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Two Dead After Lightning Strike Near White House

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Two Dead From Lightning Strike Near White House

Two persons have been reportedly killed with two others left in  critical condition after a lightning strike near the White House on Thursday evening, police in the US capital have said.

The lightning is said to have  occurred at the Lafayette Square, a small park across the street from the White House, shortly before 7:00 pm (2300 GMT) Thursday, leaving two men and two women with “critical life-threatening injuries,” according to a statement from Washington’s fire and emergencies department.

All the victims were taken to local hospitals, but on Friday morning, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that two of them – 75-year-old Donna Mueller and 76-year-old James Mueller, both from Janesville in Wisconsin – had been pronounced dead.

The other two adults remain in critical condition, police said.

READ ALSO: US Kills Osama Bin Laden’s Deputy

A White House spokeswoman said the Biden administration was “saddened by the tragic loss of life.”

“We are praying for those still fighting for their lives,” said Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

US Secret Service and park police rushed to help the four after witnessing the strike, fire and emergency services department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said in a statement on social media.

Photos posted by the department on social media showed multiple ambulances and at least one fire truck with flashing lights at the scene.

Witness David Root told NBC he heard a “horrific boom.”

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was surreal. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”

He said he had been sheltering beneath a tree when he saw the lightning strike across the park.

The people “weren’t moving,” he said, so he and others ran over to give help.

AFP

 

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French Schools Send Home Schoolgirls For Wearing Muslim Dress Abayas

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French President Emmanuel Macron

French schools sent dozens of girls home for refusing to remove their abayas – an over-garment from the shoulders to the feet worn by Muslim women – on the first day of the school year, a government minister said on Tuesday.

Defying a ban on the Muslim dress, nearly 300 girls showed up on Monday morning wearing an abaya, education secretary Gabriel Attal told the BFM broadcaster.

The Daily Mail quoted Attal as saying that most agreed to change out of the dress, but 67 refused and were sent home.

The government announced last month it was banning the abaya in schools, saying it broke the rules on secularism in education that have already seen Muslim headscarves banned on the grounds they constitute a display of religious affiliation.

The move gladdened the political Right but the hard-Left argued it represented an affront to civil liberties.

French schools sent dozens of girls home for refusing to remove their abayas – an over-garment from the shoulders to the feet worn by Muslim women – on the first day of the school year, a government minister said on Tuesday.

Announcing the ban last month, Attal said at the time: ‘When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils’ religion just by looking at them. I have decided that the abaya can no longer be worn in schools.’

Attal said the girls refused entry were given a letter addressed to their families saying that ‘secularism is not a constraint, it is a liberty’.

If they showed up at school again wearing the dress there would be a ‘new dialogue’, the minister said.

On Monday evening, president Emmanuel Macron defended the controversial measure, saying there was a ‘minority’ in France who ‘hijack a religion and challenge the republic and secularism’, leading to the ‘worst consequences’ such as the murder three years ago of teacher Samuel Paty for showing Mohammed caricatures during a civics education class.

‘We cannot act as if the terrorist attack, the murder of Samuel Paty, had not happened,’ he said in an interview with Youtube channel HugoDecrypte.

An association representing Muslims has filed a motion with the State Council, France’s highest court for complaints against state authorities, for an injunction against the ban on the abaya and the qamis, its equivalent dress for men.

The Action for the Rights of Muslims (ADM) motion is to be examined later on Tuesday.

Abdallah Zekri, vice-president of the French Council for Muslim Worship, said last month the abaya ‘has never been a religious symbol’ and should not be banned.

He said the ban was yet another example of politicians using dress favoured by women and girls to attack some five million Muslims living in France.

‘I think the minister could have asked the opinion of religious leaders,’ said Zerkri.

‘For me, the abaya is not a religious dress, it is a form of fashion.

‘If you go to some stores, you find abayas. It’s a long and loose dress at the same time. It has nothing to do with religion.’

A law introduced in March 2004 banned ‘the wearing of signs or outfits by which students ostensibly show a religious affiliation’ in schools.

This includes large Christian crosses, Jewish kippas and Islamic headscarves.

Unlike headscarves, abayas occupied a grey area and had faced no outright ban until now.

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Gabon’s BREAKING:Military Leader Sworn In As President

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Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema

Gabon ‘s new military leader was sworn in as the head of state Monday less than a week after ousting the president whose family had ruled the Central African nation for more than five decades.

Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, took the oath in the presidential palace in front of a packed, boisterous room of government officials, military and local leaders in Gabon’s capital, Libreville. Oligui is a cousin of the ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba, served as a bodyguard to his late father and is head of the republican guard, an elite military unit.

Speaking to applause and standing ovations Monday, Oligui said the military had seized power without bloodshed and promised to return power to the people by organizing free, transparent and credible elections.

“With the new government, made up of experienced people, we’re going to give everyone a chance to hope,” he said.

.AP

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BREAKING: Gabonese Military Officers Sack President

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President Ali Bongo

Senior Gabonese military officers appeared on national television to announce they have taken power.

The group of 12 officers made the announcement shortly after Gabon’s election body reported early on Wednesday morning that President Ali Bongo had won a third term in office.

After observing “irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos… we have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime”, one of the soldiers said, speaking on the Gabon 24 TV channel.

There was no immediate comment from the Gabon government, the Reuters news agency reported.

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