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News Wrap: ‘Imminent attack’ on French election thwarted

April 18, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Voting is in the news across Europe today, starting with a surprise announcement from London. British Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early election, in June, instead of waiting until 2020. Speaking outside her official residence, May said she is asking to move up the vote to strengthen her hand in negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union.

THERESA MAY, British Prime Minister: Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit, and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country. So we need a general election, and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will take a closer look at the implications of May’s move later in the program.

Police in France say they have broken up an imminent attack aimed at that country’s presidential election. They arrested two suspects today in the port city of Marseille, and recovered guns and explosives. Prosecutors accuse the pair of being Islamic extremists. The first round of voting in France’s presidential race begins on Sunday.

In Turkey, the main opposition party is formally asking to annul Sunday’s referendum that expanded the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Hundreds of people waited outside the electoral board’s headquarters today to file petitions against the vote. They say accepting ballots without an official stamp was illegal.

Separately, the White House defended President Trump’s congratulatory call to Erdogan, arguing that he is an ally in the fight against terrorism.

Vice President Mike Pence moved on from South Korea to Japan today, and again pressed the U.S. case against North Korea. In Tokyo, Mr. Pence said the U.S. will not relent until the Korean Peninsula is free of nuclear weapons. And he told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that American support is unwavering.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live, with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan. And, as the president himself would if he was here, let me be clear to you, Mr. Prime Minister and to all of people in Japan, we are with you 100 percent.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Last week, the White House announced that a U.S. aircraft carrier was steaming toward Korean waters as a deterrent. Now it turns out that was premature. The New York Times reports that the carrier group was headed the opposite way at the time, before changing course. The Pentagon blames a series of miscommunications.

The U.S. military says it intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska on Monday. Two U.S. fighter planes shadowed them for 12 minutes. According to FOX News, the Russians came within 100 miles of Alaska’s Kodiak Island. It is the first such incident in nearly two years.

The manhunt is over for the suspect accused of killing an elderly man in Cleveland and posting video of the crime on Facebook. State police in Pennsylvania found Steve Stephens today in the city of Erie. He shot and killed himself after a chase, closing the case for authorities back in Cleveland.

CALVIN WILLIAMS, Cleveland, Ohio, Police Chief: We are grateful that this has ended. We would have preferred that it had not ended this way, because there are a lot of questions, I’m sure, not only for the family, but the city in general, would have had for Steve as to why this transpired.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged today that the social media giant will do all it can to prevent postings of violent crimes in the future.

State officials in Arkansas are vowing to carry out a double execution later this week, that after the U.S. Supreme Court halted the state’s plan to resume capital punishment for the first time in nearly 12 years. The high court issued its ruling late Monday, just minutes before a condemned man was scheduled to die.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly is taking on critics in Congress over immigration enforcement. In Washington today, Kelly said that too many public officials ridicule immigration agents and airport security officers, and accept unfounded allegations about them as truth.

JOHN KELLY, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary: If lawmakers do not like the laws that we enforce, that we are charged to enforce, that we are sworn to enforce, then they should have the courage and the skill to change the laws. Otherwise, they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.

JUDY WOODRUFF: More than 21,000 undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have been arrested since President Trump took office. That is up from 16,000 at this point a year ago.

Republicans faced another tough race today in what had been a solidly red U.S. congressional district. The election was in suburban Atlanta, where 18 candidates from both parties competed. The seat was vacated by Tom Price, who is now the secretary of health and human services. President Trump sharply criticized the leading Democrat in the race, Jon Ossoff, who said he thinks the president is — quote — “misinformed.”

There is word this evening that President George H.W. Bush is hospitalized again in Houston. A spokesman said Mr. Bush is doing fine and already on the path to going home. He gave no other details. Mr. Bush is 92. He was hospitalized for pneumonia back in January.

And on Wall Street, stocks lost more ground after Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson posted disappointing earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 113 points to close at 20523. The Nasdaq fell seven, and the S&P 500 slid nearly seven.

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