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Chinese and Indian Troops in Fresh Clashes as Border Tensions Heat Up

A new clash last week resulted in “many” injuries on both sides.

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Chinese and Indian troops have reportedly engaged in a clash last week in a disputed area that resulted in “many” injuries on both sides, according to media reports originating in India.

“Indian, Chinese troops in new border brawl, injuries on both sides,” stated AFP. According to Indian media, some 20 Chinese soldiers sustained injuries during the clash while four on the Indian side were injured.

The incident, which is said to have taken place in the north Sikkim region last Wednesday, would be the latest in a string of clashes in the contested border region. Both India and China claim large swathes of the territory.

The alleged incident comes months after around 20 Indian soldiers died in a similar clash in the Ladakh region last June when a Chinese patrol sought to enter Indian-controlled territory. China did not confirm at the time that it suffered fatalities in the clash, which involve fists and wooden clubs.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar admitted last month that the relations between the two Asian giants remain “significantly damaged” by the events of last year.

Last Wednesday’s incident also did not involve an exchange of fire, although reports have claimed that the two sides came to blows using sticks and stones.

India’s army claims that the “minor” incident has since been resolved, saying that there “was a minor face-off at Naku La area of North Sikkim on 20 January 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols,” reports the BBC. The Indian Army also urged media to not overplay the significance of the event.

The Times of India has characterized the incident as a “physical brawl,” with one source claiming that the altercation unfolded after a PLA intrusion, and that the clash was defused after both sides called in reinforcements.

However, Chinese state media has roundly dismissed the reports as fake news, citing an absence of reports by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in its front line patrol logs, according to the Global Times.

The Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China also has said that it has “no information on the incident,” with foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian saying that Chinese troops “dedicated themselves to safeguarding the peace and tranquility” of the border region.  “China urges India to work in the same direction,” he added.

The reported incidents come amid ongoing military-level talks between the Asian neighbors, although such dialogue surrounding the border has been constant.

Troops have persisted in facing each other across various flashpoints strewn across the massive contested border, with many observers seeing the exchanges as simply unavoidable given the fluidity of the situation and failure of both sides to settle their territorial disputes.

Both sides agree that it remains essential that the two nuclear-armed neighbors avoid an escalation of hostilities, but tensions have remained high between China and India.

New Delhi has cast suspicion on China’s growing diplomatic and economic clout in the region, which has come through major investment schemes touted by Beijing as key to developing the South Asian region.

The Hindu nationalist government of India has banned some 200 Chinese apps made by its tech giants while also blocking trade deals with Chinese companies. China, in turn, has warned that India will pay a significant economic cost if the dispute continues.

At the heart of ongoing tensions is the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the 2,100-mile (3,379 km) de facto border dividing the two states. Both countries have a range of disagreements about the most basic facts concerning the border, which is largely a result of clashes that have roiled the region since the 19th century, when colonial powers – including a Britain that controlled much of South Asia as a colonial power – fought one another to wrest land from a weakened China. Since both countries gained independence in the mid-20th century, the two have had severe conflicts of interests regarding control of the region and their shared border.

The LAC itself is the result of the Sino-Indian border war of 1962, which resulted in a humiliating defeat for India at the hands of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Since then, there has been intermittent fighting in the region that has claimed the lives of hundreds of soldiers on both sides. In 1996, the two agreed to bar the use of guns and explosives at the LOC.

Early in January, the outgoing administration of U.S. President Trump declassified its 2018 Indo-Pacific strategy that was originally meant to be secret for three decades. The release of the strategy, which envisioned a U.S.-led alliance militarily and diplomatically backing India as a “counterbalance to China,” greatly embarrassed New Delhi as a transparent attempt to to box in Biden’s approach to China.

However, it remains uncertain that the Biden administration, which is also preoccupied by foreign policy challenges vis-à-vis Beijing, will offer the same level of support to New Delhi or follow the same strategy as the Trump administration did. It is equally unclear whether India’s own military and economic capabilities can meet its ambition to challenge the growing power of China.

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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