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►  Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Trump’s turbulent White House

Steve Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in Donald Trump’s White House, is leaving.

Trump accepted Bannon’s resignation on Friday, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president’s administration in turmoil.

White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday would be Bannon’s last day on the job.

“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” she said in a statement confirming reports of Bannon’s departure.

A combative and unorthodox Republican, Bannon was a key adviser in Trump’s general election campaign, but he has been a contentious presence in a White House divided by warring staff loyalties.

The former leader of conservative Breitbart News has pushed Trump to follow through on his campaign promises and was the man behind many of his most controversial efforts, including Trump’s travel ban and decision to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement.

But Bannon repeatedly clashed with other top White House advisers and often ran afoul of the president himself.

Bannon offered his resignation to Trump on August 07, according to one person close to the adviser.

The resignation was to go into effect a week later, August 14, which was the one year anniversary of when he officially joined Trump’s presidential campaign. It was then held back a few days after the violence in Charlottesville.

But Bannon had been on shaky ground for weeks, and his standing appeared in jeopardy when Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, embarked on a personnel review of West Wing staff. Kelly had indicated to aides that significant changes could be coming, according to an official familiar with Kelly’s plans but not authorized to speak publicly.

The president had also repeatedly diminished Bannon’s role in his campaign in recent remarks and refused to express confidence during an impromptu news conference Tuesday.

“He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard,” Trump said. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”

The decision whether to drop Bannon was more than just a personnel matter. The media guru is viewed in some circles as Trump’s connection to his base and the protector of Trump’s disruptive, conservative agenda.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow if Steve is gone because you have a Republican West Wing that’s filled with generals and Democrats,” said former campaign strategist Sam Nunberg, shortly before the news of Bannon’s departure broke. “It would feel like the twilight zone.”


►  Soothing the nation? Trump struggles like no other

For Susan Bro, mother of the woman killed at a rally organized by white supremacists, the president of the United States can offer no healing words.

She says the White House repeatedly tried to reach out to her on Wednesday, the day of Heather Heyer’s funeral. But she’s since watched Donald Trump lay blame for the Charlottesville violence on “both sides.”

“You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying ‘I’m sorry,’” she said in a television interview on Friday.

In moments like this, of national crisis or tragedy, presidents typically shed their political skin, at least briefly. They use the broad appeal of the presidency to unite and soothe, urging citizens to remember their humanity, their common bonds as Americans.

George W. Bush famously climbed atop a pile of rubble in New York City to speak through a bullhorn after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Barack Obama sang “Amazing Grace” during the eulogy for a black pastor killed in a racially motivated shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Like no other president in recent history, Trump has struggled with this part of his duties.

He talks about politics at odd moments — reminding Boy Scouts and Coast Guard graduates alike that he won the election and the media are out to get him — and has continued speaking to his core supporters with less effort to appeal to the rest of the country. The harsh language that turned off those who voted against him last year hasn’t abated during his seven months in the White House, part of the reason his approval rating is locked in the 30s.

Trump’s words on Charlottesville “caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn,” the 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney wrote on Facebook on Friday.

With CEOs fleeing after Trump’s comments, he disbanded White House business councils. The entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned. On Friday, numerous charities were following the Cleveland Clinic in pulling business from his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. And some Republican lawmakers who had hoped to work with Trump lambasted him — Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said Thursday the president has not shown he knows “the character of the nation.”

With many in his party and his White House reeling after the Charlottesville crisis, the president traveled from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club to Camp David for a national security meeting on Friday. For a second day, Trump had no public appearances planned.

Once again, Trump left it to his Twitter feed to show his mindset: On Thursday, he defended Confederate monuments and offered support to allies in Spain after terror attacks. Then he appeared to revive a grisly, debunked tale about a U.S. general’s brutal killing of Muslims. His Friday messages included the need for strong national security and retweets from a conservative talk show host who reassured him that supporters weren’t deserting him.

Trump has expressed no regrets about his Tuesday press conference that enraged many Americans and prompted Bro’s comments on Friday. Senior strategist Steve Bannon was one of the few to publicly support Trump’s comments as politically savvy. A divisive figure who shares Trump’s “America first” instincts, Bannon lost his job on Friday.

The White House isn’t saying whether Trump plans to travel to Charlottesville at any point.

Some in his Cabinet have tried to step into what are normally presidential shoes. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that racism is “evil” and that “hate is not an American value.”

An early example in his presidency showed how divisive he is — and why even in the most somber moments it can be difficult for him to effectively reach out.

He and his daughter Ivanka Trump quietly traveled February 1 to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for the return of the remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen, William “Ryan” Owens. But the grieving family members had mixed feelings.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” the sailor’s father, Bill Owens, later told The Miami Herald.

But at the end of the month, Ryan Owens’ widow, Carryn, attended Trump’s address to Congress and wept as the president thanked her and said, “Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.”

Trump has shown his softer side at times. He explained that he had ordered a missile strike in Syria in part because of the images — “innocent babies, little babies” — he’d seen of the aftermath of a chemical attack that the U.S. concluded was the work of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

On Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Trump tenderly listened as a 6-year-old dressed in a tiny replica of a Marine uniform talked about his father, who’d died in a training accident when the boy was a baby.

And Trump has befriended Jamiel Shaw, whose namesake son was murdered by a man in the country illegally.

As president-elect, Trump traveled to Ohio State University 10 days after a man plowed his car into a crowd of people and then began stabbing some of them. The violence left about 13 people injured, and a campus police officer fatally shot the attacker.

Trump met privately with the officer and some of the victims. One of them, Marc Coons, who didn’t vote for Trump, was apprehensive about going — worried Trump might focus on the attacker, a Somali refugee.

“He didn’t say anything mean, and I give him credit for that,” the 30-year-old said. Coons was slashed near one of his shoulders but has recovered. One moment that sticks with him, he said, was Trump asking whether he had been “carred or knifed” just before they took a photo together.

“It struck me as a bit insensitive,” Coons said. “I just ignored it.”


►  NASA, PBS marking 40 years since Voyager spacecraft launche

Forty years after blasting off, Earth’s most distant ambassadors — the twin Voyager spacecraft — are carrying sounds and music of our planet ever deeper into the cosmos.

Think of them as messages in bottles meant for anyone — or anything — out there.

This Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of NASA’s launch of Voyager 2, now almost 11 billion miles distant. It departed from Cape Canaveral on August 20, 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn.

Voyager 1 followed a few weeks later and is ahead of Voyager 2. It’s humanity’s farthest spacecraft at 13 billion miles away and is the world’s only craft to reach interstellar space, the vast mostly emptiness between star systems. Voyager 2 is expected to cross that boundary during the next few years.

Each carries a 12-inch, gold-plated copper phonograph record (there were no CDs or MP3s back then) containing messages from Earth: Beethoven’s Fifth, chirping crickets, a baby’s cry, a kiss, wind and rain, a thunderous moon rocket launch, African pygmy songs, Solomon Island panpipes, a Peruvian wedding song and greetings in dozens of languages. There are also more than 100 electronic images on each record showing 20th-century life, traffic jams and all.

NASA is marking the anniversary of its back-to-back Voyager launches with tweets, reminisces and still captivating photos of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune taken by the Voyagers from 1979 through the 1980s.

Public television is also paying tribute with a documentary, “The Farthest - Voyager in Space,” airing Wednesday on PBS at 9 p.m. EDT.

The two-hour documentary describes the tense and dramatic behind-the-scenes effort that culminated in the wildly successful missions to our solar system’s outer planets and beyond. More than 20 team members are interviewed, many of them long retired. There’s original TV footage throughout, including a lookback at the late astronomer Carl Sagan of the 1980 PBS series “Cosmos.” It also includes an interview with Sagan’s son, Nick, who at 6 years old provided the English message: “Hello from the children of Planet Earth.”

