Interim president of Egypt sworn in
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military moved swiftly Thursday against senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood, targeting the backbone of support for ousted President Mohammed Morsi. In the most dramatic step, authorities arrested the group’s revered leader from a seaside villa and flew him by helicopter to detention in the capital.
With a top judge newly sworn in as interim president to replace Morsi, the crackdown poses an immediate test to the new army-backed leadership’s promises to guide Egypt to democracy: The question of how to include the 83-year-old fundamentalist group.
That question has long been at the heart of democracy efforts in Egypt. Hosni Mubarak and previous authoritarian regimes banned the group, raising cries even from pro-reform Brotherhood critics that it must be allowed to participate if Egypt was to be free. After Mubarak’s fall, the newly legalized group vaulted to power in elections, with its veteran member Morsi becoming the country’s first freely elected president.
Now the group is reeling under a huge backlash from a public that says the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies abused their electoral mandate. The military forced Morsi out Wednesday after millions of Egyptians nationwide turned out in four days of protests demanding he be removed.
Adly Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constititonal Court, with which Morsi had repeated confrontations, was sworn in as interim president.
Morsi was abandoned by his allies but remained defiant
CAIRO (AP) — The army chief came to President Mohammed Morsi with a simple demand: Step down on your own and don’t resist a military ultimatum or the demands of the giant crowds in the streets of Egypt.
“Over my dead body!” Morsi replied to Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Monday, two days before the army eventually ousted the Islamist leader after a year in office.
In the end, Egypt’s first freely elected president found himself isolated, with allies abandoning him and no one in the army or police willing to support him.
Even his Republican Guards simply stepped away as army commandos came to take him to an undisclosed Defense Ministry facility, according to army, security and Muslim Brotherhood officials who gave The Associated Press an account of Morsi’s final hours in office. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
The Muslim Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming for Morsi as early as June 23 — a week before the opposition planned its first big protest. The military gave the president seven days to work out his differences with the opposition.
Statue of Liberty reopens on July 4th
NEW YORK (AP) — The Statue of Liberty reopened on the Fourth of July, eight months after Superstorm Sandy shuttered the national symbol of freedom, as Americans around the country celebrated with fireworks and parades and President Obama urged citizens to live up to the words of the Declaration of Independence.
Hundreds lined up Thursday to be among the first to board boats destined for Lady Liberty, including New Yorker Heather Leykam and her family.
“This, to us, Liberty Island, is really about a rebirth,” said Leykam, whose mother’s home was destroyed during the storm. “It is a sense of renewal for the city and the country. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Nationwide, Boston prepared to host its first large gathering since the marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds, and Philadelphia, Washington and New Orleans geared up for large holiday concerts. A Civil War reenactment commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg drew as many as 40,000 people to Pennsylvania. In Arizona, sober tributes were planned for 19 firefighters who died this week battling a blaze near Yarnell.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, speaking at the reopening of the Statue of Liberty, choked up as she told the crowd she was wearing a purple ribbon in memory of the fallen firefighters.
Bolivia’s president warns he could close US Embassy
COCHABAMBA, Bolivia (AP) — President Evo Morales warned on Thursday that he could close the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia as South America’s leftist leaders rallied to support him after his presidential plane was rerouted amid suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board.
Morales again blamed Washington for pressuring European countries to refuse to allow his plane to fly through their airspace on Tuesday, forcing it to land in Vienna, Austria, in what he called a violation of international law. He had been returning from a summit in Russia during which he had suggested he would be willing to consider a request from Snowden for asylum.
“Being united will defeat American imperialism. We met with the leaders of my party and they asked us for several measures and if necessary, we will close the embassy of the United States,” said Morales. “We do not need the embassy of the United States.”
Morales spoke as the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay joined him in Cochabamba, Bolivia for a special meeting to address the diplomatic row.
Latin American leaders were outraged by the incident, calling it a violation of national sovereignty and a slap in the face for a region that has suffered through humiliations by Europe and several U.S.-backed military coups.
British police seek 38 ‘persons of interest’ in case of missing girl Madeleine McCann
LONDON (AP) — British police say they have launched a full investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and want to trace 38 “persons of interest” in the case.
Detectives say it’s possible that Madeleine, who vanished from a Portuguese holiday resort six years ago, is still alive.
Scotland Yard said Thursday that 12 of the individuals of interest are British, and the rest from a variety of European countries. The force says it is working with governments across the continent to find out more.
McCann vanished from a vacation home in Portugal’s Algarve region on May 3, 2007, days before her fourth birthday. The case has generated intense media interest.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said police “continue to believe that there is a possibility that Madeleine is alive.”
Ariz. town celebrates 4th of July
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — They remembered the Fourth, but also the 19.
At Bistro St. Michael on Whiskey Row in this old West town, 19 candles burned beneath red, white and blue bunting, one for each firefighter killed last weekend battling a wildfire not far from the place they called home.
In a quiet neighborhood near the high school, which at least five of them attended, 19 miniature U.S. flags were planted in front yards, each pole tied with the purple ribbon that commemorates fallen firefighters.
At the makeshift memorial on the fence that wrapped around the elite Hotshots firefighting team’s headquarters, people left 19 potted plants, 19 pinwheels, 19 handwritten cards, 19 religious candles.
On a day meant to ponder the nation’s birth, and those who built and defended it over 237 years, Prescott’s residents had 19 of their neighbors, their friends, their relatives to remember.
Supreme Court says Congress can rewrite Voting Rights Act
ATLANTA (AP) — When the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights act last week, it handed Republicans tough questions with no easy answers over how, and where, to attract voters even GOP leaders say the party needs to stay nationally competitive.
The decision caught Republicans between newfound state autonomy that conservatives covet and the law’s popularity among minority, young and poor voters who tend to align with Democrats. It’s those voters that Republicans are eyeing to expand and invigorate the GOP’s core of older, white Americans.
National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus began that effort well before the court’s decision by promising, among other initiatives, to hire non-white party activists to engage directly with black and Latino voters. Yet state and national Republicans reacted to the Voting Rights Act decision with a flurry of activity and comments that may not fit neatly into the national party’s vision.
Congressional leaders must decide whether to try to rewrite the provision the court struck, but it’s not clear how such an effort would fare in the Democratic-led Senate and the GOP-controlled House. And at the state level, elected Republicans are enacting tighter voting restrictions that Democrats blast as harmful to their traditional base of supporters and groups the Republicans say they want to attract.
States like North Carolina and Virginia provide apt examples of the potential fallout. An influx of non-whites have turned those Republican strongholds into battlegrounds in the last two presidential elections, and minority voters helped President Barack Obama win both states in 2008 and Virginia again in 2012. Nationally, Republican Mitt Romney lost among African-Americans by about 85 percentage points and Latinos by about 44 percentage points, margins that virtually ensure a Democratic victory.
Joey ‘Jaws’ Chestnut downs 69 franks to break record
NEW YORK (AP) — Joey Chestnut downed 69 franks and devoured his own record in the men’s Fourth of July hot dog eating contest while Sonya Thomas defended her title in the women’s competition.
The San Jose, Calif., man known as Jaws ate one more wiener than his previous record to capture the mustard-yellow champion’s belt. He said afterward that he was motivated by the prestige, not the $10,000 prize money.
“I’d do this for nothing,” he said.
Thomas, a 100-pound dynamo known as the “Black Widow” of competitive eating, wolfed down nearly 37 wieners to narrowly eke out her own victory.
Chestnut, 29, is a seven-time winner who set the old record — 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes — in 2009 and tied it last year. Thomas, 45, powered through 45 dogs to take the women’s championship last year and also won in 2011, the first year women competed separately