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A soldier hops out of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle after moving it into place by the Lincoln Memorial, Wednesday in Washington, D.C., ahead of planned Fourth of July festivities with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Trump vows July 4 ‘show of a lifetime’ as protesters gather
WASHINGTON — A reality TV host at heart, President Donald Trump is promising the “show of a lifetime” for the hundreds of thousands of revelers who flock to the National Mall every year on the Fourth of July. The tanks are in place for the display of military muscle and protesters are ready to make their voices heard.
It’s been nearly seven decades since a president spoke there on Independence Day. The U.S. was at war in Korea when Harry Truman addressed a large gathering on the Washington Monument grounds, marking the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
There’s no such historical marker Thursday for Trump, who for the past two years has sought a moment to orchestrate a display of America’s military prowess.
He’s calling his event a “Salute to America,” honoring the armed forces, and he’ll speak at the Lincoln Memorial in front of a ticket-only, VIP crowd of Republican donors, administration and campaign officials, family members and those who flock to see him or protest what they see as a divisive intrusion on a traditionally unifying national holiday.
As for cost, Trump tweeted it “will be very little compared to what it is worth.”
US still looking to ask about citizenship on census
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said Wednesday that it was still looking for a way to include a controversial citizenship question on the 2020 census, even though the government has started the process of printing the questionnaire without it.
The abrupt shift from the Justice Department came hours after President Donald Trump insisted he was not dropping his efforts to ask about citizenship in next year’s nationwide survey. On Twitter he declared, “We are absolutely moving forward.”
The administration has faced numerous roadblocks to adding the citizenship question, including last week’s Supreme Court ruling that blocked its inclusion, at least temporarily. The Justice Department had insisted to the Supreme Court that it needed the matter resolved by the end of June because it faced a deadline to begin printing census forms and other materials.
But on Wednesday, officials told a Maryland judge they believed there may still be a way to meet Trump’s demands.
“There may be a legally available path,” Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt told U.S. District Judge George Hazel during a conference call with parties to one of three census lawsuits. The call was closed to reporters, but a transcript was made available soon after.
Iran will enrich uranium to ‘any amount we want’
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s president warned that Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to “any amount that we want” beginning on Sunday, putting further pressure on European nations to save its faltering nuclear deal and offer a way around intense U.S. sanctions.
President Hassan Rouhani’s threat, combined with Iran surpassing the stockpile limits of the 2015 atomic accord, could narrow the estimated one-year window it would need to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon, something Iran denies it wants but the deal sought to prevent.
But as tensions rise a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal, it looks unlikely that Europe can offer Iran a way to sell its oil on the global market despite U.S. sanctions.
All this comes as the U.S. has rushed an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and F-22 fighters to the region and Iran recently shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone. “Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!” Trump tweeted in response to Rouhani’s warning.
On Wednesday, Iran also marked the anniversary of the U.S. Navy shooting down an Iranian passenger jet in 1988, a mistake that killed 290 people and shows the danger of miscalculation in the current crisis.
From wire sources
Dem front-runner Biden trails Buttigieg in fundraising total
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden has raised $21.5 million since launching his White House bid in late April, his campaign said Wednesday. While Biden’s haul will put him in the top tier of Democratic fundraisers, he lags behind Pete Buttigieg, a 37-year-old Indiana mayor who was virtually unknown a few months ago.
Buttigieg’s campaign announced earlier in the week that he posted an eye-popping $24.8 million second-quarter haul — a stunning sum for any candidate, let alone one who is so new to the national political stage.
Biden’s fundraising numbers underscore that he is a fragile front-runner. He sits atop most early polls and will have the money he needs to compete aggressively throughout the primary. But his standing as the party’s elder statesman hasn’t scared off his rivals, and it’s clear voters are still open to other options.
Some Democratic strategists anticipated a larger fundraising number from Biden, given the connections he forged during his years as vice president and as a long-serving U.S. senator. The fact that he lagged behind expectations — and Buttigieg — will likely deepen Democratic worries that the party could be in for a prolonged primary fight at a time when President Donald Trump is making his case to voters and his reelection effort posted a massive $105 million second-quarter haul.
Still, the former vice president’s supporters say they aren’t worried.
