Trump’s boasts at the UN prompt laughter — and then a long silence

By Eli Stokols and Tracy Wilkinson

Los Angeles Times

UNITED NATIONS President Donald Trump had barely begun his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday when he claimed his tenure had “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” the kind of over-the-top boast he usually reserves for his campaign rallies.

Around the cavernous hall, diplomats and world leaders broke into what even the official White House transcript described as laughter.

“Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK,” Trump said, momentarily startled. That prompted more guffaws and applause.

A year after Trump delivered a fiery speech here that left diplomats slack-jawed, many appeared to view him Tuesday as more theater than threat. They sat silent as he cited what he claimed as major achievements, including the U.S. pullout from the Iran nuclear accord, his refusal to sign the Global Compact on migration, the withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council, and his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

As expected, Trump aimed his sharpest ire at Iran, blaming the Islamic Republic for sowing “havoc and slaughter” in Syria and Yemen, and spreading “mayhem across the Middle East” and beyond.

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Trump said. “They do not respect their neighbors, their borders or the sovereign rights of nations.”

He urged other countries to join an economic pressure campaign against Iran, a direct challenge to other members of the Security Council that remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal that Trump abandoned.

“We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues,” Trump said.

But Trump devoted much of a somber, and often isolationist, 35-minute address to promoting his America First agenda, and its emphasis on sovereignty in trade, security and international affairs. “We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” he said.

He also outlined the argument for his disruptive approach to foreign affairs, from the Middle East to North Korea, where he has upended traditional diplomacy by discarding former U.S. policies.

“America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again,” he said.

Citing the dangers of illegal immigration and “uncontrolled migration,” Trump argued that each country should set its own policies in accordance with its national interest. The U.N. estimated about 65 million people, mostly from impoverished nations, have been dislocated due to war, persecution, environmental disasters and economic needs.

“Migration should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens,” Trump said. “Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.”

Trump bore down on his persistent pledge to curb and re-prioritize America’s foreign aid budget, complaining that helping poverty-stricken countries offered little benefit to U.S. interests.

“The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid. But few give anything to us,” he told the world body.

Trump said Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo would take a “hard look” at the State Department budget and ensure that countries receiving aid or military protection “also have our interests at heart.”

“Moving forward, we’re only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends,” he said.

His suggestion to make foreign aid more transactional challenges, at least in part, the traditional U.S. role of trying to use so-called soft power to promote human rights and democracy, especially in fragile societies or those where U.S. interests are prominent. The countries that receive the most U.S. economic aid are Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Egypt.

Despite his emphasis on sovereignty, Trump did not criticize, or even mention, Russia. The U.N. has criticized Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, and its seizure of Crimea, as well as its actions in Georgia and the Balkans, and the U.S. intelligence community and a Virginia grand jury have documented the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump attacked the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, known as OPEC, for what he described as “ripping off the rest of the world,” but then praised Saudi Arabia’s leadership for what he called bold reforms. Saudi Arabia is one of the main powers in OPEC and is partly responsible for higher oil prices as U.S. sanctions bite into Iran’s oil production.

Trump praised his decision last December to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a hotly disputed action favored by few in the audience, calling it “very historic change.” Trump’s critics believe he has openly sided with Israel and jeopardized any chance to revive the long-stalled Mideast peace process.

“The tone of this speech won’t be effective outside Trump’s base at home _ boastful, bitter and resentful of countries that ‘take advantage of us,’” Nicholas Burns, a former senior diplomat in Republican and Democratic administrations, said via Twitter. “He is not leading the world, but campaigning against it.

Free ‘expungement clinic’ offers individuals a second chance

By Dean Galiffa 

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Paralegal studies student Brittany Murphy (left) and Staff Attorney at Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania Erica Briant (right) discuss an individual’s case. Photo by Dean Galiffa
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Keeley Mitchell, director of Paralegal Studies, waits to sign in registered individuals. Photo by Dean Galiffa
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Staff Attorney at Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania Guy Marinari (left) and paralegal studies student Nancy Stock (right) discuss an individual’s case. Photo by Dean Galiffa

Paralegal students, under the supervision of attorneys from the Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, assisted students and community members Sept. 23 to determine if they are eligible to have certain prior arrests or convictions expunged or sealed from their record.

Held on Marple Campus, the free “expungement clinic” was organized by Keeley Mitchell, director of Paralegal Studies. Keeley said that registration for the clinic involved the individual providing key information for viewing their criminal record.

Expungement refers to the removal of certain offenses from a person’s record. For an offense to be sealed, the court records are destroyed that would otherwise be accessible as public record.

“Each individual is assigned a paralegal student,” Keeley said. “After they’re signed in, they meet with the student and go over their record. The students were assigned nine clients each.”

