At least 124 Afghans dead due to freezing weather
At least 124 people died in freezing temperatures in Afghanistan in the past fortnight, Taliban officials say.
About 70,000 livestock had also perished in what is the coldest winter in a decade, a State Ministry for Disaster Management spokesman said.
Many aid agencies suspended operations in recent weeks after the Taliban banned Afghan women from working for non-governmental organisations.
A Taliban minister said despite the deaths, the edict would not be changed.
Acting Minister of Disaster Management Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund told the BBC that many areas of Afghanistan were now completely cut off by snow; military helicopters had been sent to the rescue, but they couldn’t land in the most mountainous regions.
The acting minister said the forecast for the next 10 days indicated temperatures would warm. But he was still worried about a rising death toll – of Afghans, and their livestock.
“Most of the people who lost their lives to the cold were shepherds or people living in rural areas. They didn’t have access to healthcare,” Mullah Akhund said.
“We’re concerned about those who are still living in the mountain regions. Most of the roads which pass through the mountains have been closed due to snow. Cars have got stuck there and passengers have died in the freezing temperatures.”
China’s self-developed large passenger aircraft, completes maiden flight
China’s first domestically-manufactured passenger jet – C919 has successfully completed its maiden commercial flight today (28).
State TV showed the C919 rising into the skies above Shanghai, heading to the capital Beijing early on Sunday.
It was built by the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China (Comac) in the hope of breaking the dominance of Airbus and Boeing’s single-aisle jets.
But the 164-seater still relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics.
The Shanghai-Beijing leg of the journey, with more than 130 passengers on board, was completed in just under three hours.
New Indian Parliament inaugurated amid Opposition boycott
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is inaugurating India’s new parliament building amid a boycott of the ceremony by 20 opposition parties.
The opposition has criticised the government for not asking the president to open the new building.
They also denounced the decision to hold the event on the birth anniversary of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called the boycott a “disrespect of democracy”.
The new parliament building is part of the government’s ambitious project to develop the Central Vista power corridor in capital Delhi.
On Sunday, Mr Modi will also unveil a new 75-rupee coin to commemorate the event and serve as a tribute to 75 years of India’s independence.
Built in front of the colonial-era parliament, the new four-storey building – built at an estimated cost of 9.7bn rupees ($117.1m, £94.2m) – has increased seating capacity.
The Lok Sabha chamber, which will seat the lower house of the parliament, is designed in the likeness of a peacock, India’s national bird. The Rajya Sabha chamber, which will seat the lower house, is designed resemble the lotus, India’s national flower.
Last week, 20 parties – including the main opposition Congress – had announced their “collective decision” to boycott the inauguration ceremony.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi said that the building should have been inaugurated by President Draupadi Murmu, the parliament’s highest constitutional authority.
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh also criticised the government’s decision to hold the event “on the birth anniversary of the man [Savarkar] who opposed Mahatma Gandhi vehemently all his life”.
World’s most expensive ice cream from Japan
Keep your hands steady: a scoop of this exquisite delight is probably going to cost more than all the ice cream you will have throughout multiple summers.
The frozen dessert, called byakuya – “white night” in Japanese – is currently fetching 880,000 yen ($6,380) for a serving, officially making it the most expensive ice cream in the world, according to Guinness World Records.
Japanese ice cream brand Cellato calls white night a gelato on its website, and the name is a hint to its Italian origins.
Sourced exclusively from Alba – home to what many consider the best white truffles in Italy – that ingredient alone could rake in as much as two million yen ($14,500) per kilogram, said an article published on the Guinness World Records website last week.
The ice cream is topped off by an edible gold leaf, two types of cheese and “Sakekasu,” a paste-like ingredient derived from the process of sake-making.
“It took us over 1.5 years to develop, with a lot of trials and errors to get the taste right,” a representative from the company told Guinness World Records earlier.
The company said its mission isn’t just about making mouthwateringly expensive desserts but to create a culinary adventure that merges European ingredients and traditional Japanese foods.
For that, it brought in Tadayoshi Yamada, the head chef at RiVi, an Osaka-based restaurant known for its French-Japanese fusion cuisine, to steer the project, according to Guinness World Records.
The desert is available for sale in Japan and is shipped directly to consumers, according to Cellato’s website.
Sampling the treat comes with almost equal precision, as Cellato sets out meticulous steps to govern the way it should be consumed once it arrives.
Patrons are instructed to pour in the white truffle at the right texture just as the ice cream softens up, before mixing it with a handcrafted metal spoon given to them.
They are advised to let the ice cream defrost at room temperature or microwave it at 500 watts for 10 to 20 seconds, if the texture is too hard.
While the Guinness World Records team has not had a chance to sample the dessert, Cellato earlier offered a tasting session for its staff, who described the treat to the record-keeping body as “rich in taste and texture.”
In addition, they recommended pairing the tasting with sake or a French white wine.
Cellato, which also has a black truffle-based offering on its menu, said it plans to diversify its eye-wateringly expensive product line to include Champagne and caviar in the future.
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