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Obama warns over divisive social media use in Prince Harry interview

27 DEC 17 05:51 ET

(CNN) — Former US President Barack Obama has urged people in leadership positions not to use social media in a way that fosters division.

In a BBC interview conducted by Britain’s Prince Harry, Obama warned that the internet risked reinforcing people’s prejudices and leading to a fractured society.

“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet,” Obama said. “One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases,” he said.

Obama did not mention US President Donald Trump by name during the interview, which he said was his first since leaving office.

However, Trump’s campaign and presidency have been characterized by his outspoken use of Twitter.

Obama, who was interviewed for an edition of the BBC Radio 4 Today program guest edited by Prince Harry and broadcast Wednesday, said it was a challenge to make the most of the opportunities provided by social media.

“The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground,” he said in the interview, which was taped in September during the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada.

Obama said it was important for people to get offline and meet others in their communities, “because the truth is that on the internet everything is simplified and when you meet people face to face it turns out they are complicated,” he said.

“One of things we want to do I think is as we’re working with young people to build up platforms for social change,” he said. “Make sure that they don’t think that just sending out a hashtag in and of itself is bringing about change. It can be a powerful way to raise awareness but then you have to get on the ground and actually do something.”

‘Work still undone’

Asked how he felt on the day he left office in January this year, Obama described mixed feelings.

“The sense that there was a completion, and that we had done the work in a way that preserved our integrity and left us whole and that we hadn’t fundamentally changed, I think was a satisfying feeling,” he said.

“That was mixed with all the work that was still undone and concerns about how the country moves forward. But overall there was a serenity there, more than I would have expected.”

Obama also paid tribute to former First Lady Michelle Obama, describing her as a “spectacular, funny, warm person” who despite not being politically inclined herself had supported him throughout the process and been “as good of a First Lady as there has ever been.”

Asked by Harry what was the biggest change for him after his eight years in office, Obama reflected on a slowed pace of life and the new freedom he had to decide how to focus his activities.

“The things that are important to me haven’t changed, I still care about about making the United States and the world a place where kids get an education, where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage, that we are conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place like we did,” he said.

Obama said he now had to “rely more on persuasion than legislation” but that he enjoyed being able to focus his energies on the causes that mattered most to him.

Recounting what he missed about the presidency, Obama mentioned his team, the rewarding nature and intensity of the work they did — and being able to travel without getting stuck in traffic.

Royal wedding invitation?

Questioned live on air after the pre-taped interview was broadcast, Prince Harry said the guest list has not yet been put together for his wedding to US actress Meghan Markle next May.

Asked if he got along well enough with the former President to invite him to the event, the Prince laughed off the question.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” he said. “We haven’t put the invites or the guest list together yet so who knows whether he’s going to be invited or not. I wouldn’t want to ruin that surprise.”

The-CNN-Wire
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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Returns To The High Court After Bout With Cancer

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WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back at the court after missing oral arguments in January as she recovered from lung cancer surgery at home, a court official said on Friday.

Ginsburg, who will turn 86 in March, had been working from home and participating and voting in cases since her December surgery by reading argument transcripts and case briefs. She attended the justices’ closed-door conference to discuss cases on Friday.

While Ginsburg was expected to attend the next session of oral arguments beginning on Feb. 19, court officials could not confirm she would be on the bench next week.

Last month, the court announced that Ginsburg’s recovery was on track and that there was “no evidence” of remaining disease.

Ginsburg, who joined the court in 1993, underwent a surgical procedure called a pulmonary lobectomy on Dec. 21 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to remove two cancerous nodules in her left lung. She was released from the hospital on Dec. 25.

Ginsburg missed oral arguments in January for the first time in her lengthy career on the court, fueling speculation about her ability to continue in the job. (Reporting by Andrew Chung; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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US Senate Confirms William Barr As Attorney General

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed William Barr as attorney general, placing the veteran government official and lawyer atop the Justice Department as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Barr, who previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993. Barr will succeed Jeff Sessions, who was pushed out by President Donald Trump last year. The president was angry with Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

As the country’s chief law enforcement officer, Barr will oversee the remaining work in Mueller’s investigation of potential coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

Democrats largely voted against Barr. They said they were concerned about his non-committal stance on making Mueller’s report public.

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Rapper 21 Savage Freed From US Immigration Custody, Could Still Be Deported

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OCILLA, Ga. (AP) — A lawyer for 21 Savage says the Grammy-nominated rapper has been released from an immigration detention center in south Georgia.

Immigration lawyer Tia Smith said in an email that the rapper, whose given name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was released Wednesday on $100,000 bond. He had been held in the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla.

Abraham-Joseph was arrested early Feb. 3. An immigration judge on Tuesday granted him bond.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said the British citizen overstayed his visa and has an October 2014 felony conviction in Fulton County.

His lawyers have said the 26-year-old rapper was brought to the U.S. when he was 7 and his legal status expired in 2006 through no fault of his own. They’ve disputed that he has a felony conviction.

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