April 24, 2018

French president sweeps into DC with ‘more articulated, credible’ foreign policy

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- French President Emmanuel Macron has been notably active on the national scene since his election last year, launching initiatives aimed at modernizing France. He has also applied the same energy to foreign policy, with a global strategy dubbed “France is back.” “Since his election a year ago, Emmanuel Macron has improved France’s image around the world and re-established mutual trust with foreign countries,” deputy director Bruno Tertrais of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research said. A novice on foreign affairs, the French president, amid a state visit this week to the United States, has thrown himself into putting France at the center of the international stage. "Emmanuel Macron’s foreign policy is realistic but not cynical,” Tertrais said, “and he has a good understanding of the worldwide balance of power.” Others share that sentiment. “When comparing Emmanuel Macron’s foreign policy with his two predecessors -- Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande -- there is a contrast,” Thomas Gomart, director of the French Institute for International Relations, said. “He wants to enhance the stature of the French president by giving more significance to his addresses and his behavior.” At home, the 40-year-old Frenchman has taken advantage of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s struggles with Brexit and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s national political turmoil to become the main voice of the European Union. He is pushing for E.U. reforms and advocating deeper cooperation and integration among the 28 member states. On the military front, Macron has committed to promoting the G5 Sahel, an African regional security bloc comprising Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger fighting terrorism in northern Africa. The French president mobilized the international community to help finance the G5 anti-terror military force. In Syria, the French president proved his capacity to coordinate with his U.S. and British counterparts earlier this month during a joint military operation targeting the Syrian regime’s chemical facilities. On climate change, Macro declared last year that he wanted to “make our planet great again” after President Donald Trump decided to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. He has since taken the lead on the issue by mobilizing public and private funding in the fight against global warming. During the One Planet Summit in Paris in December, banks and companies announced billions of dollars of intended divestment from coal, oil and gas. Finally, Macron has also played the role of mediator on the international stage by personally helping to resolve a political crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in November 2017. “We have to assess foreign policy on the long term,” Gomart, of the French Institute for International Relations, said. “But, undeniably, France’s foreign policy is now more articulated, credible and serious.” Despite all his efforts, however, the French president failed to persuade Trump to stay in the Paris Climate Accord. The U.S. president also threatened to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, an agreement supported by France. On both issues, Macron’s diplomatic skills will be tested more than ever in efforts to reverse Trump’s positions. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
April 24, 2018

What to know about Prince William, Princess Kate’s expected leave after birth of 3rd child

Steve Back/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Princess Kate maintained a busy schedule of engagements while pregnant with her third child -- traveling to Norway and Sweden, walking the red carpet at the BAFTAs, continuing her charitable efforts -- all while being a mom to Prince George, who turns 5 in July, and Princess Charlotte, who turns 3 on May 2. Now that Kate, 36, has given birth to her third child, a boy, she will take some time off from official royal engagements, as she did after the births of George and Charlotte. The Duchess of Cambridge is expected to still attend Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle on May 19. She is also expected to join the royal family at Trooping the Colour in June. Just seven weeks after the birth of her first child, George, in late July 2013, Kate attended a royal engagement with Prince William, a conservation awards ceremony on September 12. Kate also attended Trooping the Colour in June 2015 shortly after giving birth to Princess Charlotte on May 2. Being a member of the royal family is not a job that comes with established maternity and paternity guidelines. Prince William was granted two weeks of paternity leave from his role as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot through statutory paternity leave, which Britain implemented in 2003. When Charlotte was born in 2015, William took nearly six weeks of paternity leave after finishing his air ambulance training and exams early. William’s job at the time as an air ambulance pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service meant he could have had to rush to London had he been on duty when Charlotte was born. The Duke of Cambridge continued to participate in various royal obligations during his paternity leave from his full-time job. William completed his last shift as an air ambulance pilot in July 2017. The family moved back to London from their Anmer Hall home so both Kate and William could focus full time on royal duties. Kensington Palace has not announced if William plans to take any time off after the birth of his third child. As a father actively engaged in the upbringing of his children, though, it is expected he will take some time off to not only help Kate but enjoy the moments of joy after the birth of a new child. William is set to tour Israel and the Palestinian territories this summer, but Kate will not accompany him. In the U.K., employees can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, including 39 weeks of paid leave, according to the government guidelines. Fathers in the U.K. are entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave. Where William and Kate will bond with their newborn Four days after Charlotte was born at St. Mary's Hospital in London in 2015, the family first returned to Kensington Palace and then took advantage of the privacy at their 10-bedroom Anmer Hall home on the queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England. Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace in London is the family's official home. With George and Charlotte both currently attending school -- George at Thomas's Battersea and Charlotte at the Willcocks Nursery School -- near Kensington Palace, it is expected that Kate and William will initially enjoy solo time with their new infant at the palace. The family may then decamp to Anmer Hall for added privacy. The couple currently has the help of a nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, who attended the prestigious Norland College in the U.K. There is speculation William and Kate may hire a second nanny or assistant to Borrallo to help with the addition of their third child. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
April 23, 2018

