As floods ravage parts of Pakistan, 1,456 people have been injured and 982 have died. As a result, the Shehbaz Sharif government has turned to the Pakistan Army for assistance in rescue and relief efforts. According to Pakistan’s disaster management organisation, more than 3,000 km of roads, around 150 bridges, and almost seven lakh homes have been washed away or destroyed as a result of the flooding.
As Pakistani media reported on Saturday, “at present, more than half of (the country) is under water and millions of people have been rendered homeless as a result of flash flooding generated by abnormal monsoon rains…”
Over 5.7 million people are without shelter and food due to unprecedented rains.
In the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh provinces, where heavy rain continues for a second day in a row and areas are blocked off owing to damaged roads and bridges, the media reported on a “new wave of death and destruction.”
The catastrophe also damaged crops and cattle.
According to the reports, Balochistan and Sindh were particularly hard hit, and several locations on Pakistan’s railway network had their operations interrupted.
Due to severe weather, Pakistan International Airlines on Friday suspended service to Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan.
Following the declaration of a “national emergency,” the Pakistani government, according to the reports will make a “flash plea” to the UN. $3 million has already been allotted by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.
Due to the inability of the government to restore pipelines that were washed away by floods in the Bolan River, the floods and storms have also caused a severe gas shortage.
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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’
Author Valentine Low has written a book about the staff who work for the royal families called ‘Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown’. In the book, she quoted many staff who worked for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their term as senior royals in the UK.
According to the New York Post, the book details the alleged bad behaviour by Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, towards their staff. In the book, the author even quoted a royal staffer calling Meghan, a “narcissistic sociopath”
Staff members coined the epithet for the Duchess of Sussex, according to a report in The Sun citing excerpts from the explosive tome, according to the New York Post.
According to Page Six, “There were a lot of broken people,” an insider claimed to author Valentine Low.
“Young women were broken by their behaviour,” the palace source added.
Valentine Low cites one alleged occasion in her book in which Markle scolded a young female coworker in front of other co-workers.
“Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you,” Markle allegedly told the staffer, with whom she had been working to execute a plan of sorts.
Celebration of 75 years of Independence with commemorative coins in Kolkata
As the most awaited festival of Durga Puja is around the corner, preparations for the festival are in full swing in Kolkata, which is known for the yearly event. The Durga Puja of Kolkata is world famous and it was also included in UNESCO’s representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2021.
Every year, Kolkata brings a new theme to Durga Puja pandals, which are unique and innovative in their own way. From pandals to the Durga idol, devotees get to see various themed Durga puja in Kolkata.
In keeping with the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Babubagan Sarbojanin Durgotsav Puja pandal at the Dhakuria in South Kolkata has come up with a unique pandal, which is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence.
The Babubagan Sarbajanin Durgotsav Samiti Durga Puja Pandal, made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. The theme of this year’s Durga Puja pandal is “Maa Tujhe Salaam”. This time, Babubagan Sarbajanin Durga Puja is being celebrated for the 61st year.
Realising the artistic vision of Sujata Gupta and welcoming Maa Durga in an atmosphere of remembrance of 75 years of the country’s independence, tributes have been paid to the great freedom fighters of the country.
The theme of this puja pandal depicts the freedom fighters and great personalities through Maa Tujhe Salaam.
Upon entering, one can feel the presence of prominent figures of India, who were directly involved in India’s freedom struggle and who shaped our modern India and various Indian independence movements.
The park will also have landmarks of various pillars of our country that have helped them stand on their feet.
Prof Sujata Gupta, Concept Maker and Puja Committee Treasurer, said, “Maa Tujhe Salaam is the theme of the pandal. Maa means ‘Durga Maa’ and it also means ‘Bharat Mata’. We are celebrating 75 years of India’s independence. The pandal is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. From 1947 till date, a number of commemorative coins have been released on important occasions. We have collected such coins and adorned the pandal with them. While some of the coins are original, the rest are replicas. “ The idol will be placed in a coin museum.
“There will be a coin museum. The idols of Durga Maa are replicated on the coins. Also, we have placed replicas of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, and others on coins,” said Gupta.