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco — who joined Voyager’s imaging team in 1980 — puts the mission up there with man’s first moon landing.

“I consider Voyager to be the Apollo 11 of the planetary exploration program. It has that kind of iconic stature,” Porco, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

It was Sagan who, in large part, got a record aboard each Voyager. NASA was reluctant and did not want the records eclipsing the scientific goals. Sagan finally prevailed, but he and his fellow record promoters had less than two months to rustle everything up.

The identical records were the audio version of engraved plaques designed by Sagan and others for Pioneers 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973.

The 55 greetings for the Voyager Golden Records were collected at Cornell University, where Sagan taught astronomy, and the United Nations in New York. The music production fell to science writer Timothy Ferris, a friend of Sagan living then in New York.

For the musical selections, Ferris and Sagan recruited friends along with a few professional musicians. They crammed in 90 minutes of music recorded at half-speed; otherwise it would have lasted just 45 minutes.

How to choose from an infinite number of melodies and melodious sounds representing all of Earth?

Beethoven, Bach and Mozart were easy picks. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven represented jazz, Blind Willie Johnson gospel blues.

For the rock ‘n’ roll single, the group selected Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode.” Bob Dylan was a close runner-up, and the Beatles also rated high. Elvis Presley’s name came up (Presley died four days before Voyager 2′s launch). In the end, Ferris thought “Johnny B. Goode” best represented the origins and creativity of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ferris still believes it’s “a terrific record” and he has no “deep regrets” about the selections. Even the rejected tunes represented “beautiful materials.”

“It’s like handfuls of diamonds. If you’re concerned that you didn’t get the right handful or something, it’s probably a neurotic problem rather than anything to do with the diamonds,” Ferris told the AP earlier this week.

But he noted: “If I were going to start into regrets, I suppose not having Italian opera would be on that list.”

The whole record project cost $30,000 or $35,000, to the best of Ferris’ recollection.

NASA estimated the records would last 1 billion to 3 billion years or more — potentially outliving human civilization.

For Ferris, it’s time more than distance that makes the whole idea of finders-keepers so incomprehensible.

A billion years from now, “Voyager could be captured by an advanced civilization of beings that don’t exist yet ... It’s literally imponderable what will happen to the Voyagers,” he said.


►  After Charlottesville, colleges brace for more hate attacks

Nicholas Fuentes is dropping out of Boston University and heading south, pressing ahead with his right-wing politics despite receiving online death threats.

The 19-year-old joined a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and posted a defiant Facebook message promising that a “tidal wave of white identity is coming,” less than an hour after a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Now, he’s hoping to transfer to Auburn University in Alabama.

“I’m ready to return to my base, return to my roots, to rally the troops and see what I can do down there,” Fuentes said in an interview this week.

At college campuses, far-right extremist groups have found fertile ground to spread their messages and attract new followers.

For many schools, the rally in Virginia served as a warning that these groups will no longer limit their efforts to social media or to flyers furtively posted around campus.

“It seems like what might have been a little in the shadows has come into full sun, and now it’s out there and exposed for everyone to see,” said Sue Riseling, a former police chief at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

The violence in Charlottesville introduced many Americans to a new brand of hate, bred on internet message boards and migrating to the streets with increasing frequency.

On the eve of Saturday’s rally, young white men wearing khakis and white polo shirts marched through the University of Virginia’s campus, holding torches as they chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The next morning, many donned helmets and shields and clashed with counter-protesters before a car drove into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.

On Monday, Texas A&M University canceled plans for a “White Lives Matter” rally in September. On Wednesday, the University of Florida denied a request for white nationalist Richard Spencer to rent space on campus for a September event. Spencer and his supporters are promising court challenges.

Expecting more rallies to come, Riseling’s group is planning a series of training events to help campus police prepare.

