to defeat Le Pen in second round."

François Fillon, the conservative candidate who appears to have come in third place, conceded defeat, saying: "There is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right. Therefore I am voting for Emmanuel Macron."

French voters were going to the polls for a first-round vote to choose their next president from among 11 candidates, including Le Pen, who opposes immigration and has voiced skepticism about France's membership in the European Union.

Pre-election polls suggested Le Pen and Macron, an independent centrist and former economy minister, were in the lead.

"Le Pen did as expected. There was no hidden Le Pen vote in the first round. While she can get more votes in a second round with only one opponent, she has likely reached a ceiling among her core voters," Brattberg predicted.

Leading up to the vote, Fillon, a former prime minister embroiled in a scandal over alleged fake jobs given to his wife and children, appeared to be closing the gap in recent days, as was far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

"A last-minute push by Fillon and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon was not enough to get them into the run-off," Philip Crowther, a correspondent for France 24 in Washington, told ABC News. "This result is a disaster for France's main two parties -- the conservative Republican party and the Socialist party."

The election is seen as a litmus test for the future of the European Union and the spread of populism around the world.

More than 50,000 police and gendarmes were deployed to protect 66,000 polling stations for the election, which comes just three days after a deadly attack on Paris's famed Avenue des Champs-Elysees in which a police officer and a gunman were slain.

The presidential poll has consequences for the future of the European Union, for France's millions of Muslims and for world financial markets. It's also the first ever to be held while France is under a state of emergency, put in place since the November 2015 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.

President Trump said this week that he believed Le Pen was "the strongest on what's been going on in France," while former President Barack Obama called to wish Macron well in the poll.

Neither Trump nor Obama said he was making a formal endorsement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While it's no secret that the ice on Earth's poles is melting, scientists are still learning about how rapidly these changes are happening.

Now a new study of water across the surface of Antarctica finds that the melting is occurring to a greater degree than previously thought.

“This study tells us there’s already a lot more melting going on than we thought,” co-author Robin Bell told Columbia University's Earth Institute last week in a press release about the study. “When you turn up the temperature, it’s only going to increase.”

Researchers from Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory conducted the study and published their findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

 The scientists "found extensive drainages of meltwater" flowing in parts of Antarctica where they did not expect to find it, according to the Earth Institute's press release.

Video provided by the Earth Institute, shows a 400-foot-wide waterfall draining a steady flow of turquoise water off the Nansen ice shelf and into the ocean.

 The Nansen ice shelf, which is on the southern side of the continent, is a mammoth glacier that stretches about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, according to Geographic Names and Information Systems.

“This is not in the future — this is widespread now and has been for decades,” glaciologist Jonathan Kingslake told the Earth Institute. “I think most polar scientists have considered water moving across the surface of Antarctica to be extremely rare. But we found a lot of it, over very large areas.”

In January, scientists warned that a chunk of ice about the size of Delaware could soon break off the Larsen C ice shelf in northern Antarctica.

When the Delaware-sized chunk of ice breaks away, the Larsen C ice shelf could lose more than 10 percent of its area, according to Project MIDAS, a U.K.-based Antarctic research project.

The "event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula," Project MIDAS said.

Overwinterer at the Neumayer Station also support the #MarchForScience – our message of support from Antarctica! @ScienceMarchDC pic.twitter.com/7qObD39aY4

— AWI Medien (@AWI_de) April 22, 2017

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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Prince William, Princess Kate, and Prince Harry put their hands together to push the red button that started the London Marathon. The royal trio, who founded a charity that aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health, were on hand to support the runners at the starting line Sunday morning.

It's #LondonMarathon day!

Whichever amazing cause you're running for, let's make this the #MentalHealth Marathon! #TeamHeadsTogether pic.twitter.com/sT3RxUa4Pa

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 23, 2017

Their charity, Heads Together, is the Virgin London Marathon’s official charity partner this year and 700 runners are participating in support of mental health awareness. The royal trio gave hugs to some competitors ahead of the race and, after the event got underway, clapped, cheered and handed out water along the route.

Good luck everyone with lots of cheers from the crowd & Their Royal Highnesses. #Teamheadstogether #LondonMarathon pic.twitter.com/YN4JpyhpYG

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 23, 2017

The runners got a surprise at Mile 22! #TeamHeadsTogether pic.twitter.com/qv3vckOydo

— Heads Together (@heads_together) April 23, 2017

An unprecedented security operation is underway to protect the runners and royals just weeks after a terror attack in Westminster left five dead and scores wounded. Hundreds of armed police with automatic weapons, sniffer dogs, and concrete and steel security barriers have been positioned in strategic locations along the route to prevent another Westminster-style vehicle attack. There are also major security checks in place surrounding St. James’ and the Mall leading to Buckingham Palace where more than 40,000 runners are vying to complete the grueling 26-mile course.

And away... they... GO! #Londonmarathon #bbcathletics pic.twitter.com/3TilyTzb7A

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 23, 2017

WIlliam, Kate, and Harry dubbed the event the mental health marathon and many racers sported blue Heads Together headbands to support the cause. The young royals’ campaign to break the taboo surrounding mental health has had William, Kate, and Harry open up to the public about their own struggles. The normally stoic and reserved royals have shared some of their most intimate emotions to encourage others to seek help during moments of grief.

