Immigration Officials Asking About Fourth-Grader Turned Away By NYC School

Two immigration officials were turned away by a Queens elementary school on Thursday after they inquired about a fourth-grader.

News of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials? visit to P.S. 58 in Maspeth first broke over the weekend. On Monday, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited the school to quell concerns from parents and told the press that city schools are a safe place for children.

She echoed that message in a video on Mayor Bill de Blasio?s Twitter account.  

?It?s a pleasure to be here at P.S. 58 today to greet parents as they bring their children to school this morning and to reassure them that the best place for children to be is in their local schools,? Fariña says in the video. ?In our schools we protect our students and our families and want to reassure parents that no information is ever given to any federal agent that is not something that would not go through a special process.?

?An incident that happened here last week is still being investigated,? she continued, ?but we are assuring parents that not only were the agents never allowed beyond the front door, [but] that in the future they will actually be kept out on the sidewalks until something is being investigated at a higher level to tell them how to proceed.?

Fariña also said that administrators and staff at the school would be informed and trained on protocol. The incident comes two months after de Blasio ordered city schools to turn away federal immigration officers if they do not have a warrant signed by a judge.

In a statement to CBS2 on Sunday, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson confirmed that two USCIS officials visited a school in Maspeth, Queens, ?as part of an administrative inquiry pertaining to an immigration benefit request.?

The spokesperson emphasized that the agents were there to ?verify certain facts about the student?s enrollment in relation to a request for an immigration benefit,? and did not ask to see or speak with the child.  

USCIS officials are not the same as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Unlike ICE, USCIS can?t arrest anyone.

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Kourtney Kardashian And Scott Disick Are Never Getting Back Together. Like Ever.

Pour one out for Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, because reality TV?s fourth greatest love story (1. Ronnie and Sammi from ?Jersey Shore? 2. Stephen and Kristen from ?Laguna Beach? 3. Kim Kardashian and a mirror) is officially donezo. 

The former couple, who are parents to Mason, 7, Penelope, 4, and Reign, 2, ended their nine-year relationship in July 2015, but have sparked reconciliation rumors ever since with a trip to Aspen and lunch dates galore. 

Despite each party stepping out with new beaus in recent months, the pair have continued to beat their dead horse of a relationship for the cameras on ?Keeping Up with the Kardashians.? Things came to a head on Sunday?s episode, which found the famous family confronting Scott over bringing a female companion on their trip to Costa Rica. 

?There?s a level of respect and appropriateness that should just be known,? Kourtney told Scott over a tense dinner. ?But, apparently it?s not. That is so disrespectful.?

?Stop playing the victim. You had your chance,? she added. ?I thought we were spending our whole lives together. And I?ve done everything I can.?

Scott tried (and failed) to defend himself, blaming his poor decision-making on being a ?sex addict? and his jealousy over the mother of his children allegedly moving on with a new boyfriend. 

?Every night you f**king go to bed with our kids and I have to sleep alone, sad and miserable. That?s my life,? Scott explained. 

Then Kim, Khloe and Kris Jenner proceeded to throw water on Scott as they left the table, leaving the soaked reality TV star to contemplate his life decisions. 

Later after things calmed down, Kourtney and Scott shared a private moment at the family?s Costa Rican villa to finally put the kibosh on all hopes of reconciliation.

?I think the moral of the story is we are never getting back together,? Kourtney said as they watched their kids play in the pool. 

?I think after everything that?s happened here in Costa Rica, Scott knows it?s done,? she said, ?But just saying those words just lets both of us move on.?

You know what they say: all dysfunctional and semi-destructive things must come to an end. 

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Why Singapore’s Pride Organizers Are Telling Outsiders To Stay Away

Organizers of Singapore?s Pink Dot gay pride rally have warned foreigners and those who are not permanent residents of the city-state to steer clear of this year?s event, following rule changes aimed at keeping foreigners out of domestic politics.

Foreigners have never been legally allowed to join rallies in the conservative city-state, but many have got around the restriction by ?observing? such events.

Changes to the law announced in October remove the distinction between ?participants? and ?observers,? the organizers of the July 1 event said, leaving them ?no choice? but to bar foreigners.

?We were reminded by the Singapore police force that with these changes, the law no longer distinguishes between participants and observers, and regards anyone who turns up to the Speakers? Corner in support of an event to be part of an assembly,? Pink Dot said on social network Facebook on Sunday.

?Flouting of these laws will subject the organizers, as well as foreigners, to arrest and prosecution by the authorities ? something we are sure everyone would want to avoid.?

The Ministry of Home Affairs had no immediate comment.

The ministry has beefed up laws on public assembly in the past year, saying that prevention of interference in domestic politics by foreign entities has always been Singapore?s position since public speaking rules were introduced in 2000.

In October, the ministry posted new public speaking rules, clarifying that foreign companies and individuals needed a permit to sponsor or take part in certain events.

It did not specify any event at the time, but authorities warned last year they would take steps to prevent foreign firms from funding or supporting the annual gay pride event.

The rally, formerly sponsored by multinational tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, has been held since 2009 under Singapore?s stringent public assembly laws at Speaker?s Corner in a downtown square, where citizens can speak their minds without a permit.

?The Singapore government?s knee-jerk approach to limit human rights at the first sign of controversy is really on display here,? Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

?Singapore is doing all it can to truncate international support for the rapidly growing movement of Singaporeans who support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.?

