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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Australian State of Victoria takes step toward legalizing euthanasia Friday Oct 20,2017

An Australian state has taken a step toward allowing voluntary euthanasia 20 years after the country repealed the world’s first mercy killing law.
The Victorian Legislation Assembly passed a euthanasia bill by 47 votes to 37 on Friday Oct 20,2017  after a passionate debate lasting almost 26 hours.
Voluntary euthanasia will become legal in Australia’s second most populous state if the bill is passed by the Parliament’s upper chamber on Oct. 31.
Australia’s sparsely populated Northern Territory in 1995 became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.
But the Australian Parliament overturned that law in 1997 after four people had been helped to die. The Australian Parliament does not have the same power to repeal the laws of states such as Victoria



Peru approves medicinal use of marijuana Thursday Oct 19,2017

The Peruvian Congress has approved a bill that authorises the medicinal and therapeutic use of cannabis and its derivatives in the country.
The proposal received 67 votes against five as three abstained in a full legislative on Thursday Oct 19,2017 , allowing the bill to be enacted by the executive without going through the second voting session as required by law.
The bill will legalise the medicinal use of marijuana and its derivatives, such as cannabis oil, to alleviate the symptoms of diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, Efe news reported.
Congressman Alberto de Belaunde, who was the advocate of the proposal, said that once the bill is promulgated the government will have 60 days to work on the regulations.
Mr. De Belaunde added that this document must be published in advance so that all citizens will have access to its content and send suggestions and proposals.
“We achieved it. Historic moment for Congress and the country: Legal medicinal cannabis,” Mr. De Belaunde wrote on his Twitter account.
The legislative approval came following the government’s proposal to decriminalise the medical use of marijuana, following a “controversial” raid in February at a clandestine laboratory where marijuana oil was manufactured for sick children.

1 in 6 deaths worldwide caused by pollution

In 2015, nine million deaths were related to environmental pollution globally, according to a new study from the medical journal The Lancet. 

The biggest killer among these was air pollution. 

These alarming figures reflect the urgent need to act, especially in developing countries, which are most affected by environmental pollution




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Cuba unveils Jose Marti statue, a gift from Donald Trump’s hometown Friday Oct 20,2017


Cuba unveiled a replica of a New York statue of independence hero Jose Marti on Friday Oct 20,2017, putting a gift from the hometown of U.S. President Donald Trump on public display at a time of heightened U.S.-Cuba tensions. The equestrian statue depicts Marti moments before his death in a cavalry charge in 1895, during the fight against Spanish colonial rule.
The original, sculpted by U.S. artist Anna Hyatt, has stood for decades at the south en­trance to New York City’s Central Park, not far from the gleaming Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
After former U.S. President Barack Obamaand Cuban President Raul Castro announced a detente in 2014, the Bronx Museum of the Arts decided to gather donations to make a copy of the sculpture as a gift for Havana.
The goal was “to strengthen the bridge between our two countries,” the museum said.
Marti, a poet and political essayist, was living in New York at the time he drew up plans for an invasion of Cuba as part of the rebellion against Spain.
The nearly 19-foot (6-meter) tall statue was just delivered from the United States two weeks ago, after a series of setbacks in the normalization of relations between the old Cold War foes.
The Republican Trump imposed new restrictions on travel and trade with the Communist-run island in June, as he disparaged what he called his Democratic predecessor’s “terrible and misguided” policy toward Cuba. Since August tensions between the two countries have deteriorated further, over a series of alleged attacks affecting the health of U.S. diplomats in Havana.
“By unveiling this monument that comes from over there … we say this is the only path forward, there is no other,” said Eusebio Leal, the official Havana City Historian, alluding to hopes for a future marked by improved U.S.-Cuba ties.
He noted that the statue had been strategically placed. It faces the Florida Straits, with the U.S. coast just 90 miles (145 km) in the distance.
Marti, who spent 15 years in exile in the United States, is revered throughout Cuba and Fidel Castro hailed him as the “intellectual author” of the armed uprising that led to his Jan. 1, 1959, Cuban Revolution.
Busts of Marti appear everywhere in Cuba, Havana’s international airport is named after him, and there is a towering monument to him in Havana’s Revolution Square.
Cuba says it will officially inaugurate the statue on Jan. 28 when it marks the 165th anniversary of Marti’s birth.

US First lady Melania Trump donates inaugural gown to Smithsonian



Melania Trump knew her inaugural gown would be part of history and she had a clear vision for her look, asking the designer for something “modern, sleek, light, unique and unexpected”.
The resulting vanilla silk, off-the-shoulder gown is now part of the First Ladies Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Mrs. Trump officially donated the couture piece Friday at the National Museum of American History and it has been added to the popular exhibit that features dresses worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama and others.
Calling it a “daunting task” to select a dress that will be part of history, Mrs Trump said “it is now my hope that this piece is one of the many great beginnings to our family’s history here in Washington, D.C.”
The gown, designed by Herve Pierre in collaboration with Mrs. Trump, featured a slit skirt, ruffled accent trim from the neckline to the hem and a claret ribbon around the waist. The first lady wore it as she accompanied President Donald Trump to celebratory balls on January 20.
Mrs. Trump said after her husband was elected, the family was so busy with the transition that “to be honest what I would wear to the inaugural ball was the last thing on my mind.” She said Pierre, who attended the event and also serves as a stylist, had just two weeks to create the gown.
But she added that he “exceeded my expectations”