Earlier this week, Prince Harry,32, revealed for the first time that he sought counseling at his brother’s advice after nearly two decades of grief and difficulty coping following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997.

The fifth in line to the throne participated in a podcast with Bryony Gordon of The Telegraph newspaper. Prince Harry admitted shutting down all his emotions after his mother’s death. "My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because, ‘Why would that help?’" he shared.

The weeklong campaign leading up to the marathon also saw Prince William discuss in a Facebook video with Lady Gaga her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. The prince and the pop star's emotional chat encouraged young people to seek help for mental health challenges when they need it.

The young royals have worked with prominent doctors, educators and health care professionals across the spectrum as they engage in their most high-profile campaign to date

On Friday, William, Kate and Harry released a candid new video for their Heads Together campaign that shows them discussing some of the most personal issues they have faced, including parenting and coping with Princess Diana's death.

Kate, 35, and William, 34, the parents of Princess Charlotte and Prince George, have opened up about the profound effects of becoming parents and the challenges they faced in the first few weeks after George was born in 2013.

William, Kate and Harry 's foundation has vowed to carry on their message beyond the marathon to benefit any young people, parents or veterans struggling with mental health issues and other challenges.

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ABC News(SYDNEY) -- Vice President Mike Pence took a brief break from being a statesman on Sunday, instead opting to be a tourist on his last full day in Australia.

And like any camera-toting tourist in a foreign land, he was quick to share photos of his excursions on social media.

 Pence, along with his wife Karen and their daughters Audrey and Charlotte, kicked off the day with a guided visit of Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

The Pences spent over an hour at the zoo, where they got up close and personal with an emu, an echidna, an owl, a possum -- and, being Australia, a kangaroo named Penny and a koala named Bai'yali.

"Couldn't visit Australia without seeing the kangaroos," the vice president tweeted. "Karen, Charlotte, Audrey and I enjoying our morning visit to @tarongazoo. #VPinAUS."

The second lady fed an emu named Widji leaves, while the vice president and Audrey petted him.

The vice president said, laughing, "Should we [take a] selfie?" But the emu didn't appear interested, and began walking away. Pence concluded, "Looks like he's done!"

Audrey, though, did manage to snap a selfie with a kangaroo. "I was obsessed with kangaroos as a kid," she said.

Thanks @tarongazoo for a fun and informative visit. #VPinAUS pic.twitter.com/Af2dhxn8cs

— Vice President Pence (@VP) April 23, 2017

The Pences then boarded a 60-foot cruiser, The Enigma, for a tour of Sydney Harbor. Joining him were the premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, as well as New South Wales treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Australia's ambassador to the U.S., Joe Hockey.

"Thanks to NSW Premier 4 hosting beautiful Sydney Harbor tour," tweeted Pence, along with photos of the outing. "The stunning views are only surpassed by friendly Australian people. #VPinAUS."

 The Pences were then given a tour of the Sydney Opera House by its CEO, Louise Herron.

"Spectacular way to end our last full day in Sydney with a tour of the iconic Opera House," Pence tweeted.

Spectacular way to end our last full day in Sydney with a tour of the iconic Opera House. #VPinAUS pic.twitter.com/avkTzPyKYd

— Vice President Pence (@VP) April 23, 2017

The Pence clan also visited Government House, the official residence of the governor of New South Wales.

"It was a pleasure to be welcomed to Government House in Sydney by H.E. The Hon. David Hurley, Governor of New South Wales," the vice president tweeted.

It was a pleasure to be welcomed to Government House in Sydney by H.E. The Hon. David Hurley, Governor of New South Wales. #VPinAUS pic.twitter.com/gf22WuzMjf

— Vice President Pence (@VP) April 23, 2017

On Monday, Pence will fly from Sydney to Hawaii, the last stop of his 10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Some 47 million French voters are set to head to the polls on Sunday in what could be one of the most consequential elections France has held in decades.

On the ballot are 11 candidates who span the political spectrum; if no single candidate garners a majority of the votes, two will advance to a run-off vote to be held in two weeks.

The week leading up to the vote saw President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama wading into the campaign half a world away, as well as a terrorist attack in Paris put the country on alert.

The vote could pose an existential threat for the European Union -– a major U.S. ally that has sustained a battering by last summer's Brexit vote -- the decision by the United Kingdom to pull out of the EU.

But what's all the fuss about? And why should we care?

Here's what you need to know.

Populists at the polls

"In this year's French election, voters face an almost existential question: what type of country should modern France be? A liberal and tolerant nation conducting economic reforms at home and playing an active role within the EU and in international affairs? Or a more closed nation, unwilling to undertake structural reforms, pursuing an anti-globalization and anti-EU agenda?" said Erik Brattberg, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Europe Program.

Many of the same forces that elevated Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency and saw Brits vote to Brexit are at play in France.

Ethnic and religious tensions have been stoked by repeated terror attacks. Unemployment has been stuck at around 10 percent for nearly five years. France's economic growth was meek in 2016 -– estimates put it just above 1 percent.

These factors are driving frustration and anger in large parts of the country. The question is how will that translate on polling day.