Sex between men is illegal in Singapore and punishable with up to two years in prison, though the law is rarely enforced. The law dates back to the island?s colonial period and makes no mention of lesbians.

 

(Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Clarence Fernandez)

 

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Stranded Amtrak Passengers Order Pizza To Delayed Train

An Amtrak train traveling from New York To Washington, D.C., was stuck on the tracks for hours on Sunday, prompting at least one passenger to think outside the box. 

The train experienced technical difficulties during its route, leading it to stop and wait for a rescue train to take the passengers. The wait got so long that Twitter user @MitchKatz ordered pizza pies to the train.

?Got hangry and problem solved,? Katz wrote in a message posted to Twitter.

Meanwhile, some passengers still celebrated Mother?s Day.

Others had some beer.

According to folks onboard tweeting about their experiences, the train experienced ?severe engine problems? and lost power. Amtrak sent two rescue trains to take customers on the rest of the journey, though some on Twitter said there were not enough seats for everyone.

BuzzFeed Legal Editor Chris Geidner was also on the train, and tweeted that he finally reached Washington roughly seven hours after leaving New York.

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Torch-Carrying White Nationalists Protest Removal Of Confederate Statue

White nationalists protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, stormed two of the city?s parks on Saturday chanting Nazi slogans and brandishing torches. 

Dozens of protesters led by white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered in Jackson Park on Saturday afternoon and assembled again that night in the city?s Lee Park, where they took up torches and surrounded the statue of Confederate general Lee slated for removal by the city council, according to reporters on the scene. 

The protesters chanted ?You will not replace us,? ?Russia is our friend,? ?All white lives matter? and the Nazi slogan ?Blood and soil,? MSNBC reported. 

Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer (D) condemned the protest, both lashing out at Spencer on Twitter and issuing a statement against the group?s intimidation tactics.

?This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK,? Signer said. ?Either way, as mayor of this City, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a Welcoming City, but such intolerance is not welcome here.?

Onetime Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, who?s now running for the governor?s office on an unapologetically progressive platform, denounced the protests as acts of hatred unleashed by the election of President Donald Trump

?As much as we all wish this was an isolated incident, it?s not,? he said in an email to supporters. ?Emboldened by President Trump, this racism is spreading in our communities, our Commonwealth, and our country. After Trump?s election, many of these racist leaders were given a platform and vindication. They want us to regress by decades.?

Spencer, an alumnus of the city?s University of Virginia who is credited with originating the term ?alt right? in an attempt to rebrand white nationalism, claimed the protests were a way to preserve and celebrate his heritage.  

?You are not going to tear down the statue, and you are not going to replace us,? he told local NBC affiliate WVIR was his message to the city of Charlottesville.

?It?s an expression of force. It?s an expression of occupying a space,? said Spencer, who tweeted a photo of himself carrying a torch at the evening protest. 

During a conference he hosted in November, Spencer famously yelled ?Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!? to enthusiastic Nazi salutes from the crowd.

The fate of the Lee statue remains up in the air. After the city council voted to remove it in February, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to stop its removal. A judge issued a temporary injunction earlier this month preventing the city from going through with the removal for the next six months. 

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Designer Carolina Herrera’s Nephew Killed In Kidnapping

The 34-year-old nephew of fashion designer Carolina Herrera was found dead in a truck in Venezuela in a tragic kidnapping.

The bodies of Reinaldo Jose Herrera and business associate, 31-year-old Fabrizio Mendoza, were discovered Thursday in the back of a pickup truck parked on a road outside Caracas. Both men had been kidnapped while dining together at a Caracas restaurant earlier that night, and ransom was paid, according to Venezuelan press reports. The men were bound and shot in the head, reported Venezuela?s El Cooperante newspaper.

The Venezuelan-born American designer ? who has dressed first ladies from Jackie Kennedy and Laura Bush to Michelle Obama and Melania Trump (and designed Caroline Kennedy?s wedding dress) ? blasted the country?s ?Communist dictator? in an angry response to the deaths.

?The family and I appreciate your kindness,? Herrera wrote in an Instagram post. ?Our only hope is that the tragic assassination of our young nephew, Reinaldo and his colleague, Fabrizio, will serve to mitigate the terrible carnage and murders that are committed against our youth in Venezuela.?

She added: ?The electoral results must be respected. The Communist dictatorship must go.?

Venezuela has one of the highest crime rates on the globe. ?Venezuela remains one of the deadliest countries in the world with increasing violence and criminal activity in 2016, at times reaching unprecedented levels,? warns the U.S. State Department.

The nation is currently battered by angry protests over economic strains and what many see as a power grab by leftist President Nicolás Maduro, who has jailed his opponents, cracked down on demonstrators and delayed elections.

Herrera has lived in Manhattan for almost 40 years. 

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Donald Trump Donates Portion Of Salary To National Park Service

WASHINGTON ? President Donald Trump is following up on a campaign promise by donating his salary to the National Park Service. 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday presented Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke a check for $78,333.32 ? the president?s first quarter salary ? during a daily press briefing at the White House.

Zinke said his department will use the money to improve maintenance of the nation?s battlefields. He added that he was ?excited about that opportunity.?

During the campaign, Trump vowed he would not accept a salary as president. The law requires he receive one, however, so he is donating it instead. The president earns $400,000 per year, and Trump plans to donate all of it, according to the White House.