“If you’re sitting on a campus where this hasn’t happened, consider this your wake-up call that it might,” she said.

Last school year, racist flyers popped up on college campuses at a rate that experts called unprecedented. The Anti-Defamation League counted 161 white supremacist “flyering incidents” on 110 college campuses between September and June. Oren Segal, director of the group’s Center on Extremism, said the culprits can’t be dismissed as harmless trolls.

“You might have a few that don’t take it seriously. But those that do, those are the ones we’re concerned about,” Segal said.

Matthew Heimbach, the 26-year-old leader of the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party, admits that dropping leaflets on campuses is a cheap way to generate media coverage.

“A dollar worth of paper, if it triggers the right person, can become $100,000 in media attention,” he said.

As a student at Towson University in Maryland, Heimbach made headlines for forming a “White Student Union” — a group the school refused to formally recognize — and for scrawling messages like “white pride” in chalk on campus sidewalks. His college years are behind him, but Heimbach still views colleges as promising venues to expand his group’s ranks. College students are running four of his group’s chapters, he said.

“The entire dynamic has changed,” Heimbach said. “I used to be the youngest person at white nationalist meetings by 20 or 30 years.”

The Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, a self-described “alt-right” nonprofit educational group, says it’s offering legal assistance to students caught hanging up posters or flyers containing “hate facts.” The “alt-right” is a fringe movement loosely mixing white nationalism, anti-Semitism and anti-immigration populism.

One of the foundation’s attorneys, Jason Van Dyke, said he represented a student at Southern Methodist University who was accused last year of posting flyers on campus that said, “Why White Women Shouldn’t Date Black Men.” The student wasn’t suspended or expelled, Van Dyke added.

“Just because speech makes someone uncomfortable or offends somebody does not make it a violation of the student code of conduct,” he said.

Scores of schools publicly denounced the violence in Virginia this week, including some that learned they enroll students who attended the “Unite the Right” rally.

The University of Nevada, Reno, said it stands against bigotry and racism but concluded there’s “no constitutional or legal reason” to expel Peter Cvjetanovic, a 20-year-old student and school employee who attended the rally, as an online petition demanded.

Other schools, including Washington State University, condemned the rally but didn’t specifically address their students who attended it.

Campus leaders say they walk a fine line when trying to combat messages from hate groups. Many strive to protect speech even if it’s offensive but also recognize hate speech can make students feel unsafe. Some schools have sought to counter extremist messages with town halls and events promoting diversity. Others try to avoid drawing attention to hate speech.

After flyers promoting white supremacy were posted at Purdue University last school year, Purdue President Mitch Daniels refused to dwell on the incident.

“This is a transparent effort to bait people into overreacting, thereby giving a minuscule fringe group attention it does not deserve, and that we decline to do,” Daniels said in a statement at the time.

Cameron Padgett, a 23-year-old senior at Georgia State University, only dabbled in campus activism before he decided to organize a speaking engagement for Spencer this year. Padgett sued — successfully — for Spencer to speak at Auburn University in April after the school tried to cancel the event.

“My motivation from the beginning was just free speech,” he said.

Padgett calls himself an “identitarian” — not a white nationalist — and insists “advocating for the interests of white people” doesn’t make him a racist. Padgett said he hasn’t faced harassment for working with Spencer and doesn’t fear any.

“There are a lot of people who just sit behind keyboards,” he said. “But what are we doing this for if no one wants to show their face?”

At Boston University, Fuentes says he met a few others with similar views — he considers himself a “white advocate” — but mostly found political kinship online. He hosts his own YouTube show and is prolific on social media, but when he heard about the “Unite the Right” rally, he saw it as a chance to network in the real world.

“It was going from online to actually physically assembling somewhere,” he said. “We shake hands, we look people in the eye. We actually have some solidarity in the movement.”

So, along with a friend from Chicago, Fuentes booked a flight and headed to Virginia.


►  Trump defends Confederate statues, berates his critics

With prominent Republicans openly questioning his competence and moral leadership, Donald Trump burrowed deeper into the racially charged debate over Confederate memorials and lashed out at members of his own party in the latest controversy to engulf his presidency.

Out of sight but still online, Trump tweeted his defense of monuments to Confederate icons — bemoaning rising efforts to remove them as an attack on America’s “history and culture.”

And he berated his critics who, with increasingly sharper language, have denounced his initially slow and then ultimately combative comments on the racial violence at a white supremacist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump was much quicker Thursday to condemn violence in Barcelona, where more than a dozen people were killed when a van veered onto a sidewalk and sped down a busy pedestrian zone in what authorities called a terror attack.

He then added to his expression of support by reviving a debunked legend about a U.S. general subduing Muslim rebels a century ago in the Philippines by shooting them with bullets dipped in pig blood.

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s unpredictable, defiant and, critics claim, racially provocative behavior has clearly begun to wear on his Republican allies — and also has upset the mother of Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in the Charlottesville violence.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that she initially missed the first few calls to her from the White House. But she said “now I will not” talk to the president after a news conference in which Trump equated violence by white supremacists at the rally with violence by those protesting the rally.

Heyer was killed when a driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators protesting the white nationalists.

Trump found no comfort in his own party, either. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, whom Trump had considered for a Cabinet post, declared Thursday that “the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to” in dealing with crises. And Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska tweeted, “Anything less than complete & unambiguous condemnation of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK by the @POTUS is unacceptable. Period.”

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said Trump’s “moral authority is compromised.”

Trump, who is known to try to change the focus of news coverage with an attention-grabbing declaration, sought to shift Thursday from the white supremacists to the future of statues.

“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it,” he tweeted. “Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish. ...

“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” he tweeted.

Trump met separately Thursday at his golf club in nearby Bedminster with the administrator of the Small Business Administration and Florida Governor Rick Scott. Trump also prepared for an unusual meeting Friday at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland with his national security team to discuss strategy for South Asia, including India, Pakistan and the way forward in Afghanistan.

Mike Pence cut short a long-planned Latin America tour to attend.

Before the trip to Camp David, Trump tweeted Friday morning that “Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary!” In a separate tweet, he added that the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement are “on alert & closely watching for any sign of trouble.”

Though out of public view for two consecutive days, Trump sought to make his voice heard on Twitter as he found himself increasingly under siege and alone while fanning the controversy over race and politics toward a full-fledged national conflagration.

He dissolved two business councils Wednesday after the CEO members began quitting, damaging his central campaign promise to be a business-savvy chief executive in the Oval Office.

And the White House said Thursday that it was abandoning plans to form an infrastructure advisory council.

Two major charities, the Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society, announced they are canceling fundraisers scheduled for Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida, amid the continuing backlash over Trump’s remarks.

And the CEO of 21st Century Fox, James Murdoch, has denounced racism and terrorists while expressing concern over Trump’s statements.

Murdoch writes that the event in Charlottesville and Trump’s response is a concern for all people. “I can’t believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists.”

Murdoch is the son of the company’s co-executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch, a Trump confidant.

Meanwhile, rumblings of discontent from Trump’s staff grew so loud that the White House was forced to release a statement saying that Trump’s chief economic adviser wasn’t quitting. And the president remained on the receiving end of bipartisan criticism for his handling of the aftermath of the Charlottesville clashes.

On Thursday, he hit back hard — against Republicans.

He accused “publicity-seeking” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina of falsely stating Trump’s position on the demonstrators. He called Arizona Senator Jeff Flake “toxic” and praised Flake’s potential primary election opponent.

Graham said Wednesday that Trump “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency” between the marching white supremacists and the people who had been demonstrating against them. Flake has been increasingly critical of Trump in recent weeks.


►  Why hate came to the progressive island of Charlottesville

The white nationalists behind last weekend’s violent rally found an appealing target in the historic town where Thomas Jefferson founded a university and an outspoken, progressive mayor declared his city the “capital of the resistance” to Donald Trump.

For more than a year, the Charlottesville government has also been engaged in contentious public soul searching over its Confederate monuments, a process that led to the decision to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee. All those factors made this community a symbolically powerful backdrop for what’s considered the largest white nationalist gathering in at least a decade.

“We are a progressive, tolerant city. We are also a Southern city,” Mayor Mike Signer said. About a year and a half ago, Charlottesville “decided to launch on the difficult but essential work of finally telling the truth about race. That made us a target for tons of people who don’t want to change the narrative.”

On the eve of Saturday’s rally, hundreds of white men marched through the University of Virginia campus, holding torches and chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. The next morning, many looked like they were dressed for war as they made their way to Emancipation Park.

They clashed with counter-protesters in a stunning display of violence before authorities forced the crowd to disperse. Later, a car plowed into a crowd of demonstrators, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

With a population of around 47,000, Charlottesville is a progressive island in a conservative part of Virginia.

The funky, cosmopolitan town is nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for being home to Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello, and the place where the Dave Matthews Band got its start.

The heart of its downtown is an open-air pedestrian mall lined with restaurants, bars and quirky boutiques. Tourists flock to Charlottesville not only for the history and culture but also to visit the wineries that dot the countryside just outside of town.

Charlottesville was easily overwhelmed by the numbers that showed up Saturday, said Ed Ayers, a leading Civil War scholar who taught at UVA for decades before moving to Richmond.

Despite Virginia’s bloody part in the Civil War, Ayers said, the Lee statue does not have a significant historical connection to Charlottesville. The city “did not play a central role in the war at all, he explained, and the statue was not erected until the 1920s, when Jim Crow laws were eroding the rights of black citizens.

Charlottesville was just “a very clear symbol they could go to and have a protest,” Ayers said.

The city is proud of Jefferson’s university, a prestigious school with graduates that include prominent figures such as Robert F. Kennedy. But UVA is also a school largely built by slaves and where professors had ideological connections to the resistance movement that followed the Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation decision.

The university did not admit black students until 1950. Last year, figures provided by the school show only 6 percent of students were black.

White nationalist leader Richard Spencer — a UVA grad who was one of the most high-profile speakers lined up for the rally — echoed Ayers’ perspective. He said that the Confederate monuments are a metaphor for something “much bigger,” referring to “white dispossession and the de-legitimization of white people in this country and around the world.”

Saturday was not Spencer’s first demonstration in Charlottesville. In May, he was among another torch-wielding group that rallied around the statue at night, chanting, “You will not replace us.” Later that month, local right-wing blogger and UVA graduate Jason Kessler applied for the permit for Saturday’s event.

Then, in July, about 50 Ku Klux Klan members rallied at the statue, where they were met by more than 1,000 protesters. That, too, made national news.

Oren Segal, director of Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said hate groups are eager to exploit media attention.

“When they saw a built-in opportunity to build off the other two rallies, it was clear they decided, ‘This is the place. We’re going to get more attention here,’” he said.

Virginia’s closely watched governor’s race, one of only two in the nation this year, also helped draw attention.

Republican Corey Stewart successfully made the statue’s proposed removal a key talking point in the GOP primary, which he almost won despite being an underdog.

Stewart, a one-time state chairman of Trump’s campaign, made several campaign stops in Charlottesville. At least one public appearance was with Kessler.

Katie Straight, who stood outside the downtown theater Wednesday where a memorial service for Heyer took place, agreed that the city’s “democratic” discussion about what to do with the statues had contributed to the scope of what happened Saturday.

“I also think that you have a group of angry people in this country who are looking for a place to physically terrorize those who might challenge their legacy of power,” Straight said. “And Charlottesville, in this historic moment, happens to be that place. I hope and pray it’s the last place, but I don’t think it will be.”