10 dead after van hits pedestrians in Toronto, driver in custody: Police

CTV/ABC News(TORONTO) -- Ten people were killed and 15 others injured after a white van rammed pedestrians in Toronto today, police said. The driver is under arrest, Toronto police told ABC News. The suspect was identified as Alek Minassian, 25, sources told ABC News. The attack started at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, police said. The suspect drove south for nearly 1.5 miles, hitting more people at Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. The van finally stopped on Poyntz Avenue, just off Yonge Street. Witness Ali Shaker saw the Ryder van jump the sidewalk and said people walking were "crumbled up," he told CTV News. "He’s just hitting people one by one, going down," Shaker said. "It was a nightmare." Another witness Phil Zullo told CTV News he saw “shoes and hats flown everywhere.” Visibly frightened by what he saw, Shaker could barely recount the horror he witnessed. He said he was driving when the incident occurred. "I'm so shaky -- I can't believe this is happening," he said. "This is so unbelievable." Shaker said that he assumed at first that the driver was experiencing some kind of medical emergency and even attempted to try to stop the driver from causing more carnage. "I thought he had a heart attack or something so I was trying to chase him on the way, almost trying to catch up," he told CTV News, adding that the driver was moving fast. "He hit every everybody on the sidewalk; anybody in his way he would hit," Shaker added. "The bus stop -- all shattered. There was a lady in there I saw and I stopped and I looked and I went after and all I see is just crumbling one by one." Another witness said he stopped outside of a building for a smoke break and saw a middle-aged man get struck as he was crossing the street. "As I lit up my cigarette I saw a man walking in the middle of the intersection and a van plowed right into him," the witness, who went by Steve, told CTV News. "I saw the guy go flying... It was just clear as day, just saw the guy get hit by the van and pieces of the van fell off." Afterward, Steve said he rushed into the middle of the street to tend to the injured man "to make sure no other cars struck him." The victim, he said, was around 50, was unconscious "and could barely move." Steve added that the van kept driving and hit others, leaving behind pools of blood. "I saw three or four [people] on the ground around me," he said. "Other people were getting CPR." He's convinced that stopping for the cigarette break saved him, Steve said. "I had just stopped to light the cigarette and if I hadn't done that I would have been killed as well," he said. "I would have been right there with that guy." Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre said it had received seven patients from the scene. Images from the scene show multiple people on the ground. Video showed the moment police confronted the suspect. In the video, a police officer draws his firearm and faces off against the suspect, who appears to be pointing an object. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while he's "just learning about the situation in Toronto, our hearts go out to any affected. We’re going to obviously have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours." Toronto's Mayor John Tory his "thoughts are with those affected by this incident." He appeared before reporters this afternoon to announce the death toll and said the beautiful weather meant multiple people were out on the street. “There were a lot of pedestrians out … enjoying the sunny afternoon,” the mayor said. Ralph Goodale, the country's minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, called the incident an attack but said he didn't want to speculate when asked if the terrorism was to blame. "We cannot come to any firm conclusions at this stage," he said. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is in Toronto as part of the G-7 Security Ministerial, which is set to conclude on Tuesday. A senior State Department official told ABC News that the U.S. delegation is safe. Ryder, the brand of rental truck involved in the incident, said in a statement it was saddened by "this tragic event" and extended its "deepest sympathies" to those impacted. The company also stated that it is "cooperating fully with authorities." Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
April 23, 2018

New royal baby follows in footsteps of siblings Prince George, Princess Charlotte with newborn accessory

Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty Images(LONDON) -- When Prince William and Princess Kate’s newborn made his debut outside a London hospital, he did so in a shawl steeped in royal history. The baby, whose name has not yet been announced, was swaddled in a shawl made by G.H. Hurt & Son, a Nottingham, England-based maker of lace knitwear that was founded in 1912. The company has a “long-standing connection with The Royal Family,” Kensington Palace said in a statement. The newborn’s father, Prince William, and siblings, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, who turns 3 next week, all had shawls made by G.H. Hurt & Son when they were babies, according to Kensington Palace. The style of shawl seen on William and Kate’s third child was not revealed by Kensington Palace. The company has a collection of around one dozen baby shawls on its website, ranging in price from $50 to as much as $170. George wore a shawl by G.H. Hurt & Son when he made his debut outside St. Mary’s Hospital after his birth in July 2013. The company said in a statement at the time that George wore its Super-fine Merino Wool Christening Shawl, which retails now for around $75. Charlotte was also wrapped in a shawl made by the company when she left St. Mary’s Hospital with William and Kate in May 2015. The princess wore a G.H. Hurt & Son Elegant Soft Wool Baby Shawl, which now retails for around $100, according to the company. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.