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Eleven tons of trash left after San Francisco 4/20 smokeout

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SAN FRANCISCO Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts who joined a massive smokeout on “Hippie Hill” in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to celebrate the informal pot holiday named 4/20 left behind 11 tons of trash, officials said on Thursday.

About three dozen staff worked into Wednesday night after the event and were back out at the park cleaning up on Thursday morning after the event, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department spokesman Joey Kahn said.

The date of April 20, or 4/20, corresponds with the numerical figure widely recognized within the cannabis subculture as a symbol for all things marijuana.

According to the marijuana magazine High Times, the concept of 4/20 originated in the early 1970s, as a group of teenagers in the Bay Area city of San Rafael used it as code to gather after school and smoke the plant.

Some 5,000 more pounds of trash were left this year compared to last year’s event, he said. Kahn said he expected the costs to the department for the event to reach around $50,000.

The San Francisco Police Department, who were out in force both with uniformed and plain clothes officers, recorded eight arrests at the event and doled out 35 traffic-related citations.

The long-running Bay Area tradition, which authorities closely monitor, could mark the last such observance while recreational marijuana remains illegal under state law in California. Medical marijuana is legal in the state with a doctor’s recommendation.

Voters will likely decide in November whether to approve a ballot measure that would legalize adult possession for recreational purposes.

The distinct odor of marijuana smoke mixed with the smell of barbecue in a gentle breeze wafting over an estimated 15,000 attendees enjoying the sunny Wednesday afternoon.

Marijuana, once widely demonized in the United States, has seen growing acceptance in recent years, especially among younger, more liberal Americans.

Although cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law, two dozen U.S. states have approved marijuana for medical purposes since California became the first to do so in 1996.

Since 2012 recreational use of the drug has been legalized in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Sharon Bernstein)

Source: R-Entertainment

Canadian PM Trudeau slips from political ring to boxing ring

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NEW YORK Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed off his sparring skills outside the political ring on Thursday, lacing up a pair of boxing gloves for a workout during a trip to New York.

Returning to the spotlight that accompanied his White House visit and “bromance” with U.S. President Barack Obama last month, Trudeau donned a red sleeveless top that revealed his large native Haida raven tattoo to spar at Gleason’s in Brooklyn, a gym made famous by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and “the Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta.

With a mix of gym faithful and media members looking on, the 44-year-old Trudeau, who was accused during last year’s election campaign of being a political lightweight, spent most of his hour-long workout sparring with professional boxer and former WBA super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman.

“It was great to train him. He is very likable and he has the potential to impact people in his country and around the world very positively,” Foreman said afterward. “And he’s got a heavy punch!”

Trudeau’s Liberal government has rolled out a mandate of economic investment, refugee assistance and open government, and has enjoyed a prolonged honeymoon in the public eye, avoiding major mistakes and maintaining popularity with voters and international media alike.

He was in New York a day early in advance of signing the Paris climate-change agreement on Friday.

On a visit to the White House last month, Trudeau sparked a storm on social media and myriad memes and jokes about the shared admiration between Trudeau and Obama.

On Wednesday, GQ magazine awarded Trudeau a spot on its list of “Most Stylish Men Alive Right Now”, calling him a real-life version of a Disney prince and a “snowboarding John Mayer doppleganger.”

The men’s magazine also mocked up a cover featuring Trudeau, in a navy suit and tie, as “That new suave Canadian leader dude,” but said the issue would not make its way to newsstands because it had already put too many Canadians on its front page in recent times.

“He seems like a pretty cool guy,” said Tony Baldwin, who has been a trainer at Gleason’s for seven years, after watching Trudeau take on a string of sparring partners.

When Trudeau was asked how he felt as his workout came to a finish, he first caught his breath and then replied with his trademark smile, “Good! Oh, yeah.”

(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York and Andrea Hopkins in Toronto; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Source: R-Entertainment

Robot monk blends science and Buddhism at Chinese temple

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BEIJING A Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing has decided to ditch traditional ways and use technology to attract followers.

Longquan temple says it has developed a robot monk that can chant Buddhist mantras, move via voice command, and hold a simple conversation.

Named Xian’er, the 60-cm (2-foot) tall robot resembles a cartoon-like novice monk in yellow robes with a shaven head, holding a touch screen on his chest.

Xian’er can hold a conversation by answering about 20 simple questions about Buddhism and daily life, listed on his screen, and perform seven types of motions on his wheels.

Master Xianfan, Xian’er’s creator, said the robot monk was the perfect vessel for spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in China, through the fusion of science and Buddhism.

“Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible,” said Xianfan.

Under the careful watch of China’s officially atheist Communist Party, religion has slowly crept back into daily life since reforms got going several decades ago.

Xianfan said Buddhism filled a gap for people in a fast-changing, smart-phone dominated society.

“Buddhism is something that attaches much importance to inner heart, and pays attention to the individual’s spiritual world,” he said.

“It is a kind of elevated culture. Speaking from this perspective, I think it can satisfy the needs of many people.”

The little robot monk was developed as a joint project between a technology company and artificial intelligence experts from some of China’s top universities.

It was unveiled to the public in October.

But Xian’er is not necessarily the social butterfly many believe him to be.

He has toured several robotics and innovation fairs across China but rarely makes public appearances at Longquan temple.

Xian’er spends most of his days “meditating” on a shelf in an office, even though curiosity about him has exploded on social media.

Xian’er was inspired by Xianfan’s 2013 cartoon creation of the same name. The temple has produced cartoon animations, published comic anthologies, and even merchandise featuring the cartoon monk.

Michelle Yu, a tourist and practicing Buddhist, said she first spotted Xian’er on social media.

“He looks really cute and adorable. He’ll spread Buddhism to more people, since they will think he’s very interesting, and will make them really want to understand Buddhism,” she said.

The temple is developing a new model of Xian’er, which it says will have a more diverse range of functions.

(Reporting by Joseph Campbell; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: R-Entertainment

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