Last month, Spicer said Trump wanted the press to help him decide where to donate his money, so that he could ?avoid scrutiny.?

Trump?s affinity for the nation?s parks is not found in his proposed budget. The proposal calls for a 12 percent, or $1.5 billion, cut in the Interior Department?s budget. Progressive groups have also called into question the maintenance backlog at the NPS, arguing it was being used as a reason to increase the privatization of national parks.

The president had an early run-in with the National Park Service as well. One day after he was sworn into office, Trump pressured the NPS director to substantiate unfounded claims of unprecedented attendance at his inauguration.

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College Student Dies After Choking During Pancake-Eating Contest

A Connecticut college student is dead after she choked during a pancake-eating contest.

Caitlin Nelson, a student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, was participating in the contest Thursday night as part of the school?s Greek Life celebration.

Nelson, a member of Kappa Delta sorority, had eaten around four or five pancakes when she started shaking. She then fell to the floor, spitting out some pancake bits, according to the Fairfield Citizen.

?She starts to choke on pancake and someone recognized it ? one of the nursing students at the competition ? and she caught her and brought her slowly to the ground,? Fairfield Police Lt. Robert Kalamaras told the New York Post. ?And then she began CPR, basic life support, until officers showed up less than two minutes after the emergency call was made by one of the nursing students.?

Nelson, who hailed from Clark, New Jersey, was taken to St. Vincent?s Medical Center in Bridgeport and subsequently transferred to Columbia University Medical Center in New York, where she died on Sunday.

Because Nelson had several food allergies, it was initially thought they might have played a factor in her death, but it was ultimately determined that was not the case. ?It was a tragic accident,? Kalamaras told TAPinto.net.

The young woman?s father, James Nelson, was a Port Authority police officer who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. He was 40 years old at the time. She was 5, according to the Connecticut Post.

Sacred Heart University held a candlelight vigil for Nelson on Sunday night.

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Brooklyn Beckham Gets Tattoo Inspired By His Dad For 18th Birthday

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In honor of his 18th birthday over the weekend, Brooklyn Beckham got his first tattoo ? and the new ink is inspired by his father, David Beckham. Brooklyn?s tattoo artist is David?s good friend Mark Mahoney of Shamrock Social Club in Hollywood, who?s inked the former soccer star before. 

Honoured to have my first tattoo done by dads friend Mark Mahoney

A post shared by bb (@brooklynbeckham) on

A post shared by bb (@brooklynbeckham) on

The finished product? A black-ink portrait of a Native American chief, just like the one David has on his torso.  

And we are done x

A post shared by bb (@brooklynbeckham) on

Although the significance of the image is not known, it sure is a cool father-son bonding experience. 

We?re curious to see if this first tattoo session will spark more ink for Brooklyn. After all, his father has plenty of tats if he?s looking for more inspiration…

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Kim Kardashian’s New Sheer Dress Has A Really Fun Secret

Kim Kardashian?s affection for sheer dresses is hardly news. But there?s something a little extra going on with her latest version of this tricky trend. 

The 36-year-old attended the Daily Front Row?s 3rd Annual Fashion Los Angeles Awards Sunday night wearing an elaborate, pearl-encrusted Givenchy Couture gown with a high neck and transparent skirt. 

If the gown reminds you too much of just about everything else the reality star has ever worn, consider how it photographs under the lights: She and her dress are literally glowing. 

It?s not clear if the dress itself lights up, like Clare Danes?s gown at the 2016 Met Gala, or if we?re just seeing the reflection of flashes (Givenchy has yet to respond to an inquiry). Either way, Kardashian looks pretty freaking cool in this super casual, pre-dinner photoshoot that shows off the gown?s true glow: 

What we do at restaurants before everyone arrives. BTS @mertalas

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Electronic or otherwise, this look is lit. 

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This ‘Boy’ Band Is Genderless, And They’re Breaking Down Barriers

This ?boy band? isn?t your typical pop sensation.

All members of the group, called FFC-Acrush, are androgynous people born girls but who identify as genderless ? and they?re quickly rising to fame in China.

The band are affectionately known as Acrush and they?re made up of five members aged in their 20s or younger: Lu Keran, An Junxi, Peng Xichen, Min Junqian and Lin Fan, according to Quartz.

And although Acrush was assembled by the Chinese entertainment company Zhejiang Huati Culture Communication Co. Ltd., they have all been dressing with androgynous swag for years.

?FFC-Acrush?

A post shared by Acrush (@ffc_acrush) on

Acrush has nearly 1 million followers on Weibo, China?s version of Twitter. And the group just launched official accounts on Instagram and Twitter.

Their female fans call them ?husbands? ? a term usually used to describe male pop stars like Justin Bieber, according to the BBC.

Agent Zhou Xiaobai told Quartz that the group avoids using terms that identify them as ?he? or ?she.? Instead, they use the genderless term ?meishaonian,? which translates as ?handsome youth.? 

The ?A? in Acrush represents Adonis, the mythological Greek god of beauty and desire, according to Quartz. Zhou told the news outlet that Acrush is a ?group advocating freedom, not bounded by frames.?

The band?s official Twitter account profiles each band member in typical boy band fashion. Peng is the romantic lead singer. Min is a musician at heart. An is the rebellious one. Lu is a natural-born dancer and Lin is the baby of the group at 18 years old.