►  Ohio man who plotted attacks on U.S. military to be sentenced

An Ohio man who admitted he plotted to kill military members in the U.S. after receiving training in Syria is scheduled to be sentenced.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud (ab-dee-RAH’-mahn shayk moh-HAH’-mud) is set to be sentenced Friday morning in federal court in Columbus.

Mohamud’s attorney argues a lengthy prison term isn’t necessary.

Attorney Sam Shamansky says the 25-year-old Mohamud recruited others when he returned home before recognizing “the immoral and illegal nature of terrorist ideology.”

Court documents unsealed earlier this summer show Mohamud pleaded guilty almost two years ago to terrorism charges.

Government prosecutors want a judge to impose a 23-year sentence. They say Mohamud tried to cover up dangerous terrorist activity.


►  Mother of slain protester says she won’t talk to Trump

The mother of a woman who was killed while protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said Friday that she won’t talk to Donald Trump because of comments he made after her daughter’s death.

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Susan Bro said she initially missed the first few calls to her from the White House. But she said “now I will not” talk to the president after a news conference in which Trump equated violence by white supremacists at the rally with violence by those protesting the rally.

Bro’s daughter, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed and 19 others were injured when a driver rammed a car into a crowd of demonstrators last Saturday. An Ohio man, James Alex Fields Jr., has been arrested and charged with murder and other offenses.

In the hours afterward, Trump drew criticism when he addressed the violence in broad strokes, saying he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

Pressured by advisers, the president had softened his words on the dispute Monday, but returned to his combative stance Tuesday — insisting during an unexpected and contentious news conference at Trump Tower that “both sides” were to blame.

“You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying ‘I’m sorry,’” Bro said of the president. She also advised Trump to “think before you speak.”


►  Maryland removes Dred Scott ruling author’s statue

A statue of the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African Americans was removed from the grounds of the Maryland State House early Friday.

The statue of Roger B. Taney was lifted away by a crane at about 2 a.m. It was lowered into a truck and driven away to storage.

The bronze statue was erected in 1872, just outside the original front door of the State House.

Three of the four voting members of the State House Trust voted by email Wednesday to move the statue. House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat who was one of the three who voted to remove it, wrote this week that the statue “doesn’t belong” on the grounds.

His comments came after the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, with clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters. A woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people who were there to condemn the white nationalists, who had rallied against Charlottesville officials’ decision to remove a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, said this week that removing the statue of Taney in Annapolis was “the right thing to do.” Republican Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford voted on behalf of the administration to remove the statue.

One member of the trust, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, criticized holding the vote without a public meeting.

“This was certainly a matter of such consequence that the transparency of a public meeting and public conversation should have occurred,” Miller, a Democrat, wrote in a letter Thursday to Hogan.

While the statue’s removal was not publicized, a couple dozen onlookers watched as workers started the removal process shortly after midnight Thursday. Some witnesses cheered as the statue was lifted from its pedestal.

The statue was removed two days after Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal of four monuments from her city under the cover of night, including another statue of Taney.

Taney was born in Maryland and practiced law in Frederick before becoming the nation’s fifth chief justice. Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, were slaves who sued for their freedom after they were taken from the slave state of Missouri into territory where slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise.

This year marked the 160th anniversary of the 1857 decision. In March, a family member of Taney’s apologized to the Scott family in front of the statue that was removed Friday. Charles Taney IV of Greenwich, Connecticut, apologized to the Scotts and all African Americans for the “terrible injustice of the Dred Scott decision.” Lynne Jackson, a great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott, accepted the apology for her family and “all African Americans who have the love of God in their heart, so that healing can begin.”

With all that is going on in the world, from terrorist attacks in Spain, to police being shot in FL and PA, to the Gilmer County cover up, CNN, PMSNBC and the GFP continue with the Charlottesville VA story.

Comment by Silent Majority  on  08.19.2017
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