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Conservatives Shunning Breitbart Provocateur Milo Over Pedophilia Tape

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A leading U.S. conservative conference rescinded its invitation to provocative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and a publisher canceled his book deal on Monday after old internet videos of him recirculated in which he discusses pedophilia.

Yiannopoulos, in a Facebook video post, denied he ever condoned pedophilia and said one video of him was edited to give a misleading impression.

Yiannopoulos, a Briton who is celebrated by some arch conservatives, was banned from Twitter last year after making highly controversial statements. He has infuriated liberals with provocative comments on race, religion and sex and appears to delight in his ability to offend.

The chairman of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, said on Sunday the group rescinded an invitation to this year’s Wednesday-Saturday event “due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia.”

“We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the union, said in the Twitter post.

CPAC is a high-profile annual gathering of conservative activists. President Donald Trump is among the scheduled speakers this year along with Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior Trump adviser Stephen Bannon. Yiannopoulos is also an editor for the right-wing Breitbart News, which Bannon once headed.

Earlier this month, the University of California canceled Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement on the Berkeley campus when violent protests against his appearance broke out.

Trump, in response, threatened on Twitter to cut off federal funding for the university.

The latest controversy stems from a video in which Yiannopoulos seems to suggest the standard for pedophilia is whether the younger partner has gone through puberty.

At another point in the video, however, Yiannopoulos says the established age of consent, which is 16 to 18 years old in the United States, is “about right.”

In his Facebook statement on Monday, Yiannopoulos denied condoning pedophilia.

“I find those crimes to be absolutely disgusting. I find those people to be disgusting,” he said, while expressing regret he used the word “boys” instead of young men while discussing the benefits of relationships between men with large age differences.

Book publisher Simon & Schuster said it canceled the publication of Yiannopoulos’ book Dangerous, which was due out on June 13.

“After careful consideration @simonschuster and its @threshold_books have cancelled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos,” spokesman Adam Rothberg said on Twitter.

Yiannopoulos acknowledged in a separate Facebook post: “They canceled my book.”

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Rights Advocates Slam Trump Plans On Muslim Immigrants, Refugees

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Immigrant and refugee advocates on Wednesday denounced White House plans to temporarily stop receiving refugees and suspend visas for people from seven Middle Eastern and North African countries, saying they target Muslims and will make America less safe.

A draft executive order seen by Reuters that Trump is expected to sign in the coming days would block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Yemen while permanent rules are studied.

Trump is also expected to order a multi-month ban on allowing refugees into the United States except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified.

The administration’s aim is to head off Islamist violence in the United States, but critics say the measures soil America’s reputation as a welcoming place for immigrants of all kinds.

“The president needs to know he’s an absolute fool for fostering this kind of hostility in his first few days. This will inflame violence against Americans around the world,” said Seth Kaper-Dale, a pastor at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, New Jersey, which he said helped resettle 28 refugee and asylum-seeking families in the state last year.

Before his Nov. 8 election victory, Trump, a Republican, pledged to stop taking refugees from Syria and immigrants from countries deemed to pose a terrorism risk.

“Muslims, we believe, are the sole targets of these orders,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group.

“These orders are a disturbing confirmation of Islamophobic and un-American policy proposals made during the presidential election campaign,” Awad told a news conference in Washington.

During the campaign, Trump originally proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the country, a measure that almost certainly would have faced legal challenges for discrimination on the basis of religion. He later altered his stance to target countries known to be sources of terrorism.

About 100 protesters gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park chanting, “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are here to stay.” They also blasted the Trump administration as “too male, too pale, and too stale.”

“We reject policies that turn their backs on those who have suffered,” U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, a New York City Democrat, shouted to protesters.

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley in Washington and Gina Cherelus and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alan Crosby)

IMAGE: Demonstrators gather at Washington Square Park to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump in New York U.S., January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton