A man walks past a vacant plot where a restaurant building stood before Hurricane Sandy during an In …”I’m in awe of it,” Mel Burns of Brisbane, Australia, said as she gazed up for the first time at Lady Liberty’s torch more than 300 feet above the ground. „It’s a lot bigger than what I anticipated.”At a ceremony near the statue’s pedestal, David Luchsinger, the superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, recalled the statue’s repeated closures since the attacks of September 11, 2001, including for a year-long renovation.”I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little sick and tired of opening and closing and re-opening the Statue of Liberty,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd, „so this time, I think we’ll just keep it open.”Others headed for Brooklyn’s Coney Island to cheer on competitors in the annual Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest.Champion Joey „Jaws” Chestnut broke his own world record by downing 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, holding onto the Mustard Yellow International Belt. His female counterpart, Sonya „The Black Widow” Thomas, also held onto her title, swallowing 36 and three-quarter dogs in 10 minutes.”I think it’s very New York and very exciting,” said Samantha Belfon, 29, a clinical social worker from Brooklyn, who braved the summer heat to watch the annual competition.NSA SCANDAL.”View gallery
Obamas thank troops during White House barbecue
View galleryThe White House is adorned in preparation for the a Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 4, 2013, hosted by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) LAURIE KELLMAN 3 hours agoPoliticsBarack Obama WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is noting that it’s not just the nation’s birthday, it’s his daughter Malia’s, too.At a sun-splashed Independence Day barbeque on the White House South Lawn, the president and first lady Michele Obama thanked members of the military for their service to the nation. The Declaration of Independence was adopted 237 years ago on July 4, 1776. Malia Obama turned 15 on Thursday.The Obamas spoke to the crowd and then spent about 10 minutes shaking hands and posing for pictures with babies dressed in red, white and blue ahead of evening fireworks on the National Mall.The USO sponsored the event and expected about 1,200 military personnel and their families to attend. Also there were members of Obama’s administration and their families.
Boy fatally run over at Oklahoma July 4th parade
View gallery 3 hours agoSocietyEDMOND, Okla. (AP) — An 8-year-old boy riding in a Fourth of July parade in central Oklahoma died Thursday after his father accidentally ran him over, authorities said.The boy was riding on a martial arts group’s float at LibertyFest in Edmond before he got down or fell from the vehicle at the end of the parade, Police Officer James Hamm said.Part of the float — a truck and flatbed trailer with red, white and blue decorations that was loaded with hay bales — struck the child and knocked him to the ground, Hamm said. Edmond is just north of Oklahoma City.”The driver, obviously unknowing what was going on, drove forward and ran over the child,” Hamm said.A number of people, including some children, witnessed the incident, he said..”View gallerySpectators watch the annual LibertyFest Fourth of July Parade in downtown Edmond, Okla, on Thursday, …„Many of the kids that saw it knew the child as well,” Hamm said.The boy was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police didn’t immediately release his or his father’s names. The father was not expected to face charges.Hamm said the man wasn’t reckless and didn’t violate any traffic laws.„It’s just a freak, unfortunate accident,” the officer said.Police spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said investigators would wait until Friday to interview the father.„We just haven’t had a chance to speak with him and we’re not going to do that today,” Monroe said Thursday.Thousands of spectators typically line the parade route in Edmond, where bands, floats, antique cars and marching groups pass by, according to the LibertyFest website. No one returned a phone call left Thursday for festival organizers.The website says the festival hosts Oklahoma’s largest hometown parade, with more than 100 entries.
Fourth of July celebrations across the globe
View gallery10 photos BRIAN SNYDER 7 hours agoFrom colonial re-enactments in Boston to flag-shaped cakes in Afghanistan, Americans around the world celebrate Independence Day on July 4.
