×
August 12, 2018

It started as a whim, and turned into an opportunity all artists dream about.

University of Miami student Matthew Hanzman is studying political science, but decided nine months ago that he wanted to "give this art thing a good shot," he told The Miami Herald. The 21-year-old began painting, and now more than 70 of his pieces will be on display at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, where he is the first painter in the Emerging Artists Showcase.

Miami is "eclectic" and "vibrant," Hanzman said, and he told The Miami Herald his artwork "reflects Miami's diversity." One piece, "Forever," is an acrylic on canvas that "demonstrates graffiti, street culture that's not typically associated with fine art," he said. "My art isn't instantly gratifying, it slowly reveals itself to the viewer." Hanzman is about to start his senior year at the University of Miami, and while he's not giving up his political science studies, he's now "completely obsessed with art," he said. "I hope to keep this going in the future." Catherine Garcia

12:08 p.m.

Construction was completed in October of 2017 on eight wall prototypes at the border near San Diego. President Trump looked at the sample walls the following March, and now they will all be torn down.

Each prototype cost between $300,000 to $500,000, for a total bill of $2.4 to $4 million. Additional expenditures will be required to remove them now that their brief show-and-tell purpose is finished.

"There is money already allocated to either take them down or build infrastructure around them," Border Patrol Agent Theron Francisco said Friday. "But the decision has been made at the national level to take them down, and the secondary replacement project will take their place." The timeline for the prototypes' destruction has yet to be set.

Earlier this month, Trump declared a national emergency to help obtain the billions he seeks for further border wall construction, but it is already facing legal challenge which could delay or permanently block Trump's plan from moving forward. Bonnie Kristian

11:37 a.m.

President Trump announced on Friday that the U.S. will keep 400 soldiers remaining in Syria.

Half of the troops will serve as part of a multinational force — which could end up consisting of as many as 1,500 soldiers — in the northeastern part of the country, while the other half will be stationed at an outpost in the southeast.

On Friday, Trump denied that the decision is a reversal from his previous rhetoric, in which he said he would pull all U.S. troops from Syria. "It's a very small, tiny fraction of the people we have, and a lot of people like that idea," he said.

The decision is part of a joint plan by the U.S. and its NATO allies to assemble a "monitoring and observing force" in northeastern Syria, with the hope of providing a buffer between Turkey and U.S.-allied Syrian opposition forces, particularly Kurdish resistance forces. The remaining soldiers will attempt to prevent an Islamic State resurgence in the area.

Per The New York Times, the United States' European allies refused to deploy troops if the U.S. did not. Tim O'Donnell

10:57 a.m.

In the wake of his first choice, Heather Nauert, removing her name from consideration, President Trump announced on Friday that he has nominated Kelly Knight Craft to succeed Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador.

Craft, a Republican donor from Kentucky, currently serves as the U.S. ambassador to Canada. She is credited with playing a key role in negotiating a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

Trump tweeted the announcement on Friday evening. "Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our country will be represented at the highest level," he wrote.

Having already been confirmed by the Senate for the Canada posting, she is not expected to face a challenge in getting confirmed for the role, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

10:42 a.m.

A group of nearly 100 Microsoft workers signed a petition Friday calling on their employer to cancel a $480 million contract with the U.S. Army and to stop developing "any and all weapons technologies."

Microsoft has agreed to sell the military its HoloLens headset, which allows users to see a virtually augmented version of reality. Contract bidding documents indicate the Army intends to use the gear as part of its Integrated Visual Augmentation System for both training and battlefield situations to improve soldiers' "lethality, mobility, and situational awareness."

"We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used," says the employee petition, arguing that when the HoloLens headset is "deployed on the battlefield," it will turn "warfare into a simulated 'video game,' further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed."

In a response statement Friday, Microsoft said it appreciated workers' input but will continue working with the military.

A similar intra-company conflict at Google last year over technology used for drone strikes resulted in the resignation of about a dozen employees and protest from some 4,600 more. Google ultimately did not renew the defense contract at issue, saying it clashed with company values. Bonnie Kristian

9:29 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fully expects his children to join the family dictatorship business someday, and when that happens, he reportedly does not want them to be burdened with a nuclear arsenal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "asked Chairman Kim: Do you really intend to denuclearize?" former CIA official Andrew Kim said of a meeting between Kim and Pompeo last year. "You know, I'm a father, and I'm a husband, and I have children, and I don't want my children to carry the nuclear weapon in their bag to live through their entire life," Andrew Kim reported Kim Jong Un replied.

The question of the Kim regime's sincerity in its denuclearization pledges is much debated, especially given reports of secret missile test sites. Pyongyang has explicitly pointed to the fates of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi as cautionary tales of voluntary denuclearization leading to forcible, U.S.-orchestrated regime change. Bonnie Kristian

8:26 a.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) argued with a group of school of children over her unwillingness to support the Green New Deal on Friday.

The Sunrise Movement, an organization which encourages young people to combat climate change, posted a video of the encounter to Facebook. More than a dozen children and adults met with Feinstein to ask her to vote yes on the proposal. Feinstein, however, informed the crowd that the resolution will never pass the senate and "there's no way to pay" for the deal.

When one girl requested she vote yes anyway, Feinstein told her that she might end up doing that, but "it's not a good resolution."

Feinstein also clashed with crowd over age and experience. A young woman told Feinstein that she was "looking at the faces of the people who will be living these consequences" of climate change. "I've been doing this for 30 years," Feinstein replied. "So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit."

Feinstein's camp released a statement about the meeting. "I have been and remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful change," Feinstein said. She said the discussion was "spirited" and she heard the children's voices "loud and clear." Tim O'Donnell

8:12 a.m.

President Trump met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the White House Friday, afterwards expressing optimism that Washington and Beijing could reach a trade deal soon.

"I think we both feel there's a very good chance the deal will happen," Trump said, indicating he may extend a March 1 deadline for new U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports if he feels adequate progress is being made. Liu was similarly positive, calling a deal "very likely" and pledging China will "make [its] ultimate effort" for success.

Additional negotiations between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to take place at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. "Ultimately, I think the biggest decisions and some even smaller decisions will be made by President Xi and myself. I think President Xi and I will work out the final points," Trump mused Friday. "Perhaps and perhaps not."

At Trump's direction, the United States has levied new tariffs ranging from 5 to 25 percent on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods over the last two years. Nevertheless, China's trade surplus with the U.S. in September reached a record monthly high. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads