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Macron wins, Kushners in China and Ai Weiwei on censorship

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Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist, won an emphatic victory in France’s presidential run-off against Marine Le Pen, the far-right Front National leader, on Sunday, taking 65.1 per cent of the vote, according to estimates. Mr Macron’s victory is a phenomenal achievement for the 39-year-old former Rothschild banker, who has never before held elected office and whose political movement En Marche! was set up barely a year ago. 

Turnout was low compared to previous elections but a collapse in turnout, that would have been Ms Le Pen’s best hope of snatching victory, did not seem to have materialised. The stakes were high, pitting a pro-EU former economy minister, Mr Macron, against the anti-immigrant, nationalist Ms Le Pen. Here’s how the pair stack up policy-wise.

Follow along with our liveblog. Here’s the FT’s interactive poll tracker for results. Here’s what to watch for. (FT, France 24, NYT)

In the news

Kushner family pitches China with White House ties The sister of Jared Kushner — Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top aide — appeared at a Beijing sales event at the weekend to pitch investors on a real estate project. The event also touted the Kushners’ name and “government support”, in the latest example of unprecedented potential conflicts of interest surrounding the Trump White House. Ethics experts called it “incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate”. (NYT, FT, WaPo)

North Korea detains US citizen State media said Pyongyang had detained an American citizen linked to a Christian-backed university in North Korea on Saturday, just two weeks after arresting one of his colleagues. The arrest for “hostile acts” brings the number of known US citizens detained in North Korea to four. (WSJ)

Boko Haram releases 82 Chibok girls The decision to free dozens of captives by the Nigerian Islamist group as part of a deal with the Abuja government suggests it may be losing some of its potency. It also raises the possibility of criticism aimed at Muhammadu Buhari’s administration should it be seen to have made too many concessions. (FT)

Buffett reassesses tech sector Legendary investor Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, his right-hand man, admitted they’d missed the technology boat, but had learned from their mistakes. At the Berkshire Hathaway group’s annual meeting, Mr Buffett also had harsh words for the Trump administration’s health care overhaul as a bonanza for the ultra-wealthy, like himself. (FT, NYT)

Asia regulatory changes fuel Bitcoin surge The price of the digital currency surged nearly 30 per cent in April, hitting an all-time high last week, partly on the back of regulatory changes in Asia. (NAR)

World Bank warns on China debt risk The World Bank warned that Chinese local governments remain addicted to off-budget borrowing, despite Beijing’s efforts to impose fiscal discipline on localities and curb ballooning debt. Gavyn Davies on the worldwide implications of Beijing’s tighter credit policies. (FT)

It’s a big day for

EU-Mexico trade Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner, arrives in Mexico — the bloc’s third-largest trading partner — for talks on modernising the 2000 free-trade pact. The fate of Nafta, the north American trade deal, remains undecided — though Mexico could emerge the winner in renegotiations — and Mexico is keen to seal a revised EU deal in 2017. (CNBC) 

The Trump-Russia probe Sally Yates, the former acting attorney-general, will appear before a US Senate panel on Monday, and is expected to provide compelling testimony in the so-far largely secretive investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and links between top Donald Trump aides and Moscow. (WSJ)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.

Food for thought

Nothing cute about innumeracy Lucy Kellaway on how the difficulty of Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary, with a simple sum is evidence of a troubling assumption: “No one thinks it is loveable to be illiterate yet the British intelligentsia, most of whom have not done a sum since they were 16, consider their failing entirely cute.” (FT)

Ai Weiwei: How censorship works An excerpt from the artist’s forthcoming book, Rules for Resistance: Advice from around the world for the age of Trump, informed by his experience in China: “At first glance, the censorship seems invisible, but its omnipresent washing of people’s feelings and perceptions creates limits on the information people receive, select and rely upon.” (NYT)

The great British Brexit robbery Carole Cadwalladr on “how our democracy was hijacked [by] a shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign”. (Guardian)

The Hunted A deeply reported look at the persecution and targeting of people with albinism in southern Africa, where they are killed or sold by traffickers. (NYT)

Did South Park create the alt-right? Janan Ganesh wonders whether the 20-year-old brainchild of Trey Parker and Matt Stone might have accidentally created the right-wing trolls who have emerged on the political scene in recent years. (FT)

The zombies of the Singapore start-up scene The city state is a popular place to launch new businesses, but the generosity of government support means many “zombie” businesses struggle for years while employing only a handful of people and earning pitiful sales. (FT)

Video of the day

The week ahead Seb Morton-Clark takes a look at some of the big stories this week, including the meeting of G7 finance ministers, release of US inflation figures and Toyota’s fourth-quarter results. (FT)

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