The group?s parent company recruits musical talent from across China. They?re trained and then placed into various girl groups or boy bands who perform songs and play soccer on stage ? under the umbrella brand name Fantasy Football Confederation. (That?s why the band?s official name is ?FFC-Acrush.?)

And while all the band members have chosen to assume an androgynous identity, company policy prohibits any member of Acrush discussing their personal sexual orientation.

Hello!We are Acrush!Glad to see you here! Thank you very much for your attention!

A post shared by Acrush (@ffc_acrush) on

Their debut video is due out at the end of April, when Zhejiang Huati Culture Communication plans to start launching another three girl groups, according to the BBC.

H/T Quartz.

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Wealthy White House Staffers’ Finances Detailed In New Disclosures

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday released details of the personal finances of his many wealthy staffers, including senior adviser Steve Bannon, whose pre-White House bank accounts, real estate and other holdings were valued at between $3.3 million and $12.6 million.

The late-night download of federal employee disclosure forms confirmed the affluence of many Trump personnel.

The White House disclosed Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs president and now head of the White House National Economic Council, had assets worth at least $230 million, but possibly much more. Little information was given on several of his assets and only indicated they were worth more than $1 million.

White House ethics officials said the legally required disclosure documents provided a snapshot of assets and positions held by personnel when they first entered their new jobs at the White House, and before they started selling stocks and other assets that could pose conflicts of interest.

The forms also showed the incomes of Trump?s inner circle in the 12 months preceding their engagement as government workers.

Trump, a real estate magnate and television celebrity with no political experience before he was elected president, has brought in some high-net-worth people to advise him.

For example, Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, disclosed pre-White House assets of between $92 million and $798 million. He had income of between $48 million and $55 million.

?These are incredibly successful individuals, very high-net worth, very sophisticated complex asset structures, numerous sub LLCs, trusts and other items, all of which have to be worked through,? a senior White House ethics official told reporters.

The White House said the independent Office of Government Ethics, which reviews financial disclosures to help executive branch officials avoid conflicts of interest, has classified about 25 percent of Trump White House staffers as having ?extremely complex? reports, meaning the filers are very wealthy with complex businesses and potential conflicts of interest.

This was not the case for all of them. Peter Navarro, Trump?s trade adviser, earned a relatively modest $240,000 from University of California-Irvine, with less than $1,000 in royalties from the book ?Death by China,? and speaking fees from the Casket and Funeral Supply Association and other groups.

Wealthy senior White House staff have to enter into ethics agreements where they agree to resign from positions and divest from assets. Copies of those agreements were not available.

Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence?s assets were included in the documents, nor are Cabinet members. All other senior White House personnel – and those earning more than $161,755 a year – are required to submit disclosure reports.

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Weekend Roundup: With Cyber, There Are No Front Lines In War Or Peace

?There are no front lines in war or peace,? the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres told me in an interview way back in 1995 when the influence of the internet was first being felt. ?Science knows no borders, technology has no flag, information has no passport. The new challenges transcend the old notion of boundaries.?

Global data transfer of private information, not to mention the alleged episode of Russian influence meddling in the U.S. election as well as regular bouts of cybertheft from China and America?s own cyberattacks on Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, have proven Peres prescient. As former four-star general and CIA director David Petraeus writes this week in The WorldPost, ?Cyber capabilities are further blurring the boundaries between wartime and peacetime, and between civilian and military spaces.? In the military realm, he says, cyber has now become a borderless domain of warfare. Yet, as with nuclear weapons in the past, he concludes, ?Security in the century ahead will depend more on our moral imagination ? and with it, the ability to develop concepts of restraint ? than it will on amazing technological breakthroughs.?

Matthew Dallek argues that cyber technologies will change warfare as much, if not more so, than the advent of air power, which enabled the ?total war? of firebombing or nuking major cities. To prepare for what the future might bring, he advises that ?we allow our fears to inspire our thinking, and anticipate new perils and consequences before they show up at all of our doorsteps.? For philosopher Peter Singer, what we are more likely to confront, at least in the near term, ?is a competition more akin to the Cold War?s pre-digital battles, where you saw a cross between influence and subversion operations with espionage.? He adds: ?That?s particularly true with what Russia has been up to.? 

Addressing the related issue of ?alternative facts? and ?fake news,? Daniel Dennett, makes the counterintuitive argument that too much transparency is bad for democracy. ?Staying afloat in today?s flood of information means understanding the subtle relationship between transparency and trust,? the famous philosopher of consciousness writes. ?And it is not what you might think ? the more transparency, the more trust. The reality is the opposite: when everything is exposed, all information is equal, and equally useless. When no one knows things that others don?t know, and there are no institutions or practices that can establish and preserve credibility ? as is threatened today with the new dominance of peer-driven social media ? then there is no solid ground for a democratic discourse.? This new transparency,? he argues, has set off ?an arms race of ploy and counterploy.? Certainly, the whole notion of objectivity is a casualty of that battle of truths.

Flemming Rose, the editor who controversially published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, comments on another dimension of the deteriorating discourse ? ?safe spaces? against offensive ideas in the university. As Flemming sees it, this common practice on today?s college campuses is creating intolerant students unable to stomach the views of others unlike themselves.

One place truth is struggling mightily to find a place in the discourse is in Russia. As Nick Robins-Early reports, surprisingly large demonstrations took place in some 90 cities across Russia last weekend in conjunction with video revelations by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny?s foundation alleging the corrupt accumulation of wealth by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The government cracked down in response, arresting over 700 protesters, including Navalny, who was sentenced to 15 days in jail. Human Rights Watch?s Andrea Prasow is encouraged that Trump?s administration has called on Russia ?to immediately release all peaceful protesters.? She sees it as ?a sign that public pressure is working? both in its impact on Washington and the Kremlin.

On the other end of the continent, British Prime Minister Theresa May this week formally gave notice of her country?s plan to exit the European Union following the ?leave? vote in a referendum earlier this year that was part and parcel of the growing anti-globalization backlash. Former U.K. Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson believes this is a strategic misjudgment. ?The biggest risk in the current political debate,? he says ?is that we move from the undeniable truth that globalization could work better to the false conclusion that we are better off without it.?

Looking at Europe?s disintegration from far off Beijing, Cristopher-Teodor Uglea offers a novel response to the continent?s growing populism: a ?vertical meritocratic democracy? in which citizens have more power and accountability at their local level while at the same time delegating stronger powers to Brussels over large issues like climate change. In between, he envisions experimental regional arrangements where competencies are coordinated.

Writing from Hong Kong, labor activist Han Dongfang reports on growing worker restlessness across China as their wages stagnate while the rich get richer. ?[Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] needs to deal with popular dissatisfaction over inequality,? he warns, ?if he wants to maintain his power.? Han also reports some successful cases of collective bargaining that raised wages ? something the government itself needs to see happen if future growth will depend more on domestic consumption than exports.

This busy news week also saw U.S. President Donald Trump signing an executive order dismantling the Obama administration?s carbon-curbing policies, effectively undermining the American commitment to fighting climate change while boosting China?s. But Jane Goodall sees a sliver lining for the U.S. ?People who were apathetic before, who didn?t seem to care, now suddenly it?s like they?ve heard a trumpet call ? ?What can we do? We have to do something.? And these are people thinking about future generations, not just themselves.?

While Americans have been caught up in Trump?s controversial orders and Russia-related investigations, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) warns that the president is also dragging the country into a deeper war in Syria.

Dean Obeidallah, who sees Trump?s ?radical Islamic terrorism? narrative unfairly discriminating against Muslims, commends New York for indicting a white man with terrorism charges for the fatal stabbing of a black man, but says we shouldn?t have a double standard when it comes to violent white supremacists: ?there?s no white person exception for terrorism.?

Carolyn Gregoire reports on a new medical breakthrough that enables the mass production of artificial blood. Finally, our Singularity series this week looks at the weird world of cyborg animals such as remote-controlled bugs and mice whose minds are controlled magnetically.

WHO WE ARE

 

EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Suzanne Gaber is the Editorial Assistant of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is News Director at The Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost?s news coverage. Nick Robins-Early and Jesselyn Cook are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is World Social Media Editor.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media), Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS: Dawn Nakagawa.

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the ?whole mind? way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute?s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as theAdvisory Council ? as well as regular contributors ? to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei KudrinPascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon MuskPierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel RoubiniNicolas SarkozyEric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter SchwartzAmartya SenJeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry SummersWu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony BlairJacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar IssingMario MontiRobert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.

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We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

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College’s Break With Climate Change Deniers Riles Debate Over Divestment Strategies

Barnard College?s Board of Trustees announced earlier this month that it had made a ?unique? climate decision. After months of deliberation and mounting pressure from students, faculty and activists, Barnard, like hundreds of other institutions and colleges, had decided to divest from fossil fuels. 

But there was a twist.

Unlike some institutions that have opted for full divestment from the industry ? in other words, getting rid of all stocks, bonds and investment funds linked to fossil fuels ? the New York college had chosen a different tactic: It would instead specifically divest from companies that ?deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.?

Barnard, which has about $18 million of investments in the fossil fuel industry, says it is the first U.S. college to take this ?unique and innovative approach,? adding that the strategy was not a ?compromise between the polar positions of no divestment and full divestment.? Rather, ?we believe that it is clearly superior to either alternative,? explained faculty members on the task force that made the recommendation.

The response from climate scientists and activists has been mixed. Some lauded the college?s strategy ? the climate-focused nonprofit 350.org said it was ?thrilled? at Barnard?s ?unprecedented decision.? Others agreed with the school?s assessment that the approach could be the most effective divestment model adopted to date in the fight against climate change.

David Keith, a leading climate scientist and professor of both applied physics and public policy at Harvard University, called Barnard?s plan a ?smart approach.? Scott Wisor, former deputy director of the Center for the Study of Global Ethics at the U.K.?s University of Birmingham and a divestment skeptic, described it as ?a very positive development.? 

But doubts remain. 

Divestment in general has long been criticized as a poor climate strategy. And experts said this week that though Barnard?s approach may be more enlightened than most, it still has some of the same flaws that mar the movement?s reputation.

?I wish it would work,? said Ivo Welch, a professor of finance at UCLA commenting on Barnard?s announcement. ?But it is exceedingly likely that it will not.?

Divestment: A Brief History

The idea to get institutions to cut ties from fossil fuels as a way to tackle climate change was born on university campuses in the U.S. in 2011. Students from Swarthmore College were the first to lead a protest calling for their school to divest from fossil fuels (to this day, demonstrations continue at Swarthmore, which has repeatedly rejected divestment). By the end of the year, Hampshire College ? the first school to divest from South Africa during apartheid ? became the first educational institution to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Since then, more than 700 institutions worldwide have hopped on the divestment bandwagon, affecting more than $5 trillion in assets, according to Go Fossil Free, 350.org?s divestment campaign. More than 100 universities and colleges, including Stanford, Yale, Georgetown and the University of California in the U.S. and Britain?s Oxford University, have committed to either partial or full divestment.

Advocates of the movement have said such actions could send an important message and even put economic pressure on fossil fuel firms. Opponents, however, have pointed out what they see as divestment?s fatal flaws.

?If the aim of divestment campaigns is to reduce companies? profitability by directly reducing their share prices, then these campaigns are misguided,? wrote William MacAskill, co-founder of the Center for Effective Altruism, in a 2015 New Yorker article on divestment?s viability.

?Suppose that the market price for a share in ExxonMobil is ten dollars, and that, as a result of a divestment campaign, a university decides to divest from ExxonMobil, and it sells the shares for nine dollars each. What happens then? Well, what happens is that someone who doesn?t have ethical concerns will snap up the bargain,? MacAskill wrote. ?They?ll buy the shares for nine dollars apiece, and then sell them for ten dollars to one of the other thousands of investors who don?t share the university?s moral scruples. The market price stays the same; the company loses no money and notices no difference.?

In a 2014 op-ed titled ?Why Climate Change Divestment Will Not Work,? Wisor argued that the movement would invariably fail because it casts too wide a net. It assumes fossil fuel companies are a monolithic group, and thus fails to ?distinguish between those companies who are more and less responsible in their environmental stewardship.? The demands made of these firms are also ?poorly defined,? Wisor wrote. 

?What can [a company like] Chevron do to avoid shareholder divestment? According to campaigners, they must: stop searching for new hydrocarbons, stop lobbying for special breaks from government, and commit to leaving 80 percent of their existing reserves in the ground,? he said. ?It is reasonable for shareholders to seek to restrain pernicious lobbying by energy companies, but the other two requests essentially call on them to stop being energy companies.? 

Barnard, in its decision to adopt a more targeted approach to divestment, said it was hoping to address these very shortcomings.  

The women?s college, which is affiliated with New York?s Columbia University, said it recognized the limitations of full divestment. 

?We believe that full divestment would have a negligible effect on the balance sheets of firms, and hence on their stock prices or costs of capital. It would therefore be a largely symbolic gesture,? said faculty members involved in the divestment decision. (Columbia University, incidentally, announced this week that it will be divesting from some coal companies, following fierce student protests including a sit-in last year.)

Barnard explained that by singling out companies that have specifically denied climate science, there could be ?much stronger incentives for firms to bring their pronouncements and actions into better alignment with the available scientific evidence.?

The college added that it hoped its decision to divest from climate-skeptical companies would increase public pressure on those firms and push other institutions to adopt similar strategies.

?We hope to lead by example and establish best practices for other institutions who seek to do their part to mitigate climate change,? Rob Goldberg, Barnard?s interim president and chair of the college?s task force to examine divestment, told HuffPost over email. 

?Positive Development?

As far as divestment strategies go, climate experts said, Barnard?s approach could be one to emulate. 

The long-term climate goal, said Keith, the Harvard professor, should be to ?change the laws so as to discourage and eventually prohibit use the atmosphere as a waste dump for carbon,? but in the meantime, ?we need supply of fossil fuels to keep the energy system running, but we don?t want fossil companies to block efforts at reform.? 

Wisor agreed. ?I think it is a very positive development that the divestment campaign might begin to make demands of fossil fuel companies that detail precise and feasible actions the companies could take to avoid shareholder divestment,? he said.

But, Wisor cautioned, he sees two major flaws in Barnard?s strategy. First, the Barnard trustees have not yet specified what will count as climate change denial. Goldberg said this week that the school is still ?working to identify ways to objectively assess companies … and to develop measurable criteria that we will use to define climate deniers.? 

And second, said Wisor, ?even if Barnard develops useful criteria for this task,it will do no good if the criteria is not shared across the divestment movement.?

?If one investor asks companies to stop denying climate science and another asks them to keep their assets in the ground and a third asks them to stop investing in new exploration, there is no clear signal being sent to companies about what will put them back in the good graces of investors,? he said. 

MacAskill, who?s also an associate philosophy professor at the University of Oxford, said this week that he stands by his previous assessment that ?actual divestment doesn?t do much? and that a targeted approach would have no more impact. 

?The main value of the divestment movement is the media attention surrounding climate change that it generates ? hopefully this is putting the spotlight on how bad fossil fuel companies are and encouraging people (and in particular university students) not to work for these companies,? he wrote in an email. ?So Barnard?s approach would only be better if it was especially good at generating negative media attention.? 

Welch, the UCLA finance professor who has studied how U.S. divestment movements affected the South African financial market during apartheid, said there are better strategies that institutions like Barnard could adopt to tackle climate change. 

?If they wanted to do something productive, they should put the money to help support the development of cleaner energy technologies, instead,? he said this week. ?After all, they are in a scientific research university, which does R&D for a living.?

Welch had said earlier that he believes ?humanity?s best hope is cheaper clean technology, mass-deployed.?

?This is actually more feasible than one may believe ? though even this may take political will far beyond what governments can muster these days,? he wrote on his blog in 2014.

Student Power

In a 2013 op-ed, Keith explained why he remained a strong supporter of the university divestment movement, even while acknowledging that divestments from educational institutions are a ?weak lever with which to move the world?s energy [sic] multi-trillion dollar energy industry.?