Mary Taylor, a second-year paralegal studies student, said classmates who were previously involved in the clinic recommended she apply.

“They said it had been a good experience,” Taylor said. “[The applicants] were narrowed down to 10 people.”

Brittany Murphy, a paralegal studies student in her last year, said that only seven of the 10 students were selected for the clinic. Murphy said that she applied during the first week of classes.

The application process involved students meeting a certain GPA requirement and submitting an essay.

After registration, the paralegal students were given information on the individuals’ criminal records.

“[The process] is not just today,” said Lisa Laffend, a paralegal studies student in her second semester. “We spent all week working on these cases.”

Keeley said that the paralegal students will inform the individual of what offenses can and cannot be expunged or sealed.

Keeley explained that paralegal students cannot give legal advice on their own, so the attorneys from the Legal Aid approve and make the recommendations for how to proceed.

“They normally take the intake and all information to the attorney and confirm what the next step is,” Keeley said. “Then, the attorney gives their blessing.”

Despite the attorney having the final say, Keeley explained that stuents still benefit from this eperience.

“It’s a win-win,” Keeley said. “They’re getting experience that they can put on their resume. Many of them have actually landed jobs. Legal Aid has pulled some for internships.”

Erica Briant, a staff attorney at Legal Aid, said that she became involved with the clinic through Keeley.

“This is my fourth expungement clinic,” Briant said. “The opportunity to work with students is wonderful because we are reaching up to 70 folks today. There’s no way that I could do that by myself.”

Keeley further explained that if individuals are able to have their record expunged and fit the income requirements, then Legal Aid will take them on as a client. Otherwise, they are told what the next step is.

“If they can’t get expunged, then they’re explained whether they have to do a pardon.” Keeley said. “In some cases, like with a juvenile record, they’ll try to seal them.”

A pardon involves a governor or president using her executive power to remove any remaining penalties or punishments of an individual’s convicted crime. This prevents any new prosecution for the crime.

This is the sixth expungement clinic held on the Marple Campus. There has been one during each fall and spring semester since spring 2015. In addition to the Marple Campus clinic, the first clinic at the Exton Campus will be held next semester.

Contact Dean Galiffa at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Alumnus speaks of autism at work

By Dean Galiffa

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Speaker Patrick Viesti addresses students and faculty in the DCCC Marple campus lecture hall. Photo by Dean Galiffa

Standing at the podium, looking out into the crowd of students, Patrick Viesti introduces himself to the onlooking pupils. All eyes are on him as he stands in the front of the DCCC Marple campus lecture hall on April 11.

“Good morning, everyone,” Viesti says. “I want to thank you for inviting me to talk about SAP’s ‘Autism at Work’ program and share my journey. To begin this story, I need to provide a background of who I am. [I have been] featured in several major video and written news publications. But, before all of that, at the age of three, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.”

Viesti is one of five who were selected to be a part of the Autism at Work Program at the Newtown Square campus of SAP, one of the world’s largest business software companies, where he currently manages company projects as an order execution manager.

Viesti has spoken at the United Nations in New York for World Autism Awareness Day. He was asked by Jose Velasco, head of SAP’s Autism at Work Program in North America, to be interviewed by news television channels Al-Jazeera America and CBS This Morning.

The ARC of Philadelphia, SAP’s local implementation partner with the Autism at Work Program, asked Viesti to visit Capitol Hill and speak to Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) about how colleges and local businesses can form partnerships to help those on the autism spectrum better integrate into the workforce after graduation.

After receiving DCCC’s 2017 Rising Star award for the 50th anniversary last September, Viesti recently visited the Marple campus to discuss his experiences as a student with Asperger’s.

“It’s hard to believe, but I, too, sat in the very same seats you are now,” Viesti says, looking out into the lecture hall. There was a murmur from the audience as students and teachers chuckled.

“Taking my first steps towards higher education was something I had been preparing for since I graduated from Hill Top Preparatory School,” Viesti says. “My experiences with DCCC were some of the best at challenging me to become a better writer, a better critical thinker, and a better person.”

After attending Coeburn Elementary School in Rosemont, Pa., Viesti’s parents found it best for him to attend specialized education for both middle and high school.

Hill Top Preparatory School is a grade fifth through twelve preparatory day school for students with learning disabilities.

Viesti attended the school for seven years. After graduating in 2005, he attended DCCC where he received an associate degree in communications.

In 2008, Viesti transferred to West Chester University where he graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2011.

After graduating, Viesti had difficulty finding a job due to a combination of the recession and his Asperger syndrome. However, in May 2013, a family friend referred Viesti to a CNN news report on SAP’s Autism at Work inAfter applying for the program, Viesti was contacted by ARC of Philadelphia in late February 2014 to be interviewed.