She further said that around 150 coins have been used in the pandal.
“It is my hobby to collect coins and this is my concept. My husband also used to collect coins. We had all these old coins that are not in use today. So we thought of giving a message to the next generation with this pandal. Senior citizens will feel nostalgic as they are not able to see old coins. This will work as a feel-good factor,” she said.
Viruses may have ‘eyes and ears’ on us
New research suggests that viruses are using information from their environment to ‘decide’ when to sit tight inside their hosts and when to multiply and burst out, killing the host cell. Right now, viruses are exploiting the ability to monitor their environment to their benefit. But in the future, “we could exploit it to their detriment,” said one of the authors.
A virus’s ability to sense its environment, including elements produced by its host, adds “another layer of complexity to the viral-host interaction,” says Ivan Erill, professor of biological sciences and senior author of the new paper.
Right now, viruses are exploiting that ability to their benefit. But in the future, he says, “we could exploit it to their detriment.”
The new study focused on bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria, often referred to simply as “phages.”
The phages in the study can only infect their hosts when the bacterial cells have special appendages, called pili and flagella, that help the bacteria move and mate.
The bacteria produce a protein called CtrA that controls when they generate these appendages.
The new paper shows that many appendage-dependent phages have patterns in their DNA where the CtrA protein can attach, called binding sites.
Erill says that a phage having a binding site for a protein produced by its host is unusual.
Even more surprising, Erill and the paper’s first author, Elia Mascolo, a Ph.D. student in Erill’s lab, found through detailed genomic analysis that these binding sites were not unique to a single phage, or even a single group of phages.
Many different types of phages had CtrA binding sites, but they all required their hosts to have pili and/or flagella to infect them. It couldn’t be a coincidence, they decided.
NAVRATRI 2022: All about the 9-day Auspicious festival
The 9-day-long festival of Shardiya Navratri, dedicated to Maa Durga and her nine avatars, began on Monday, marking the first day of the festivity (Kalash or Ghatsthapna). The festival is celebrated with great fervour all across the country by Hindus.
It is intended for the worship of Maa Durga and her nine avatars, known as Navdurga. Navratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit. Hindus observe a total of four Navratris throughout the year. Only two of them, Chaitra Navaratri and Shardiya Navaratri, saw widespread celebrations, as they coincided with the beginnings of the seasons.
From Ashwin Shukla Paksha’s Navami until the Pratipada, Shardiya Navratri is observed. While the holiday is celebrated with great fanfare across the nation, distinct traditions are more commonly practised in different states.
This year, Navratri will last nine days, starting on 26 September and concluding on 5 October.
The festival of Navratri honours the defeat of the demonic Mahishasura and the triumph of good over evil. Because of Mahishasura’s unwavering devotion to him, Lord Brahma bestows the gift of immortality upon him at the beginning of the narrative.
The blessing did, however, come with one stipulation: only a woman would be able to overcome him. The demon began terrorising people on Earth because he didn’t think any woman would be strong enough to overcome him. The gods were unable to halt him.
Since Mahishasura was to be demolished, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva pooled their efforts to create the goddess Durga. They gave her a number of weapons. Ten days passed during Maa Durga and Mahishasura’s conflict. However, Maa Durga was able to overcome him when he at last transformed into a buffalo.
During the nine-day Navratri festival, devotees worship Maa Durga’s nine incarnations in order to obtain her blessings. There is a goddess manifestation linked with each day of Navratri. During these nine days, people maintain ritualistic fasts, recite shlokas dedicated to each goddess, wear new clothing, offer bhog, and clean their homes. In their prayers, they ask the goddess for her favour in order to have prosperous, joyous, and fulfilled lives.
Ramlila is organised extensively during Navratri in North India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. During the Ramlila, the tale of Lord Ram’s triumph over Ravana is acted out. The effigies of King Ravana are burned on Dussehra to commemorate the triumph of good over evil.
