The National Park Service will divert about $2.5 million in fees gathered from park-goers to help pay for the hefty costs of President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebration, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The White House has been preparing for the president’s “Salute to America” on Thursday, a grand parade meant to showcase what Trump has called the “strongest and most advanced” military on the planet. Tanks have been shipped from Georgia, and a flyover by Air Force One is scheduled, as well as a promised “biggest ever” fireworks display, according to Trump.
But such plans have reportedly stretched the event’s budget far past normal. The Post noted that the entire Independence Day celebration usually costs the National Park Service about $2 million, but the NPS was directed to divert park entrance and recreation fees to help cover some of the additional costs of this year’s event, according to two anonymous sources familiar with the planning.
Such fees are often used on maintenance and improvements across the national park system. The entire National Park System, which covers 418 national parks, currently has nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance due to a budget shortfall.
Trump has long touted the idea of a Fourth of July parade featuring U.S. military assets. After watching France’s Bastille Day parade in Paris in 2017, he pitched a similar event for Veterans Day, but the idea drew widespread criticism. The president abandoned those plans after the Pentagon said it would cost more than $90 million.
It’s unclear how much the Fourth of July event will cost, and Trump administration officials have refused to share a number, but estimates are high. The event will feature aircraft flyovers, including a display from the Navy’s Blue Angels squadron, pyrotechnics, and tanks and other military hardware. The Post also noted that officials have been scrambling to try to project an image on the Washington Monument, but the NPS does not typically allow such displays.
“It’ll be like no other — it’ll be special, and I hope a lot of people come,” Trump said outside the White House on Monday. “We have some incredible equipment, military equipment, on display — brand new. And we’re very proud of it.”
News of the diverted fees prompted a swift rebuke from advocates for the national park system. Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, told the Post the report amounted to a “breach of public trust.”
“The public pays parks fees to fix national parks and for educational programs, not the president’s parade,” she said.
Barbie Goes Glam Rock to Honor David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust
BARBIE has been many things over the years. Now, she’s dressed as Ziggy Stardust.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s iconic “Space Oddity,” Barbie overseers at Mattel released a collectible version of the doll dressed as Ziggy Stardust, one of his most beloved alter egos.
Barbie wears the metallic Ziggy space suit with red and blue stripes, flared shoulders and cherry red platform boots. Mattel spared no makeup, featuring the astral sphere smack in the middle of Ziggy Barbie’s forehead. The doll’s hair is fiery red.
The $50, limited edition doll was created in collaboration with The David Bowie Archive.
The beloved rocker died in 2016 after battling cancer. He was 69.
Jennifer Lopez Forced to End New York City Concert Early Due to Massive Power Outage
The Big Apple went dark Saturday night, and for those at Madison Square Garden that meant no Jennifer Lopez.
The songstress had only just started her show when a massive power outage swept across New York City, spelling an early end to her show as the theater was evacuated.
Lopez took to Instagram to share a message with her fans and explain that the show had been canceled due to the unforeseeable circumstances.
“The power is out in NYC and at MSG. Heartbroken to say tonight’s show is cancelled. We will reschedule. Love you all!!! Stay safe!” Lopez captioned the clip.
“We had just started our show,” the singer explained in the video. “They’re asking everybody to evacuate, very slowly and calmly, and obviously that’s what were going to have to do.”
Lopez later posted a second message expressing her disappointment over not getting the chance to perform for her many excited fans.
“Devastated and heartbroken that I can’t perform for all of you tonight. We will make this up to you, I promise! I love you!!” Lopez shared.
Gayle King, who was in attendance at Lopez’s Madison Square Garden concert when the blackout occurred, shared two videos to her Instagram. The first showed a bit of the entertainer’s performance, and the second focused on the aftermath of the incident and the confused audience.
“Uhhh yeah so I actually made it to @jlo concert and then what had happened ‘wuz’ swipe left… now wondering the streets in an Uber trying to find a hotel room,” King captioned the slideshow. “My apt has NO power and I live on the 27th floor … funny thought my place had a back up generator …”
The arena later tweeted confirming the news of the cancellations and plans to reschedule.
“Due to power outage issues in parts of Manhattan, which included Madison Square Garden, tonight’s Jennifer Lopez show was forced to end early. We will follow up with tickets buyers to tonight’s show with more information as soon as we have it,” Madison Square Garden tweeted hours after the incident.
The black out, which police reportedly believe was started by a transformer fire, swept the west side of Manhattan and left over 73,000 people without power, according to NBC New York. Power is currently being restored, but many residents remain in the dark.
Coincidentally, the blackout occurred on the anniversary of the infamous 1977 New York City blackout, which led to mass chaos in the city.
Lopez’s show has been rescheduled for Monday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.
Protesters stage die-in at Washington Square Park amid recent increase in cyclist deaths
Demonstrators staged a ‘die-in’ at a New York City park Tuesday night, following the recent increase in deaths of bicyclists in the city.
During the protest at Washington Square Park, there was a tense confrontation just outside the park between cyclists and the NYPD.
“This is the New York City police department,” was the message from a police loudspeaker. “You are unlawfully in the roadway obstructing traffic. You are ordered to leave the roadway and utilize the sidewalk.”
Cyclists rode down Fifth Avenue in protest, boiling mad after police used a squad car to box in a cyclist last week in the East Village.
Police said it was because that cyclist refused to pull over after officers said he blew through several red lights.
“Ride with us! Ride with us! I’m telling you one ride you guys will change your perspective!”, said one cyclist.
The cyclists who squared off with police were just a small faction of the hundreds of demonstrators who turned out to protest, staging a mass die-in.
They were angry at Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Department of Transportation, and police. 15 cyclists have been killed by vehicles so far this year, more than all of last year.
“Some people say there are too many people on bikes in New York,” one protester said. “We say there are too many cars. It is time to change how we build our streets.”
“There’s still an over sympathizing with car owners and attachment to car culture even within the NYPD at the highest levels,” said New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
“I’m looking to keep cyclists safe,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said Monday. “I don’t want anybody to walk away from this press conference thinking that’s not my primary concern. We’ve had 15 bicyclists killed so far this year. That’s a concern to me personally, that’s a concern to the NYPD.”
The mayor calls it a crisis, saying he is deeply worried about the fatalities and is vowing to do something different.
The protest was largely peaceful, with one cyclist arrested for disorderly conduct.
The Department of Transportation released the following statement:
“This year’s recent cyclist fatalities are senseless tragedies on our roads, and our thoughts are with all of the victims’ friends and family. We continue our Vision Zero efforts to engineer safer streets and add more bike lanes to our growing network, and details on the new cyclist safety plan we are working on will be released later this month. To date, we have already averaged over 20 miles of protected bike lanes a year for the last three years, more than any other administration.”
The DOT said the safety plan will include:
–New and expanded cycling infrastructure citywide that will further protect cyclists.
–New cycling-oriented policy changes, some of which will be pursued through state or city legislation.
–Increased public awareness and education programs that focus on cyclist safety, including aggressive outreach to truckers and industry partners.
–Further enhanced NYPD enforcement and work with the State on better truck enforcement.
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