Friday Morning Briefing: Trump salutes military in Fourth of July celebration

United States

With U.S. fighter jets flying overhead, President Donald Trump praised the military and reveled in a show of pomp and patriotism on Thursday in a celebration of Independence Day that critics accused him of turning into a political event. Trump dismissed concerns ahead of the ceremony about the expense and militaristic overtones of the event outside the 97-year-old Lincoln Memorial, a symbol of national unity.

Residents were assessing the damage and cleaning up the mess left by the strongest earthquake to hit Southern California in 25 years, with quaking felt by more than 20 million people from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. And it was likely not to be over. More temblors, big ones, could be in store in the days ahead, seismologists said. In the small desert city of Ridgecrest near the epicenter of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake, grocery store aisles were littered with smashed bottles, jars and packages.

With a court deadline looming, the Trump administration is looking at “every option” as it seeks to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 census, a White House spokesman said. Government lawyers are scrambling to meet a Friday afternoon deadline set by Maryland-based U.S. District Court Judge George Hazel, who wants the administration to state its intentions.

U.S. job growth likely rebounded in June, with wage gains expected to pick up, but that would probably not be enough to discourage the Federal Reserve from cutting interest rates this month amid growing evidence the economy is slowing.


The crew on a giant Iranian oil tanker detained in Gibraltar are being interviewed as witnesses, not criminal suspects, in an effort to establish the nature of the cargo and its ultimate destination, a spokesman for the British territory said. British Royal Marines abseiled onto the Grace 1 tanker on Thursday and seized it for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. They landed a helicopter on the moving vessel in pitch darkness.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has asked to meet students in the Chinese-ruled city as she tries to fend off pressure from a month of protests over a proposed law that would allow extradition to mainland China. Beijing-backed Lam has suspended the bill but protesters are demanding a full withdrawal. In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Lam said she had “recently started inviting young people of different backgrounds for a meeting, including university students and young people who have participated in recent protests”.
An Australian student released after being mysteriously detained in North Korea said he was safe and well in Tokyo and intends returning to normal life, without commenting on what happened to him in Pyongyang. Alek Sigley, who flew to Tokyo on Thursday to join his Japanese wife, had been one of very few westerners studying in the North Korean capital and went missing on June 25. It is still not clear why he was detained by the secretive North. The details of his release are also not known and Australia has warned him not to return.
More than two dozen countries formally called for a U.N. investigation into thousands of killings in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, activists said. Iceland submitted the draft resolution backed by mainly European states, they said. The text urges the government to prevent extrajudicial executions and marks the first time that the Human Rights Council has been asked to address the crisis. The Duterte government has insisted the more than 5,000 suspected drug dealers killed by police in anti-narcotics operations all put up a fight.
Sri Lanka is moving to curtail Saudi Arabian influence, after some politicians and Buddhist monks blamed the spread of the kingdom’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam for planting the seeds of militancy that culminated in deadly Easter bomb attacks.


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