?Everyone I have talked to in the divestment movement is aware that divestment … would accomplish little. But if the students should succeed in forcing major educational institutions to divest, they will have necessarily convinced university boards, some of the country?s political and financial elite, to take the problem seriously,? Keith wrote. 

Plus, he added, he?s enthusiastic about the students? commitment to talk about the ethical issues associated with climate change.

At Barnard and Columbia, student activists have been leading the charge in pushing their institutions to take a stand on climate change. Students at the two schools have been mobilizing and organizing for at least three years around the issue. Last April, dozens of students held a sit-in outside Columbia?s Low Library despite facing possible suspension for their activism.

?I respect the energy and brainpower of the students with whom I work,? Keith said in his op-ed. ?The divestment movement marks the first time in my quarter century involvement with climate change that I have encountered such a strong and disciplined commitment to activism. I have not seen its like since the disarmament movement of the early eighties.?

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The Song That Was Playing When Lin-Manuel Miranda Was Conceived

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Lin-Manuel Miranda was not afraid, not at all petrified, to reveal the classic song he was conceived to while on The Ellen Show this week.

On Monday, the “Hamilton” creator told host Ellen DeGeneres the story of how he found out he’d been conceived to “I Will Survive.”

The Ellen Show played the Gloria Gaynor mega hit as Miranda walked on stage, and DeGeneres greeted the actor and composer by saying “that’s your song, ‘I Will Survive.’” Miranda then told the audience the story behind the song.

“So, for a while VH1 was airing American Band Stand a lot and one day ‘I Will Survive’ came on,” Miranda said. “And my parents played that song to death, so I changed the channel. My dad comes running in from the other room and says ‘Don’t you ever change the channel on that song, you were conceived to that song in 1979’.”

Miranda said it was “quite a story” to hear as a teenager. All we can say is that at least now he knows he has all his life to live (and all his love to give) thanks to Gaynor’s signature tune.

Watch Miranda’s full interview with Ellen DeGeneres above. 

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‘Rings Of Peace’ Surround Canada’s Mosques In Wake Of Deadly Attack

Hundreds of Canadians formed human shields around mosques as Muslims gathered for the first Friday prayers after a deadly attack on an Islamic center in Quebec.

Yael Splansky, senior rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto’s oldest Jewish congregation, organized efforts in her community and told reporters that she hoped the “rings of peace” would send a message to Muslim Canadians that they aren’t alone. Splansky said she was inspired by a similar display of solidarity at a mosque in Oslo, Norway, in 2015.

“No Canadian should be afraid to go to their house of worship to pray,” Splansky told Canadian network CTV News on Friday. “It’s a terrifying scene. Imagine people of faith going to pray in peace, to pray for peace and to be at risk. Houses of worship are sacred and must be protected.”

Canada, like the United States, has witnessed a staggering rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks in recent years. This fact became all too real Sunday when a gunman opened fire at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, killing six people and injuring 19 others.

Alexandre Bissonnette, a French-Canadian university student known to have far-right, nationalist views, was arrested and charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder on Monday. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau characterized the attack as an act of terrorism, telling Muslims: “Thirty-six million hearts are breaking with yours. Know that we value you.” 

Splansky and others took the sentiment to heart. More than 100 people joined Splansky’s group to form a circle of solidarity around the Imdadul Islamic Centre. Similar actions unfolded at a handful of other mosques around the Toronto area and other parts of Canada.

“To see there are people out there — Jews, Christians, people of other faiths or no particular faith, who really care about the Muslim community — I think that says a lot and it’s really reassuring,” Ilyas Ally, assistant imam at Toronto’s Islamic Information and Dawah Centre, told CBC News.

Congregants from a local church and synagogue gathered outside the center on Friday, Ally said, holding hands and forming a human shield during the afternoon prayers.

Ally posted a video on Facebook to show the magnitude of the crowd:

In Newfoundland, hundreds gathered to form a circle of protection around the province’s only mosque. Syed Pirzada, president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, addressed the crowd and expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support.

“Although this tragedy has taken an irreparable toll on Muslims across the country, the kindness and generosity of fellow Canadians has been a great source of comfort,” Pirzada said, according to The Guardian. “Canada has spoken: no to hate, no to bigotry, no to religious violence, no to intolerance.”

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2017/02/03/rings-of-peace-canada-mosques_n_14603870.html
p>Hundreds of Canadians formed human shields around mosques as Muslims gathered for the first Friday prayers after a deadly attack on an Islamic center in Quebec.

Yael Splansky, senior rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto’s oldest Jewish congregation, organized efforts in her community and told reporters that she hoped the “rings of peace” would send a message to Muslim Canadians that they aren’t alone. Splansky said she was inspired by a similar display of solidarity at a mosque in Oslo, Norway, in 2015.

“No Canadian should be afraid to go to their house of worship to pray,” Splansky told Canadian network CTV News on Friday. “It’s a terrifying scene. Imagine people of faith going to pray in peace, to pray for peace and to be at risk. Houses of worship are sacred and must be protected.”

Canada, like the United States, has witnessed a staggering rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks in recent years. This fact became all too real Sunday when a gunman opened fire at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, killing six people and injuring 19 others.