"With populism and anti-establishment anger surging on both sides of the Atlantic -– leading to Brexit as well as Trump's election –- the French election will provide a critical indicator of whether the populist wave is still building, or beginning to subside," Charles Kupchan, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told ABC News in an email.

The candidate who is seemingly poised to gain the most from the discontent is Front National leader Marine Le Pen.

Seen as a political ally of Trump and the United Kingdom's so-called Brexiteers (both of whom she has praised), Le Pen is among the frontrunners going into Sunday's poll.

Le Pen and Trump "both want to be tough on immigration and both have been accused of racism," Philip Crowther, a correspondent for France 24, explained to ABC News in an email.

Her candidacy is somewhat tarnished, however, by her father’s reputation. The elder Le Pen led the Front National party before his daughter, and was widely rebuked for calling Nazi concentration camps "a detail of history." Marine Le Pen has denounced these remarks.

She has taken a strong stance against illegal immigration and championed anti-globalist sentiments.

On immigration, she has said that those who enter France illegally "have no reason to stay in France, these people broke the law the minute they set foot on French soil."

And that strong stance could pay dividends.

"Confronted with a wave of immigrants in recent years, coupled with a succession of terrorist attacks, France and other European societies are experiencing heated debates about immigration and the integration of minorities into society," Kupchan said.

Le Pen –- along with some other less popular candidates -– has also proposed a referendum on France's membership in the E.U. Many have dubbed the hypothetical vote "Frexit."

The fresh-faced Frenchman

But her victory is far from guaranteed.

Leading recent polls, but just barely edging Le Pen, is 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron -– a political newcomer who has never held elected office.

A centrist who wants to see France remain in the E.U., the political neophyte "is seen as the candidate most likely to stop Le Pen in her tracks," Crowther said.

Previously appointed as economy minister by the current (and widely unpopular) government, Macron quit his job in 2016 and formed the En Marche! party, which now claims a quarter of a million supporters.

His political platform earned him the tacit support of none other than President Obama this week, who called Macron to wish him well. Obama's spokesman was quick to note that this was not a formal endorsement; however, the two are seen as political allies.

Macron and Le Pen face strong competition from conservative Francois Fillon and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Continental quandary

While Sunday's vote will almost certainly not determine the presidency –- every election since 1965 has gone to a run-off -– it will determine which two candidates will contest the final vote on May 7.

Analysts say that this French election could prove to be a matter of life and death for the European Union –- the bloc of democratic European countries that grew out of a desire for cooperation after the strife of World War II.

"Depending on who is elected, the European Union, the United States' major trading partner, is in danger of crumbling," Crowther said.

The U.S. and E.U. are strong diplomatic allies on the international stage, and commerce between the two represents the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world.

Within the E.U., France is the third largest economy (after Germany and the soon-to-be-exiting United Kingdom).

A French decision to leave the E.U., "would undermine Europe even more than Brexit, at a very crucial time," Carnegie's Brattberg said.

Kupchan agreed, saying: "If Le Pen or Melenchon were to win and seek to guide France out of the E.U., the European project might well collapse. Britain is already in the process of quitting the union, which would likely not survive a French departure.

"A collective Europe remains America's best partner in the world," he continued. "To see the E.U. unravel and Europe's separate nation-states and borders come back to life would constitute a historic setback. Especially in the face of rising challenges from non-democratic states like Russia and China."

Yet, Le Pen's promise to put France first appears to have strong appeal among a support base that is wary of Europe's largely open borders and the broader forces of globalization.

Similar sentiments have propelled two shock votes elsewhere in less than a year. Sunday will see whether Le Pen can capitalize on them within her country –- and thus put herself on a path to shake up the whole of Europe.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Family of Ahmed Hassan(NEW YORK) -- The family of a 17-year-old New Jersey boy who has been imprisoned in Egypt since December are calling on U.S. authorities to do more to secure his release.

Ahmed Hassan was arrested on Dec. 1, 2016 while staying with his extended family at their home in Zagazig, a city in the Egyptian Nile Delta, his family said. According to Ahmed's lawyers and father, the teen was taken into custody when the police came to arrest his uncle on a minor building code violation.

Family members present at the time got involved in a dispute with the authorities, which resulted in the arrest of seven of them, including Hassan. The family members were sentenced to a year in prison for resisting authorities, according to Hassan's father, Mohamed Mostafa.

The family had been anxiously awaiting a court hearing that would reconsider Hassan's imprisonment, Mostafa told ABC news. The hearing was scheduled for April 19 but was postponed until July 16 because the police were not available to secure his transportation to court, Mostafa said.

"I went with the lawyer to see the judge overseeing Ahmed’s case and begged him to set an earlier date to look into his reconsideration, but he refused,” Mostafa said.

While he awaits the July court date, Hassan is living in a cell packed with other people, his father said, adding that he said he must pay the other prisoners in order to get a small amount of space to be able to sleep on.

In March, Hassan sent a letter to President Donald Trump begging him to intercede with the Egyptian authorities on his behalf.

"I am in a jail cell with more than 20 adults. It is scary to be here with these people and the police," Hassan wrote. "Mr. President, please help me. I want to be with my family and friends. I am proud to be an American. I beg you to defend my right to be free."

A copy of Hassan's letter was provided to ABC News by Pretrial Rights International, a legal advocacy organization that is working on his case.

