Washington, Dec 14 (AP/UNB) — Melania Trump spread her anti-bullying message on an annual Christmas season visit to a Washington children's hospital on Thursday, reading a story about a Christmas ornament named Oliver who is bullied by other ornaments in a family's collection.
"Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year," the first lady said after she finished reading "Oliver the Ornament" at Children's National Health System. The author, Todd Zimmerman, sat a few feet away.
Mrs. Trump launched an initiative earlier this year to teach kindness to children, naming it Be Best.
Zimmerman thanked the first lady "from the bottom of my heart" for inviting him to be part of the visit, an annual tradition that dates to first lady Bess Truman, who served in the role from the mid-1940s to 1953.
"It is such an honor and I'm humbled by your kindness," Zimmerman added. "I also want to thank you for everything you do to promote kindness through your Be Best foundation and all of your daily activities. It's that same type of kindness that we're trying to promote with 'Oliver the Ornament' and it's that same message that I hope all of you receive this Christmas season and throughout the entire year."
Mrs. Trump is using the initiative to encourage children and young people to be kind online.
The first lady recently told ABC News during an interview in which she promoted Be Best that she could be "the most bullied person" in the world, judging by "what people are saying about me." Critics have pointed out that her husband, President Donald Trump, routinely mocks people on Twitter.
Before taking a seat in front of a towering Christmas tree in the hospital's atrium, Mrs. Trump toured part of the neonatal intensive care unit and met with three families and children who had been treated there after they were born prematurely at 24 weeks.
The two boys and one girl, ages 16 months to 6 years old, each weighed about 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) at birth.
Mrs. Trump sat with the families while the children played and listened as Nikki Watkinson told the story of her son Grayson's early delivery in her husband's truck during a snowstorm.
"You will have an incredible story to tell him," the first lady replied.
Dhaka, Dec 12 (UNB) - Bangladesh High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria is participating in the Asian Film Festival for the first time which will continue until December 14.
Ten countries, including Bangladesh, are participating in the festival, formally inaugurated on December 10, at the Korean Cultural Centre, Abuja.
It marks the second yearly gala (2nd Asian Film Festival), said the Bangladesh High Commission.
Rina Brown, a Bangladeshi movie, was screened on Tuesday which earned the appreciation of the audience.
Ambassadors and High Commissioners, their spouses, members of the diplomatic crops, representatives from the Nigerian government, members of the civil society and cultural organisations, movie-lovers and expatriate community members were present.
While thanking the government of Bangladesh as well as the organisers for their generous support, Bangladesh High Commissioner to Nigeria M Shameem Ahsan
felt that this gala will help create greater understanding among the participating countries.
Drawn from a story against the backdrop of the great War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, Rina Brown moves on the budding relationship between two youngsters.
Written and directed by Shameem Akhtar, a noted filmmaker in Bangladesh, the Impress Telefilm’s movie was made with government grant.
Barun Chanda, Mahfuz Rizvi and Proma Paboni portrayed the lead roles while other important casts, among others, are Shampa Reza, Farhana Mithu, Ataur Rahman, Saberi Alam, Manash Chowdhury and Prabal Chowdhury.
Wellington, Dec 11 (AP/UNB) — New Zealand's government has passed a law that will make medical marijuana widely available for thousands of patients over time.
The legislation passed Tuesday will also allow terminally ill patients to begin smoking illegal pot immediately without facing the possibility of prosecution.
The measures come ahead of a planned national referendum on recreational marijuana use. The government has pledged to hold that referendum some time over the next two years, but has not yet set a date or finalized the wording.
The new law allows much broader use of medical marijuana, which was previously highly restricted. But patients wanting to use marijuana for conditions like chronic pain will have to wait a year until a new set of regulations, licensing rules and quality standards are put in place.
Dhaka, Dec 10 (UNB) – ‘Khancha’ (The Cage), a Bangladeshi film, will be screened in Nigeria for the first time on Tuesday as the second Asian Film Festival is set to begin at Korean Cultural Centre, Abuja on Monday night (BST).
The film festival is scheduled to be formally inaugurated at 9pm (BST) and will continue until December 14, said Bangladesh High Commissioner to Nigeria M Shameem Ahsan.
The Bangladesh Mission in Abuja was opened two years ago.
The screening of ‘Khancha’, made with the grant of the government of Bangladesh, will take place at 5pm on Tuesday, said the High Commissioner.
All expatriate Bangladesh nationals, including film-lovers, are invited to watch the Bangladeshi film at the festival where a total of 10 countries like Iran, South Korea, China, Malaysia and Japan will participate.
