Monthly Archives: January 2017

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World's Muslim population more widespread than you might think – Pew Research Center


President Donald Trump’s recent executive order temporarily freezing immigration from seven predominantly Islamic countries would affect only about 12% of the world’s Muslims, according to estimates from a 2015 Pew Research Center report on the current and projected size of religious groups. In fact, of the seven countries named in the new immigration ban – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – only one, Iran, is among the 10 countries with the largest Muslim populations.

As of 2010, there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity. And although many people, especially in the United States, may associate Islam with countries in the Middle East or North Africa, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Pew Research Center analysis. In fact, more Muslims live in India and Pakistan (344 million combined) than in the entire Middle East-North Africa region (317 million).

However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest concentration of Muslims of any region of the world: 93% of its approximately 341 million inhabitants are Muslim, compared with 30% in sub-Saharan Africa and 24% in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world. The country with the largest number (about 209 million) is Indonesia, where 87.2% of the population identifies as Muslim. India has the world’s second-largest Muslim population in raw numbers (roughly 176 million), though Muslims make up just 14.4% of India’s total population.

Pew Research Center uses an array of surveys, census reports, population registers and other data sources to estimate numbers of Muslims and other religious groups around the world, the goal being to count all groups and people who self-identify with a particular religion. The figures presented here are as of 2010.

Looking ahead, the Center estimates that by 2050 the number of Muslims worldwide will grow to 2.76 billion, or 29.7% of world’s population. The share of the world’s Muslims who live in sub-Saharan Africa will increase from 15.5% in 2010 to 24.3%. Asia, which is currently home to more of the world’s Muslims (61.7%) than all the other regions combined, will continue to host a majority of the world’s Muslims, albeit with a smaller share (52.8%). As for the Middle East and North Africa, the region will roughly maintain its share of the world’s Muslims, rising only slightly from 19.8% to 20.0% in 2050.

Just 0.2% of the world’s Muslims live in North America. In the U.S., Muslims are projected to double from 0.9% of the population in 2010 to 2.1% by 2050 based on recent demographic and migration patterns.

Note: This is an update of a post originally published June 7, 2013.

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Population Geography, Population Trends, Sub-Saharan Africa

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US–Trump-The Latest – Yahoo News


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is insisting President Donald Trump’s immigration order should not be referred to as a travel “ban.” That’s despite the fact the president has called it that himself.

Spicer says during a press briefing that, “When we use words like travel ban that misrepresents what it is.” He says “a ban would mean people can’t get in.”

Trump’s policy bars the entry of nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and temporarily suspends the country’s refugee program.

Trump himself referred to his order as “the ban” in a Monday tweet.

Spicer says Trump was only using the media’s words.

__

2 p.m.

President Donald Trump has offered condolences to the family of a Navy sailor who was killed during a weekend raid on an al-Qaida base in Yemen.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says Trump had a “somber and lengthy” conversation with relatives of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens.

Owens, who was from Peoria, Illinois, died Saturday of wounds suffered during the raid. Owens is the first known U.S. military combat casualty since Trump took office on Jan. 20.

Spicer says Owens was on his 12th deployment. Spicer says the debt of gratitude that is owed to Owens can never be repaid.

Three other service members were wounded during the firefight with militants from al-Qaida.

__

1:40 p.m.

San Francisco is suing President Donald Trump, claiming an executive order over immigrant-protecting “sanctuary cities” is unconstitutional and a severe invasion of the city’s sovereignty.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday says Trump is trying to coerce local authorities into abandoning sanctuary city laws and policies, which San Francisco has adopted.

The president signed an order last week to withdraw funding from sanctuary cities that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. It didn’t specify what kind of money could be pulled.

San Francisco receives about $1.2 billion a year in federal funding. The suit argues that the city is safer when all people, including those in the country illegally, feel safe reporting crimes.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera says the order violates state’s rights as well as the rule of law.