The families of other U.S. citizens imprisoned in Egypt had also written a letter to President Trump ahead of his April 3 meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. In addition to Hassan, the letter asked Trump to intercede on behalf of Mustafa Kassem, 52, and Ahmed Etwiy, 23, who have both been imprisoned since 2013.

"Mr. President, we believe in your commitment to represent Americans first and the values America holds dear, especially freedom. We urge you to demand that President Sisi release all unjustly detained prisoners in Egypt, including our American family members," the letter stated. It was signed by Mostafa, Eman Kassem and Dr. Nagwa El Kordy.

Hassan was born and raised in the US, where his father has been a resident since 1984. Hassan and other members of the family have been going back and forth between the US and Egypt since the mid-2000s.

Before his arrest, Hassan was living in Atlantic City and studying for his SATs, hoping to return to the US for college, his family said.

Praveen Madhiraju is a lawyer with Pretrial Rights International who is working on Hassan's case pro-bono. He said that when Hassan was arrested, the Egyptian authorities wanted to record his nationality as Egyptian, while Hassan insisted that he is American.

“They made fun of him and said 'they [the US government] will do nothing for you,'" Madhiraju said.

The DC-based lawyer adds that his organization is currently engaged in talks with both the State Department and Congress to try to pressure Egyptian authorities to release Hassan.

The family has also been in touch with the US embassy in Egypt. But Hassan's father said their response so far has been a "disappointment."

"The person who came from the US embassy didn’t even see where Ahmed is jailed. They meet him only at the office and said: 'We don't attend the questioning, we only follow up after,'" Mostafa said. "I am American. I have the right to be defended and protected. Otherwise, what’s the reason to be an American citizen?"

The U.S. embassy did not return ABC News' request for comment.

According to Praveen, Hassan is one of approximately 19 American citizens currently jailed in Egypt.

Earlier this week, an Egyptian court acquitted 30-year-old Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American aid worker. She had been detained for nearly three years on charges related to child abuse. On Thursday, Hijazi met with Trump at the White House.

"We are very happy to have Aya back home," Trump said.

But Hassan's family are left wondering if and when he will be next. Mostafa said that he was happy to hear that Hijazi had been release because it showed that applying pressure on Egyptian authorities can yield positive results. But he also said it was "hypocritical" that pressure was not being applied by the US to free Hassan.

"Why is there no pressure for Ahmed’s case? Is there a difference between people working in human rights and a normal citizen?" Mostafa said.

Meanwhile, the teen's father also worries that they are running out of options to get bring him home.

"I see Ahmed every Sunday," Mostafa said. "He is staying strong but he is starting to break down. He has been in prison for four months and was hoping to leave after his hearing before it got postponed."

Mostafa said Hassan's fate seems to rest in the hands of el-Sissi.

"Our only hope now is for a presidential pardon," he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Taliban leader once known as a shadow governor of an Afghanistan province has been killed in a U.S. airstrike, U.S. forces in that country said.

Quari Tayib, at one time known as the Taliban shadow governor of Takhar Province, was killed in an airstrike in Archi District, Kunduz Province, Afghanistan on Apr. 17, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a press release Saturday morning.

"Tayib had been a target of interest since 2011 and was directly responsible for the deaths of U.S. service members in Afghanistan," the release said. "Eight additional Taliban fighters were killed in the strike."

The airstrike was part of what the military described as ongoing efforts to deny Taliban freedom of movement in the area, release said, adding that it targeted a compound Tayib owned and used for insurgents in the area.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As North Korea blusters about launching missile strikes against the United States and its allies, experts are warning that aggressive action from North Korea is more likely to come from cyber space.

While Kim Jong-Un has struggled to develop a traditional arsenal to rival those of his enemies as international sanctions have barred Pyongang from the global financial system, North Korea’s military has cultivated an increasingly sophisticated group of hackers capable of launching cyber-attacks on Western and Western-backed targets.

John Carlin, a former assistant attorney general for national security and an ABC News contributor, said the government hasn’t done enough to protect the country’s core infrastructure from North Korea and other cyber threats.

“We're still vulnerable,” Carlin told ABC News. “The threat in this space way outmatches what our current defenses are. It needs to be a top priority of this administration and this Congress to fix it … You’ve seen all these attacks take place. It’s not a hypothetical.”

He cited two recent examples of cyber-attacks U.S. officials suspect were carried out by North Korea. In 2014, a group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace hacked Sony Pictures Entertainment, delaying the release of The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco that depicted a fictional assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un. In the following days, the hackers released proprietary information and embarrassing emails, costing the studio millions of dollars.

In 2016, hackers stole $81 million of Bangladeshi funds from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York through the SWIFT network, a financial messaging service used by thousands of banks around the world. According to The New York Times, U.S. officials are investigating whether North Korea was involved because the hackers used a piece of code that also appeared in the cyber-attack on Sony.

The North Korean government has denied any hacking allegations, but the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky released a report earlier this month linking the hacker group “Lazarus” to both the Sony and SWIFT attacks and tracking “Lazarus” back to an IP address in North Korea.

In January, President Donald Trump pledged to appoint a team to deliver a plan to address U.S. cybersecurity vulnerabilities within 90 days of his inauguration, but Carlin noted that deadline has come and gone without a plan or a team in place.

