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April 27, 2014

LeBron James added a new layer to the "greatest player of all time" debate Saturday night when he threw down a vicious breakaway dunk directly in front of Michael Jordan.

The Heat were already pounding the Bobcats, the team Jordan owns, when James stole the ball and sprinted down court. As he went up for the dunk though, James appeared to stare not at the rim, but rather in the direction of the Bobcats' bench and Jordan himself.

After the game, James insisted that he "absolutely" did not stare at Jordan. It's possible he was being coy; there's not much for James to gain by admitting to playing a personal game of one-upmanship. But even if James honestly didn't intend to glare at Jordan, his no-look slam would still be the game's top highlight. Jon Terbush

2:07 p.m. ET

On Friday, America learned that Stephen Bannon is packing up his conspiracy board and leaving the White House for good. Bannon's ousting has been rumored since the spring, with President Trump finally conceding his aide's future was uncertain earlier this week. Even Bannon admitted he'd didn't think he'd last more than eight months in Washington. (He was sworn in seven months ago next Tuesday.)

The former (and perhaps returning) head of Breitbart, Bannon has been vehemently opposed by the left since he was appointed. "Homophobia, misogyny, anti-Muslim fearmongering, fat jokes — no matter who you are, Bannon probably thinks you're inferior," The Huffington Post wrote last month.

Here are some of his most telling comments since entering the White House. Jeva Lange

On the chaos on Charlottesville, Virginia: "Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can't get enough of it." [The New York Times]

On the far right: "Ethno-nationalism — it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more … These guys are a collection of clowns." [The American Prospect]

(Reportedly) on Jared Kushner: A "cuck" and a "globalist" [The Daily Beast]

On his late night conversations with former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus:

"We talk a lot, pretty much all day long," Priebus said. "And then we communicate at night —"

"Until we fall asleep," Bannon interjected with a laugh.

Priebus cut in, "Until somebody falls asleep … You fell asleep last night."

"I did," Bannon said.

"I think, like, a quarter to 11," Priebus added.

"I did," Bannon said.

"He became unresponsive," Priebus laughed. [New York]

On why former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stopped doing televised press conferences: "Sean got fatter." [The Atlantic]

On his to-do list: TAXES

On his hit list: "[Bannon] has told the president to keep a s--- list on this," one official said. "He wants a running tally of [the Republicans] who want to sink this … Not sure if I'd call it an 'enemies list,' per se, but I wouldn't want to be on it." [The Daily Beast]

On conflict in the White House: "I love a gunfight." [Axios]

1:34 p.m. ET

Chief strategist Stephen Bannon was ousted from the White House on Friday, following a series of bizarre interviews this week that raised speculation of his imminent dismissal. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the decision was "mutually agreed" upon by Bannon and Chief of Staff John Kelly.

New York reporter Gabriel Sherman said Bannon is expected to return to Breitbart, the far-right news website he helmed before joining the White House. Not only that, however, but Sherman also reported that Bannon is "ramping up for war" against President Trump now that he's been fired:

Meanwhile, Breitbart editor Joel Pollak added fuel to that fire in a tweet, which you can see below. Kimberly Alters

1:17 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump has decided to fire his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, two administration officials told The New York Times on Friday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Bannon and Chief of Staff John Kelly "have mutually agreed that today would be Steve's last day."

It was initially unclear whether Bannon resigned his post or whether he was fired, though CNN reported Bannon "was offered" the option to resign, implying that if he had declined, he would have been unilaterally fired. The Times reported that contrary to what Trump has told aides, "a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia." Circa reporter Sara Carter said Friday that Bannon told her he resigned from the White House two weeks ago.

The former Breitbart executive chair "may return" to the website, Drudge Report writes. New York's Gabriel Sherman cited a "source close to Bannon" to confirm that Bannon is "expected" to return to the hard-right outlet.

In a series of interviews earlier this week, Bannon broke with the president to say there is "no military solution" to North Korea and he called the far right, who he helped Trump mobilize to win the election, "a collection of clowns." The Week Staff

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout.

1:08 p.m. ET

On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed censuring President Trump over his response to the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. "The president's repulsive defense of white supremacists demands that Congress act to defend our American values," she said in a statement.

Censure is a formal statement of disapproval; it does not mean the public official in question must give up their office although it "would be a formal and historic rebuke from Congress of Trump's remarks," ABC News explains.

Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.) intend to introduce the censure resolution against the president, with 79 co-sponsors, on Friday. The resolution specifically cites Trump's failure to "condemn the 'Unite the Right' rally or cite the white supremacist, neo-Nazi gathering as responsible for actions of domestic terrorism." It also condemns Trump for "surround[ing] himself with, and cultivated the influence of, senior advisors and spokespeople who have long histories of promoting white nationalist, alt-right, racist, and anti-Semitic principles and policies within the country."

"Democrats will use every avenue to challenge the repulsiveness of President Trump's words and actions," Pelosi said. Jeva Lange

12:16 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday elevated the U.S. Cyber Command to become the 10th unified command in the U.S. military, putting it on equal footing with the likes of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Strategic Command. The move is aimed to "strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our nation's defense," Trump said in a statement, per Politico.

Trump added that the promotion will also "help streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of such operations."

Cyber Command will continue to be led by the director of the National Security Agency, Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, although Defense Secretary James Mattis will reportedly consider further separating it from the NSA, with a recommendation expected at a later date, The Washington Post reports.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) responded to the news positively in a statement. "I am pleased with today's announcement elevating U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command," he said. He added that "while we welcome this elevation, there is much more to be done to prepare our nation and our military to meet our cybersecurity challenges." Jeva Lange

11:56 a.m. ET
Mark Lyons/Getty Images

President Trump is headed to Camp David on Friday to discuss national security, joined for his sojourn to Maryland by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Though the topic at hand for the weekend is South Asia strategy, a long-running foreign policy struggle within the Trump administration is what the president will do about the 16-year war in Afghanistan. On Friday, Foreign Policy published a deep dive into Trump's approach to the conflict — including the revelation that Trump personally met with the CEO of a mining company last July about the prospect of harvesting Afghanistan's natural resources:

In his conversation with Michael Silver, the head of American Elements, a firm specializing in the production of advanced metals and chemicals, Trump learned of the enormous wealth buried beneath the Afghan soil: perhaps more than $1 trillion in untapped mineral resources in the form of copper, iron, and rare earth metals.

Trump's interest in the mining plan was first sparked by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who met with Trump in Riyadh in May, according to an administration official. "We are sitting on enormous wealth," Ghani told Trump. “Why aren't the American companies in this instead of China?"

Deeply reluctant to continue a 16-year-old war that has left more than 2,400 Americans dead and cost more than one trillion dollars, the news of Afghanistan's mineral wealth struck a chord with the president. "Trump wants to be repaid," said a source close to the White House. "He's trying to see where the business deal is." [Foreign Policy]

Two unnamed administration officials confirmed the meeting to Foreign Policy, and the prospect of "an incredible economic windfall" apparently has the president considering handing the war off to thousands of private military contractors who could get the job done on the conflict side of things. That's the proposal pitched to Trump by Erik Prince, the founder of private security firm Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, though even Prince admits the idea isn't very popular: "McMaster generally does not like this plan," Prince told Foreign Policy, while Mattis at least seems to be "not hating me."

Read more about the quagmire in Afghanistan and Trump's varied options to solve it at Foreign Policy. Kimberly Alters

10:36 a.m. ET

With the effort to remove Confederate monuments back on the national stage after violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, historian Erin Blakemore took to Twitter to discuss the Jefferson Davis Highway, an effort by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to "memorialize their version of history" in the 1910s and 1920s. While the grand vision of a cross-country superhighway was never realized, the highway was constructed in bits and pieces, leading to many so-called Jefferson Davis Highways that have lasted into the 21st century.

(University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee/Library of Congress)

"Since there was no federal highway system [in the early 1900s], states often relied on public support — sometimes from interest groups — for road [funding]," Blakemore explains. "And the Lincoln Highway — named after the great emancipator — infuriated members of the UDC. They decided to build a Southern analog. Their vision was just as grand. It would stretch from Arlington, Virginia, to San Diego, California, and spread the Lost Cause vision of the South."

Blakemore added: "Imagine how tempting it would have been for a county, city, or state to be presented with ample funding for a highway with the only caveat being that it was named after the man who symbolized the Confederacy and the UDC's vision of heroic white supremacy."

By the 1920s, the government had started numbering highways and it "was not enthused" by the idea of naming one after Jefferson Davis. "But states could do whatever they wanted!" Blakemore writes. "So highways named after Jefferson Davis — and the markers that went along with them — remained. This is how you got memorials to the Confederacy in surprising places like San Diego."

Markers that remain today have become targets after Charlottesville: One monument in Arizona was covered in what was likely tar Thursday. Rep. Reginald Bolding (D-Ariz.) said that while he is working to change the highway's name, "vandalizing these monuments is not productive," 12 News reports.

Read Blakemore's full thread below. Jeva Lange

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