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Obama Warns Social Media Risks Splintering Society

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LONDON (Reuters) – Former U.S. president Barack Obama said the way people communicate via social media risked splintering society and leaders had to ensure the Internet did not cocoon users within their own biases.

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet,” Obama said in an interview conducted by Britain’s Prince Harry, broadcast on BBC radio on Wednesday.

“One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities, they can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”

Obama has previously warned that social media platforms can lead people to make snap judgments about complex decisions although he has refrained from criticizing his successor Donald Trump who regularly uses Twitter.

Obama said in the interview broadcast on Wednesday that social media should promote diverse views in a way that “doesn’t lead to a Balkanisation of our society” and moving online communities offline helped people to see that many issues were not as simple as they might seem in a chatroom.

“It’s also by the way harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the Internet,” he said.

“Meet in the pub…Meet at a place of worship. Meet in a neighborhood and get to know each other.”

WEDDING DIPLOMACY?

Obama spoke to Harry in an interview conducted by the prince as a guest editor for BBC radio’s daily morning news show and focused on their shared interest in promoting causes. The interview took place in September.

Harry was asked by the BBC whether he would invite the Obamas to his wedding next year with U.S. actress Meghan Markle.

“I don’t know about that,” Harry said. “We haven’t put the invites or the guest list together. Who knows whether they are going to be invited or not. I wouldn’t want to ruin that surprise.”

The Sun newspaper said on Tuesday that British government officials had urged Harry not to invite the Obamas to his wedding for fear of angering Trump.

In the BBC interview, Obama spoke of being able to take a longer-term view on issues such as climate change.

“Take some of the tragedies that have happened recently, with hurricanes devastating first Houston and parts of Florida and now Puerto Rico,” he said.

“Today those aren’t my direct responsibilities but I can focus over the next 20 years in making sure that we don’t have more hurricanes and natural disasters that are accelerated as a consequence of climate change and the ability to focus long term I think is a great luxury.”

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

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Highline

R. Lee Ermey, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Actor, Dies at 74

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R. Lee Ermey, who played Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, died Sunday morning, according to his manager. He was 74. “It is with great sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (‘The Gunny’) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia,” a statement read on Ermey’s official Twitter account. “He will be greatly missed by all of us.” Ermey also appearted in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Se7en, and voiced the character Sarge in Toy Story. Ermey served in the Marines as a staff sergeant and drill instructor. According to Variety, he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and Vietnam in the late 1960s. He was a technical adviser to Francis Ford Coppola and had a small role in Apocalypse Now. He was also supposed to serve as an adviser to Stanley Kubrick in the making of Full Metal Jacket, but was then cast in the movie itself. Ermey was allowed to improvise, write, and edit his own dialogue for the film, and only took “two or three takes to finish a scene.” He was nominated for a supporting actor Golden Globe for the role.

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Kellyanne Conway: I Was Just Joking When I Said James Comey ‘Swung an Election’

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In an interview with Good Morning America Monday, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway turned heads when she said former FBI Director James Comey “swung an election” with the actions he took in 2016. The remarks appeared to undercut a main talking point pushed by Conway’s boss, President Donald Trump, that Hillary Clinton lost on her own incompetence as a candidate. And moments after the interview aired, Conway told The Daily Beast that she was being tongue-in-cheek. “I rolled my eyes and said ‘Really, this guy swung an election?’ It was sarcastic,” she said. Elsewhere in the interview, Conway accused Comey of being motivated by politics and love of power. She said he “struggled to answer basic questions and he looked a little shaky” in the 20/20 interview pegged to his new book, A Higher Loyalty. When George Stephanopoulos told Conway that Comey took Trump’s comment calling Michael Flynn “a good guy” to be “directions” to drop the investigation, she replied that Comey did nothing about it. “What did he do with it? Did he run out and tell the attorney general, ‘Please come in here, I feel uncomfortable?’” Conway said. “This man loved being in the proximity of power… until he got fired and wrote a book.” When asked if she knew what President Trump thought of the interview, she said: “The president is very confounded that this person is always able to divert the spotlight to him… He was a very deft way of making things about him.”

 

Sam Stein and Julia Arciga

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Business

Odyssey business improvement Work smarter, not harder

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If you are involved in joining and engaging our devoted audience, we would love to have a conversion.

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