Tokyo, Apr 10 (AP/UNB) — Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary Wednesday just three weeks before he abdicates his throne.
The couple met at a 1957 tennis tournament remembered as a "love match." Akihito and Michiko Shoda married on April 10, 1959, making him Japan's first future emperor to wed a commoner and someone who was Catholic-educated. Both are among many changes he brought to Japan's 1,500-year-old monarchy.
Akihito and Michiko broke with tradition, especially in choosing to raise their three children, in speaking far more often to the public, and making amends for the war victims in and outside the country as he kept searching for what his constitutional role of "a symbol" should be.
Unlike their predecessors, Akihito and Michiko are almost always together — Akihito kneeling beside Michiko speaking intimately with disaster victims at evacuation centers, or to residents at nursing homes or a handicapped people's workshop. Their friendly interactions have won deep affection among the Japanese.
That is now known as the "Heisei" style, after the name of Akihito's era — the opposite of a more charismatic, invisible and deified emperor that conservatives want to restore from Japan's militaristic past, experts say. Akihito succeeded the throne in 1989 after the death of his father, Hirohito, the longest serving emperor whose 64-year reign spanned World War II and Japan's postwar economic recovery.
In his birthday remark in December, Akihito thanked the people for accepting and supporting him, especially Michiko for her yearslong dedication and understanding for his role.
"Looking back, it was soon after I embarked on my life's journey as an adult member of the Imperial Family that I met the Empress. Feeling a bond of deep trust, I asked her to be my fellow traveler and have journeyed with her as my partner to this day," Akihito said.
"I am also truly grateful to the Empress, who herself was once one of the people, but who chose to walk this path with me, and over 60 long years continued to serve with great devotion both the Imperial Family and the people of Japan," Akihito said, with his voice trembling with emotion.
As emperor, Akihito has also made unprecedented visits to the Philippines and other Pacific islands conquered by Japan that were devastated in fierce fighting as the U.S.-led allies took them back. Though the emperor has avoided outright apologies, he has subtly stepped up his expressions of regret in carefully scripted statements on the war.
Akihito and Michiko visited all of Japan's 47 prefectures at least twice and traveled to 36 countries.
Wednesday's celebration is their last in Akihito's 30-year reign. The 85-year-old emperor is abdicating on April 30 and handing the Chrysanthemum throne to his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, the next day.
During the ceremony at the palace, Naruhito and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, and other royal family members congratulated Akihito. He wore a tuxedo and Michiko a light-purple long dress. The couple will have an anniversary dinner with their three children and their spouses at the palace later Wednesday.
Dhaka, Apr 8 (UNB)- It’s not just an island, it’s an experience. Yes, I’m in love with this sparkling white sandy beach, crystal clear turquoise water, endless blue sky and vibrant beach life.
The first time I heard about Gili islands, it was a few years back while I was planning my trip to Bali. My travel agent suggested me a name and said- `Why don’t you add Gili Islands to your Bali itineraries?’
I was like ‘what islands!!!
I started checking on Google and discovered three tiny islands in the middle of the sea.
The Gili islands are part of Bali’s neighbouring island Lombok: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. When I googled for images, I got to see some pictures on a swing, in the middle of crystal clear water and I knew I wanted to go there. The inner me screamed with excitement – Woohhh! I so want this ‘swing in the sea’ photo on my Insta feed.
I immediately confirmed my agent to include this island on the list. Since it was not-so-long one week trip, I decided to explore only one island. So Gili Trawangan or the much-easier-to-pronounce Gili T it is!
There are several ways to get to the Gili islands from Bali. We took the fast boat from Padang Bai (southeast of Bali) and went straight to Gili Trawangan. This boat journey took about 2 hours. We were greeted by crystal clear turquoise water as soon as we arrived. Hello Gili T!
