Hiatus in Thailand
The public may have been a little outraged by the Prime Minister's
departure to Thailand while her country has been floundering
in flood waters. But this visit may actually be of some benefit
The meeting between Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra on the sidelines of BIMST-EC summit, resulted
in the agreement of forming a joint taskforce to start an
elevated expressway in Dhaka. A technical expert committee
will be set up to speed up the process by constructing a road
linking Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand.
What's more, Thaksin after inquiring about the flood situation,
has offered 1,000 metric tons of rice for the affected people.
The Thai PM also said his country would buy 10 lakh jute bags
from Bangladesh for distribution of rice among the flood affected.
Thailand also offered to supply chickens on credit as part
of an aid package.
Threaten Barisal Journalists
Outlaws have sent letters to four journalists of Barisal with
death threats. The letters signed "Azrail" were
sent to Kazi Nassiruddin Babul, editor of Dainik Ajker
Barta, Syed Dulal, editor of Dainik Ajker Paribartan,
M A Matin, editor of Dainik Dakhinanchal and Akter
Faruk Shahin, who is the news editor of Dainik Ajker Barta
and Barisal correspondent of The Daily Star. The
letters were all received through mail last week.
The sender expressed his extreme anger about the publication
of reports concerning the outlawed Sarbohara Party in the
letters. It threatened to blow up the journalists and their
homes with explosives. The letters urged the targets to "consume
sufficient food and get ready to die." The journalists
lodged a general diary on July 28 with the Barisal Shadar
Police Station and sought security from the administration
while Barisal Press Club, the Barisal Reporters Unity and
Barisal Journalist Union condemned the incident of sending
death threats and demanded the culprits' punishment.
Drive Headmistress Out of Home
Local hoodlums forced the headmistress of the famed Khastogir
Government Girls' High School in Barisal to take refuge in
the school building. It was a denial on the part of the headmistress
to take in students in the middle of the school year that
spurred the local mastans to threaten the teacher
of severe consequences. In a general diary with the Kotowali
Thana, Setara Banu accused the mastans of pressuring her for
admission of students.
On July 19, two of the mastans, who claimed to have
belonged to the ruling party, came with the proposal of admission
of two students, one in Class 7 and the other in 8. While
they were sitting in the office of the headmistress, a third
man called on the phone to threaten Setara Banu after she
refused to flout the admission regulations. On the evening
of that very day, the two who earlier visited the school office
came to her house and threatened her, forcing her to take
shelter in a neighbour's house. The day after the two mastans
re-emerged, and this time it was again the intervention of
the neighbours that saved the headmistress. It was on July
20 that Setara Banu left her house thinking that the school
would be a safer place than her house.
She told a Prothom Alo newsman that a gang has been
active in the town who are using their political connections
to pressurise the authorities of the few famed schools to
take in candidates of their choice. She stressed that it is
a practice with clear mercenary motives by an organised ring
that is making the situation worse day by day.
Meanwhile, the OC of Kotowali Thana told a reporter that,
while police are having a hard time bringing to the book the
well-known criminals, why pursue the more obscure names?
Among Top Finishers in US Visa Lottery
Bangladesh, Nigeria, Poland and Ethiopia were the top finishers
in the US visa lottery, which granted 50,000 permanent residence
visas, or "green cards", allowing recipients to
live and work in the United States, the US State Department
The "diversity lottery", held each year under the
US Immigration and Nationality Act, distributes the visas
to residents of countries which have low immigration rates
to the United States.
Applicants were selected at random from a total of some 9.5
million applications submitted from November 1 to December
30, 2003, said the State Department.
Bangladesh got 7,404 visas, Nigeria 6,725, Poland 6,211 and
Countries with heavy immigration to the United States, including
Canada, China (minus Hong Kong and Taiwan), Colombia, Pakistan,
The Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Britain (minus Northern
Ireland) and Vietnam, were excluded from the lottery.
Card Lottery Entries Drop
There have been less than half the usual number of entries
for the green card lottery this year, and immigrants' advocates
blame a new rule requiring hopefuls for the permanent resident
cards to apply by computer.
As the December 30 deadline nears, the government has received
5 million applications, compared with as many as 13 million
in previous years, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Government officials say the new computer-only policy has
prevented fraud and duplicate applications, resulting in the
lower number of entries.
But advocates argue that potential applicants do not have
access to the computers, scanners and Internet connections
needed to enter. They say some are afraid of having their
identities in a computer database, especially if they are
living in the United States illegally.
"The information is not being collected to look for people
to deport," Stuart Patt, a State Department spokesman,
told the Times. "It's not being done as a tool
for enforcement, it's being done for administrative improvement."
The newspaper said that when pressed, Patt added, "Would
we make that information available if Homeland Security would
make the request? I'm not saying we would deny it."
Only people from countries that have sent relatively few numbers
of immigrants in the past five years can apply for the lottery,
which gives invitations to apply for a visa to about 110,000
winners. About half are deemed unqualified or do not complete
the process in time.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004