President Donald Trump has denounced the removal of “beautiful” Confederate statues amid a heated national debate about US race relations.
He tweeted: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”
“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it,” the president continued.
President Trump drew outrage by defending organizers of a white supremacist rally that left one person dead and dozens hurt.
The rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, supported by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, was in protest of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a general who had fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the Civil War.
The protest turned deadly when a driver ploughed into a crowd of counter protesters, inflicting fatal injuries on Heather Heyer.
In a series of tweets on August 17, President Trump said: “Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”
“The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”
The recent removal of controversial statues, including some to leaders of the pro-slavery rebellion defeated in the US Civil War, has been the latest flashpoint in racial tensions across the country.
Critics say monuments to the Confederacy are racially offensive, but supporters say they are important symbols preserving Southern heritage.
On August 17, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, a Republican, said that taking down Confederate statues is “just like” removing a monument to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
However, relatives of Stonewall Jackson, a Confederate leader President Trump mentioned in his tweets, wrote an open letter to the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, urging him to remove the statue of their great-great-grandfather and all other Confederate statues in town.
Jack and Warren Christian, Stonewall Jackson’s great-great-sons, said removing the statues would “further difficult conversations about racial justice”.
“While we are not ashamed of our great-great-grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer,” the pair wrote.
“We are ashamed of the monument.”
Robert E. Lee V, the great-great-grandson of the famous Confederate general, also issued a statement condemning the violence in the wake of the statue removals.
Donald Trump’s comments came after a week of turmoil over his response to the violent clashes in Charlottesville.
The president was criticized for blaming both sides for the violence, but belatedly condemned the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups on August 14.
During a heated news conference on August 15, President Trump backtracked and again blamed left-wing counter-protesters for the incident, too.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the upper chamber, said in an interview with Vice News that President Trump’s “moral authority” had been “compromised”.
“I’m not going to defend the indefensible… [Donald Trump’s] comments on Monday were strong. His comments on Tuesday started erasing the comments that were strong,” Senator Scott said.
“What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised.”
The Confederate flag seen today on houses, bumper stickers and T-shirts – sometimes accompanied by the words “If this shirt offends you, you need a history lesson” – is not, and never was, the official national flag of the Confederacy.
The design by William Porcher Miles, who chaired the flag committee, was rejected as the national flag in 1861, overlooked in favor of the Stars and Bars.
The Confederate was instead adopted as a square battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee, the greatest military force of the Confederacy.
It fast became a potent symbol of Confederate nationalism.
The saltire – or diagonal cross – on the battle flag is believed to have been inspired by its heraldic connections, not any Scottish ones.
Since the end of the American Civil War, private and official use of the Confederacy’s flags, and of flags with derivative designs, has continued under philosophical, political, cultural, and racial controversy in the US. These include flags displayed in states, cities/towns/counties, schools/colleges/universities, private organizations/associations, and by individuals.
Django Unchained has reopened in cinemas in China, a month after it was pulled for “technical reasons”.
A manager at a UME Cineplex cinema in Beijing said: “The new version is one minute shorter than the previous one.”
He speculated that a nude scene may have been cut.
Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning film’s cancellation in April led to speculation that it did not meet censorship regulations required by cultural authorities.
Django Unchained stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a plantation owner and Jamie Foxx as a freed slave who trains to become a bounty hunter and demands his wife’s freedom before the US Civil War.
Django Unchained has reopened in cinemas in China, a month after it was pulled for technical reasons
Distributor Sony Pictures said Quentin Tarantino had agreed to “slight adjustments” to reduce the violence prior to its initial release in China last month.
Sony Pictures executive Zhang Miao said the changes to the film included “tuning the blood to a darker colour” and “lowering the height of the splatter of blood” in an interview with China’s Southern Metropolis Daily.
Django Unchained, the first of Quentin Tarantino’s to be released in China, had been cleared by the country’s rigorous censors, who generally remove violence, sex and politically edgy content.
Earlier this year, some Chinese cinema-goers were left confused because of cuts to the James Bond film Skyfall that included unflattering references to the sex trade in the Chinese territory of Macau.
Meanwhile, Cloud Atlas with Tom Hanks was shown in Chinese cinemas without 38 minutes of footage that included gay and straight love scenes.
More than 100,000 Americans have petitioned the White House to allow their states to secede from the US, after President Barack Obama’s re-election.
The appeals were filed on the White House’s We the People website.
Most of the 20 states with petitions voted for Republican Mitt Romney.
The US constitution contains no provisions for states to secede from the union. By Monday night the White House had not responded.
In total, more than 20 petitions have been filed. One for Texas has reached the 25,000-signature threshold at which the White House promises a response.
The last time states officially seceded, the US Civil War followed.
More than 100,000 Americans have petitioned the White House to allow their states to secede from the US, after President Barack Obama’s re-election
Most of the petitions merely quote the opening line of America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain, in which America’s founders stated their right to “dissolve the political bands” and form a new nation.
Currently, the most popular petition is from Texas, which voted for Mitt Romney by some 15 percentage points more than it did for the Democratic incumbent.
The text complains of “blatant abuses” of Americans’ rights.
It cites the Transportation Security Administration, whose staff has been accused of intrusive screening at airports.