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Trump, producer-president, makes July 4th his own show

Tanks in the center of Washington, fighter jets screaming overhead, and a speech from the Lincoln Memorial steps: welcome to President Donald Trump’s tradition-wrecking Fourth of July.

Preparations for President Donald Trump to make a July 4th speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial are nearly complete but the extravaganza will go against longstanding tradition

Trump may be commander in chief but he’s also head showman and on Thursday he’ll turn Independence Day into a personal primetime extravaganza.

Usually, said Rich Hanley, a media and popular culture expert at Quinnipiac University, July 4th works as a kind of national “ceasefire.”

“It’s a day when people can set aside their polarized differences … and raise the flag without entering into political discussions,” he said. “Then on the 5th they go back to normal.”

But this year, the familiar script is being given a rewrite.

At around 6:30 pm (2230 GMT), Trump will take to the hallowed steps of the Lincoln Memorial for an unprecedented “Salute to America” event that will include a televised address, military hardware and a giant fireworks display.

The modified Boeing 747 used as Air Force One will fly over, as will noisy, powerful warplanes expected to include F-35s, and jets from the Navy’s Blue Angels air demonstration team.

A handful of tanks and fighting vehicles will be stationed in the vicinity, even if the enormous machines are not expected to roll, as their tracks would likely tear up city streets.

The center of attention, however, will not be the weapons. Or the fireworks.

It will be Trump.

“Your favorite President, me!” as he tweeted when announcing the occasion.

Non-partisan no more

July 4th is a unique holiday in that it is hyper-patriotic but free from usual Republican-Democratic fighting and it’s far more civic than military in nature.

Inserting such a high-profile presidential address into the festivities risks changing that, given that Trump is supported strongly by about half the country ahead of his 2020 reelection bid and equally fervently opposed by the other half.

Trump insists he can bridge the divide when he speaks.

“I think so. I think I’ve reached most Americans,” he told reporters this week.

However, seconds later, the Republican plunged into his usual blistering critique of Democrats, claiming they would tax everyone at 95 percent and “destroy” the country with socialized healthcare.

Counter-protestors plan to bring their own kind of political fireworks to the National Mall, the grassy park running all the way from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol.

Leftist organization Code Pink is deploying its “Baby Trump” blimp, a large inflated doll depicting the president in nappies.

And two veterans’ groups plan to needle Trump by handing out T-shirts honoring the late senator John McCain, a Republican who often clashed with Trump.

Salesman, showman, president

A former reality TV star, Trump is tapping his considerable showmanship skills ahead of the event.

“The strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World. Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!” he tweeted Tuesday in what sounded like a circus advertisement.

Just being up on the Lincoln Memorial will guarantee unbeatable pictures.

The statue honoring civil war president Abraham Lincoln is famous as the location for Martin Luther King Jr’s epic 1963 “I have a dream” speech.

But Trump’s inspiration appears to be taken less from that civil rights cry than the Bastille Day military parade he attended in 2017 as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Impressed by the impeccably turned out French soldiers and equipment in the center of Paris, Trump returned, joking “we’re going to have to try to top it.”

His idea was to put on a major extravaganza for Veteran’s Day, which is marked November 11, but an outcry over the almost $100 million price tag meant it had to be scrapped.

This Thursday, he’ll get a scaled-back version.

And only political grumbling — and thunderstorms forecast that afternoon — can rain on his parade.

US President Donald Trump may see thunderstorms -- and political turmoil -- during his July 4th patriotic event
1/2 US President Donald Trump may see thunderstorms — and political turmoil — during his July 4th patriotic event
President Donald Trump is a big fan of the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris
2/2 President Donald Trump is a big fan of the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris
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Australia suspends search for Belgian backpacker

Australian police on Wednesday said they have called off a month-long search for an 18-year-old Belgian backpacker who disappeared from a picturesque surf town in May.

Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez was last seen on May 31 in Byron Bay
Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez was last seen on May 31 in Byron Bay

Theo Hayez was last seen on May 31 in Byron Bay, hundreds of miles north of Sydney.

Despite extensive land, air and sea searches — and heart-rending appeals from his family — New South Wales police said they had “suspended the full-scale physical search”.

“We met with Theo’s family today and we send our thoughts to them all, both here in Australia and abroad,” Superintendent Dave Roptell said.

Police were alerted to his disappearance on June 6 when Hayez failed to return to the hostel where he was staying, prompting an investigation that included Australian homicide detectives, local volunteers and three officers from the Belgian Federal Police.

Although the investigations are ongoing, hope has faded of finding Hayez.

“It’s times like this which shows the strength of our community. We want to thank each and every person who assisted and who provided support,” said Roptell.

Hayez’s father travelled to Australia to help find his son, urging the messaging platform WhatsApp to open his encrypted texts in the hope they may provide a clue to his disappearance.

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NAFDAC warns against use of carbide to ripen fruits

Calcium carbide is a toxic and highly dangerous, corrosive chemical used industrially in the production of acetylene gas, which burns and produces light.

The NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye [The Cable]
The NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye [The Cable]
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has urged fruit sellers to refrain from using calcium carbide to ripen fruits for commercial purpose.

The NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the call in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, saying that “using carbide to ripen fruits is dangerous for human health.”

Calcium carbide is a toxic and highly dangerous, corrosive chemical used industrially in the production of acetylene gas, which burns and produces light.

It has the potential to cause cancer and contain traces of phosphorus hydride and arsenic and when in contact with moist skin and mucous membrane, it can lead to ulceration.

The NAFDAC boss stated that the warning became necessary following recent visit by the agency’s inspectors to fruits and vegetable market in Mubi, Adamawa.

She noted that the agency would apply severe sanctions on anyone found using carbide for fruit ripening.

She added that “our inspectors met with executive members of the Fruits Sellers’ Association and educated them on the dangers associated with the use of calcium carbide for ripening of fruits.

“Our inspectors also conducted ‘shop to shop’ awareness with a view to enlighten the shop owners on health hazards and risks of consuming calcium carbide.

“Traders were warned against using calcium carbide for ripening of fruits and also informed them that NAFDAC will sanction anyone found wanting.”

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Thailand’s orphaned baby dugong becomes conservation star

Cuddles at feeding time are one of many techniques vets in Thailand are using to raise an orphaned baby dugong named Mariam, and which have helped spread interest in ocean conservation in the process.

Female dugongs usually breastfeed their babies while they are swimming, so vets at Phuket Marine Biological Centre cradle the oprhaned baby Mariam instead

Found stranded on a beach in May at six months old, the ocean mammal has been receiving daily care from park officials, local conservation groups, and veterinarians at Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

Her star took off after photos showing her being cradled by the vets went viral on social media, and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) has posted frequent updates on her condition.

Vet Pathompong Kongjit told AFP that Mariam — who now lives in the waters around Ko Libong island of Trang province — has become a symbol of the dire need for a clean-up in Thailand’s plastic-choked seas.

“Mariam has ignited the interest among Thai people to care about marine animals, Thai seas and nature in general,” he said.

But so far, her biggest challenge is feeding herself, as she has trouble digging out the seagrass buried in the ocean floor.

“Mariam can only eat the protruding seagrass,” he told AFP, adding that she’s “getting better” at it.

Female dugongs also usually breastfeed their babies while they are swimming — something the vets cannot do.

“So we hold her while feeding her milk, and after that we have to get her to swim around to exercise her digestion system,” Pathompong said.

Her caretakers also use an orange canoe — nicknamed “Mother Orange” — for her to follow around in the water for exercise.

Despite Mariam’s seeming dependence on her human friends, Pathompong said she’s “learned to adjust to the environment” and no longer gets stranded on the beach.

But “it doesn’t matter how many marine animals we can save… if their sea homes are in bad conditions,” said the vet, adding that Mariam will likely be under their care for at least another year.

The avalanche of public interest in Mariam’s progress has prompted the DMCR to set up a livestream for the growing baby, expected to be broadcast at the end of this week.

Another baby dugong was also found stranded in Krabi earlier this week.

The Phuket Marine Biological Centre said in a statement that dugongs get stranded on beaches because of fishing and other human activities.

Southern Thailand’s waters are home to about 250 dugongs.

Mariam the baby orphan dugong swims in the waters around Libong island in southern Thailand
1/1 Mariam the baby orphan dugong swims in the waters around Libong island in southern Thailand
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German migrant rescue captain in hiding: Sea-Watch

The German captain of a migrant rescue vessel, Carola Rackete, has gone into hiding following numerous threats, her charity Sea-Watch said Wednesday, a day after her release from Italian custody.

Carola Rackete, the German captain of Sea-Watch 3, defied an Italian ban to bring rescued migrants ashore
Carola Rackete, the German captain of Sea-Watch 3, defied an Italian ban to bring rescued migrants ashore

An Italian judge had Tuesday released Sea-Watch 3 captain Rackete, three days after her arrest for docking with 40 migrants aboard her ship in defiance of an Italian ban.

Sea-Watch spokesman Ruben Neugebauer told AFP that “she is in a secret place because of the numerous threats”.

Rackete, 31, was arrested after hitting a police speedboat while entering the port of the southern island of Lampedusa on Saturday in her vessel, which had been banned from docking by Italian authorities.

She has defended her actions, saying she was compelled to avert a human tragedy and bring the migrants ashore after more than two weeks at sea.

Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has taken a hard line against migrants, reacted furiously and pledged to expel Rackete, whom he labelled a “danger to national security”.

The migrants were allowed to disembark at Lampedusa and taken to a reception centre, as they prepared to travel on to several other EU member states which have agreed to take them in.

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Don’t try it, Ruga settlements will set Nigeria on fire – Soyinka

Don?t try it, Ruga settlements will set Nigeria on fire ? Soyinka

Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has warned the Federal Government against the proposed establishment of Ruga settlements across the country for herdsmen.

Speaking at the launch of United Nations’ Solutions 17 SDG programme in Lagos on Tuesday July 2nd, Soyinka said the creation of RUGA settlements for herdsmen if not checked, will cause Nigeria to explode.

“RUGA is going to be an explosion if not handled with care. But why do we not take our policies from good models? This is not the way people and countries deal with issues of cattle.

“I travel everywhere. It has to be handled in a way that is logical, comprehensible to the environment. When a cattle walks up to the window of my house in Abeokuta, a house which is located in a residential area, then there’s a problem. When cattle go to Ijebu Ode and eat up their plant seedlings and so on and you expect people to be quiet?”

He added that the manner in which President Buhari handled reports of the herdsmen attacks, was enough to have made him lose his re-election.

“President Buhari deserved to have lost the last election for the lackadaisical attitude he took to the issue of cattle rearing in the country.

“People have been killed in hundreds just because of the failure of leadership at a critical time. And the cattle herders have been given a sense of impunity. They kill without any compunction, they drive away the farmers who have been contributing to the food solutions in the country, the cattle eat their crops and then you come up with Ruga.

“I think that there is going to be trouble in this country if this Ruga thing is not handled imaginatively and with humanity as a priority. Any country where cattle takes priority over human life is definitely at an elementary stage,” he said.

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Rivers government rejects RUGA settlements

Rivers government rejects RUGA settlements

Rivers State Government has stated that it will not participate in the planned settlements for herdsmen.

In a statement released and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Paulinus Nsiri, the government said the state has no land for the implementation of such a policy. It noted that in his second term as Governor, Nyesom Wike has prioritised commercial agriculture, hence all available arable land in the state would be needed to drive commercial agriculture across the state to create employment for Rivers youths.

