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President Trump signed an executive order on Friday to denounce protesters that have vandalized Civil War and World War II monuments, although most statues that have been torn down in recent weeks have been symbols of the Confederacy.

The big picture: Black Lives Matter protests against police violence and racism have exacerbated a long-standing debate about the place for and relevancy of Confederate-era monuments and iconography.

Driving the news: At least 29 Confederate monuments have been yanked down or removed by protesters and state or city officials since Memorial Day, according to the Washington Post.

  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the state will get rid of the famous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.
  • City officials in Mobile, Alabama, removed the statue of Confederate Adm. Raphael Semmes, Mayor Sandy Stimpson tweeted.
  • In Boston, protester vandalized the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial earlier this month. The monument is dedicated to Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War, as Trump's executive order points out.
  • In San Francisco, a statue of former President Ulysses S. Grant, a Union general, was toppled last week, which the executive order references. Grant was the last U.S. president to own a slave.
  • The U.S. Navy and Marines, as well as corporations and organizations like Walmart, the NCAA and NASCAR, have all issued policies this month to ban Confederate symbols on their properties, in response to protests.
  • A spokesperson for Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said he's open to a "bipartisan discussion" about renaming the military bases and facilities that are named after Confederate leaders, including Fort Bragg and Fort Benning.

Details: The executive order stresses that, under the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act, defacing monuments that commemorate the service of anyone in the U.S. armed forces can be imprisoned for at least 10 years and fined.

What he's saying:

"They’re tearing down statues, desecrating monuments, and purging dissenters. It’s not the behavior of a peaceful political movement; it’s the behavior of totalitarians and tyrants and people that don’t love our country."
— Trump said in a statement on Friday

Go deeper: Trump says he will "not even consider" renaming bases named for Confederate leaders

Go deeper

VA secretary defends Trump's McCain war hero attacks as "heat of a campaign"

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie defended then-candidate Donald Trump's 2015 comments disparaging John McCain's service in the Vietnam War, telling CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the comments were made "in the heat of the campaign."

Flashback: Trump publicly rejected the notion that McCain, who was held as a prisoner of war for more than five years while serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War, was a war hero. “He’s not a war hero," Trump said. "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured."

8 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

11 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.