Atlantic city, Sept 8 (AP/UNB) — A contestant in the Miss America pageant says President Trump "has caused a lot of division" in the nation.
Madeline Collins, Miss West Virginia, was asked an onstage question Friday night about what she feels is the most serious issue facing the nation.
She replied "Donald Trump is the biggest issue our country faces. Unfortunately he has caused a lot of division in our country."
The interview responses were limited to 20 seconds and Collins did not go into additional detail. The Miss America Organization rejected a request from The Associated Press to make Collins available for an interview after Friday night's competition had ended.
She did not win the interview contest. That honor went to Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras, whose question dealt with how Americans traveling abroad should interact with people in other countries.
She said it is important to let people in other nations know that, "We as Americans are supporting them and that we are there to help them."
The onstage interview has replaced the swimsuit competition in this year's pageant, a change that has created controversy among those who feel the pageant needed to be modernized, and those who feel an integral part of the pageant is being sacrificed.
Friday marked the third and final night of preliminary competition in the Miss America competition.
Also on Friday night, Miss Indiana Lydia Tremaine won the talent portion for singing Frank Sinatra's "That's Life."
The next Miss America will be crowned Sunday night in the nationally televised finale from Atlantic City.
During the first two nights of competition, some of the onstage interview questions have touched on hot button issues, including NFL national anthem protests.
A question on the propriety of those protests helped propel Miss Virginia Emili McPhail to a preliminary win Thursday night.
She told judges players have the right to protest by kneeling, noting that the real issue is police brutality.
In the talent competition, Miss Louisiana Holli' Conway won for a vocal performance, singing "I Believe."
On Wednesday , Miss Florida Taylor Tyson won the talent competition for a piano performance, and Miss Wisconsin Tianna Vanderhei won the interview competition for her comments on education.
New York, Sept 8 (AP/UNB) — John Lennon's iconic round glasses and shaggy 1970s mane will now adorn a U.S. stamp.
Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean Lennon, were in New York City's Central Park Friday to celebrate the U.S. Postal Service's release of a stamp honoring the late Beatle. Hundreds of Beatles fans gathered for the event.
"I know that my father would have been really thrilled to be accepted, officially in this way, on a stamp," said Sean Lennon. "About as official as it gets, I think."
The commemorative stamp features a photo of Lennon taken in 1974 on the roof of his Manhattan apartment building by photographer Bob Gruen, who also spoke at the event. The stamp is designed to look like a 45-rpm record sleeve.
"Everybody loves to listen to John's songs and I'm very proud of it, but also the fact that this day, Imagine and you guys are here. It's incredible," Yoko Ono said.
She also joked about the blame she gets for breaking up the Beatles.
"If John just went with me and then he began, 'La La La, Da Da Da' or something like that, people say, 'Well, that's Yoko's fault,'" she said. "Well, it's always my fault."
The crowd received her warmly though, giving her a standing ovation.
"I always knew how much he loved her," said Donna Gallucci who came from Pennsylvania for the event. "A lot of people didn't understand that."
After the event, people lined up to buy the stamps and enjoy one more day of Beatlemania in New York City.
Gallucci said, "He was so much a part of the city, so much a part of the park."
Tens of thousands of employees at more than 18,000 U.S. hotels will soon carry panic buttons to help protect them from harassment and assault in an era of heightened awareness around the #MeToo movement.
More than a dozen big hotel chains — including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Wyndham — said Thursday that they will provide personal safety devices by 2020 to all employees who deal one-on-one with guests. The companies will also train staff to identify and report harassment and publish anti-sexual harassment policies in multiple languages.
The devices will vary by hotel. In a new, Wi-Fi enabled hotel, for example, companies may give out devices that automatically send the employee's location to security officers. In an older or smaller hotel, they might distribute devices that emit a loud shriek.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association, which is backing the effort, says around three-fourths of its 25,000 member hotels are participating right now. It is working with harassment and human trafficking organizations to develop training and testing devices to help hotels figure out what works best.
This isn't the first time hotels are giving panic buttons to staff. New York has required them since 2012, after a hotel maid there accused French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in his suite. Chicago and Seattle began requiring them more recently.
But increasing public discussion about harassment and the #MeToo movement has given the effort a new sense of urgency. Red Roof Inn, Best Western, AccorHotels, Four Seasons and Caesar's are other participants in the rare display of unity from a fiercely competitive industry.
"The cultural conversations have changed, and we have gotten smarter," said Erika Alexander, Marriott's chief lodging officer for the Americas. Marriott plans to make the devices standard at all of its nearly 5,000 hotels in North America by 2020. Eventually it hopes to expand the devices globally.
Rani Accettola, a housekeeper at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Seattle's Pioneer Square, has a safety fob clipped to the front of her uniform at all times. If she presses a button, hotel managers and security are immediately notified of her location. Accettola said the system gives her an added feeling of security, especially when she works late.
"At any moment, help is there if you should need it," she said.
It's unclear how often the devices will be used, but harassment of hotel staff is an ongoing issue. In a 2016 survey of 500 housekeepers in Chicago, 49 percent said guests had flashed them, exposed themselves or opened the door naked.
The rollout of the devices will be messy. Hotel companies only manage some of their properties; others are managed by franchisees. Some companies may require franchisees to add the devices; others may not. Properties vary widely, from sprawling 2,500-room resorts to 65-room, cookie-cutter hotels by the highway.
Some hotels have already begun the process. Hyatt mandated electronic safety devices last fall and has already distributed them to 4,500 employees at 120 hotels in the Americas, Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian said. Hyatt has also strongly recommended the devices for franchisees, and expects to expand the program globally, Hoplamazian said.