“I can't think of a more urgent problem facing this administration, but as of yet we haven't heard what their strategy will be,” Carlin said. “I hope that it goes to the top of their agenda.”

A senior administration official declined to comment on when the president’s cybersecurity plan might be made public but told ABC News that, despite reports to the contrary, a “fully functional” cybersecurity team led by White House National Security Council cybersecurity coordinator Robert Joyce is already in place. Related efforts spearheaded by Jared Kushner and Rudy Giuliani are also underway, the official said, but it is Joyce who will set cybersecurity priorities.

The official acknowledged, however, that the government has “a long way to go” when it comes to cybersecurity, citing vulnerabilities in some federal networks.

“There are over 200 departments and agencies and they’re not all equipped to do cybersecurity right,” the official said. “Nobody would be credible if they claimed anything different.”

Those vulnerabilities could be exploited by foreign hackers. A cyber brigade is easier to develop than a traditional fighting force, even for a country with extremely poor network infrastructure. North Korea only made its first known connection to the Internet in 2010, and access remains tightly controlled by the government and limited to only a select group of citizens. As a result, Internet use in North Korea is among the lowest in the world, with only about 14,000 Internet users in the country in 2016, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) within the United Nations.

An extensive report on North Korea's cyber capabilities compiled in 2014 by the technology firm HP determined that North Korea’s poor connectivity hasn’t stopped its government from building a team of so-called “cyber warriors.” Defectors say the regime identifies schoolchildren who show promise in mathematics, sends prospects to elite academies for rigorous computer science training and eventually recruits successful students into a cyber operations branch of the military. These “cyber warriors,” HP says, are some of the only North Koreans with access to the Internet.

"If they're going on the offensive, cyber makes a lot of sense for them," said Martyn Williams of 38 North, who specializes in coverage of North Korea's technological capabilities. "Some of those things you see in the parades look scary, but they don't have the resources to match the weaponry of the United States or South Korea. When it comes to cyber, it's much easier to become a formidable opponent, so it's a much more even playing field."

The exact size of the force, which is spread out among several different units overseen by the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) within the General Staff Department of the Korean People's Army, is unknown, but a South Korean government analysis also conducted in 2014 estimated that the force could include nearly 6,000 soldiers, many of whom operate in foreign countries to hide their activity. The HP report pinpointed the location of one group, for example, called Unit 121, which is believed to have launched attacks on “enemy networks” in both the United States and South Korea from China, not far from the North Korean border.

John Bambenek of Fidelis Cybersecurity, who frequently consults for U.S. government agencies, says that many U.S. institutions, most notably banks, are also unprepared to defend themselves against a hostile intelligence service.

“Would they be able to compromise the CIA? No,” Bambenek said. ”But I think they could certainly go after soft target.”

Cyber thefts from financial institutions could bring security concerns about North Korea full circle, raising the question of whether North Korea might be pouring those allegedly stolen funds into its missile program.

Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow specializing in North Korea at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, says these alleged heists could be part of a new strategy to circumvent the international sanctions designed to cripple the missile program.

“North Korea has a long history of engaging illicit activities to acquire funds for its nuclear missile program, which they see it as key to the regime’s survival,” Ruggiero said. “As we squeeze more and are more successful, they may turn to illicit activities more. Cyber is one of the tools in their toolkit.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Thursday’s shooting on the Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris has pushed security to the top of the political agenda and added more unpredictability to a close presidential race two days before French voters head to the polls.

The attack, which killed one police officer, could influence voters who will cast their ballots Sunday, analysts say.

“It seems inevitable that this attack will have some impact on Sunday’s vote,” Jim Shields, professor of French politics at Aston University in Birmingham, England, told ABC News. “We have had terrorist attacks during other election campaigns but never this close to polling day.”

Four candidates lead the race, which is still too tight to call – so even a small effect on the first round of voting Sunday could make a big difference, he said.

“With four leading candidates running neck and neck and up to a third of voters still undecided, even a marginal effect in increasing support for a particular candidate could be decisive,” he said.

This could benefit two candidates, he added: far-right leader Marine Le Pen and the conservative François Fillon, who have made security and the fight against terrorism central issues in their campaigns. The candidates who could lose votes are centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who had seen a recent surge in polls, he said.

Le Pen, slightly behind frontrunner Macron in the polls, has already reacted to the attack by saying she will introduce tougher immigration and border control, and she will likely continue to capitalize on it, said Françoise Boucek, lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London.

“I definitely think that it’s Le Pen who might try to capitalize on it the most because her agenda is really about internal security, anti-terrorism and anti-Islamism. She’s going to capitalize on this and say, ‘Look, that's what I’ve been saying all along,’” Boucek told ABC News.

France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015. The country has seen a series of attacks that have killed nearly 240 people in the past two years. Thursday’s attack reminds voters of the security challenges the country is facing, Boucek said.

“It puts internal security on the top of the agenda and on the top of people’s consciousness so I would think that this is definitely going to affect people’s decisions on Sunday,” she said.

Le Pen is expected to make it to the second round, which she is then predicted to lose to Macron, according to the polls. Boucek said she’d still be surprised if Le Pen became president, even if she does get more votes than expected before Thursday’s attack.