U.S. enjoys July 4 parades, picnics under watchful eyes of police
People wait in line to catch the ferry to Manhattan from the Statue of Liberty during its reopening …Referring to Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor wanted by Washington for leaking secrets about government surveillance, Kyle said: „I think he should be celebrated, not prosecuted.”Fourth of July celebrations mark some of the largest public gatherings since bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, the biggest attack on American soil since attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001.Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two brothers suspected of carrying out the Boston attack, originally planned to set off their homemade bombs on July 4 but struck earlier because they had made the devices sooner than expected, law enforcement officials have said.Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar is awaiting trial on charges including murder and using a weapon of mass destruction.(Additional reporting by Noreen O’Donnell, Jonathan Allen and Edith Honan in New York, Mark Hosenball in Washington, Verna Gates in Birmingham, Alabama, and Steve Holland and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Lisa Shumaker and Eric Beech)
Analysis: Cautious toward Middle East, Obama gets second chance in Egypt
Obama treads cautiously on Egypt leader’s ouster
View galleryOpponents of Egypt’s Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi celebrate outside the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. A statement on the Egyptian president’s office’s Twitter account has quoted Mohammed Morsi as calling military measures „a full coup.” The denouncement was posted shortly after the Egyptian military announced it was ousting Morsi, who was Egypt’s first freely elected leader but drew ire with his Islamist leanings. The military says it has replaced him with the chief justice of the Supreme constitutional Court, called for early presidential election and suspended the Islamist-backed constitution. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) JOSH LEDERMAN 8 hours agoPoliticsMilitaryMohamed MorsiBarack ObamaEgyptMuslim BrotherhoodEgyptian Armed ForcesWASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is proceeding cautiously in its response to the ouster of Egypt’s President’s Mohammed Morsi, straddling a line between supporting democracy while declining to take sides.But the policy choices aren’t easy: Denounce the ouster of Morsi outright, and the U.S. could be accused of propping up a ruler who’s lost the public’s support — a prospect with eerie echoes of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, whom the U.S. supported for decades before the 2011 revolution that cleared the path to power for Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. Look the other way, and the U.S. could be accused of fomenting dissent or lose credibility on its commitment to the democratic process.The administration is acting as if it accepts what happened in Egypt — and actually believes it could turn out for the best. At the same time, officials are attempting to keep their distance, laying down markers for what they want to see in the long term while leaving it up to the military to make sure that happens.But the White House may also be concerned that in the short term, the situation could spiral out of hand, with the military using the clamoring in the streets as an excuse to confront the Muslim Brotherhood with excessive force. In bringing up U.S. aid in conversations with Egyptians without cutting it off, the U.S. leaves itself room to escalate the situation if need be, but also to work with Egypt’s new government if it moves in the right direction.In his first, carefully crafted comments after Morsi was forcibly removed from office, President Barack Obama said the U.S. would „not support particular individuals or political parties,” acknowledging the „legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people” while also observing that Morsi, an Islamist, won his office in a legitimate election.”We believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people,” Obama said in a statement late Wednesday. „Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian armed forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution.”He notably stopped short of labeling Morsi’s ouster a coup, leaving himself some wiggle room to navigate a U.S. law that says the government must suspend foreign aid to any nation whose elected leader is ousted in a coup d’etat. But Obama did say he was ordering the government to assess what the developments portended for aid to Cairo. The U.S. considers the $1.5 billion a year it sends Egypt to be a critical U.S. national security priority.”I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters,” Obama said after huddling in the White House Situation Room with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top aides.Egyptian military leaders have assured the Obama administration that they were not interested in long-term rule following their toppling of Morsi. On Thursday, the supreme justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, was sworn in as interim president.On his other request, Obama appeared to have less success. Shortly after Obama issued his statement, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said Morsi and 12 presidential aides had been placed under house arrest. Morsi, meanwhile, denounced his ouster as a „full coup.”In portions of a CNN interview broadcast Wednesday night, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said Washington has received assurances from the Egyptian military that U.S. citizens there would be protected.The interview with Dempsey was recorded before the Egyptian military ousted Morsi, and Dempsey said it „takes time for democracy to stick.”Of his discussions, the general told CNN, „I wanted to encourage them to protect all the Egyptian people, not to take sides in any particular issued, and to ensure that they were part of the resolution of this, but in their proper role as a military which is to ensure stability, but not try to influence the outcome.”Asked about the safety of Americans, Dempsey replied, „Well, I feel confident that we have a close enough relationship that they listen. At the end of the day, it’s their country and they will find their way. But there will be consequences if it’s badly handled. There’s laws that