While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 8 edition

French President elect Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux celebrate on the stage at his victory rally near the Louvre in Paris
French President elect Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux celebrate on the stage at his victory rally near the Louvre in ParisPHOTO: REUTERS

Emmanuel Macron elected French president, beating far right's Marine Le Pen; vows to heal deep divisions  

Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France on Sunday (May 7) with a business-friendly vision of European integration, defeating Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who threatened to take France out of the European Union, early projections showed. 

The 39-year old pro-EU centrist becomes the country’s youngest head of state since Napoleon. He said he would work to heal the deep divisions in France that led to large scores for far-right and far-left parties and would seek to bring European institutions closer to the peoples of Europe.

“I know the divisions in our nation, which led some to vote for extremist parties. I respect them,” Macron said in a solemn address at his campaign headquarters after winning the presidency.


Euro rallies after Emmanuel Macron wins French presidency

The euro rallied to US$1.1023 (S$1.54847) from US$1.0998 in early Asia-Pacific forex trading on Monday (May 7) after pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency, scoring a resounding victory over far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

The single currency reached its highest level since November on Macron's win, but the gains were modest compared to the reaction following his first round victory last month with markets largely pricing in Le Pen's defeat.

However, the 39-year-old former investment banker's victory effectively eliminates any risk of France leaving the single currency bloc.


Rise of hard-line Islamist groups alarms moderate Indonesian Muslims

In mid-February, Muhammad al-Khaththath, leader of the hard-line Muslim Community Forum, held court on the top floor of a Jakarta fast-food joint. With key deputies gathered around, he explained the direction he hoped to push relatively secular, democratic Indonesia.

Sharia would become the law of the land, non-Muslims would lose their leadership posts, and thieves, in accordance with Islamic law, would have their hands lopped off, he said. He also criticised Joko Widodo, Indonesia's pluralist president.

Six weeks later, Khaththath was detained on treason charges, accused of plotting a coup. But in an April 19 runoff election for governor of Jakarta, his preferred candidate, fellow Muslim Anies Baswedan, defeated the Christian incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, after a campaign laden with religious overtones.


Football: Hope for Arsenal as Wenger breaks Man Utd's Mourinho hex with 2-0 beating

Arsene Wenger bested Jose Mourinho in the Premier League at the 13th attempt as Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday to revive their challenge for Champions League qualification.

Quick-fire second-half goals by Granit Xhaka and United old boy Danny Welbeck at the Emirates Stadium condemned the visitors to their first defeat in 26 league games, since a 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea on October 23.

Arsenal remain sixth, six points behind Manchester City, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League berth, but they are now just two points below fifth-place United and retain games in hand on both Manchester teams.


'Guardians' grabs massive box office, top spot in North America

The lighthearted space romp Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had a massive opening weekend, according to industry estimates on Sunday (May 7), selling some US$145 million ($204 million) worth of tickets in the United States and Canada after last week's equally impressive foreign debut.

The Disney/Marvel comedy about a band of misfit space adventurers - a sequel to the 2014 smash-hit film - accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the money hauled in by the 12 top-selling movies over the three-day weekend, industry analyst Exhibitor Relations said.

Analysts said the massive debut, the sixth best for any movie opening in May, appears to signal the arrival of the summer movie bingeing season.