Donald Trump will take centre stage at an elaborate July 4th celebration in Washington DC, but critics say the president is wasting money and inappropriately politicising what is traditionally a non-partisan event. Tradefair brings you the latest from US politics...
"Kids in cages. Tanks on the streets. Friendships with dictators. Fights with democracies. VIP access for donors at a July 4th event. Attacking the press. There is nothing patriotic about any of that,"
- Senior senator for Hawaii Brian Schatz
Celebrations will be taking place all over the United States today to mark July 4th, with the biggest event of all happening in the nation's capital.
Armoured troop carriers and tanks will be assembled in the centre of Washington DC as part of the Independence Day parade, which president Donald Trump has dubbed the 'Salute to America'.
However, the elaborate and costly event has attracted criticism from those who argue July 4th should be a non-political occasion, and that the money would be better spent on public services.
Don't panic, residents told
There will be a strong military presence in today's parade in Washington DC, with at least two Bradley armoured troop carriers and two M1A1 tanks having been transported from a railyard in the south-east of the city to the heart of the capital.
In addition, there will be a military jet flyover, a fireworks show and a speech by the president at the Lincoln Memorial.
Army Col Sunset Belinsky told a local CBS News affiliate that residents "should not panic" if they see the armoured vehicles moving through their neighbourhoods.
The event is expected to come at considerable public expense, with the Washington Post reporting that the National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million of funds usually earmarked for park improvements to cover the cost of the celebrations.
Tom Udall, Democratic senator for New Mexico, told the newspaper: "We've never seen anything like this. No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars."
A non-partisan waste of resources?
The planned celebrations in Washington DC have attracted criticism not only for their cost, but for the apparent politicisation of an occasion that is traditionally non-partisan.
Brian Schatz, the current senior senator for Hawaii, described the event as "an enormous waste of resources" and said the idea that July 4th celebrations in the capital city shouldn't be partisan was a "simple proposition".
"Kids in cages. Tanks on the streets. Friendships with dictators. Fights with democracies. VIP access for donors at a July 4th event. Attacking the press. There is nothing patriotic about any of that," Schatz tweeted.
There will be protests on the day, with feminist group Code Pink receiving permission from the National Park Service to stage a demonstration in the vicinity of the parade.
President Trump took to Twitter to say the event is shaping up to be "the show of a lifetime".
He added: "The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!"
The one aspect of the day over which the president has no control is the weather, with forecasts warning of a risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon.
A good week for stock markets
In the days leading up to the country's Independence Day festivities, US stock markets were celebrating a period of particularly strong performance. The Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq index all closed at record highs on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 posting its third straight record day.
One of the key contributors to rising stock values at the start of the week was Mr Trump's meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. The talks ended with the leaders agreeing to temporarily cease tit-for-tat tariffs and to resume trade negotiations.
Markets have also been encouraged by signs of a move towards looser monetary policy and lower interest rates across the global economy. The US Federal Reserve has recently signalled that an interest rate cut - something the president has repeatedly called for - could be on the cards.
Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial, told CNN: "We've seen continued doubt and worry over this bull market for a decade now, yet it continues to defy all sceptics. The bottom line is the dual benefit of both fiscal and monetary policy should help extend this business cycle potentially much longer than many expect."
Trump tweeted his congratulations to the S&P 500 in particular and also claimed the US has "the greatest economy anywhere in the world".
Joe Biden, former vice-president and one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, has previously said the president "inherited a growing economy from the Obama-Biden administration" and is now "in the process of squandering it".
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