NEW DELHI, October 22, 2016:City authorities have closed a sprawling park in the heart of New Delhi after eight birds died of suspected bird flu, days after the city zoo was closed to the public after nine birds died there.
New Delhi’s Development Minister Gopal Rai said Friday that eight bird deaths were reported to city authorities on Thursday. These included two more bird deaths in the Delhi Zoo and two dead birds found in the Hauz Khas Deer Park.
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City officials said three dead crows were also found in a residential neighbourhood near the zoo. Autopsies were planned on all the dead birds.
The zoo was closed to the public Tuesday after autopsies confirmed at least three birds had died from H5N1 avian influenza.
Rai said autopsy results of the birds that died Thursday were not known yet but the government was taking the precaution of closing the park.
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H5N1 poses no apparent threat to humans, but highly pathogenic strains can be deadly to domestic poultry and, rarely, wild birds.
Delhi’s Hauz Khas Deer Park is home to hundreds of deer, peacocks and other birds. Described as one of the few “green lungs” of the highly polluted capital, the park is popular with joggers and walkers.
At this time of the year, bird sanctuaries, wildlife parks and water bodies around northern India are crowded with migratory birds flying south for the winter.
Rai said vacations had been canceled for all employees of the city’s animal husbandry department in case more dead birds are found.
Animal health officials visited the capital’s main poultry markets and took samples from different batches of chickens brought for sale.
“We are closely monitoring bird sanctuaries, poultry farms and chicken wholesale markets,” Rai said.
Meanwhile, 15 storks have died over the past three days in a zoo in the central Indian city of Gwalior. Zoo official Pradeep Srivastava said zoo authorities were waiting for the autopsy reports on the painted storks to determine if avian influenza was present before deciding whether or not to shut the zoo.
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)
The flu strain, known as H7N9 has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China
Mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells, making the virus more dangerous to people
Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist, said the study’s findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance
London, June 18, 2017: Scientists have identified three mutations that, if they occurred at the same time in nature, could turn a strain of bird flu now circulating in China into a potential pandemic virus that could spread among people.
The flu strain, known as H7N9, now mostly infects birds but it has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China, mainly related to poultry markets.
The World Health Organization said earlier this year that all bird flu viruses need constant monitoring, warning that their constantly changing nature makes them “a persistent and significant threat to public health.”
At the moment, the H7N9 virus does not have the capability to spread sustainably from person to person. But scientists are worried it could at any time mutate into a form that does.
To assess this risk, researchers led by James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in California looked at mutations that could potentially take place in the genome of the H7N9 virus.
They focused on the H7 hemagglutanin, a protein on the flu virus surface that allows it to latch onto host cells.
The team’s findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens on Thursday, showed that in laboratory tests, mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells — suggesting these changes are key to making the virus more dangerous to people.
Scientists not directly involved in this study said its findings were important, but should not cause immediate alarm.
“This study will help us to monitor the risk posed by bird flu in a more informed way, and increasing our knowledge of which changes in bird flu viruses could be potentially dangerous will be very useful in surveillance,” said Fiona Culley, an expert in respiratory immunology at Imperial College London.
She noted that while “some of the individual mutations have been seen naturally, … these combinations of mutations have not,” and added: “The chances of all three occurring together is relatively low.”
Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist also at Imperial, said the study’s findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance.
“These studies keep H7N9 virus high on the list of viruses we should be concerned about,” she said. “The more people infected, the higher the chance that the lethal combination of mutations could occur.” (VOA)
Google's project 'We Wear Culture' is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago
Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India
It intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures
Its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago
June 15, 2017: To a certain extent, a culture is defined by what is worn by its people. In a country as diverse as India, vast and varied spectrum of cultures and clothes is one of the specialties. Google’s latest virtual exhibition project now provides us the opportunity to explore and know more about it.
Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago, from the ancient Silk Road to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree, from the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the Victorian ballgowns with intricate thread work.
According to Amit Sood, director of Google Arts and Culture,”We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your Saree, jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”
The company also mentioned that noteworthy collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees will be included in the online project, as it intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures.
According to PTI reports, the world fashion exhibit also includes designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis. it will showcase the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women as well.
As a part of the exhibit, Sewa Hansiba Museum has brought the unique colorful and rich embroidery arts, applique and mirror work from different communities such as the Ahir, Rabari, Chaudhury Patel and many others from the western part of India online.
The exhibition conducted by Salar Jung Museum brings to light the Sherwani and its journey of becoming the royal fashion statement of the Nizams from 19th century Hyderabad. Fashion and textiles enthusiasts can revisit Colonial Indian attires with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 50,000 photos, videos and other documents on world fashion are open to exploration as well.
The ‘We wear Culture’ initiative highlights significant events in the growth of the world fashion industry; the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Audrey Hepburn and many more.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang