Feb 12, 2017: Millions of lanterns in the shape of Christian churches, Buddhist temples, and Hindu temples with Brahma, Krishna, Lakshmi and Durga lit up the night sky of Taiwan to celebrate the Lantern Festival, marking the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
The Lantern Festival was inaugurated on Saturday in Yunlin county in the southwestern part of the island country and will go on till February 19. Thousands of people coming from all over the country as well as tourists participated in the inauguration.
The Taiwan Lantern Festival is a Buddhist tradition coming from mainland China and is celebrated as part of the Chinese New Year.
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“It is a popular festival highlighting our friendly approach and love for the people,” said Eric Lin, Director of International Affairs Division at Taiwan Tourism.
Hosting the festival inauguration for the first time, the Yunlin displayed 3,000 lanterns on a plot of land spread over more than 50 hectares.
“It is the biggest Lantern Festival ever in the history of Taiwan. This year, the theme celebrates the diverse cultures and beliefs of the island,” said Jin, one of the organisers of the festival, working for the Taiwan Ministry of Communication.
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“It has been a tough organisation that took us almost eight months, but the result is amazing. We also had about a dozen of private investors who funded the festival,” she added.
The island, located off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland, has an interesting mix of cultures from mainland China as well as Japan, and is home to 16 different tribes.
The origin of the festival is not clear, but it is said that it was started by an emperor of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), who was a devout Buddhist and who ordered his people to display lights on the 15th night of the first month of the lunar year to pay respects to Buddha.
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Nowadays, in Taiwan the festival is celebrated in a modern way — the country being known for its high-tech innovations — with electric lanterns, artistic installations, light and sound shows, laser lights etc. (IANS)
A pet lover from Taiwan provides disabled dogs with wheelchairs
Pan Chieh uses plastic water pipes to make these dogs walk and run again
He has been visiting dog owners throughout the country and helping their animals
Taiwan, July 25, 2017: Pan Chieh, a 40-year-old Machine operator in Taiwan uses plastic pipes to build wheelchairs for injured and disabled dogs.
Pan had a personal experience. His friend came across an injured dog and took the dog to the animal hospital. It was learned that the dog could never walk again. But instead of buying a wheelchair at a commercial price, Pan Chieh built the wheelchair himself.
Since then, Pan has dedicated most of his time building wheelchairs for other dogs in need. A commercial wheelchair for dogs is three times the cost of Pan Chieh’s wheelchair which is less than $30 dollars.
Pan uses plastic water pipes to design his wheelchairs. On weekends, Pan and his girlfriend travel around Taiwan visiting injured/ handicapped dog owners. They charge for the travel costs and the material but also do it for free in case a dog has no sponsors.
Speaking to Business Insider, Pan recalled: “The first dog recovered completely after using the wheelchair, which gave me a lot of confidence.”
Professor at National Taiwan University’s veterinary clinical science, Liu I-li, applauded the effort of the machine operator. The design is great and cost effective. With adjustments like a neck harness, the wheelchair will be great for dogs who will be able to walk and run again.
Pan’s passion after his experience with the stray dog proved to be great for many other animals. The pet lover makes wheelchairs for cats as well.
– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2393
The cultural exhibition composed of musical performances and cultural exhibition among others, headmaster K.S. Manogar told the daily. The visitors reacted by performing a Taiwanese traditional dance.
Although the distinct aspects of Indian culture can make many Taiwanese feels all at sea, there seems to be a surge that is attracting people toward the South Asian country. Previously, India also launched “Intern India” Program for the Taiwanese students.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS
June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.
Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.
Confusion leads to mistakes
All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”
Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.
Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.
“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.
IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.
IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.
Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.
“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.
IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.
Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.
IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.
Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.
Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.
Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.
“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.
IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.
Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.
“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)