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July 2, 2014
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Beijing has banned Xinjiang officials and schools from participating in Ramadan fasting and religious activities.

Students, teachers, and civil servants in the Xinjiang province, which is predominantly populated by Muslim Uighurs, are barred from participating in the Muslim holy month, reports the South China Morning Post.

Similar restrictions by the ruling Communist party — which is officially atheist — have occurred in recent years, but this year has seen a greater number of terror attacks across China, with critics calling for Beijing to expand religious freedoms. In the past, Beijing has claimed the restrictions are enforced to preserve government employees' health.

"We remind everyone that they are not permitted to observe a Ramadan fast," the state-run Bozhou Radio and TV University said on its website. Other government agencies' websites reported similar statements. The South China Morning Post also reports that authorities inspected Uighur homes to ensure the fast was not being observed. Meghan DeMaria

11:11 a.m. ET

President Trump argued Thursday in favor of the beauty of parks with Confederate monuments (needless to say, a questionable perspective), tweeting that "you can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!"

Despite Trump's claims that "you can't change history," a short trip down memory lane lands us at that one time Trump erected a monument at his golf course in honor of a completely made up Civil War battle:

Even though there's a monument and plaque commemorating "casualties [that] were so great the water would turn red and thus became known as 'The River of Blood'" [at Trump's National Golf Club on Lowes Island in Sterling, Virginia], all the local historians reached by The New York Times denied anything of the sort ever happened in the area.

"No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there," Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, the region's historical preservation group, said. Alana Blumenthal, who curates the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg, agreed there had never been a battle at or near the site, as did another expert who chose not to be named.

When told about the historians' denial of the so-called River of Blood massacre, Trump replied, "How would they know that? Were they there?" [The Week]

Trump told the Times that "if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot — a lot of them," which unfortunately isn't how history works. Read the full story at The New York Times, and check out the inscription on Trump's statue below. Jeva Lange

11:07 a.m. ET

When 84-year-old Mary Grams lost her engagement ring while she was pulling a weed on her Alberta farm in 2004, she never expected to find it. But then, 13 years later, she found it in the most unexpected of places: wrapped around a carrot plucked from her garden.

Grams' daughter-in-law Colleen Daley dug it up while she was digging carrots for dinner. Daley said she immediately knew it must belong to "to either grandma or my mother-in-law because no other women have lived on that farm" that's been in the family for 105 years.

Grams had tried to keep her lost ring a secret over the years, even going so far as to buy a similar ring in the hopes her husband wouldn't notice (he didn't). But Grams certainly felt the loss, as she'd been wearing the ring since her husband proposed to her in 1951.

Now, five years after her husband's death, she finally has her engagement ring back. "It fit," Grams said. "After that many years it fits." Becca Stanek

10:31 a.m. ET

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) isn't buying chief strategist Stephen Bannon's excuse for the interview he gave Tuesday, in which he dished on his beef with colleagues, contradicted President Trump's stance on North Korea, and claimed that Trump officials are so nervous about changing trade policy they're "wetting themselves." The media-savvy former Breitbart editor has claimed that he thought the interview with progressive publication, The American Prospect, was off the record.

"Oh, baloney. Steve Bannon is a professional," Gingrich said in a Thursday appearance on Fox & Friends, struggling to figure out what Bannon was trying to accomplish with this interview. "Maybe, if you're senior White House adviser, it's useful not to screw it up. ... If you're senior White House adviser, you make your argument in the Oval Office, you make your argument in the chief of staff's office," Gingrich said.

In a final zinger, Gingrich brought up former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who went rogue in an interview with The New Yorker by offering some lewd remarks about Bannon. “This reminds me of Scaramucci," Gingrich said of Bannon's inteview. "You don't go off and do this stuff."

Bannon's interviewer at The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner, said that Bannon never asked for their conversation to be off the record. Watch Gingrich's commentary below, starting around the 6:12 mark, and read Bannon's "accidentally" on the record interview at The American Prospect. Becca Stanek

10:11 a.m. ET

It has been a rough week for President Trump. Not one of the 52 Republican senators was willing to talk to NPR's Morning Edition about Trump's handling of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Fox News anchor Shep Smith admitted to striking out when searching for a member of the GOP who'd be willing to defend the president on air.

Art of the Deal co-author Tony Schwartz predicts this is the beginning of the end for Trump, The Huffington Post reports. "Trump's presidency is effectively over," Schwartz tweeted Wednesday:

Schwartz predicted in May that Trump "wants to figure out a way — as he's done all his career — to turn a loss into a victory." Jeva Lange

9:44 a.m. ET
Chris Kleponis/Getty Images

In another stark statement Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reminded President Trump that "history is watching us all."

Graham first acknowledged that "like most," he wants to move the country "forward — toward the light — not back to the darkness." He also noted that Trump's tweet honoring Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday after a white supremacist demonstrator drove a car through a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, was "very nice and appropriate."

However, Graham continued, Trump's comments in the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville are extraordinarily problematic. "[B]ecause of the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy, you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country," Graham said. "For the sake of our nation — as our president — please fix this."

Hours before Graham released his statement, Trump attacked him in a series of tweets. Trump took issue with a previous statement by Graham saying that Trump, by arguing "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, was suggesting there is "moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer."

"Such a disgusting lie," Trump tweeted. "He just can't forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember!" Becca Stanek

9:37 a.m. ET

During his combative press conference Tuesday, President Trump was asked if statues of Robert E. Lee should stay up. "I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government depending on where it is located," Trump answered.

By Thursday, though, Trump had shared more of his thoughts about the removal of statues:

Trump hasn't always had such an appreciation for sculpture, Mother Jones points out. As Harry Hurt III writes in his book Lost Tycoon, Trump once ordered demolition workers to destroy two historic Art Deco friezes coveted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to expedite the construction of Trump Tower. Jeva Lange

9:10 a.m. ET

As America remains gripped by the violent protests that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, "tens of millions" of people have tuned into a 22-minute Vice documentary to learn more about what's happened, CNN reports.

The overwhelming success of "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" is a major win for HBO's Vice News Tonight, which launched in October as "an immersive alternative to traditional broadcast and cable nightly newscasts," CNN writes. HBO allowed the documentary to be shared on YouTube, extending the reach of the program. It reached around 500,000 people on HBO when it aired Monday and to date has earned another 3 million views on YouTube and 25 million views on Facebook. Excerpts of the program were also aired on networks like CNN and NBC.

"I knew we had something pretty unique and pretty horrifying," said the program's executive producer, Josh Tyrangiel. Watch below. Jeva Lange

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