We quickly noticed that there was no single motor vehicle. To get around, you have to walk or rent a bicycle. But our resort was out of walking distance and we got large luggage. So, we hailed a cidomo (horse carriage) to reach our resort. They are pretty expensive though.
We checked in to Aston Sunset Beach Resort which is situated on the quieter far side of the island. The island is so tiny, it takes less than two hours to walk around the whole island!
We freshened up and headed to the beach. While walking around the island, we spotted all the iconic beach swings: Searching for that perfect photo on one of those trendy beach swings.
I picked the best one and snapped the perfect Insta shot. It was a blissful moment to remember as I swung above the ocean, enjoying the salty aromatic breeze. PEACE!
We came across a beach-side sunset bar, grabbed a seat, ordered some amazing food and fresh drink and waited to watch the Gili sunset. I was totally overwhelmed to witness the most unreal sky with blue, purple and pink hue and it was undoubtedly the best sunset of my entire life.
Next day we hopped the colorful beach, clicked some awesome pictures in different cute spots, stood in the calm water, enjoyed the beach vibe to the fullest, YAY!
This Gili Island was gorgeous and definitely worth exploring. Though it was a bit expensive than we expected, the experiences we had were more than worth it!
If you are planning your trip to Bali, then it would be incomplete without a visit to at least to one of the Gilis.
By: Farah Seraj
Dhaka, Apr 6 (UNB)- With a view to promoting arts to reduce the spread of misinformation and fake news, a group exhibition was held on Saturday showcasing works of renowned artists.
The exhibition, ‘Art Against Fake News’, arranged by Gallery Cosmos at Cosmos Atelier71 in city’s Malibagh as part of Cosmos Dialogue on fake news and hate speech arranged by Cosmos Foundation earlier Saturday.
It featured 30 artworks by 24 artists.
Prominent artist Mustafa Monwar inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest while artists Samarjit Roy Chowdhury and Rafiqun Nabi were present as the special guests.
Monwar lauded Gallery Cosmos for such a timely endeavour against this menace. “Artists are always against the spread of fake news,” he said.
Samarjit said the country’s artists will spread positive vibes through artworks to prevent the spread of hate speech.
Rafiqun Nabi said that cartoon is the best medium to speak against fake news.
President of Association for Accountability and Internet Democracy (AAID) Dan Shefet highlighted the contributions of artists to society.
He congratulated the participating artists and appreciated the initiative for such a brave step in today’s world where people are afraid of not being politically correct.
“Artists are the heroes who will take the society forward,” he added.
Enayetullah Khan, Chairman of Gallery Cosmos, said he wishes to use the artists’ platform to highlight all the challenges of life.
“The problem is not country specific. It doesn’t respect border. It goes beyond the question of borderlines,” he said about the spread of fake news. “This challenge (against fake news) will bring all the people of the world on one platform.”
United News of Bangladesh (UNB) Chairman Amanullah Khan, alongside artists Biren Shome, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Sourav Chowdhury and Toshihiko Ikeda were present at the inauguration.
The Participating Artists are: Abdul Gaffar Babu, Abdus Shakoor Shah, Alakesh Ghosh, Anisuzzaman Anis, Biren Shome, Bishwajit Goswami, Devdas Malakar, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Kalidas Karmakar, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Maksuda Iqbal Nipa, Monirul Islam, Mustafa Monowar, Nagarbasi Barman, Nasir Ali Mamun, Nazia Andaleeb Preema, Prashanta Karmakar, Qayyum Chowdhury, Rafiqun Nabi, Rokeya Sultana, Samarjit Roy Chowdhury, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Sourav Chowdhury and Toshihiko Ikeda.
San Diego, Mar 26 (AP/UNB) — The San Diego Zoo is preparing to say farewell to its last two giant pandas.
The zoo said Monday that 27-year-old Bai Yun (bye-yoon) and her 6-year-old son, Xaio Liwu (shyaoww-lee-woo), will depart as planned next month for China. A multiyear agreement with the Chinese is coming to an end.