___

12:20 p.m.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is defending his staff’s work on President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration while insisting they had no final say on the policy.

In a statement Tuesday, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said he proudly allowed his staff to provide expertise to the Trump transition team. But while they gave advice, Goodlatte said they didn’t have authority to make decisions on the policy. That was made that highest levels of the administration, he said.

Goodlatte said his staff “had no control of the language” in the executive order, its timing or the rollout.

The lawmaker said he supports the policy.

___

10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is planning to sign an executive order aimed at strengthening cybersecurity.

A White House official said Tuesday that the order will charge the head of the Office of Management and Budget with assessing security risk to computer networks across the executive branch of government.

The official said the order also directs agency heads to develop plans to modernize information technology infrastructure.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the executive order hadn’t been publicly released.

___

10:15 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has given a strong defense of President Donald Trump’s refugee and immigration ban.

That’s the word from Republicans who attended a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning. Lawmakers said Ryan told them he backs the order, which has created chaos and confusion worldwide.

Ryan cautioned lawmakers that support won’t be easy and warned them to expect protests in their districts.

Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee said Ryan told GOP members that the “the rollout was a little bumpy, been a few potholes in the road but the actual policy he agreed with.”

Ryan said it was similar to legislation that the House backed in 2014.

___

9:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he wants to lower drug prices and bring pharmaceutical companies back to the United States.

Trump is meeting with drug company executives at the White House Tuesday. He says “we’re going to be changing a lot of the rules” and promises to end “global freeloading.”

He is also vowing to reduce the prices of Medicare and Medicaid.

Among the attendees were executives from the drug companies Novatis, Merck, Worldwide Pharmaceuticals-Johnson & Johnson and Amgen.

Trump is promising the group that he will soon name a “fantastic person” to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

___

9:45 a.m.

Democrats say President Donald Trump should stop the name calling.

In a tweet Tuesday, Trump mocked congressional leaders who protested at the Supreme Court on Monday night against the new executive order on refugees and immigration.

Trump tweeted: “Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work (a mess)-just like Dem party!”

Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Schumer, said Trump should learn that name calling is not going to solve the self-inflicted problems of the Trump administration. House said Trump should repeal the executive order halting the entire U.S. refugee program and banning all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days.

Schumer became emotional this past weekend at a news conference on the refugee issues.

___

7 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump will leave intact a 2014 executive order that protects federal workers from anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

In a statement released early Tuesday, the White House says Trump “is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community” and that he “continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.”

The Trump administration has vowed to roll back much of President Barack Obama’s work from the past eight years and had been scrutinizing the 2014 order. The directive protects people from LGBTQ discrimination while working for federal contractors.

The recent statement says the protections will remain intact “at the direction” of Trump.

___

6:05 a.m.

The Trump administration has named a new acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Thomas Homan, who was in charge of the agency’s enforcement and removal operations, has been named acting director. The agency’s Twitter account says that Daniel Ragsdale, who had been temporarily in charge, is returning to his previous position as deputy director of ICE.

Both men are longtime career employees.

The administration didn’t offer any explanation for the move announced late Monday, the same day that President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for publicly declining to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in announcing the change that Homan had led efforts “to identify, arrest, detain, and remove illegal aliens.” The statement didn’t make any mention of Ragsdale.

___

3:50 a.m.

In an extraordinary public showdown, President Donald Trump fired the acting attorney general of the United States after she publicly questioned the constitutionality of his refugee and immigration ban and refused to defend it in court.

The clash Monday night between Trump and Sally Yates, a career prosecutor and Democratic appointee, laid bare the growing discord and dissent surrounding an executive order that halted the entire U.S. refugee program and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. The firing also served as a warning to other administration officials that Trump is prepared to terminate those who refuse to carry out his orders.

Yates’ refusal to defend the executive order was largely symbolic given that Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, will almost certainly defend the policy once he’s sworn in. He’s expected to be confirmed Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee and could be approved within days by the full Senate.

___

This version corrects Daniel Ragsdale’s standing with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. After temporarily being put in charge of ICE, he is returning to his previous position as deputy director there.

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Wisconsin trending toward commitment from 4-star wide receiver – Landof10.com


Though 4-star wide receiver Danny Davis hasn’t made it official yet, experts seem to think he’ll be heading to Wisconsin come signing day on Wednesday.

Davis is the No. 8 recruit in the state of Ohio and the No 31 receiver in the 2017 class.

In 2016, he said the Buckeyes wanted him at defensive back, so he chose not to go to their camp.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver out of Springield, Ohio, has offers from Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State, but has been predicted to sign with the Badgers.

Here are his highlights via Hudl:

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Trump sacks defiant acting attorney general Sally Yates – BBC News


Donald Trump has fired the acting US attorney general after she questioned the legality of his immigration ban.

Sally Yates, who was appointed by Barack Obama, ordered justice department lawyers not to enforce the president’s executive order.

A White House statement accused Ms Yates of “betraying” the justice department and being “weak on borders”.

Mr Trump replaced her with Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Mr Boente said he was “honoured to serve President Trump” and immediately directed his department to enforce the controversial order.

Mr Trump also replaced the acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Daniel Ragsdale, who has been in the post since 20 January. He is the former deputy director.

No reason was given for Mr Ragsdale’s sacking. He has been replaced by Thomas Homan, the executive associate director of enforcement and removal.

Mr Trump’s order temporarily banned nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, and sparked street protests in the US and abroad.

Ms Yates, a career prosecutor who served as deputy attorney general under Barack Obama, said in a letter that she was “not convinced” that the president’s order was lawful.

“As long as I am the acting attorney general, the department of justice will not present arguments in defence of the Executive Order,” she said.

Within hours, the White House announced: “President Trump relieved Ms Yates of her duties.”

A statement claimed she had “betrayed the department of justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States”.

It also described her as “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration”.

Democrats hits back at Ms Yates’ dismissal. Senator Chuck Schumer, the party leader, said in a statement that the “attorney general should be loyal and pledge fidelity to the law, not the White House. The fact that this administration doesn’t understand that is chilling”.


“Monday Night Massacre?” Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter, BBC News

Donald Trump’s critics are calling it the “Monday Night Massacre”. That’s a reference to President Richard Nixon’s Saturday night sacking of his attorney general during the depths of the Watergate scandal of 1973, the last time top justice department officials were forced out by a president.

This time around is a bit different, however. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates essentially forced Mr Trump’s hand when she ordered justice department lawyers not to defend the president’s recent immigration order in court.

Mr Trump could not abide such defiance from an Obama Administration holdover due for replacement soon anyway. Once again, however, his White House team could not help but turn the rhetorical volume up to 11 in announcing the firing, accusing Ms Yates of having “betrayed” the justice department.

Ms Yates’s move follows on the heels of a similarly extraordinary reaction to a letter, signed by more than 100 career state department officials, condemning the immigration action as un-American.

It’s easy to imagine that this administration – just over a week in power – feels set against a Washington bureaucracy seeking to undermine it at every turn. If that kind of bunker mentality grows in the days ahead, this political bloodletting likely will be only the beginning.

Is Trump’s immigration order legal?


Her replacement, Mr Boente, was also appointed by Barack Obama, in 2015. He was confirmed by the US Senate – making him eligible for appointment while Mr Trump waits for his own nominee to be approved.

Senator Jeff Sessions is awaiting a confirmation hearing for the role later this week.

Meanwhile, hundreds of diplomats and foreign servants have been drafting a “dissent cable” to formally criticise the president’s executive order.

A draft version of the cable said that immigration restrictions will not make the US safer, are un-American and will send the wrong message to the Muslim world.

The ban bars citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The White House has consistently defended Mr Trump’s executive order despite the controversy, with press secretary Sean Spicer saying diplomats should “get with the programme”.