Appeals court: Trump can’t use Pentagon cash for border wall
SAN DIEGO — An appeals court on Wednesday upheld a freeze on Pentagon money to build a border wall with Mexico, casting doubt on President Donald Trump’s ability to make good on a signature campaign promise before the 2020 election.
A divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with a lower court ruling that prevented the government from tapping Defense Department counterdrug money to build high-priority sections of wall in Arizona, California and New Mexico.
The decision is a setback for Trump’s ambitious plans. He ended a 35-day government shutdown in February after Congress gave him far less than he wanted. He then declared a national emergency that the White House said would free billions of dollars from the Pentagon.
The case may still be considered, but the administration cannot build during the legal challenge.
“As for the public interest, we conclude that it is best served by respecting the Constitution’s assignment of the power of the purse to Congress, and by deferring to Congress’s understanding of the public interest as reflected in its repeated denial of more funding for border barrier construction,” wrote Judges Michelle Friedland, a Barack Obama appointee, and Richard Clifton, a George W. Bush appointee.
California becomes 1st state to ban hairstyle discrimination
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Wednesday a bill making California the first state to ban workplace and school discrimination against black people for wearing hairstyles such as braids, twists and locks.
The law by Democratic Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, a black woman who wears her hair in locks, makes California the first state to explicitly say that those hairstyles are associated with race and therefore protected against discrimination in the workplace and in schools.
“We are changing the course of history, hopefully, across this country by acknowledging that what has been defined as professional hair styles and attire in the work place has historically been based on a Euro-centric model — based on straight hair,” Mitchell said.
Stephanie Hunter-Ray, who works at a makeup counter, says she typically wears her hair braided or in an afro, but one day she showed up to work with it straightened and styled in a bob. Her manager told Hunter-Ray her hair had never looked so normal.
“It bothered me,” Hunter-Ray said in an interview at the hair salon she owns in Sacramento that specializes in natural hair styles. “What do you mean by ‘normal?’ Your normal is not my normal. My normal is my ‘fro or my braids.”
Funeral held for detective who fought for 9/11 victims
NEW YORK — A former police detective who fought until his final days for the extension of health benefits for Sept. 11 responders was hailed as a hero Wednesday by family, fellow officers and political figures who pledged to advance his message.
“These heroes responded to calls for help. They did not hesitate; That’s who they were and still are,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at the funeral for Detective Luis Alvarez, 53. “He and they viewed their efforts as an obligation that they promised long ago to the people we serve.”
Alvarez’s life was “a testament to American heroism,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said outside the Immaculate Conception Church.
For many of the mourners, the loss also was a deeply personal one.
“Before he became an American hero, he was mine,” said Alvarez’s son, David.
No prosecution for Alabama woman who was shot, lost fetus
BESSEMER, Ala. — An Alabama district attorney said Wednesday she is dropping the manslaughter charge against a woman who lost her fetus when she was shot during a fight.
Marshae Jones was arrested last week after a grand jury concluded she intentionally caused the death of her fetus by initiating a fight, knowing she was pregnant.
Jones was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison shot her in the stomach during a December argument over the fetus’ father, authorities said.
Jemison was initially charged with manslaughter, but a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict her after police said an investigation determined Jones started the fight, and Jemison ultimately fired in self-defense. Jones, 28, was indicted by the same grand jury and arrested.
But Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice O. Washington said Wednesday that she would not pursue the case.
2 judges’ comments, handling of rape cases draw criticism
Two New Jersey judges have come under fire for their handling of rape cases, one for asking whether a 16-year-old Eagle Scout “from a good family” should face serious consequences over a video-recorded assault on an intoxicated teenager.
Another judge asked whether a 12-year-old girl’s loss of virginity constituted serious harm.
The comments, which follow other cases of perceived leniency toward sex offenders from privileged backgrounds, led victim advocates to question whether judges are sufficiently qualified and trained to handle sex assault cases in the #MeToo era.
“Survivors’ worst fears are coming to life. They’re fearful of victim blaming or having the crimes committed against them be minimized,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Monmouth County Judge James Troiano said in his opinion that the Eagle Scout charged with assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a pajama party had good test scores and was on track to attend a top college.
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