April 21, 2017 Last Updated 10:23 am

Paris shooting ‘darkens’ final days of campaigning in France; N.C. bill ending newspaper legal notice requirement advances

Morning Brief: The Borussia Dortmund football team bus attack turns out to be a scheme to manipulate the stock price of the team’s stock, not a terrorist attack

We live at a time of monumental electoral choices. On Sunday, the fate of European unity may be decided… or maybe it won’t be, leaving the final judgement for May. But yesterday’s shooting of three police officers in Paris, one fatally, has (in the word of Washington Post reporter James McAuley in Paris) darkened the final day of campaigning in France.

“Credit” for the attack was quickly claimed by the Islamic State, and there is no reason doubt that. But will one shooting have an effect on the electorate? The mass shooting at the Bataclan in November 2015 did not appear sway Parisians, if anything it made them more defiant and resolute not to embrace extreme nationalistic positions. (I visited Paris only weeks after the attacks.)

But that is Paris, not the rest of the country. Sunday’s election, the final polls show, will be close, with only four points separating the top four candidates. That far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will make the runoff is assumed, but who will be running against her, and have the polls underreported her support?

The Washington Post, James McAuley:

Deadly Paris shooting could influence voters on eve of key French election

A deadly shootout on the Champs Elysees, Paris’s most famous avenue, darkened the final day of campaigning in France’s pivotal presidential election on Friday, stoking fears of terrorist violence and firmly embedding the nation’s security as the main issue of Sunday’s vote…

…European intelligence officials confirmed to The Washington Post that the attacker was named Karim Cheurfi and was known to French intelligence, having previously come to authorities’ attention because of possible links to terrorist networks…

…As the candidates vowed to suspend campaign events to honor the fallen officer, analysts were quick to say that the shooting, in a country that has suffered a string of devastating terrorist attacks in the past two years, was particularly advantageous for the right-wing, anti-immigrant presidential contenders — especially Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front who has been sharply critical of “Islamist terrorism” for weeks.

The New York Times, Aurelien Breeden and Adam Nossiter:

Trump Says Paris Attack Will Have ‘Big Effect’ on French Election

President Trump inserted himself into the tumult of French politics on Friday, declaring that the fatal shooting of a police officer in central Paris would have “a big effect” when voters go to the polls on Sunday to choose among 11 presidential candidates.

Mr. Trump did not mention any candidates by name. But his statement on Twitter — “The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!” — came at the tail end of a tight, fragmented race, with at least four contenders running neck and neck.

EU Observer, Andrew Rettman:

Russia-linked fake news floods French social media

Almost one in four of the internet links shared by French users of social media in the run-up to elections were related to fake news, much of which favoured anti-EU candidates and showed traces of Russian influence, according to a new study.

The survey, by a UK-based firm, Bakamo, published on Wednesday (19 April), looked at 800 websites and almost 8 million links shared between 1 November and 4 April.

Of the links, 19.2 percent related to media that did not “adhere to journalistic standards” and that expressed “radical opinions … to craft a disruptive narrative” in what the study called the “reframe” category.

Reuters, Robin Emmott and Alastair Macdonald:

EU has no ‘Plan B’ if French voters deliver upset

The European Union has no special plan if the two anti-EU candidates reach the final round of France’s election on Sunday, diplomats said, leaving the bloc to brace itself and hope for a centrist victor.

Even without a shock outcome, Brussels worries that neither of the more mainstream candidates can revive France’s economy or help Germany confront doubts about the EU’s future if they are victorious in a May run-off.

Another attack, that seemingly appeared to be terrorism, has turned out not to be.

Remember that attack on the on the Borussia Dortmund team bus? It injured one player, and led to a match being postponed. But, in the end, and in a bizarre twist, it turns out that it was not a terrorist attack at all but a stock manipulation ploy. Didn’t see that one coming, right?

The Guardian, Philip Oltermann:

Dortmund attack: man arrested on suspicion of share-dealing plot

German police have arrested a 28-year-old German-Russian national on suspicion of having carried out the explosives attack on the Borussia Dortmund football team in order to collapse the club’s share price so he could profit from stock market speculation.

…According to German media reports, Sergej W bought 15,000 put warrants for €78,000(£65,300) and could have gained up to €3.9m as a result of a large drop in Dortmund’s shares.

Borussia Dortmund is the only club in Germany to float shares on the stock market.

Employees of Comdirect, an online bank attached to the German bank Commerzbank, had alerted police to Sergej W’s purchase, having suspected him of money laundering.

The effort to end the requirement that legal notices must be publishing in newspapers simply will not go away – at least not where Republicans firmly control their state legislatures. No surprise then that it is North Carolina that appears to be leading the way.

Associated Press, Gary D. Robertson:

Option to shift legal notices from newspapers to government websites advances

A Senate measure clearing two committees this week would allow cities and counties to post items online such as zoning and annexation proposals, vendor contracts and public hearings if a local government body approves an ordinance allowing such electronic publication. A full Senate vote could come early next week.

For generations, newspapers have been the mandated source to view these announcements. A handful of local governments have received authority from the General Assembly since 2003 to use electronic notice for public hearings. But cities and counties statewide that cumulatively spend millions of dollars annually on the legal advertising have welcomed an easier cost-saving alternative.

The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and N.C. League of Municipalities back the measure introduced by Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, who said Thursday the proposal reflects the continued shift from the printed page to the electronic page for information.

Far-Above: Paris by Moyan Brenn used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Above-right: Front National by Blandine Le Cain used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Home Page: Eiffel Tower by D.B. Hebbard

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