In addition, former President Barack Obama has apparently broken with the convention of former presidents avoiding comment on their successors.

Commenting on the protests about the immigration order, President Obama said he was “heartened”.

“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” he said in a statement, which did not mention Mr Trump by name.


Have you or your family been affected by the entry restrictions? Have you been detained at an airport following the travel ban? Get in touch by emailing .

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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How Trump Blindsided DHS With His Ban – Daily Beast


The Daily Beast surveyed 20 DHS employees. Nineteen had no idea the White House’s order on immigrants and refugees was coming.

Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly spent the weekend trying to calm down angry and confused employees across multiple DHS agencies who received no warning about the Trump administration’s executive order on immigrants and refugees, were unsure of their role in its implementation, and fearful of what else may come down the pike.

The Daily Beast surveyed 20 DHS employees from a range of agencies—including Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services, the Transportation Security Adminsitration, and DHS—whose job would be affected by the executive order in some capacity. Of that group, 19 of the employees—some of whom process refugee applications from the impacted countries—had learned that Trump had signed the executive order from the news media. The other employee said they had learned about the EO about an hour before it was signed, and only because they happened to overhear a coworker yelling on the phone outside the bathroom.

For example, a TSA employee found out about the EO—and the pushback to that order—when protesters began rushing his place of work, a major airport.

“They knew there were protests but didn’t tell us. That’s not safe to walk into the unknown,” said that TSA employee.

It’s part of a pattern of chaos that unfolded in the EO’s wake. According to the New York Times, Kelly himself only found out that Trump was signing the order when his staff saw the president doing so on television.

In calls with senior Customs and Border Patrol and other DHS agency management, Kelly tried to assure his staff that the order was neither odd or illegal—and that nothing of the sort would be rolled out under his watch. Rather he, added, according to two employees briefed on the calls, staff should “expect a return to Bush era policy.”

It appeared to several DHS employees that Kelly signaling that he would—as much as possible—insulate his staff from the craziness of the Trump executive orders and whatever else may come down from the White House.

“I think he’s saying that whatever we hear, we should know that there’s going to be method, procedure, tactics,” said one Border Patrol officer. “I think the general is saying, ‘We’re not going to be doing crazy shit off the cuff.’”

Several employees across agencies directly involved with implementing the executive order heard this promise, but said they remained most concerned about being kept completely in the dark about the EO beforehand.

Kelly is planning to bring better interdepartmental and agency communication, in part, by restocking the DHS press office. According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, David Lapan, who is currently director of the Defense Department public affairs office, is the top pick to run the DHS press shop. He didn’t immediately reply to the Daily Beast’s email for comment.

For some, the changes can’t come quick enough.

“I appreciate what Kelly said and if true, returning to Bush era policy would be fine,” said a border patrol employee. “But honestly, I’m operating on the belief that this is all crazytown.”

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Wal-Mart Takes Latest Shot at Amazon – Fox Business


Wal-Mart Stores will offer U.S. shoppers free two-day shipping on a minimum order of $35 starting Tuesday, its latest attempt to compete with rival Amazon.com popular Prime shipping program.

Continue Reading Below

Free shipping will replace ‘Shipping Pass’, Wal-Mart’s existing two-day shipping program that charges shoppers an annual membership fee of $49. Amazon Prime charges customers $99 a year for two-day shipping that comes with additional features like a streaming video service.

Marc Lore, head of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce operations, said the company’s offer will be “most compelling” for shoppers looking for low prices, a wide assortment and fast shipping.

“In today’s world of e-commerce, two-day free shipping is table stakes. It no longer makes sense to charge for it,” Lore said on a conference call. He is the former head of online retailer Jet.com, which Wal-Mart bought for $3.3 billion last year.

The decision to scrap the membership fee is Lore’s boldest move yet to challenge Amazon since he took charge of Wal-Mart’s struggling online business. Earlier this month, Lore shuffled Wal-Mart’s e-commerce decks.

The move is in line with the broader push by Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon to narrow the gap with Amazon and give it an even more dominant position in U.S. e-commerce. The retailer has been investing in e-commerce for the past 15 years, but it still lags far behind its Seattle-based rival.

Continue Reading Below

Wal-Mart’s free shipping offer will be available on over 2 million items. It will include frequently ordered items such as household essentials, baby products, cleaning supplies and food items like cereal and peanut butter.

Wal-Mart said it will use its new online warehouses around the country to fulfill such orders and expects to ship many such items in just one day. In October, the retailer said it is on track to double the number of giant warehouses dedicated to online sales to 10 by the end of 2016.

Wal-Mart will also fully refund the membership fee for existing Shipping Pass members. The company started experimenting with Shipping Pass in 2015 and was trying to boost demand for the program by offering a free 30-day trial in 2016.

In a separate blog post, Lore said the retailer remains committed to saving consumers money. “I’ve been here for four months and I couldn’t be more excited about how fast we are moving. It feels like a startup.”

He indicated there will be more changes at the world’s largest retailer.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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Trending: Transfer deadline looms, Arsenal drawn against giantkillers – ESPN FC (blog)


ESPN FC’s Mark Ogden sheds light on the lack of movement in this January transfer window, and its history of poor decisions.

Here are the latest stories for Tuesday.

PREMIER LEAGUE:  The transfer deadline is fast approaching — all deals must be in place by 11 p.m. GMT, that’s 6 p.m. ET — and Premier League clubs are expected to be the busiest in the European market. Keep up to date with all the deals as the happen, across all leagues, in our LIVE Transfer Talk blog.

FA CUP: Arsenal will visit non-league Sutton United in the fifth round, while holders Manchester United travelling to face Blackburn Rovers. FULL DRAW

– Sutton United captain Jamie Collins will be back on the building site to prepare for the non-league minnows’ fairytale FA Cup tie against Arsenal at Gander Green Lane next month.

CHELSEA: Schalke have confirmed they have rejected Chelsea’s bid to sign wing-back Sead Kolasinac.

– Branislav Ivanovic is to fly out to Spain to finalise his move to Zenit St Petersburg, sources close to the player have told ESPN FC.

– N’Golo Kante has told SFR Sport that Didier Drogba’s unconventional rise to the top fuelled his own progress from amateur football to the Premier League.

LIVERPOOL: Roberto Firmino can play in Tuesday’s home game against Chelsea after an impending court date was pushed back by 24 hours.

HULL CITY: Ryan Mason has been released from hospital eight days after fracturing his skull, the Premier League club have announced.

WEST HAM: Dimitri Payet feels he does not have to justify himself after forcing through his £25 million move from West Ham to Marseille.

ARSENAL: Arsene Wenger says this season’s Arsenal team has the most attacking talent he’s ever managed during his 20-year spell at the club.

VILLARREAL: Alexandre Pato has become the latest high-profile player to move to China after the Brazilian striker linked up with Fabio Cannavaro at Tianjin Quanjian.

UNITED STATES: Midfielders Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan have left the U.S. training camp and will miss Friday’s exhibition against Jamaica at Chattanooga, Tennessee.

MLS:  Commissioner Don Garber has accepted a San Diego investor group’s application for an expansion franchise.

– Finland international midfielder Alexander Ring is set to complete a move to New York City FC from 2. Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern, according to German outlet kicker.

– The Seattle Sounders have signed Sweden international Gustav Svensson, the club announced on Monday.

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

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'Perfect Little World' Imagines Family Drama Inside A Utopian Compound – NPR


Perfect Little World

Utopian communities don’t fare much better in fiction than they do in real life. As the plot usually unfolds, a brave new world loses its luster fast when the failings of its founder are exposed, or when the community itself begins to morph into a cult. Think of Lauren Groff’s Arcadia or Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony, two recent novels that have imagined alternative communities and their inevitable crack-up.

How could it be otherwise in fiction? As the Talking Heads told us, “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” A novel about heaven, about a successful utopia without sin or tension, would be pretty dull, indeed.

Fortunately for us readers, the experimental ideal community that Kevin Wilson brings to life in his second novel, Perfect Little World, has the delicious makings of a mess from its very inception.

Wilson broke out with his 2011 debut novel, The Family Fang, about two married, avant-garde artists who deploy their children as props in their performance pieces. That novel was ingenious — a whirlwind of screwball comedy, art and sad realizations about the limitations of family.

Wilson is still thinking hard about the idea of family in Perfect Little World. This is in some ways a calmer, less quirky novel, but what Perfect Little World loses in eccentricity, it gains in emotional depth.

Article continues after sponsorship

Wilson’s story focuses on Isabel “Izzy” Poole, a smart, self-contained, high school senior in Tennessee who falls in love with her depressed art teacher and becomes pregnant. Izzy’s mom is dead, her alcoholic dad is just barely scraping by, and her teacher-lover is too entangled with his own demons to be of any use. Izzy, who’s a quietly compelling character, has decided to keep her baby.

She comes to the attention of something called The Infinite Family Project. Cooked up by a child psychologist named Dr. Grind and funded by a billionaire who cherishes happy memories of being raised in a caring orphanage, the project aims to place 10 infants and their parents in a state-of-the-art commune for 10 years. The children will be raised by all the adults, and for a long stretch, they won’t know who their biological parents are.

The aim is to see if both adults and children are happier and healthier when the pressures of child rearing are widely distributed. Young as she is, Izzy knows this mega blended family is probably doomed, but single motherhood isn’t looking like a walk in the park either. Here’s her rationale for taking a chance on the project:

[Izzy] thought, for the millionth time, of her future as it lay before her without the aid of this project, working two jobs to make ends meet, her son in the cheapest day care she could find, so tired at the end of the day that her baby felt like an unbreakable curse, failing each and every day until the bottom fell out of the world.

Wilson richly imagines the mundane details of life in the futuristic compound, as well as the bumpy personalities of the other parents, all of whom, except Izzy, are coupled.

A year in, a research assistant to Dr. Grind declares: “The kids are going to be great; the parents are the unstable element.” That’s partly because the adults have trouble figuring out what they are to one another: “Brothers and sisters?” “Second cousins?”

One night, as Izzy and some of the other parents are sitting around drinking whiskey smashes, another mom suggests that they’re all “like the cast of Gilligan’s Island.” One of the fathers points out: “There was a lot of sexual tension on that show.” Uh huh. The snake has been let into this nursery-land Eden, which is soon rocked by illicit hook-ups, the likes of which Ginger, the Professor and Mary Ann dared not even dream of.

Wilson is such an inventive and witty writer, that it was only after I’d finished Perfect Little World and was no longer caught up in the story, that I realized how many ideas he raises here, how many kinds of family arrangements he scrutinizes, among them biological, chosen, nuclear, communal, broken and bandaged.

The utopian Infinite Family Project may be flawed from the get-go, but Wilson’s “perfect little world” of a novel pretty much lives up to its title.

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Trump Travel Ban Is Latest Move to Inspire Hollywood Backlash – NBCNews.com


If Sunday night’s politically-charged Screen Actor’s Guild Awards are any indication, President Donald Trump and his controversial policies are squarely in Hollywood’s cross-hairs — setting the stage for an Academy Awards which will likely be more politicized than usual.

At the SAG awards, a number of winners and presenters, including “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, “That 70s Show” actor Ashton Kutcher and Muslim-American Oscar nominee Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) spoke out against Trump’s divisive travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries.

Those speeches came on the heels of Oscar winner Meryl Streep’s widely publicized Golden Globes address, which called out Trump’s alleged impersonation of a disabled reporter and lack of empathy.

Awards season in Hollywood has been politicized in the past, like when the Oscars were postponed in 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., or when the late Marlon Brando infamously dispatched activist Sacheen Littlefeather to speak against negative cinematic portrayals of Native Americans instead of appearing at the 1973 ceremony.

But this year, particularly in the wake of a bitterly contested 2016 election — where much of the Hollywood establishment was aligned against Trump — and his polarizing first days in office, the film industry looks poised to use its considerable influence to fight back.

Related: Advocacy, Aid Groups Condemn Trump Order as ‘Muslim Ban’

“This is the most political I’ve ever seen it,” said Entertainment Weekly’s awards season correspondent Nicole Sperling. “I think the gloves are off since Meryl Streep’s speech. She kind of opened the floodgates … [actors and actresses] are realizing they have a platform and they’re choosing to use it for something more than to celebrate themselves and the people around them.”

The timing is auspicious, since awards season is typically the time of year where Hollywood’s brightest stars are in the biggest spotlight. Awards shows continue to draw high ratings, albeit diminished compared to years past, and that viewership could provide a huge platform for prominent progressives in opposition to Trump.

For instance, Ali is already considered a front-runner in the Best Supporting Actor race, and should he win, not only will he be the first Muslim-American to win an Oscar in a major acting category, he could also deliver another rendition of his emotional SAG speech, where he spoke out against prejudice and “persecution.”

Meanwhile, there is the case of Best Foreign Language film nominee director Asghar Farhadi (“The Salesman”). Shortly after the news of Trump’s executive order restricting travel from the Middle East was rannounced, several news outlets pointed out that Farhadi would likely be barred from attending the Academy Awards.

And in a statement to the New York Times, Farhadi said he won’t attend even if he is granted a waiver.

“I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations,” he wrote.

Taraneh Alidoosti, one of the Iranian stars of Farhadi’s nominated film “The Salesman,” has also said she is boycotting the Oscars in response to Trump’s travel ban.

“Trump’s visa ban for Iranians and others is a racist move and unacceptable,” she wrote on social media. “I won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”

Related: Iranian Actress Taraneh Alidoosti: I’m Boycotting Oscars Over Trump’s Visa Ban

Yet, despite their intention to skip the awards, the academy could still send a strong message by voting for “The Salesman” to win the award anyway. The 2013 victory of “Argo” in the Best Picture race was widely perceived as a mea culpa for its director, actor Ben Affleck, who was snubbed for a Best Director nomination.

And a more direct corollary would be 1975, where the academy embraced the controversial anti-Vietnam war documentary “Hearts and Minds” after a brief, awards-qualifying run in theaters the year before after the studio that produced it, Columbia Pictures, refused to distribute it.

According to Sperling, awareness for “The Salesman” has spiked and, now that the whole academy gets to weigh in on the eventual Best Foreign Language winner, its “stock is definitely up.”

“For those who are paying attention ‘The Salesman’ is not only just a nominee, it’s a headline,” she said. “It’s now become a front-runner just in that regard.”

There are also a slew of other nominated films that speak to the concerns and experiences of the marginalized and disenfranchised, like “Lion” and “Moonlight,” which may get a closer look from Oscar voters amid the fallout from Trump’s actions.

Related: Oscar Nominations Are In: ‘La La Land,’ Diversity Dominate

As fears of a backlash, or being labeled elites, Sperling argues that celebrities know “they’re going to get slammed anyway” and they would rather not “feel silly” by failing to acknowledge the passionate protests going on all over the world.

“I think we’ve reached the tipping point where they don’t care anymore,” she said.

In other words, Trump, who has proven to be very sensitive to criticism, could be in for a long Oscar night on Feb. 26.

“No president in any of our lifetimes, not even the one who started out as an actor, has been more obsessed with show business or its many yardsticks of success than Trump is,” wrote Mark Harris recently in New York magazine. “So Hollywood’s cold shoulder hurts him.”

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