Directed by Akram Khan and a film of the Impress Telefilms Limited, Bangladesh, Khancha was released in 2017.
Drawn from the short story of Hasan Azizul Huq, a noted Bangladeshi writer, it moves on in the context of the Partition of India in 1947 during the British era.
Jaya Ahsan, Azad Abul Kalam, Mamunur Rashid Chadni and Arman Pervej played the main characters.
Though not nominated, Khancha was selected as Bangladesh’s entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2018-Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, according to Bangladesh High Commission in Abuja.
Two films – one each from Iran and South Korea -– are scheduled to be screened on Monday. Every day, two films from two countries will be screened in the remaining days.
Milan, Dec 10 (AP/UNB) — If Italy's fashion capital has a predominant color, it is gray — not only because of the blocks of neoclassical stone buildings for which the city is celebrated, but also due to its often-gray sky, which traps pollution.
But Milan now wants to shift its color palette toward green.
The city has ambitious plans to plant 3 million new trees by 2030 — a move that experts say could offer relief from the city's muggy, sometimes tropical weather.
Some ad-hoc projects have already contributed to environmental improvements. Architect Stefano Boeri's striking Vertical Forest residential towers, completed in 2014 near the Garibaldi train station, aims to improve not only air quality but the quality of life for Milan residents.
Boeri created a small island of greenery in the heart of Milan, his pair of high-rises brimming from every balcony with shrubs and trees that absorb carbon dioxide and PM10 particles, a pollutant with links to respiratory ailments and cancer.
"I think the theme of forestation is one of the big challenges that we have today. It is one of the most effective ways we have to fight climate change, because it is like fighting the enemy on its own field," Boeri said. "It is effective and it is also democratic, because everyone can plant trees."
The U.N. climate summit taking place now in Poland has urged cities and regions to help achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement on curbing global warming, which include limiting the increase in the planet's temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century.
Also, the World Economic Forum's global agenda council has put extending the tree canopy among its top urban initiatives, recognizing that small-scale changes can have a major impact on urban areas, including helping to lower city temperatures, creating more comfortable microclimates and mitigating air pollution.
Milan officials estimate the program to boost the number of trees by 30 percent in the broader metropolitan area will absorb an additional 5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year — four-fifths of the total produced by Milan — and reduce harmful PM10 small particulates by 3,000 tons over a decade. Significantly, it would also reduce temperatures in the city by 2 degrees Celsius, they say.
Boeri said the current green canopy of the Lombardy region's capital is just 7 percent of the urban area. That's well below northern European cities like Germany's Frankfurt at 21.5 percent or Amsterdam at nearly 21 percent. It's closer to Paris at nearly 9 percent, according to the World Economic Forum's Green View Index — and the French capital itself has been battling for years to fighting rising air pollution.
By 2030, Milan hopes to increase that green canopy number to between 17 and 20 percent.
Damiano Di Simine, the scientific coordinator in Lombardy for the environmental group Legambiente, said potentially the biggest impact of the green Milan project will be to lower temperatures in a city where the nighttime temperature can be 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than in the surrounding area. City statistics show that Milan endures 35 tropical nights a year.
Because the city lies close to the Alps, Milan gets very little wind to clear the pollutants that become blocked in by temperature inversions, where a layer of cool air is trapped by a layer of warmer air.
"The lack of wind also accentuates the urban heating," Di Simine said. "It means the discomfort from thermic inversions is terrible, because the climate is very stationary. Planting trees will help this."
The project to make Milan greener includes an ambitious plan to transform a disused freight railway network into a series of seven parks, with 25,000 new trees every year. It also includes planting greenery on 10 million square meters (108 million sq. feet) of flat rooftops and planting trees in 2,300 school courtyards.
Other new green spaces already inaugurated include Boeri's Library of Trees, near the Vertical forest, which includes 450 trees and 90,000 plants on nearly 10 hectares (24 acres), including a children's playground and a dog park. The Fondazione Feltrinelli also plans to create a park of 3,300 square meters (35,520 sq. feet) with plantain, magnolia, cherry and pear trees near its new headquarters.
The Vertical Forest has attracted more than 20 species of birds, which Boeri said they did not expect. And the shade provided by the 800 trees, 4,500 shrubs and 15,000 plants mean that residents rarely have to put on air conditioning, even during the peak of Milan's clammy summers. The Vertical Forest's total greenery has the capacity to absorb 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, Boeri said.
"There are also other advantages that are less measurable but I believe that the presence of green and trees has a very important effect on health and psychological state of mind, as it has been proved," said Boeri.
The architect is taking the award-winning concept to other cities, including Paris, Nanjing in China and the Dutch city of Eindhoven.