In fact, on the tenth day of Navratri, also known as Vijayadashami, a large procession is organised during which clay figurines of Maa Durga are ceremoniously submerged in a river, sea, or ocean. Popular places to do this practice include West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Bihar. The most significant day for Maa Durga’s worship is thought to be the day of Durga Visarjan.
Numerous dances, including Garba and Dandiya Raas, are performed during the nine-day festival. While Dandiya Raas involves dancing with dandiya sticks to the beat of the music, Garba is a traditional dance in which participants clap their hands and move in a circle while making rhythmic gestures.
In India, Navratri is celebrated in a wide range of ways. Ramlila, a celebration in which scenes from the Ramayana are performed, is organised in North India, mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. The burning of King Ravana’s effigies marks the conclusion of the story on Vijaya dashami.
Japan on high alert ahead of former PM Abe’s state funeral
Japan has imposed tight security measures in the capital city Tokyo as it prepares to host foreign dignitaries for the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which will be attended by several foreign dignitaries.
The state-funded event on Tuesday has encountered growing criticism as it is expected to cost more than USD 11 million, with a large portion attributed to security costs, Japan’s Kyodo news reported.
Top-level security measures will be deployed, equivalent to those adopted during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the police presence exceeding 18,000 personnel.
According to Kyodo, Police are taking extra precautions to ensure there is no gap in security given that Abe was shot down despite the presence of police while he was giving a public address.
The state funeral of Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on July 8 in the city of Nara during a campaign speech, will take place on September 27. Thousands of people are expected to attend the funeral.
Representatives from hundreds of countries and international organizations are expected to participate in the state funeral on Tuesday at the Nippon Budokan in central Tokyo, Japan Times reported.
Abe’s funeral will be the second state funeral for a former prime minister since World War 2. The first one was held in 1967 for Shigeru Yoshida.
Other deceased prime ministers received a joint Cabinet Office and Liberal Democratic Party service.
The state funeral ceremony will be the first major public event since new police security guidelines were implemented, including sniffer dogs at train stations and police patrols at Tokyo-area airports after Abe’s assassination.
Several foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the funeral service in Tokyo. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend Abe’s funeral. He will also separately meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The funeral service will likely last for approximately one-and-a-half hours following which the national anthem of the country will be played, according to Japan Times.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will deliver a commemorative speech followed by addresses from other high-level delegates.
Japan’s royal family will also pay tributes to Abe at his state funeral, however, maintaining the line of Japanese tradition, Emperor Naruhito will not be attending the funeral, and their imperial envoys will pay their respects.
The funeral ceremony will finish with sending off Abe’s remains and placing remembrance wreaths. Abe was shot on 8 July in the Japanese city of Nara.
China-Nepal rail plan has little support in landlocked nation
China’s ambitious project in Nepal related to building a railway line in the landlocked nation has few supporters.
Although China plans to start a feasibility study for the 170 km Trans-Himalayan Tibet-Nepal railway, environmental and technical questions remain. Such concerns have been raised by Nepali experts, reported Eye of Nepal.
Moreover, the dispute over the blocked Nepal-China railway line has not yet been resolved. President Xi Jinping said in 2019 that the proposed line would transform Nepal.
But three years have passed and still the project has not received much support from the Nepalese leadership, engineers or environmentalists, reported Eye of Nepal.
Towards the end of 2018, China conducted a pre-feasibility study of a railway for Nepal, which clearly stated that it was a very difficult project due to the terrain gradient.
Th study estimates an investment of USD 2.75 billion for the 72.5 km section but unfortunately, the report of the study has not been made public yet, reported Eye of Nepal.
As a result, doubts have arisen in Nepal about the feasibility of the proposed railway. Aman Chitrakar of Nepal Railway said that this project will be as difficult as the third pole.
He said that the world’s most challenging railway engineering project is the 4,500-meter Tibetan Plateau route that reaches Kathmandu through the Himalayas. Technical experts have expressed serious concern about Nepal’s lack of capacity, reported Eye of Nepal.
While reviewing the technical reports, it was found that there is no technically qualified railway in Nepal and there is a lack of engineers who can evaluate the pros and cons of the proposed railway line.
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