President Trump tweeted Friday that the attack "will have a big effect" on the presidential election.

 

Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017

 

The attack adds to an already unpredictable race, said Simon Lightfoot, senior lecturer in European Politics at the University of Leeds.

Thursday’s attack is likely to benefit Le Pen and Fillon, he said. Le Pen was already expected to move on to the second round so the question is whether Fillon could now get enough votes to be the second candidate.

“If it’s a runoff between two right-wing candidates; it will be quite interesting,” Lightfoot told ABC News.

But the latest polls suggest that the second-round runoff on May 7 will be between Macron and Le Pen, and even if more people vote for Le Pen because of Thursday's attack, he doesn’t think the shift will be big enough for a far-right victory.

“I don’t think it will change the runoff dramatically,” he said.

Le Pen is an anti-European Union politician who has promised to dump the euro currency. If she wins, it could change France’s place in the world and deal a blow to the E.U., already dealing with the British exit from the bloc.

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ABC News(PARIS) -- An American who was near the Champs Elysees when a gunman opened fire on police in Paris described the scene as "mayhem" and "mass panic."

It was a beautiful night in Paris when Kentucky resident John Finney, his wife Angela and their three sons were walking on the Avenue des Champs Elysees after dinner and a day of sightseeing in one of the City of Light's most iconic destinations.

"This is the most expensive, most beautiful street in the world," Finney said he told his family. "We’ve got to see it at nighttime."

Then, Finney stopped to buy his wife a red rose from a street merchant near the Dior store -- a decision that could have saved the lives of him and his family.

"Thank goodness I did," Finney told ABC News. "Had I not stopped to get that rose for her, we would have been right on top of the shooter."

Finney then saw the gunman, dressed in all black, before he began to spray bullets at Parisian police.

"That's when panic set in," he said. "We were very terrified, obviously."

Angela Finney then yelled for everyone to run, Finney said. The couple's sons ran up the street, with their mother following behind them and Finney behind her, attempting to "block and shield them from any shots that were going."

Along with the Finney family, hundreds of other people were trying to escape the deadly scene.

"I mean, it was mass panic ... mayhem," Finney said. "People were falling down. People were stepping on people."

Finney said the family knew "right away" that they were in the middle of a "terrorist event" and described the shooter as having a "blank, dead look" on his face.

"He starts shooting. We're running. He continues to shoot, and we don't know where the bullets were at," Finney said, adding that the shots lasted for less than 40 seconds.

The father said the family was "absolutely" afraid for their lives.

"We were in the kill zone," he said. "We were definitely afraid."

As the family ran to safety, the manager of the watch store Swatch waved them into the building. After about 10 additional people ran in, the manger closed the metal gate. The group then waited in the basement of the store for two and a half hours.

The store employees "took care" of them, Finney said, providing them with food and coffee.

The family will not be shortening their trip, Finney said, adding that they will remain in Paris until Sunday, when they head for London.

Finney expressed a "love" for France and advised that other Americans not be deterred from coming there.

"To any other Americans who want to visit here, this is the country to come to," he said. "The French people are resilient. They're heroes. This is a beautiful country. They're beautiful people."

One policeman was killed and two others were injured in Thursday night's attack, which ISIS claimed responsibility for.

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American describes ‘mass panic’ and ‘mayhem’ during attack on the Champs Elysees



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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- American and Canadian fighters jets intercepted two Russian military aircraft that flew north of Alaska and Canada on Thursday night, U.S. Air Force officials said Friday.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) also confirmed there was another incident on Wednesday night with another pair of Russian aircraft that did not require an intercept, bringing the total number of sightings to four in as many days.

"Alaskan-based NORAD F-22 Raptors and Royal Canadian CF-18 Hornets intercepted and visually identified two Russian TU-95 bomber aircraft" flying around the north coast of Alaska and Canada, said Mary Ann Clemons a NORAD spokesperson.

The Russian bombers did not enter American sovereign or Canadian airspace, Clemons said.

The U.S. military's Air Defense Identification Zone stretches 200 nautical miles from the Alaska coastline into international airspace. Aircraft entering that zone are asked to identify themselves as they transit through. American territorial airspace begins 12 nautical miles from American shores.

On Wednesday, two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft flew halfway up the Aleutian Islands chain, according to a U.S. official. Clemons said the Russian aircraft were identified during a maritime patrol close to Alaska. These aircraft were identified by NORAD, but no aircraft were scrambled to do so by visual means.

On Monday, two F-22 Raptor fighters and an E-3 AWAC reconnaissance aircraft intercepted two TU-95 Russian bombers that had flown into the ADIZ 100 miles south of Kodiak Island.

On Tuesday, two TU-95 bombers flying up the Aleutian Island chain were tracked by an E-3 AWAC aircraft as they flew 35 miles from the Alaska coast before turning around. A third aircraft, an IL-38 flying a different route briefly entered the ADIZ before turning back.

Each encounter has received a different response from NORAD.

"The intercepts are professional ones in accordance with international norms," said Captain Scott Miller, the chief spokesman for NORAD.

This week's intercepts mark the first times since July 4, 2015 that NORAD aircraft have intercepted Russian military aircraft flying near the American ADIZ. Russian military aircraft have never strayed into American territorial airspace.

