Mapmakers are proposing new districts for most members of the North Carolina House, a move forced after federal judges ruled state Republicans illegally gave too much emphasis to race in the current version of legislative voting lines.

President Trump will skip the annual Kennedy Center Honors this year to allow the "artists to celebrate without any political distraction," the White House said Saturday.

Three of the five artists set to be honored had either expressed a specific intent to boycott the traditional White House reception before the event or were said to be considering it.

Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

A small number of right-wing "Free Speech Rally" demonstrators disbanded early from Boston Common after they were confronted by thousands of counterprotesters shouting anti-Nazi and anti-KKK slogans.

Deborah Becker, a reporter with member station WBUR in Boston, said that "a few dozen" rally attendees were escorted from Parkman Bandstand by police and placed into police vehicles "for their own safety."

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was removed from the entrance to Duke University Chapel early Saturday by order of the university president who said in a letter that the move was not only a safety measure but also meant to express the "abiding values" of the school.

The decision to remove the statue from the Durham, N.C., campus, comes after it was defaced on Wednesday and follows violent clashes last week in Charlottesville, Va., between right-wing extremists and counterprotesters over plans to remove another statue of Lee.

Before any hard battle, it's common to seek a little spiritual guidance.

In preparation for the coming fight this fall to overhaul the entire federal tax code, a group of House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee traveled this week to Rancho del Cielo — the ranch of former President Ronald Reagan, outside Santa Barbara, Calif.

The ranch is where Reagan signed one of his major tax cuts into law, and the GOP is working this month to capture some of that Reagan-era magic to deliver a modern tax bill of its own.

There is a telling photo that has gotten some attention in social media after Steve Bannon's exit as President Trump's chief strategist. (You can see it above.)

It shows President Trump behind the desk in the Oval Office, surrounded by his top advisers: Seated are Vice President Pence and national security adviser Mike Flynn; standing, from left to right, are chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer.

That was Jan. 28, eight days after Trump was inaugurated.

Today, only Pence remains.

On Friday, three well-known charities — the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen — announced they are canceling plans for fundraising events at President Trump's Palm Beach country club, Mar-a-Lago.

The three joined a growing list of nonprofits that have severed ties with the exclusive, Trump-owned resort. Others include the Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society.

Visitcherokeenc.com

With the Great American Eclipse right around the corner, the small towns of Western North Carolina set to fall directly in its path are  busy with last minute preparations before the big event. But for the town of Cherokee, the celestial spectacle is more than just another tourist event.  BPR’s Davin Eldridge met with organizers there to find out what’s in store for the reservation…

Updated August 19.

President Trump's belated and halfhearted denunciation of the hate groups that marched in Charlottesville, Virginia., has cost him the support of numerous business leaders and fellow Republicans and prompted at least a half-dozen nonprofit organizations to cancel planned fundraising events at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Updated 5:13 p.m., August 18, 2017

Several thousand people marched in downtown Durham in a demonstration against racism on Friday afternoon.

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Arts & Performance

Blue Ridge Public Radio continues to invest in the development of local programming and content with the hiring of Matt Peiken as the NPR station’s first Arts Producer.

Peiken, whose entire journalism career has concentrated in covering arts and culture, will produce segments for Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and will develop a range of digital elements for BPR’s web and mobile platforms. He’ll also lay the groundwork for a new, weekly arts and performance showcase for BPR.

WCQS

It's a bittersweet day here at Blue Ridge Public Radio.  Thirty one years ago this month, music director Dick Kowal hit the airwaves.   Today, he hosted his last show.   While it's  impossible to capture all of the amazing accomplishments of his talented career, we do have some highlights, and a few good stories.  BPR's Helen Chickering reports.

(Dick Kowal on the air)

“It’s about 6 minutes after 9, good morning.”

If you live in Western North Carolina, chances are, you know this voice.

(Dick Kowal on the air)