Walking toward the audience, Viesti addresses the students and faculty with nothing between them. Hands crossed over his tie, he stands only feet away from the front row.

“The interview process was nothing like I expected,” Viesti says, abandoning his scripted speech. “They actually really wanted to get to know me on a personal level.”

Audience members smile as they listen to Viesti share why he thinks it is important for colleges to support students with autism.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of colleges such as DCCC forming partnerships with local businesses that will give students on the spectrum a better, stronger chance at being hired after graduation,” Viesti said.

Now, Viesti speaks on behalf of his personal experiences at SAP when other companies interested in Autism at Work visit. He helps inform and equip their administrators to implement the program at their own company.

Viesti hopes that both students on the spectrum and otherwise will continue to persevere and use their available resources.

“When I was looking for work, there were times that I thought ‘what more can I do?’” Viesti said. “There will always be that one person that will say ‘I want to hire you.’ You have to keep going, you have to keep pushing. Even beyond graduation, continue to keep in contact with people who can help you. I would not have graduated without that support.”

Contact Dean Galiffa at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

‘Coping With Anxiety’: a professional perspective

By John Kearney

Richard M. Conforto, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and clinical director at Springfield Psychological, spoke to almost 30 students in Room 4255 on Marple campus, April 11. The workshop, “Coping with Anxiety,” focused on anxiety disorders and their complications, while providing insights on how to manage their anxiety.

DCCC counselor Jennifer Kalligonis said she initially invited Conforto to speak in March, but the talk was postponed due to inclement weather that closed the college.

“We’ve had a lot of students coming in with symptoms of anxiety,” said DCCC counselor Kalligonis, who also hosted a workshop earlier in the academic year for students feeling anxious regarding tests and exams.

“Since it seemed so prevalent, it seemed like a good idea to have a workshop about general anxiety,” Kalligonis said.

Conforto began his presentation by recognizing what anxiety is.

“Anxiety is the body’s natural reaction to a threat,” Conforto said. “It could be categorized by feelings of apprehension, dread and fear.”

Conforto highlighted cognition as a major role in the amount of stress an individual can experience.

“Most of the stressors we face today are psychological, whether they are worries about the future, regrets about the past, or injustices that cause frustration and anger,” he explained.

Conforto then categorizes the symptoms of anxiety as physical, mental, and behavioral.

Physical symptoms include feeling tired, headaches, chest pain and pounding heart, muscle tension, and trouble sleeping.

Mental symptoms include an inability to concentrate, a lack of interest in things previously enjoyed, irritability, and excessive worry.

Behavioral symptoms comprise a decrease in performance at school or work, increased conflicts with others, and using recreational drugs to cope with stress.

“There is a neurological basis for anxiety and stress,” Conforto said. “While we cannot remove or eliminate anxiety neurochemically, we can manage it.”

He next offered ways of coping if the trigger or stressor can or cannot be controlled.

“Being assertive with others is useful if stress is generated by others imposing their agendas on you,” he told students.

Conforto then outlined some coping techniques to consider when feeling anxious such as “healthy self-talk” which allows people to “talk to themselves like they would a friend or loved one,” he stated.

He considered perfectionism or “all or nothing” thinking as counterintuitive to mental health.

“Life has shades of gray,” Conforto added.

In social and personal situations, Conforto suggested that one “examine the evidence” and “dispute irrational beliefs” as a means of providing clear context.

Overgeneralizing and jumping to conclusions were also noted as a means of “taking a simple event, and blowing it out of proportion,” according to Conforto.

After the lecture, Conforto managed an activity in mindfulness in which participants closed their eyes for five minutes and focused their attention on their breathing.

“Breathing is our anger at the present,” he whispered. “Notice how each breath fades into the next.”

Tips provided at the end of Conforto’s talk emphasized the role of caring for one’s self, filling one’s life with positive experiences and people “for those you have control over,” and recognizing the things that are worth being grateful for “as they can really shift your perspective,” he said.

Louis Silvestri, a 19-year -old business major, believed the talk was beneficial.

“I thought it was useful,” Silvestri said. “ I like how he showed us how everything is connected.”

Conforto also mentioned the importance of keeping a journal as a means of venting, self-reflection, and personal growth.

Afterward, Conforto offered references to help manage anxiety: free apps like “InsightTimer” and “Headspace” provide mindfulness training, as well as readings, such as “When Panic Attacks,” by David Burns, and “Mindfulness for Beginners” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Some websites were MindfulNet (www.mindfulnet.org) and UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (www.marc.ucla.edu).

The full list of references Conforto provided is available as a handout in the Career and Counseling Center.

“Fear and anxiety are like bullies; they are not scary once you confront them,” Conforto said. “It is necessary to move toward the feared situation rather than avoid it.”

Contact John Kearney at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu