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June 3, 2014

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst has easily won the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, positively thumping a wide-open field of several fellow GOP contenders — indeed, you could say she really made them squeal.

With 36 percent of precincts now reporting, Ernst has a whopping 54 percent of the vote, followed by her closest rival, talk radio host Sam Clovis, at only 18 percent; The Associated Press has projected Ernst as the winner of the primary. She will now face the Democratic nominee, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. A recent poll gave Braley a lead of 6 points, but the race remains very competitive.

Ernst has had some interesting TV ads, a few of which have become viral sensations online — such as one where she fired a gun at a shooting range, asking GOP voters to "give me a shot" at ObamaCare.

But by far, her most famous spot was her first TV ad, in which she boasted of her ability "to cut pork" in Washington — thanks to her experience at castrating squealing hogs. --Eric Kleefeld

11:10 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon expressed little optimism for a united, productive GOP in the near future while speaking to The Washington Post for an article published Saturday evening.

"If the Republican Party on Capitol Hill gets behind the president on his plans and not theirs, it will all be sweetness and light, be one big happy family," Bannon told the Post, adding that this is not an outcome he expects in the foreseeable future, because no "administration in history has been so divided among itself about the direction about where it should go."

That assessment contributed to the Post's conclusion that Bannon's exit to resume his erstwhile position at Breitbart News will not end the Trump White House's internal division and apparently endless controversy. (Read The Week's Ryan Cooper on why Bannon's departure won't change much here.)

"I think it raises the morale of staffers and brings more of a sense of normalcy to the White House on a day-to-day basis," said an unnamed Republican strategist with access to the administration. "What it does not do is remove the person who's creating the most drama in the White House, and that's Donald Trump."

What Bannon will do at Breitbart remains to be seen. Some of his post-firing remarks and comments from those near him suggest he will use the outlet to attack the Trump administration, or at least figures within it who oppose his "economic nationalist" agenda. However, Bannon himself told Bloomberg News he is "going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America." Bonnie Kristian

9:32 a.m. ET
AFP/Getty Images

A train derailment in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Saturday evening killed at least 23 people and injured 120 more, local authorities reported, and the death toll is expected to continue to rise as search and rescue efforts proceed.

"Twelve coaches of the train derailed, with some crashing into a residential area nearby, damaging a few houses," said a statement from Arvind Kumar, the Uttar Pradesh home secretary. "Passengers in eight other coaches escaped unhurt."

A team from the state's anti-terrorism squad is involved in investigating the crash, which is the fourth large-scale derailment in India this year. Such accidents are tragically common because of poor infrastructure conditions, so the train network is undergoing a $130-billion improvement program. Bonnie Kristian

9:25 a.m. ET

The wreckage of the USS Indianapolis, the American warship used to deliver parts for "Little Boy," the atomic bomb later dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, was discovered after 72 years Saturday.

The World War II heavy cruiser was sunk on July 30, 1945 by a Japanese submarine. It went down in just 12 minutes, too quickly to send a distress signal. About 900 of the 1,197 sailors and Marines on board survived the initial sinking, but only 316 were alive to be rescued several days later, when help arrived.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen led the team that found the wreck. "To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling," Allen said of the discovery. "As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances." 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

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