Miller said the activity this week is not unprecedented given that the peak of long range Russian bomber flights into the AZID occurred in 2014.

A year later that activity dropped off significantly, probably due to a 2015 safety stand down implemented by the Russian military following a slew of deadly crashes involving TU-95 Bear bombers.

Miller noted that Thursday night's encounters highlighted "the strength of the bi-national relationship of NORAD", a joint American and Canadian command based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

As the Russian bombers transited through the American ADIZ into the Canadian ADIZ they were accompanied by American and Canadian aircraft belonging to different NORAD regions, a transition Miller characterized as "seamless."

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iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) — The suspect who shot one police officer dead and injured two others in Paris Thursday night has been identified as Karim Cheurfi.

Previously, French police identified the suspect but did not immediately release his name, saying only that he is a 39-year-old French national from an eastern suburb of Paris.

On Friday, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins confirmed that Cherufi was the attacker. He was identified by ID cards found on his person and corroborated by fingerprints.

A piece of paper that was found in his pocket praised ISIS and other papers found between seats in his vehicle showed addresses of various police departments. In the trunk of his car, investigators found a black bag containing a pump-action shotgun, knives, scissors and a Koran, according to Molins.

Cherufi was killed in a shootout with police after he got out of his car on the Champs Elysees and opened fire at a police vehicle.

Cherufi was known to authorities and had a long and violent criminal history going back well over a decade, including attempts to attack police, but during that time authorities never found evidence that he had been radicalized, Molins said Friday.

He had four convictions, two for violence committed against a guard and a fellow inmate while in prison. He was most recently convicted in 2014 for home burglary, refusing to stop a car and concealing stolen goods, Molins said.

Cherufi traveled to Algeria earlier this year — allegedly to get married — even though he was on parole. When he returned, he was reprimanded for breaking the terms of his parole.

Three people associated with Cherufi have been detained for questioning, though his connection to those individuals was not publicly released.

As with all other similar attacks in France, investigators are looking into the possibility of accomplices. So far none have been identified and there does not appear to be a connection between this attack and any other suspects.

Shortly after the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility and praised the attacker, though they used a different name to identify the man that they believed was responsible.


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YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A "close associate" of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. ground raid in Syria on April 6, U.S. Central Command said Friday. The raid targeted him for his role in planning the deadly New Years Eve nightclub attack in Istanbul, which killed 39 civilians.

"Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, an ISIS operative, was killed by U.S. forces working on operation near al Mayadin Syria to kill him," Colonel John Thomas, the spokesman for U.S. Central Command, told Pentagon reporters in phone briefing Friday.

Al Mayadin is southeast of Dayr Az Zawr in the Euphrates River Valley.

Thomas described Uzbeki as "a close associate" of al-Baghdadi who "was known to interact with him in various ways over time." Centcom has confirmed over the past two weeks that Uzbeki was killed in the raid.

Suspect in New Year's Eve Attack on Istanbul Nightclub Confessed: Governor

The spokesman described him as facilitating the movement of ISIS foreign terror fighters and funds. Uzbeki played a key role in ISIS external terror attack plotting and Thomas said he was "clearly linked" to the deadly Istanbul nightclub shooting attack on New Year's Eve.

That deadly attack was carried out by Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbeki national, on behalf of ISIS.

Masharipov fired on hundreds of revelers at the trendy Reina nightclub killing 39 people and injuring dozens of others before he fled the scene. He was captured in a police raid in Istanbul two weeks after the attack and, according to Turkish authorities, confessed to his role in the attack.

Uzbeki is believed to have been involved in planning the attack.

 Thomas described the April 6 ground raid in Syria targeting Uzbeki "as an operation in order to eliminate him." The raid was conducted by American special operations forces, said a defense official.

Since late 2015 an "expeditionary targeting force" has operated inside Iraq and Syria targeting senior ISIS leaders. Typically their ground operations are not disclosed.

"We have a campaign against leaders of ISIS and a campaign against the leaders of al-Qaeda," said Thomas. "You can kind of look through the history of the strikes and I think we have a pretty good record of finding these folks and killing them."

Uzbeki's presence in al Mayadin seems to reinforce information from U.S. officials that senior ISIS leaders have escaped Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in Syria, heading towards areas of the Euphrates River Valley.

Senior ISIS leaders have also departed Mosul into the same valley region, which straddles both sides of the border, according to U.S. officials.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released(NEW YORK) — A pilot from the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier safely ejected from a fighter jet, according to a statement from the Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

The pilot was quickly recovered by a helicopter and is being assessed by the medical team on board the carrier. There are no injuries at this time, the statement said.

The pilot ejected from his F/A-18E Super Hornet as it was on its final approach to land on the USS Carl Vinson. The Navy said the plane had been conducting "routine flight operations during a transit in the Celebes Sea." The body of water is north of Indonesia and south of the Philippines.

The statement did not detail what caused the pilot to eject or when the ejection occurred.

The USS Carl Vinson recently gained international attention for its location, after President Trump recently said that the U.S. was sending an "armada" toward North Korea.

The U.S. Pacific Command had issued a statement that Admiral Harry Harris had "directed the Carl Vinson Strike Group to sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean after departing Singapore April 8."

The statement said that the Vinson would head north "rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia."

It made no mention of the Sea of Japan or North Korea, though a U.S. official told ABC News that the intended redirection of the Vincent was to the Sea of Japan east of the Korean Peninsula.

Later, Trump administration officials framed the Vinson's movement to the Korean Peninsula as a reaction to military provocations by North Korea.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was asked why the Vinson strike group was moving to the Korean Peninsula during an interview with Fox News on April 9.

"Well, it's prudent to do it, isn't it?" McMaster said. "I mean, North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior.

Three days later, in an interview with Fox Business Network, President Trump said the United States was "sending an armada" after a question about North Korea.

But the Vinson was not immediately headed north. It was actually headed south from Singapore to participate in a four-day military exercise with the Australian Navy that ended Tuesday. The carrier group is not expected in the Sea of Japan until the end of the month.

The White House was forced to clarify the series of confusing and possibly misleading statements about the carrier's location.

"Well, I mean I — PACOM [U.S. Pacific Command] put out a release talking about the group ultimately ending up in the Korean peninsula. That's what it will do," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at Wednesday's press briefing.

When asked whether the president may have spoken too quickly on the ship’s whereabouts before it actually headed north, Spicer replied, "The president said we'd have an armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather."

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Samir Hussein/WireImage(LONDON) -- Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince Harry have released a candid new video for their Heads Together mental health campaign discussing some of the most personal issues they have faced, including parenting and coping with Princess Diana's death.

Kate, 35, and William, 34, the parents of Princess Charlotte and Prince George, opened up about the profound effects of becoming parents and the challenges they faced in the first few weeks after George was born in 2013.

Watch The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry in conversation on mental health for @heads_together #oktosay pic.twitter.com/417gqyqzk0

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 21, 2017


"Having a child, particularly your first child, is a life-changing moment, nothing can really prepare you for that," Kate said. "Remember the first few days with little George. You have no idea what you're doing. No matter how many books you read, nothing can prepare you for it."

William agreed saying, "There's no rule book. There's no training that teaches you how to do it. You just learn from previous generations and hope that you can translate into what you want to do."

William and Kate spoke movingly about how overwhelmed they were despite the support they received from family in the immediate aftermath of George's birth.

"Do you remember up in Anglesey, we'd had our couple weeks of family support and then you were keen to get back to work, and I was, 'Yeah, I'll come with you of course,' so we scooted off back to Anglesey with George. Those first few weeks were a steep learning curve," Kate recalled.

"A steep learning curve massively," William concurred. "When you have children it puts your own emotions and own life into perspective massively."

William, Kate and Harry, 32, also spoke poignantly, and for the first time on camera as a group, about the 1997 death of William and Harry's mother, Princess Diana, and how her death shaped their lives.

"Considering everything that you boys sadly went though and the trauma you experienced ... I do think it's incredible how strong and how you've been able to cope really," Kate said to her husband and brother-in-law. "And I put that down to your really early years and your childhood experience, but also the relations you've got."

Kate added, "You're amazingly close," to which William replied, "Most of the time," as he and Harry laughed.

Kate told William and Harry that despite the tragedy, the support they've given each other was a blessing in dealing with their own grief.

"Some families aren't as lucky as you guys have been and being able to share things," she said.

"We have been brought closer because of the circumstances as well, that's the thing," William agreed. "You are, you know, uniquely blinded because of what we've been through but even Harry and I over the years have not talked enough about our mother."

Harry agreed with his brother, saying, "No never enough."

Harry, who was 12 when Diana died, revealed earlier this week that he sought counseling two decades after his mother's death. Harry said he sought help at the advice of William after largely trying to ignore Diana's death because it was too painful.

"I always thought to myself, what's the point of bringing up the past? What's the point if bringing up something that's only going to make you sad," Harry said to William and Kate in the new video. "It ain't going to change it. It ain't going to bring her back. And when you start thinking like that it can be really damaging. And you always said to me, 'You've got to sit down and think about those memories.'"

He continued, "But for me I was like I don't want to think about it."

The conversation between William, Kate and Harry also covers topics including the emotional changes new parents go through, the stresses of modern childhood and dealing with trauma in the workplace. The video was shot at Kensington Palace on the afternoon of April 19.

The royal trio are looking ahead to this weekend's 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon, in which a team of more than 700 runners are running on behalf of Heads Together.

All 39,000 @LondonMarathon runners will be given a @Heads_Together headband to join #TeamHeadsTogether and end the stigma on Mental Health pic.twitter.com/kAFCcayvXG

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 10, 2017


William and Kate acknowledged in the video it was Kate's idea to make mental health a priority of their charity work.

Kensington Palace said in a statement William, Kate and Harry made a decision to "shine a spotlight on the power of conversations, both to shatter stigma on mental health and to help people get the help they need."

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have been overwhelmed by the response to the Heads Together campaign. We are in the middle of a truly national conversation on mental health," a Kensington Palace spokesman said. "They are incredibly grateful to everyone who has shared their stories in recent weeks. And having asked others to start conversations on mental health with their friends and families, they wanted to show that they are taking part as well."

Speaking of the new video, the spokesman said, "They hope the film shows how positive a conversation on mental health can be."

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