The State Government emphasised that it has not given any approval for the siting of Ruga settlements anywhere in Rivers State and no such approval will ever come from the Rivers State Government.

The statement reiterated that the Governor would continue to defend the interest of Rivers people, who have overwhelmingly rejected Cattle Colonies, Ruga Settlements and any such policy.

“Rivers indigenes are hereby advised to join the State Government to protect all arable lands by reporting any form of encroachment under whatever guise”, the statement added.

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Disown Senator Elisha Abbo now- Reno Omokri tells PDP

Disown Senator Elisha Abbo now- Reno Omokri tells PDP

Reno Omokri has joined other Nigerians to condemn Senator Elisha Abbo for assaulting a lady in a sex toy shop in Abuja in May. Omokri has called on PDP to immediately disown Abbo who ran for senate under their platform.

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Hamzat flags off reconstruction of Agboju to Trade Fair stretch of Lagos-Badagry Expressway project

Hamzat made the call at the flag-off ceremony of the continuation of the Reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway at the International Trade Fair Complex in Lagos.

The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat flagging off the Continuation of the Reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway on Tuesday. (NAN)
The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat flagging off the Continuation of the Reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway on Tuesday. (NAN)
The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat on Tuesday urged residents to cooperate with road contractors and help monitor the continuation of the reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

Hamzat made the call at the flag-off ceremony of the continuation of the Reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway at the International Trade Fair Complex in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the road project started in March 2009, and 10 years into the project, Eric-Moore to Mile-2 and Mile-2 to Agboju has been completed, while Agboju to Trade Fair is being flagged off for completion.

The Deputy Governor said that the Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration had recognised the importance of the project and promised to ease the inconvenience being faced by citizens on the road.

“You will recall that on June 2, just three days after the inauguration of the Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, we were here to show Lagos residents that this s a critical road for us, and that work will start again on this road. We are here today to fulfill that promise.

“As you recall, it’s a massive road project, from four lanes to 10 lanes. It’s a 60km lane from Eric-Moore all through to Okokomaiko.

“This is to say that we will again begin work on this road, and by the grace of God, the road from Agboju to the Lagos International Trade Fair will be completed by the end of this year, from four to 10 lanes.

“Then, palliative measures will be put in place from Trade Fair to Okokomaiko to make the road motorable for our people while construction will be going on,” he said.

Hamzat said that the state government was working with the Federal Government to make the road accessible to Seme border crossing.

“As at today, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, which is in charge of road maintenance, has awarded the rehabilitation of the four lanes from Igbo-Elerin to Agbara.

“This is because on that axis, you have pipelines and various infrastructure that need to be preserved, but at least, it will be motorable for residents and there will be no bottlenecks.

“The Federal Ministry of Works has also awarded from Agbara to Seme border. That will be six lanes. So, this will make it easier for residents to move around without obstructions,” he said.

Hamzat urged residents and road users to maintain orderliness, obey traffic laws and cooperate with the contractors handling the project.

“It is important to note that on our way here, we saw a lot of vehicles facing one-way. In the process, we stopped some of them and their excuse was that “there is no road’.

“Unfortunately, on that same road, we saw a young man that was hit by an ‘Okada’ who was driving against traffic.

“That young man can be somebody’s brother, son or cousin. So, we cannot say because the road is in a bad shape, we will now break the law.

“In the course of this project, there will be diversions, and we are appealing to citizens to be patient and cooperate with the contractors so that people will not get injured, because machines will be moved in here.

The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat flagging off the Continuation of the Reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway on Tuesday. (NAN)

The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat flagging off the Continuation of the Reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway on Tuesday. (NAN)

“We need to cooperate to make the work easier for quick delivery and for the benefit of residents. Help government to monitor the reconstruction project and the pace of work, send SMS to us so we can take action,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Olujimi Houtonu, Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, said the road was one of the gateways of Nigeria that connected Seme, Republic of Benin and other countries in the west coast.