bind us on how we deal with these kinds of situations.”Asked to elaborate, Dempsey said, „Well, for instance, if this were to be seen as a coup, then it would limit our ability to have the kind of relationship we think we need with the Egyptian armed forces.”As American cities were making final preparations for Fourth of July celebrations, fireworks erupted Wednesday night over Cairo’s Tahrir square upon news the military had suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution and called for new elections.The mood was less jubilant at the State Department, where officials concerned about the threat of further unrest ordered all nonessential U.S. diplomats and the families of all American embassy personnel to leave Egypt.Although initially encouraged by Morsi’s promise to abide by Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel and his role in a truce brokered between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers in November, the U.S. grew more skeptical about Morsi as opponents complained in louder and louder voices that his promises to enact democratic reforms were going unmet. Secretary of State John Kerry warned in April that Egypt might be backsliding in its transition to democracy, citing arrests, street violence and the government’s inability to embrace its opposition.Despite the odd optics that supporting an expulsion-by-force of a democratically elected leader would entail, the State Department appeared Wednesday to be laying the groundwork for a tacit acceptance of the military’s move. The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to criticize Egypt’s military over the ultimatum it gave Morsi. But she did say the U.S. was disappointed with a speech Morsi gave the previous night after Obama urged him to present plans to address the opposition’s concerns.”Last night was an opportunity for him to propose new steps, which he … did not,” Psaki said.There were early signs that if Obama accepts the military’s actions, he won’t be without support on Capitol Hill. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican, said Egyptians had made clear they believe Morsi threatens the type of democracy they aspired to in their 2011 revolution.”As President Obama has said, democracy is about more than elections,” Cantor said. „The Egyptian military has long been a key partner of the United States and a stabilizing force in the region, and is perhaps the only trusted national institution in Egypt today.”But other lawmakers were already asserting that Egypt’s military had triggered a provision in U.S. law that requires aid to be suspended if a military deposes a democratically elected government. Sen. Patrick Leahy, who heads the Appropriations panel that oversees foreign aid, said he hoped Egypt’s military would make good on its vow to return power to the people, but that in the meantime, U.S. law was clear about what should happen.”My committee also will review future aid to the Egyptian government as we wait for a clearer picture,” said Leahy, D-Vt.In an apparent bid to forestall potential U.S. sanctions, senior Egyptian army officers have told Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that they would put a civilian government in place quickly — if not immediately — after removing Morsi from power, U.S. officials said. In the interim, they appointed a government of civilian technocrats to temporarily run the country.The Egyptian military also pledged to take steps to ensure the safety of Americans in Egypt, including the embassy in Cairo and the consulate in Alexandria, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak by name about private conversations that occurred over the past week.Stephen McInerney, who runs the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy, said that while American leverage in Egypt’s political conflict has diminished as a result of mistakes since the 2011 revolution, having the military back in charge could actually give the U.S. more influence over the outcome of the current turmoil.”The actor we have the most leverage with — the military — is now the most important actor in Egypt,” McInerney said.___Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.___Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Leader arrested In the highest profile arrest since Morsi’s ouster, security officials said that Mohammed Badie, supreme leader of the Brotherhood, was arrested late on Wednesday in the Mediterranean coastal city of Marsa Matrouh, where he has been staying in a villa owned by a businessman with Brotherhood links.He was flown to Cairo on a military helicopter, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. He, and his powerful deputy, Khairat el-Shater, are wanted for questioning on their role in the killing this week of eight protesters in clashes outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters.
Under construction: A look inside the Sept. 11 museum After delays that included a much-publicized funding dispute and flooding from Superstorm Sandy, construction has resumed on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. A video gives viewers an inside look at what to expect so far.The museum, located under the World Trade Center Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan, tells the story of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, and the February 26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing.An exhibit will detail the events on 9/11, which led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and was believed to be headed to the nation’s Capitol.The video visits some poignant artifacts that have already been installed: the pieces of intersecting steel that have become known as the „Ground Zero Cross,” and the Vesey Street stair remnant, the so-called „Survivors’ Staircase.” On 9/11, hundreds escaped by fleeing down this stairway after two planes crashed into the Twin Towers.The funding dispute between the memorial foundation and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owns the Trade Center site, delayed construction for over a year, starting in fall 2011.This turned out to be a „silver lining,” says Joseph Daniels, National September 11 Memorial & Museum president. „Because when Sandy occurred, most of the artifacts were not yet in place,” he added.The museum site was flooded with 22 million gallons of water, but the artifacts, most of which were still in storage, were spared.The museum is scheduled to open in spring 2014.
