October 10, 2016: The seven-year-long effort of Indian Americans to get Diwali recognised as a cultural holiday has finally paid off. The US Postal service has launched on October 6, the stamp with an Indian Diya or lamp on its face, lit against a sparkling background and the words “Forever USA 2016” written below, at the Indian Consulate.
Diya in the stamp is photographed by Sally Andersen-Bruce of Connecticut and design is prepared by Greg Breeding of Virginia, under the direction of William Gicker of Washington, project’s art director. The release was attended by India’s Consul General Riva Ganguly, US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and India’s former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri, reported PTI.
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According to Ms Maloney, “It has taken many years of hard work and advocacy but the light has finally triumphed. Today Diwali joins the ranks of other major religions and cultural holidays such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Eid.”
“Since the start of the American Revolution, destiny beckoned the US and India to be the closest of allies and the stamp represents nothing short of respectful inclusive indivisibility within America and between the two sovereigns,” said Ravi Batra, Indian-American lawyer to the Press Agency.
Pritha Mehra, Vice President of the US postal service, said, “It was an honour to issue the Diwali stamp and we hope that these lights will light up millions of cards and letters as they make their journey through the mail stream.”
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Ranju Batra, Chairman of the Diwali stamp project, said that it was a dream come true. “Now for the first time, there is a stamp that celebrates Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as Americans forever. The Diwali stamp will be a matter of pride for generations to come,” she said.
The approval of stamp has been the result of diligent endeavours and resilient commitment of members of Diwali stamp project, the group behind all the efforts, and meetings with Prime minister, Narendra Modi and plea to Barack Obama, President of United States.
– Prepared by Jeenat Grover of NewsGram. Twitter: @JeenatG
Vermont, September 30, 2017 : What if we tell you that a team of researchers has recognized and named 15 new species of spiders in the Caribbean after your favorite stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders?
Not in Hollywood, Washington, DC or Vermont – but you might now be able to catch a glimpse of Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. barackobamai, S, michelleobamaae, S. berniesandersi, S. davidbowiei along with S. leonardodicaprioi on the Caribbean islands and some other southern spots.
Ingi Agnarsson, expert of spiders and professor of biology at University of Vermont, who led the new study revealed the rationale behind the undergraduate study and on choosing the intriguing names. “(We) wanted to honor people who stood up for both human rights and warned about climate change—leaders and artists who promoted sensible approaches for a better world”, he said.
Popularly recognized as a global hotspot for biodiversity, there continues to be several species in the Caribbean that are outside the spectrum of research and study. This includes the ‘smiley faced’ spider in the genus Spintharus- named for a smiley face pattern on their abdomens.
Previously recognized as one widespread species, researchers from the UVM discovered that there exist many more endemic species within the genus, 15 of which have been recognized in the research.
These samples were collected from Florida, South Carolina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, the Lesser Antilles and Columbia.
Each team member got to decide names for the new species of spiders. Alongside naming them after friends and family members, many species have been named after distinguished figures.
“We all named the Bernie Sanders spider together,” said Lily Sargeant, one of the students who worked on the project. “We all have tremendous respect for Bernie. He presents a feeling of hope.”
Named after the great artist David Bowie, who passed away in 2016. His music will continue to inspire generations and the authors decided to honor his legacy by naming a spider in his name.
Named after the widely popular, and largely loved, former President of the United States Barack Obama. The authors love him for his statesmanship and humanitarianism, and named the spider species after him, to honor their president and his devoted service.
Named in honor of the Former First Lady of the United States for her poise, confidence and elegance, her fight for human rights and for always striving to uphold the principles of justice, fairness and equality for all.
The authors of the research also named a species of spiders after the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, to recognize and celebrate his efforts to educate people of the wonders of the natural world and sowing a seed of caring for nature in humanity.
The study has been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
“The Battle of the sexes” starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell talks about issue of gender equality- in both pay disparity and directing opportunity
It’s a great thing for the filmmakers to have what is usually a pretty film-oriented, film-loving audience
The filmmakers say they are expecting a variety of opinions in any one audience at Toronto International Film Festival
New York, USA, September 7, 2017: Few institutions in cinema can match the teeming, overwhelming Toronto International Film Festival as a conversation-starting force. It simply has a lot of movies worth talking about.
And this year, many of the films that will parade down at Toronto International Film Festival’s red carpets will hope to shift the dialogue not just in terms of awards buzz, but in other directions, too: equality in Hollywood; politics in Washington; even about nature of the movies, themselves. At TIFF, expect debate.
That’s what the filmmakers behind “The Battle of the Sexes,” one of the anticipated films heading to Toronto International Film Festival in the coming days, are hoping for. After the festival opens today with another tennis movie, the rivalry drama “Borg/McEnroe,” at Toronto International Film Festival with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (the directing duo who helmed 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine”) will premiere their drama about the 1973 showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
The movie, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, holds obvious parallels for a movie industry with its own issues of gender equality, in both pay disparity and directing opportunity. For others, it will recall issues that dominated last year’s U.S. presidential campaign. But “Battle of the Sexes” may surprise moviegoers in its broad sympathies on both sides of the net.
“The one thing we didn’t want to have happened was this polarizing political document,” said Dayton. “Right now, there’s enough of that in the world. We wanted to tell a more personal story and keep it from becoming too binary.”
The filmmakers say they are expecting “a variety of opinions in any one audience” at Toronto International Film Festival.
“It’s really the best way to release a film, at a festival like Telluride or Toronto,” said Faris. “It’s a great way to get the word out about a film. It’s a great thing for the filmmakers to have what is usually a pretty film-oriented, film-loving audience. It gives you hope that they’re still out there.”
The Toronto International Film Festival comes right on the heels of the Venice and Telluride festivals, but the size and scope of Toronto have long made it the centerpiece of the fall movie season. It’s where much of the coming awards season gets handicapped, debated and solidified. It’s also a significant market for new films, and this year several intriguing films — “I, Tonya,” with Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, and “Hostiles,” a brutal Western with Christian Bale — are on the block.
But most eyes will be on the gala premieres of the fall’s biggest films at Toronto International Film Festival, including Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing,” Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” George Clooney’s “Suburbicon,” and maybe the most explosive movie of the season, Darren Aronofsky’s mystery-shrouded allegorical thriller “mother!”
It can be a competitive landscape, with dozens of daily movie premieres and their respective parties, all trying to stand out. But several first-time directors may end up stealing the spotlight at Toronto International Film Festival. Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” will sail into Toronto on waves of rave reviews from Telluride. Aaron Sorkin, arguably the top screenwriter in Hollywood for two decades, will present his directorial debut, “Molly’s Game.”
Sorkin didn’t initially anticipate he’d direct his script. But he became, he says, obsessed with the story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), the former elite skier who was indicted for running a high-stakes poker game in Los Angeles. It’s a potentially career-redefining movie for Sorkin — and he’s appropriately anxious.
“I’d feel the same way if we were launching it in Wyoming. I’m nervous because other than test audiences, this will be the first time people see it,” said Sorkin. “The Toronto Film Festival is a very prestigious place to debut a film, so I’m aware of the company I’m in and what’s expected in the movie. It will be up to others to decide if it delivered.”
“The Disaster Artist” poses a similar turning point for its star and director, James Franco. It’s about the making of what’s widely considered one of the worst movies ever made — the cult favorite “The Room,” by Tommy Wiseau. Franco, who plays Wiseau, considers it a new step for him as a filmmaker and says the film’s parody is laced with affection.
“The characters are outsiders. They are weirdos,” said Franco. “But everybody can relate to having a dream and trying to break into this incredibly hard business.”
The film will premiere to a surely raucous audience at a midnight screening. Franco, who first saw “The Room” with an especially excitable Vancouver audience, expects it to be the perfect debut for his film: “Canadians know how to do ‘The Room.”’
“The Disaster Artist,” which A24 will release in December, might give TIFF what “La La Land” did last year — a happily escapist movie about Hollywood. Other films will tackle less comic real-life tales, including Angelina Jolie’s searing Cambodia drama “First They Killed My Father,” the Winston Churchill biopic “Darkest Hour,” with Gary Oldman; and the documentary “The Final Year,” about the last year of Barack Obama’s administration.
Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the festival, said Trump’s presidency “was not a factor in the films we selected,” though he expects it to color the reception of many.
“Some of them will be received with the current political climate in mind,” said Bailey. “One of the things I think you learn from films like (the Watergate drama) ‘Mark Felt’ and (the Ted Kennedy drama) ‘Chappaquiddick’ and others that we have here is that the process of politics is not a pretty one. It involves a lot of conflicted motives, shall we say.”
And who better to make sense of the current political landscape than Armando Iannucci (“Veep,” “The Thick of It”), the master of rapid-fire political farce. In his second feature film, “The Death of Stalin,” he travels back to 1950s Russia only to find an expectedly timely tale of the madcap machinations of political power.
“It is bizarre, isn’t it? When I started showing it to people in January and February earlier this year, people said it resonated with Trump and Putin and fake news,” said Iannucci. “It is about autocracy. It is about what happens when democracy falls apart and one person decides everything. I’m kind of glad it does resonate now. But am I pleased?” (VOA)
Sep 06, 2017: President Donald Trump says he will revisit the decision to end a program that shielded nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation if Congress doesn’t act on the issue.
Hours after administration officials said new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, will no longer be accepted, Trump tweeted late Tuesday that “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!
Action by Congress is not certain. Lawmakers have been unsuccessful for years in their efforts to revise substantially U.S. immigration policies. During Obama’s eight years as president, the Senate – controlled by members of his Democratic Party for most of that time — approved major policy changes only to see the legislation fail in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
President Trump approved the decision to end DACA but sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions before news cameras Tuesday to announce the controversial policy change.
“DACA is being rescinded,” Sessions announced. The action revoked an executive order former President Barack Obama issued five years ago after the U.S. Congress repeatedly failed to agree on an immigration reform bill.
WATCH: Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Sessions argued that Obama’s “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” was in violation of the U.S. constitution and unlikely to survive a legal challenge brought by several Republican-controlled states.
Former President Barack Obama, who has refrained from commenting on most of the policy changes Trump has enacted this year, challenged Sessions’ legal argument in a strongly worded statement, saying the decision was “purely political” and that it targeted young people who “have done nothing wrong.”
To target hopeful young strivers who grew up here is wrong, because they’ve done nothing wrong. My statement: https://t.co/TCxZdld7L4
WATCH: ‘Dreamers’ Vow to Fight to Keep DACA Until the Bitter End
Activist Gustavo Torres told a crowd outside the White House: “This president lied to our community. … He told us, ‘I have a big heart for you dreamers.’ He’s a liar!”
The future status of the hundreds of thousands of young, foreign-born students and workers is unclear for now, since they are no longer protected from summary deportation by the DACA program. Congress will have six months to act if it wants to continue to allow them to remain in the United States.
The young immigrants, also colloquially known as “dreamers,” typically entered the United States as young children. Many trace their heritage to Mexico or Central American countries, but some arrived so young that they have grown up knowing nothing other than American society and customs.
Anyone who joined the “deferred action” program for work and study was required to have and maintain a clean criminal record. DACA did not promise participants citizenship or permanent U.S. residency, instead promising a reprieve from deportation.
DACA Changes Explained
The program was initially intended as a stop-gap measure to protect aspiring young immigrants, while Congress was to come up with a more lasting solution to their problems.
“I have a love for these people,” Trump said at the White House late Tuesday, “and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.” Earlier he had issued only a written statement stating that federal immigration patrols would not make seeking out DACA recipients for detention and deportation a priority issue. (VOA)