Houtonu said that the road was heavily congested, with a journey of 15 to 30 minutes now taking between three to four hours.

“This extreme congestion has a significant impact on economic activities, reduces the potential for future growth and is largely detrimental on the quality of life of residents on this axis.

“During the period of lull, the right of way and the work done so far have been compromised, and there is urgent need to recover them from shanties erected for illegal trading and habitation.

“There is also refuse and vegetal nuisance that needs to be taken care of to restore sanity to the road.

“There will be a task force to maintain order and clear refuse on the road to make it more nice for all of us,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Bill Bian, General Manager of the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC),the contractors handling the project, promised to speed up work and ensure palliative measures to ease traffic in the course of the project.

Bian said the scope of work included provision of Lay-bys, pedestrian bridges, flyovers, toll plazas, road signs and traffic lights. 

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Computer programmer allegedly commits suicide after securing Canadian visa to relocate from Nigeria

Computer programmer allegedly commits suicide after securing Canadian visa to relocate from Nigeria

Muyiwa Olushola, a computer programmer has thrown his family into mourning after he allegedly committed suicide by taking a drink suspected to be laced with an insecticide, Sniper, at Mosadolorun in the Iba Local Council Development Area of Lagos State.

His neighbours said that the deceased’s mother had gone for a vigil, leaving him at home with his father, Segun, and sister, Tosin, when he suddenly started screaming for help around midnight, but efforts to immediately gain access to his room proved abortive.  Eventually, the door to the room was broken down and upon entry, Muyiwa was seen lying unconsciously on the floor with a foamy substance coming out of his mouth.  

According to a report by Punch, the 33-year-old was reportedly rushed to a hospital for medical aid but he died on the way. Investigation was said to have revealed that the deceased allegedly consumed a drink suspected to have been laced with Sniper, as a bottle of an alcoholic drink, two bottles of the insecticide and a cup were found on the floor of his room.  

At the moment, the house where the deceased lived with his parents and sibling has been locked. One of the neighbours who did not want to be identified, said the scream of Muyiwa’s father and his repeated banging on the door alerted her and others to the incident, adding that it took about an hour before anybody could gain access to the deceased’s room.

The neighbour said, “Around midnight on July 1, I heard Muyiwa’s father screaming his name and asking him to open the door, so I quickly alerted my husband, who calmed me down saying the noise could be due to a minor issue. But when the man continued screaming and banging on the door, we had to rush out to find out what was happening, and when we got to their apartment, we saw the father trying to force his way into Muyiwa’s room.

“The sister, Tosin, said they were inside when they suddenly heard the deceased screaming for help, but they could not enter his room, because he had bolted it from behind. It took over an hour before the door was opened and we saw Muyiwa lying helplessly on the floor and vomiting a foamy substance. We also saw an alcoholic drink, two bottles of Sniper and a cup. From what we gathered, that was the mixture he drank.” 

A resident of the area, who identified himself simply as Kamoru, said Muyiwa’s death could be linked to depression, adding that the incident had prompted his family to temporarily relocate to another location.  

A close friend of the deceased, Babajide Adekunle, said Muyiwa had just been granted a Canadian visa and was scheduled to travel in October before his death. Adekunle said;

“He went to Cyprus for his master’s and obtained a visa to travel to Canada recently after being denied on two previous attempts. We learnt that he was supposed to travel in October; we are really unhappy that he took that kind of decision. He told us that his parents had been frustrating him at home and he decided to leave the house, but his mother disagreed with the idea.  

“He had even rented an apartment, but instead, the parents suggested that he should stay in another house that they built. They were overprotective of him, because he was their only surviving son after his younger brother, Seun, died some years ago. Now, he is gone and they are left with only Tosin. May God give them the fortitude to bear this loss.”