Alexandre Bissonnette, a French-Canadian university student known to have far-right, nationalist views, was arrested and charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder on Monday. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau characterized the attack as an act of terrorism, telling Muslims: “Thirty-six million hearts are breaking with yours. Know that we value you.” 

Splansky and others took the sentiment to heart. More than 100 people joined Splansky’s group to form a circle of solidarity around the Imdadul Islamic Centre. Similar actions unfolded at a handful of other mosques around the Toronto area and other parts of Canada.

“To see there are people out there — Jews, Christians, people of other faiths or no particular faith, who really care about the Muslim community — I think that says a lot and it’s really reassuring,” Ilyas Ally, assistant imam at Toronto’s Islamic Information and Dawah Centre, told CBC News.

Congregants from a local church and synagogue gathered outside the center on Friday, Ally said, holding hands and forming a human shield during the afternoon prayers.

Ally posted a video on Facebook to show the magnitude of the crowd:

In Newfoundland, hundreds gathered to form a circle of protection around the province’s only mosque. Syed Pirzada, president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, addressed the crowd and expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support.

“Although this tragedy has taken an irreparable toll on Muslims across the country, the kindness and generosity of fellow Canadians has been a great source of comfort,” Pirzada said, according to The Guardian. “Canada has spoken: no to hate, no to bigotry, no to religious violence, no to intolerance.”

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Your Sunday Is Open Again Because These Puppies Already Decided The Super Bowl

You can rest easy, tune into the Super Bowl for the commercials and tune out for the game, because Jimmy Fallon’s puppies have already decided who the winner will be.

Using a highly scientific method, nine puppies were released onto two food bowls: one labeled “Patriots,” one “Falcons.” And … well, you’ll just have to watch. But, we assure you, the will of the puppies is ironclad.

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Angela Merkel’s Censure Of Donald Trump’s Executive Order Puts Theresa May To Shame

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a strong rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump’s sweeping executive order blocking travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries.

“The necessary and decisive fight against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain belief ― in this case people of Muslim belief or people from a certain country,” Merkel said at a press conference on Monday. “That way of thinking is against my interpretation of the basic tenants of international refugee support and cooperation.”

Merkel’s statement was quickly compared to the much more tepid response from British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“We do not agree with this kind of approach,” Downing Street said of the ban on Saturday. May met with Trump in Washington, D.C., on Friday, just hours before he signed the executive order. 

The order also puts a freeze on America’s Syrian refugee resettlement program at a time when the crisis is worsening by the day. Germany has taken in over 1 million refugees and migrants from Syria and other areas in conflict since 2015. 

Merkel’s statement reflects a growing divide between her administration and Trump’s. The president has repeatedly criticized Germany’s efforts to bring in refugees, and the German leader has already spoken out about Trump’s ban. The two heads of state talked on the phone over the weekend, and she apparently had to explain to him some pretty basic foreign policy facts.

“The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds,” a spokesperson for Merkel said. “All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call.”

How will Trump’s first 100 days impact you? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get breaking updates on Trump’s presidency by messaging us here. 

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NBA Coach Whose Father Was Killed By Extremists Calls Muslim Ban ‘Horrible’

Golden State Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr, whose father was killed by radical Islamists, said that banning Muslims from entering the U.S. is “a horrible idea.”

Kerr said an interview on Sunday that he’s “completely against” President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking entry by people from seven majority-Muslim countries, signed Friday.

“It’s a horrible idea,” he said. “I feel for all the people who are affected. Families are being torn apart.”

Travelers coming from the Middle East, including some green card holders, were detained and questioned at airports across the U.S. in the days after Trump signed the controversial executive action. The order, part of which has already been blocked by multiple federal judges, also placed a temporary freeze on the Syrian refugee resettlement program.

Kerr’s father was the president of the American University in Beirut when he was assassinated in what then-President Ronald Reagan called an “act of terrorists.” As a U.S. citizen who spent years in Middle East, Malcolm Kerr dedicated his life to bridging the gap between the Arabic and Western worlds ― a gap that critics have said Trump’s executive action will widen.

“If we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re going against the principles of what our country’s about and creating fear,” Kerr said. “It’s the wrong way to go about it, if anything we could be breeding anger and terror.”

He added that, “I worry in the big picture what this means to the security of the world. It’s going about it completely opposite.”

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Golden State Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr, whose father was killed by radical Islamists, said that banning Muslims from entering the U.S. is “a horrible idea.”

Kerr said an interview on Sunday that he’s “completely against” President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking entry by people from seven majority-Muslim countries, signed Friday.

“It’s a horrible idea,” he said. “I feel for all the people who are affected. Families are being torn apart.”

Travelers coming from the Middle East, including some green card holders, were detained and questioned at airports across the U.S. in the days after Trump signed the controversial executive action. The order, part of which has already been blocked by multiple federal judges, also placed a temporary freeze on the Syrian refugee resettlement program.

Kerr’s father was the president of the American University in Beirut when he was assassinated in what then-President Ronald Reagan called an “act of terrorists.” As a U.S. citizen who spent years in Middle East, Malcolm Kerr dedicated his life to bridging the gap between the Arabic and Western worlds ― a gap that critics have said Trump’s executive action will widen.

“If we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re going against the principles of what our country’s about and creating fear,” Kerr said. “It’s the wrong way to go about it, if anything we could be breeding anger and terror.”

He added that, “I worry in the big picture what this means to the security of the world. It’s going about it completely opposite.”

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.