April 27 is the last day pandas can be viewed by the public.
The departure will mark the first time in more than two decades that the zoo will be without the black-and-white bamboo-eating bears.
Officials couldn't immediately say when or if pandas may inhabit the zoo again.
There are still pandas at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Zoo Atlanta and the Memphis Zoo.
Honolulu, Mar 19 (AP/UNB) — Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.
Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii's measure would make it the first to do so statewide. The liberal state has a history of prioritizing the environment — it's mandated renewable energy use and prohibited sunscreen ingredients that harm coral.
A second, more ambitious proposal would go even further and prohibit fast-food and full-service restaurants from distributing and using plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags and straws.
The Hawaii efforts would be stricter than in California, which last year became the first state to ban full-service restaurants from automatically giving out plastic straws, and broader than in Seattle, San Francisco and other cities that have banned some single-use plastics.
Activists believe the foam container measure has a better chance of passing in Hawaii.
"We have this reputation of setting the example for the world to follow, and that's what we're trying to do here," state Sen. Mike Gabbard, lead author of the more ambitious measure, said to the Senate. "Our state can once again take the lead in protecting our environment."
Gabbard, father of Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, said 95 percent of plastic packaging worldwide is thrown out after being used once. In the U.S., 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown out every day, he said.
Discarded, slow-to-degrade plastic is showing up at sea, as in a massive gyre northeast of the Hawaiian islands, and on beaches.
Plastics also contribute to climate change because oil is used to make them, said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii manager for the Surfrider Foundation.
Eric S.S. Wong, co-owner of two fast-food establishments on Oahu, said not being able to serve food in plastic foam containers would drive up his costs at a time when he faces rising health insurance charges for his employees and a possible minimum wage hike that lawmakers also are considering.
He said he'll have to raise prices.
"Now all of the sudden, your family's $30 dining experience became $37 or $38," Wong said.
His Wiki Wiki Drive Inn takeout counter in Honolulu sells sandwiches, breakfast meals and Hawaii favorites like Loco Moco, which features white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and gravy.
A package of 200 foam boxes costs him $23, while the same number of biodegradable boxes would cost $57, he said.
Chris Yankowski of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, which represents 3,500 restaurants, said lawmakers are trying to do "too much too fast."
Yankowski, who is also president of Triple F Distributors, argued that good alternatives to plastic products are not yet available. Hawaii's cities and counties also don't provide composting facilities, so there is no organized place to dispose of compostable containers that lawmakers say restaurants should use instead, he added.
"It's almost like we want to do great things for the environment, but we're not ready to handle it when we change it over," Yankowski said.
The Hawaii Food Industry Association, which counts the state's biggest supermarkets and convenience stores as members, initially opposed the foam container ban but now supports it.
The group said in written testimony that it's encountered difficulties coping with varied local regulations and it wants the state to create a consistent standard. Two main counties — Hawaii and Maui — have already adopted plastic foam bans. Maui's took effect on Dec. 31, while Hawaii's takes effect on July 1.
The association still opposes the broader measure, which also would ban plastic garbage bags.
The president of Island Plastic Bags, a Hawaii company that makes plastic bags, said the legislation would prohibit his company from selling trash bags to nursing homes and hospitals as well as restaurants and hotels.
Grocery stores wouldn't be able to sell trash can liners, Adrian Hong said in written testimony. It would create a "public health crisis," he said.
Gabbard said his proposal was in the early stages so lawmakers have time to address such concerns.
The state Senate has passed both bills. They still must get through several House committees and the full House before heading to the governor.
Cindy McMillan, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige, said he hasn't stated a position on the measures yet.
Justin Macia, a pharmacist in Honolulu, said he would like people to use less plastic and stop using plastic foam entirely because of how long it takes to degrade. Cardboard containers would be a great alternative, he said.
"It's definitely something that's got to go," he said, after eating a sandwich from a foam takeout box.