He said the cost of the devices is easily absorbed by the company. Shrieking alarms — the kind most widely used at Hyatt right now — cost around $25 each. A React mobile device, like the one Accettola wears, retails for $70, but big hotel chains will likely be able to get bulk discounts.
Hoplamazian said there haven't been many reported usages. In one instance, a guest was acting strangely so a housekeeper summoned help. It turned out there was no threat, but Hoplamazian is glad the system worked.
"While the frequency may not by high, the importance of it is really, really high," he said.
Wyndham CEO Geoff Ballotti said his company expects to distribute safety devices by the end of next year to 5,000 employees in the 450 U.S. hotels it owns and manages. Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta said "tens of thousands" of staff at 4,500 hotels will get the devices by 2020.
Nassetta said the rollout will take time because training staff members how to respond to the devices is as important as the devices themselves.
"We don't want to create the appearance of safety without the reality behind it," he said.
Dhaka, Sept 7 (UNB) – Mrinmoy Bangla, a group art exhibition of four young artists featuring a rich collection of water colour paintings depicting the beauty and nature of Bangladesh, kicked off at the Mohakhali DOHS chapter of Gallery Cosmos on Friday.
Thai Ambassador to Bangladesh Panpimon Suwannapongse inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest.
Addressing the occasion, the Thai envoy appreciated the artworks of the young artists.
A total of 45 artworks of the four artists -- Juton Chandra Roy, Suman Kumar Sarkar, Kamruzzoha and Maneek Bonik, who mainly work with water colour to portray the natural landscape beauty of Bangladesh, have been put on display at the 15-day long show.
"We, the four participating artists, work on landscape of both urban and rural beauty of the country," said Juton Chandra Roy.
The artists in their works tried to bring out the culture, lifestyle and natural beauty of different regions of the country, he added.
Gallery Cosmos Chairman Enayetullah Khan said an affinity with nature remains one of the mainstays of Bangladeshi artistic inspiration.
Depicting nature in water colour is perhaps the most quintessential form of art from Bangladesh, he said, adding that through such exhibition, Gallery Cosmos looks to shine a light on the present generation artists' engagement with nature.
In the presence of Panpimon Suwannapongse, who is also an artist, Khan also talked about possible initiatives which can be taken as part of the cultural exchange between Bangladesh and Thailand.
Suman Kumar Sarkar, another participating artist, said the arrangement of such an exhibition encourages the young artists greatly.
Gallery Cosmos Director Tehmina Enayet said Bangla word 'mrinmoy' means something out of clay and the four young artists painted the artworks out of their passion and thought for the nature, making the works exceptional.
Talking about the artworks, prominent artist Kalidas Karmakar said water colour has developed a unique style in Bangladesh over time. But to promote Bangladeshi art and nature on the world stage, the style needs to be upgraded, he said.
Mentioning that water colour mainly belongs to the Asian region, especially the subcontinent, he also urged the young generation artists to experiment more and go one step ahead for more advanced and contemporary ways to bring out the nature of Bangladesh through water colour.
The exhibition will remain open from 12pm to 8pm every day until September 27.
Atlantic City, Sep 6 (AP/UNB) — Contestants from Florida and Wisconsin scored the first preliminary wins in the post-swimsuit era of the Miss America pageant Wednesday night, and proclaimed a new day had arrived for a piece of Americana that's trying to reboot itself in a rapidly changing world.
The competition swapped swimsuits with interview questions that were as daunting for some as walking across the stage in a bikini and heels.
Miss Florida Taylor Tyson won the talent competition for a piano rendition of "Mephisto's Waltz" by Lizst.
Miss Wisconsin Tianna Vanderhei won the onstage interview competition for her comments on how higher education should be more affordable and more widely accessible.
Both said they were excited to be the first winners in the revamped Miss America competition, which has generated controversy for its decision to eliminate swimsuits - a staple of the pageant since it began 98 years ago in Atlantic City.
"Swimsuit is behind us," Vanderhei said after Wednesday night's competition ended. "It's sad that it's gone, but I understand the reasons it's gone."
"People are going to get to see what Miss America is all about with these changes," Tyson added.
The preliminaries began amid a revolt by state pageant officials unhappy with the way the decision to drop swimsuits was made, and who are demanding that top leadership, including chairwoman Gretchen Carlson, step down.
The current Miss America, Cara Mund, has accused Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper of bullying and silencing her — allegations the two officials deny.
Mund did not reference the controversy in her opening remarks, which followed a prolonged standing ovation. But she did pay tribute to local and state officials without mentioning national ones.
"This only exists because of our volunteers," she said. "We wouldn't have any organization if it weren't for them."
A spokesman for opponents of the current leadership said 46 state organizations have signed letters calling for Carlson and Hopper to resign; only Arkansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada and Vermont have not signed.
The first of three nights of preliminary competition began with a big change: In past years, one talent and one swimsuit winner were named in each of the three preliminary nights.
This year, instead of a swimsuit winner, the winner of an onstage interview will be named.
Some of the questions were softballs: Where is the most interesting place you've ever visited, and how did you grow emotionally from it? Others put some contestants squarely on the spot on red-hot social issues.
Miss Texas, Madison Fuller, was asked if NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem are showing freedom of speech or disrespect.
"Where NFL players who kneel are standing up for what they believe in, there is an arena to promote change, not during the anthem," she said.
Miss Mississippi Asya Branch was asked whether health care is an entitlement.
"Health care is not an entitlement, but we do all need it," she said. "We should work within our country to make it more affordable and available. No one deserves not to have health care."
The format is similar to what will happen during Sunday night's nationally televised broadcast on ABC.
Scholarships totaling nearly $506,000 will be awarded, including $50,000 for the new Miss America; $25,000 for the first runner-up; $20,000 for the second runner-up; $15,000 for the third runner-up, and $10,000 for the fourth runner up.