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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.

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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) — It’s been less than two weeks since a video of a bloodied passenger being dragged off a United Airlines aircraft ignited a national discussion about the airline industry’s treatment of passengers, and now, yet another onboard incident captured on video is raising eyebrows — and it’s resulted in the immediate grounding of a flight attendant.

A video posted to Facebook Friday by Surain Adyanthaya — a passenger onboard American Airlines flight 591, from San Franciso to Dallas — shows an intense confrontation between flight crew and a handful of passengers at the front of the aircraft while it is still on the tarmac in San Francisco.

The heated moment began when a flight attendant took away a stroller from a female passenger, Adyanthaya told ABC affiliate WFAA in Dallas, which reported that the woman was from Argentina and travelling with her two children.

The nearly three-minute video does not show the flight attendant taking the stroller, but near its start, the woman is seen crying and asking for the stroller back.

The incident then escalates with a male passenger coming to her defense, and asking for the male flight attendant’s name, saying, “Hey bud, hey bud, you do that to me and I’ll knock you flat!”

The flight attendant, who is visibly angry, points his finger at the passenger and says, “Hey, you stay out of this!”

A pilot appears to attempt to calm down the flight attendant.

During the entire video, the female passenger continues to be heard crying.

American Airlines was quick to react — 20 minutes after the plane landed in Dallas. It apologized for the incident and said the flight attendant had been grounded. The woman and her family were also upgraded to first class.

“We have seen the video and have already started an investigation to obtain the facts,” the Dallas-based airline said in a statement. “What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers. We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident. We are making sure all of her family’s needs are being met while she is in our care. After electing to take another flight, we are taking special care of her and her family and upgrading them to first class for the remainder of their international trip.”

The statement continues, “The actions of our team member captured here do not appear to reflect patience or empathy, two values necessary for customer care. In short, we are disappointed by these actions. The American team member has been removed from duty while we immediately investigate this incident.”

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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.”

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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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ABCNews.com(LAS VEGAS) — There’s no doubt Vegas is a foodie city: celebrity chefs like Pierre Gagnaire, Mario Batali and Nobu Matsuhisa dominate the Strip.

But none serve the sheer volume of people — nor the vast number of dishes — as the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.

Routinely ranked as the top buffet in Las Vegas, and named by at least one publication as the best buffet in America, it’s no wonder an average of 3,500 people dine here each day.

ABC News took a tour of the buffet with General Manager Brian Mongeon, who dished on the nine kitchens and 500 hundred varieties of food served daily. The numbers are truly staggering: nearly 3 million pieces of dim sum and more than half a million Blue Point oysters and crab leg served each year.

The 25,000 square-foot restaurant seats 600 people at a time. There’s a two-hour time limit for dining.

Mongeon shared tips for navigating the buffet, who’s eating the pizza that’s served at 7:30 a.m. and his favorite station in the restaurant.

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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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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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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) — President Trump signed a set of executive actions Friday ordering a review of significant 2016 tax regulations along with two separate reviews aimed at rolling back Dodd-Frank financial regulations.

The president visited the Treasury Department to sign the actions, saying the administration wants to “help struggling Americans achieve their financial dreams, earn a great paycheck, have a job that they love going to every single day and have real confidence in the future.”

He also teased that there will be a “big announcement” on tax reform next Wednesday.

The first action is an executive order that directs the Treasury Secretary to review “all significant 2016 tax regulations to determine if they impose an undue financial burden on taxpayers, are needlessly complex, create unnecessary requirements, or exceed what’s allowed under law.”

Mnuchin will have 150 days to recommend action to the president. The order also calls for the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget to reconsider the regulatory review process for new tax regulations, according to the White House.

Trump called the “simplification” of the tax code “such a big thing” during remarks prior to the order’s signing, claiming that “people can’t do their returns. They have no idea what they are doing. They are too complicated.”

Asked at an off-camera briefing earlier in the day whether it’s problematic that this review will be underway as the president and Congress look to roll out a tax overhaul package, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said it shouldn’t have a significant effect.

The president said that further steps in tax reform would come in the form of reducing rates on individuals, particularly those in the middle class, and lowering taxes on businesses. As he signed the actions, Trump alluded to next week’s tax reform announcement but did not offer additional information.

Trump also signed two presidential memoranda on the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which former President Obama signed in response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis. One will review Dodd-Frank’s Orderly Liquidation Authority to determine whether it “encourages risk-taking, creates moral hazard, or exposes taxpayers to potential liability.”

The memorandum orders a report to be compiled within 180 days.

The second memorandum will be for a 180-day review of Financial Stability Oversight Council designation procedures, or the process of designating banks and financial firms “too big to fail.”

“These regulations enshrine ‘too big to fail’ and encourage risky behavior,” said Trump. “We’re taking steps to make our economy more fair and prosperous for all.”

Republicans have said the designation is not fairly applied in some cases. Asked whether this was the administration’s attempt to get rid of “too big to fail,” Mnuchin said, “President Trump is absolutely committed to make sure that taxpayers are not at risk for government bailouts of entities that are too big to fail.”

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