Pierre, the former creative director of Carolina Herrera, said it was a fast process, but that “a good conversation, a good collaboration leads to something very good”.
Mrs. Trump, who officially moved to Washington in June, has been growing more comfortable in her first lady role of late, making a solo trip to Canada to cheer Americans participating in an athletic competition for wounded service members and veterans and visiting a West Virginia care center for babies born dependent on opioids.
A former model, Mrs. Trump has been closely watched for her fashion choices. During a two-day visit to Paris over the summer, she wowed the French in a flame-red skirt suit by Parisian fashion house Christian Dior. The first lady and Pierre picked it to celebrate Dior’s 70th anniversary this year.
Pierre said the two are working on her looks for an upcoming trip to Asia.
“The key for me to be elegant, it’s not only to only to have a beautiful dress, it’s to be right for the occasion,” he said.
But Mrs. Trump has also been subject to scrutiny. On Trump’s first trip to Texas after the hurricane, the first lady’s decision to wear stilettos as she left the White House was panned on social media. Mrs Trump changed into sneakers for the arrival of Air Force One in Corpus Christi.
Trump defended his wife’s shoe choice, saying in an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Trinity Broadcasting Network on Saturday that she has “taken tremendous abuse”.
“She wants to look, out of respect for the White House, wants to look good leaving the front entrance to the White House. So she dresses up, she puts on formal shoes, high heels, and she leaves the White House going to Texas,” Trump said.
The Smithsonian says the First Ladies Collection has been one of its most popular attractions for more than a century. It features 26 dresses and more than 160 other objects from Martha Washington through Melania Trump. The original exhibit in 1914 was the first Smithsonian display to prominently feature women

US President Donald Trump’s drawing of Empire State Building sells for $16,000 at auction


A black-marker drawing of the Empire State Building by US President Donald Trump sold at auction for $16,000
According to Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles, where the sale took place, Trump created the 12-by-9-inch drawing at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida for a charity auction that took place in 1995. At the time, the signed sketch sold for less than $100, the New York Times reported on Friday Oct 20,2017
This was not the first work of art by Trump to fall into the eager hands of collectors in the wake of his presidency.
In July, a similarly sized drawing of a more comprehensive Manhattan skyline sold for $29,000 at Nate D. Sanders Auctions.
Trump’s sketch was created while he was still pursuing the prized property.
A representative of Julien’s Auctions wrote in a statement that the artwork “symbolised his ascent” through the ranks of New York power brokers.
A portion of the proceeds, to be matched by the auction house, will go to a National Public Radio station in Connecticut.
The buyer was not identified.

Meeting Dalai Lama a major offence, China warns world leaders Saturday Oct 21,2017

China on Saturday Oct 21,2017 warned world leaders and politicians against meeting the Dalai Lama, saying it would be perceived as a “major offence” as the spiritual leader is a “separatist” trying to carve out an independent Tibet.
Foreign officials also can’t get away by saying they were meeting the exiled Tibetan leader in a personal capacity as they still represent their governments, Zhang Yijiong, who heads the Communist Party’s Tibet working group, told reporters on the sidelines of the party congress 
“Any country, or any organisation of anyone, accepting to meet with the Dalai Lama, in our view, is a major offence to the sentiment of the Chinese people,” said Zhang, who is also an executive vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party.
“After fleeing China in 1959, he established a so-called government-in-exile, whose goal and core agenda is the independence of Tibet and to separate (from) China. For decades, the group headed by the 14th Dalai Lama has never stopped such attempts,” he said.
Though Zhang did not mention any particular country, China has repeatedly protested against the Dalai Lama’s contacts with top Indian leaders such as former president Pranab Mukherjee. Beijing has also protested against the Tibetan leader’s visit to the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by China.
Zhang, who led failed talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives, spoke in Chinese at a news conference on the margins of the national congress of the Communist Party that is expected to give President Xi Jinping a second term.
He said any meeting between the Tibetan leader and foreign officials “contravenes” their government’s commitment to recognise the Chinese government as the sole legitimate body representing the country.
“The fact is that there is not a single legitimate government in the world that recognises the so-called Tibet government-in-exile. Although the Dalai Lama has been received by certain officials, the governments that those officials work for actually don’t recognise his group,” he said.
“Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration to their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” he added.
“I hope the governments of foreign countries can speak and act cautiously (on this matter). They need to take the friendship with China and the respect to China’s sovereignty into consideration.
“So it is inevitable for China to state strong opposition when the 14th Dalai Lama visits foreign countries and even is received by some senior officials.”
Zhang made it clear that, in China’s view, foreign officials cannot get away by saying they were meeting the Nobel Peace Prize-winning monk in a personal capacity.
“Although some (foreign officials) say the Dalai is a religious figure, our government didn’t put in an appearance, it was just individual officials, this is incorrect,” he said.
According to Zhang, the number of foreign officials willing to meet the Dalai Lama is dwindling. “Now, he often can only make speeches at universities or conduct some religious activities,” he said.
Beijing was furious when the Dalai Lama visited Arunachal Pradesh earlier this year — which China claims as part of south Tibet — and alleged New Delhi was trying to undermine its interests by “using” the Nobel laureate.
“The Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh had a negative impact on India-China ties. India should observe commitment on Tibet-related issues and should not use the Dalai Lama to undermine China’s interests,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang had said in April.
China took control of Tibet in 1950 in what it calls a “peaceful liberation” and has piled pressure on foreign governments to shun the Dalai Lama since then. China also strongly denies accusations of rights abuses in Tibet and that it fully respects the religious and cultural rights of the Tibetans.