FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
January 12, 2016

Residents of the New York village of Whitesboro voted Monday to keep their town seal, which depicts a white man strangling a Native American, The New York Daily News reports. The seal dates back to the late 1800s and shows the town's founder, Hugh White, "subduing" a Native American man. The seal first came under scrutiny last summer following nationwide controversy over the confederate flag. Proposed replacements for Whitesboro's seal included a depiction of White and the Native American shaking hands.

While the ballot was not legally binding, 157 of the 212 votes cast supported keeping the seal; notably, in the most recent census, 99.5 percent of Whitesboro residents identified themselves as white.

"Political correctness, who cares? This is our village, who cares what the world thinks? I want to see this settled today, once and for all," Whitesboro resident Scott Hastings told WKTV News. Speaking to the same station, voter Herb Lamach said, "We know the Indian and the white man wrestling together. We know they both appreciated it and enjoyed it. It was a good thing. So all of this other talk is just that, talk." The mayor of Whitesboro, Patrick O'Connor, has also reportedly called the emblem "a very accurate depiction of friendly wrestling matches that took place back in those days."

Others don't exactly see it that way. "The first thought that anyone has of this image is, 'There's some white guy killing an Indian, strangling an Indian,' director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council Cliff Matias said in July. "It's utterly ridiculous that a town would have pride in a symbol like that in this day and age." Jeva Lange

8:20 a.m. ET
Alexander Scheuber/Getty Images

Congressional Democrats have leveled criticism at former President Obama following The Washington Post's Friday publication of a comprehensive report detailing the Obama administration's reactions to mounting evidence of Russian election meddling in 2016.

Obama's response "was inadequate," said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). "I think [the administration] could have done a better job informing the American people of the extent of the attack." Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee with Swalwell, said the penalties the Obama team imposed on Russia were "barely a slap on the wrist."

Of course, President Trump has also castigated his predecessor over the report. "Just out," he tweeted Friday night. "The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?"

For a quick take on what has everyone so worked up, read The Week's summary of the Post report's major revelations here. Bonnie Kristian

June 23, 2017
iStock

A Pennsylvania high school valedictorian had his microphone cut off in the middle of his speech when he began criticizing the school's "authoritative nature." Peter Butera received a standing ovation from fellow students when the principal ordered him off the stage for saying that administrators suppressed student expression. "Cutting the microphone," Butera said, "proved my point to be true." The Week Staff

June 23, 2017
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

At a dinner during the SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference last month, former Vice President Joe Biden reportedly ripped into financier Bill Ackman in a way that only Biden can. The scuffle between Biden and the man known for his losing bets on Herbalife stock apparently started after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) asked Biden why he didn't run for president in 2016, Fox Business reported:

Biden explained that part of the decision stemmed from the death of his son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. The room grew quiet as Biden became emotional, and said: "I'm sorry ... I've said enough."

That's when Ackman blurted out, "Why? That's never stopped you before."

The formal, and understated, dinner conversation suddenly turned tense, according three people who were present and confirmed both the substance and the wording of Biden's responses.

Biden, these people say, turned to someone seated near him, and asked, "Who is this asshole?," a reference to Ackman.

Then he turned directly to Ackman and stated: "Look, I don't know who you are, wiseass, but never disrespect the memory of my dead son!" these people say.

Ackman attempted what was described as an apology, to which Biden said, "Just shut the hell up." [Fox Business]

Attendees — including talk show host Steve Harvey, 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan, and former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou — were apparently "stunned" by the exchange. "Biden was in rare form," a person with "direct knowledge" of the incident told Fox Business.

Biden's spokeswoman declined to comment, though she did not deny the incident. Ackman's spokesman denied there was an argument between Biden and Ackman, though he did not dispute the words that were reportedly exchanged. Becca Stanek

June 23, 2017

CNN has a new weapon in the ongoing war between the media and the White House: a court room sketch artist.

On Friday, the press was banned from bringing cameras into the daily briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, so CNN sent its sketch artist, Bill Hennessy, to illustrate the scene. "Some conservative media voices dismissed it as a stunt," CNN writes, "but CNN argued that the sketch session did serve a journalistic purpose, in the same way that courtroom sketches do. CNN equated the briefing to a Supreme Court argument — an on-the-record event at which cameras are banned."

The White House hasn't been clear about why it is increasingly banning cameras from the briefings — Spicer said it's because he doesn't want reporters using the briefings to become YouTube stars (?), while White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon alleged it's because Spicer "got fatter" (??).

While you won't get to enjoy any of Spicer's signature irritation or moans of "Seaaaaan" from the reporters, this will have to do. Jeva Lange

June 23, 2017
iStock

A Pennsylvania radio host resigned after his bosses ordered him to stop criticizing President Trump. WTPA's Bruce Bond said his general manager told him "it is not permissible on WTPA airwaves to talk disrespectfully of the president," and that angry listeners had threatened "advertiser boycotts." Bond chose to quit, saying he couldn't "walk on eggshells" every time politics or Trump came up. The Week Staff

June 23, 2017
David Calvert/Getty Images

On Friday, a fifth Republican came out against the Senate's version of the GOP health-care bill. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said that "in this form," he would "not support" the Senate plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. "There isn't anything in this bill that would lower premiums," Heller said, calling claims otherwise a "lie."

Four other Republicans — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Ron Johnson (Wis.) — announced they would not support the bill shortly after it was unveiled Thursday. The bill, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," proposes slashing Medicaid, eliminates ObamaCare's individual mandate, and allows states to waive some previously required benefits.

The GOP can only withstand two defections and still pass the bill. A vote is expected next week. Becca Stanek

June 23, 2017
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that it is expanding its probe into Russia's influence over the 2016 election to include an investigation of the firing of FBI Director James Comey and, by extension, former President Barack Obama's attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and her "alleged political interference," CBS News reports.

The committee is interested in a New York Times article from April that cited a hacked Russian intelligence memo that quoted a Democratic operative as "express[ing] confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the [investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server] from going too far." Many U.S. intelligence officials, including the FBI, believe the memo is unreliable or an outright fake.

"Still, the document, according to The Washington Post, factored into then-FBI Director James Comey's controversial decision to publicly announce the end of the Clinton email investigation — without discussing it in advance with Lynch," CBS News writes. And in his letter to President Trump recommending the firing of Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote that Comey "was wrong to usurp [Lynch's] authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement."

The Senate Judiciary Committee letter announcing the new probe was signed by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as well as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads