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April 21, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took to Twitter Thursday evening to communicate directly with the proletariat about the endless extravagance of those gaudy rich:

It was a message with just one problem:

The senator from Vermont is indeed the owner of three homes, the most recent of which is a $575,000 lakefront vacation house he bought in August. As Ed Morrissey notes at Hot Air, Twitter might find it easier not to begrudge Sanders his choices were he not actively "selling grudges as part of his professional life." Bonnie Kristian

8:23 a.m. ET
Associated Press

Activist and comedian Dick Gregory died Saturday, his family announced, reportedly following a bacterial infection. He was 84.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Gregory became popular with black and white audiences alike in the 1960s even while offering sharp racial commentary and forthright advocacy of equality. He was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement, joining the 1963 March on Washington and integration protests in the deep South. Gregory reminisced of one such effort in 2003 with characteristic humor:

"We tried to integrate a restaurant, and they said, 'We don't serve colored folk here,' and I said, 'Well, I don't eat colored folk nowhere. Bring me some pork chops.' And then Ku Klux Klan come in, and the woman say, 'We don't have no pork chops,' so I say, 'Well, bring me a whole fried chicken.' And then the Klan walked up to me when they put that whole fried chicken in front of me, and they say, 'Whatever you do to that chicken, boy, we're going to do to you.' So I opened up its legs and kissed it in the rump and tell you all, 'Be my guest.'" [Dick Gregory, via NPR]

Gregory was also outspoken about other political issues, including the Vietnam War, police brutality, sexism, and animal rights, often using hunger strikes as a tool of activism. He is survived by his wife of half a century, Lillian, and 10 children. Bonnie Kristian

8:07 a.m. ET
STR/Getty Images

The North Korean government on Sunday threatened the United States with a "merciless strike" in response to the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises, 10 days of joint drills the United States conducts with the South Korean military each year. While Washington and Seoul maintain the exercises are merely defensive drills, Pyongyang considers them invasion practice, on Sunday labeling the training "reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war."

The statement from the Kim Jong Un regime also promised the North Korean army is "keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies" when "even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted." Though Pyongyang did not elaborate on its definition of "preventive war," the reference was presumably to recent comments from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the Trump administration is keeping military options on the table for halting North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Bonnie Kristian

7:50 a.m. ET

President Trump responded on Twitter Saturday afternoon to the Boston counter-protest against a rally with ties to the white nationalists in Charlottesville. In his first two tweets on the subject, Trump praised Boston police and took a low view of the counter-protest crowd:

Then, later Saturday, he took a more positive view of the counter-protest:

Boston police arrested 33 people at the counter-protest Saturday, which was estimated to have as many as 40,000 people denouncing the "Boston Free Speech" rally, which drew about 20 people. Though a few counter-protesters were arrested for throwing debris at officers, Boston's police commissioner said injury and property damage were minimal because "99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons." Bonnie Kristian

August 19, 2017

The administration of Duke University in North Carolina removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the entryway of its historic campus chapel Saturday morning. The limestone carving was one of 10 figures memorialized near the chapel door; its face was vandalized Wednesday amid controversy over the similar statues honoring Confederate figures that are displayed throughout much of the country, especially in the South.

"I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university," said the university president, Vincent Price, in a statement on the decision. "The removal also represents an opportunity for us to learn and heal."

The statue will not be destroyed, though Price did not say how it would be preserved, only that it would be used to help students "study Duke's complex past and take part in a more inclusive future."

North Carolina's Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has endorsed the removal of Confederate statues on public land in his state; as a private university, however, Duke is neither compelled by that encouragement nor constrained by a 2015 law limiting removal of the monuments. Bonnie Kristian

August 19, 2017
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors, the White House announced Saturday, to "allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction." Also canceled is the White House reception for honorees traditionally held after the ceremony every year since 1978.

Kennedy Center chair David M. Rubenstein and president Deborah F. Rutter received the announcement happily, issuing a statement thanking the administration for "graciously signal[ing] its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensur[ing] the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees," they said, adding, "We are grateful for this gesture."

Before the Trumps' announcement, three of the five artists to be honored — producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie, and dancer Carmen de Lavallade — said they would refuse to attend the ceremony, reception, or both in protest of the president. "In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in," de Lavallade said, "and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House." Bonnie Kristian

August 19, 2017

Thousands of counter-protesters marched in Boston Saturday to demonstrate against an event billed as a celebration of free speech but slammed by critics for ties to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday.

The original demonstration was organized by a group called Boston Free Speech, and its schedule for the day included two speakers with ties to the alt-right, one of whom marched in Charlottesville. Boston Free Speech has since distanced itself from white nationalism, pruning its speaker list and "denounc[ing] the politics of supremacy and violence."

Those changes did not deter counter-protesters — bearing signs condemning Nazism, the KKK, and all varieties of white supremacy — from turning out in vastly larger numbers. Police have been determined to prevent violence among demonstrators; so far, there is one report of a man in a Trump hat being punched in the face.

By 1 p.m. Eastern time, the Boston Free Speech rally ended after attracting about 20 people. Police escorted attendees through the crowd of counter-protesters. See scenes from Boston Common below. Bonnie Kristian

This is a developing story and will be updated as more details become available.

August 19, 2017

President Trump spent Friday at Camp David meeting with defense and diplomatic advisers to discuss a range of topics centrally including the 16-year war in Afghanistan. On Saturday morning, after heading back to his vacation at his golf resort in New Jersey, Trump posted a tweet hinting a decision about the conflict's future had been reached:

What that decision may be remains to be seen. During his campaign, Trump was skeptical that continuing the war would lead to victory or serve American national interests, though he was inconsistent on the question of whether the 2001 invasion was a mistake. He has mulled options, reportedly including everything from withdrawal to sending thousands of additional U.S. troops, for months.

A Friday statement from the White House seemed to indicate that deliberation process was still underway. "The president is studying and considering his options," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at the appropriate time."

The ouster of former chief strategist Stephen Bannon may play into whatever decisions were made Friday; Bannon favored a more restrained approach in Afghanistan while Trump's remaining advisers, most notably National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, are believed to prefer a more activist approach including a troop surge. Bonnie Kristian

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