10 Things to Know for Friday A top judge replaces Islamist leader as the army cracks down on the Muslim Brotherhood.2. MORSI’S „OVER MY DEAD BODY” MOMENTIn his final days in power, Egypt’s embattled president was defiant even though his allies abandoned him.3. WHAT HEALTH CARE LAW’S DELAY MEANS FOR YOUThe change won’t affect most people but it adds to an appearance of disarray surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
South American leftist leaders rally to Bolivia’s side in Snowden saga
View galleryBolivia’s President Evo Morales (R) and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera sing the national anthem …By David Mercado COCHABAMBA, Bolivia (Reuters) – South America’s most outspoken leftist leaders gathered on Thursday to rally behind Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose plane was diverted in Europe this week on suspicions that fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden was aboard.The summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia – where Morales began his political career as a leader of coca leaf farmers – is aimed at expressing outrage over his „virtual kidnapping” and the U.S. pressure they believe spurred it.”Europe broke all the rules of the game,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said shortly after arriving at the Cochabamba airport. „We’re here to tell President Evo Morales that he can count on us. Whoever picks a fight with Bolivia, picks a fight with Venezuela.”Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said earlier that if any country had denied airspace to a U.S. or European president, it „probably would’ve been grounds for war.”Despite the rhetoric, no Latin American country has offered asylum yet to Snowden, who is wanted by Washington for disclosure of intelligence secrets. Two radical leftist governments – Venezuela and Cuba – are in a cautious rapprochement with the United States that would be jeopardized if they gave him sanctuary.Russia is growing impatient over Snowden’s stay in a Moscow airport and officials have urged him to leave.Bolivia said Morales was returning from Moscow on Tuesday when France and Portugal abruptly banned his plane from entering their airspace, and it was forced to land in Vienna. Austrian officials said they inspected his plane there, but Bolivia’s defense minister denied this.This unusual treatment of a presidential plane upset leaders in Latin America, which has a history of U.S.-backed coups.Still, only the presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Suriname agreed to join Morales at the meeting late on Thursday, reflecting a split in the region.Noticeably absent was the president of regional heavyweight Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, who sent her international affairs adviser and a deputy foreign minister to the meeting.The presidents and foreign ministers of Chile, Peru and Colombia, which have good relations with the United States, also stayed away. In a written statement, Colombia’s foreign ministry called on Bolivia and the European governments involved to find a diplomatic solution.But Morales has said apologies like the one he received from France on Wednesday were not enough, and his foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, called for those responsible for the flight mishap to be punished under international law.”At the end of the meeting there has to be a declaration that indicates what actions we have to take, because this is not just about Bolivia, it’s about South America,” Choquehuanca told local radio.Bolivia and Venezuela were also irked at receiving provisional arrest requests for Snowden from Washington, a move Bolivia called „illegal and unfounded”.U.S. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki, said: „We’ve broadly asked for Mr. Snowden to be returned from any country where he may be, where he may land, where he may transit.”To allay the anger of allies over reported U.S. spying that came to light in the Snowden scandal, U.S. President Barack Obama has agreed to talks with the European Union, and also agreed to bilateral talks with Germany after speaking on Wednesday night with Chancellor Angela Merkel. „I made clear spying on institutions within the European Union is not how we would expect those we consider friends to treat us,” Merkel said.HERO’S WELCOME-Morales arrived home to a hero’s welcome late on Wednesday with cheering, fist-pumping crowds greeting him at the airport.Bolivia is among more than a dozen countries where Snowden has sought asylum, and Morales has said he would consider granting the American refuge. But he said earlier this week no request had been made.The 30-year-old Snowden, who worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency in Hawaii, has been trying since June 23 to find a country that will offer him refuge from prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.But his options have narrowed since he arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong with no valid travel documents after the United States revoked his passport.Moscow has made it clear Snowden is an increasingly unwelcome guest because the longer he stays, the greater the risk that the diplomatic standoff with Washington could cause lasting damage.(Additional reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz, Eyanir Chinea and Brian Ellsworth in Caracas, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, Alexandra Ulmer in Santiago, Helen Murphy in Bogota, Tabassum Zakaria and Mark Hosenball in Washington, Alexandra Valencia in Quito, Marco Aquino in Peru, Louise Egan and Guido Nejamkis in Buenos Aires; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Terry Wade, Louise Egan, Jackie Frank and Paul Simao)