The Limelight Himself
CHIEF Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz has managed to make headlines yet again. The latest bout of criticism comes from the National Democratic Institute (NDI). According to newspaper reports, the NDI delegation expressed "deep concern over the widespread lack of confidence in the Election Commission (EC), specifically the chief election commissioner". Leader of the delegation, Tom Daschle, identified "incompetence" and "bias" as being major problems which needed to be addressed. However, he said, when the issues were raised with the CEC, the latter did not acknowledge that any problems existed, and claimed, instead, that the delegation had been misinformed. While Daschle has warned that failure to tackle the concerns would contribute to further deterioration of the already wobbly confidence in the CEC, Aziz has responded by reminding the institute that Bangladesh is an independent and sovereign state, that their comments "lacked courtesy", that he had a story to tell, but alas, it was not possible to comment on everything…
What's Rotting this Week
Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) imported more than 1000 tons of rotten pulse from India. In an attempt to keep prices stable, the government has decided to import basic necessities from India, but what exactly do they plan to do with this rotten food. TCB employees have claimed that this pulse wont be sold in the market. What then TCB plans to do with this pulse is anybody's guess.
Hybrid Rice to Fight Monga
The Rangpur Dinajur Rural Service (RDRS) has been successful in creating new hybrid rice that may solve many of the problems caused by Monga (a near famine situation) in northern Bangladesh. RDRS and Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) carried out research recently that proved that the new hybrid rice has a production rate almost equivalent to most Boro crops. The research proved that the new hybrid rice can be produced from paddy ratoons in 75 to 80 days rather than the 90 to 120 days it takes to produce hybrid rice from seeds. Ratoons are shoots that grow up from the bases of crop plants after the previous growths have been harvested. Hamid Mia, former director general of BRRI, said “Farmers can now produce hybrid rice twice after buying seeds only once. The second time they can get a yield from the ratoons.” The new hybrid rice that is grown from the old ratoons has a healthy production rate of 1500 Kg per hectare of land, thereby making its yield far greater than any other hybrid rice. Hamid Mia went on to say that “After Boro crop is harvested, farmers can again plant the ratoons in a field and the day labourers of the northern region can stay employed during the monga season.”
Aside from those benefits it is claimed that the cultivation of hybrid rice from ratoons may cut production costs by 50 percent, thereby making it an ever wiser choice for farmers. All in all this new hybrid rice should provide extra employment, more rice and cut costs by 50 percent, all during the monga season. It could be called the rice of life.
Government's crackdown operations
This week, the country saw yet another countrywide crackdown on Proshika, a non-government organisation (NGO) in Bangladesh. The crackdown was allegedly launched in suspicion of Proshika's plan to bring in people to Dhaka ahead of the 14-party programme of laying siege to the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday and also to attend an opposition's grand rally. Two hundred offices of Proshika remained 'unofficially' closed on Monday following the arrest of more than 130 of its workers. The arrests had apparently left 15,000 staff scared, who failed to show up for work. According to this NGO, the police raided Proshika offices and made the blanket arrests from different parts of the country between Saturday and Sunday. Till then, the law enforcing agencies have kept Proshika branch offices under guard. Some police officials had stated that the arrests were made due to Proshika's 'anti-government activities'. Interestingly, the arrests that were and are being made nowadays need no warrants. The police needs but a simple thumbs-up from government high-ups and they take no time to arrest people from the streets. This is the second time that the BNP-led alliance had launched such a countrywide crackdown on Proshika. The last one was in 2004 when law enforcers arrested Proshika officials linking them with the main opposition Awami League Party. While some political parties and social organisations condemned the crackdown terming it a 'violation of human rights', the supposed law enforcing body of our country leaves us wondering exactly whose interests they are serving.
Saddam not linked with al-Qaeda
It's sad to think of the obvious plight that President Bush has been going through for a while, becoming the world court jester owing to his silly statements and impulsive actions. Yet another piece of news now puts the joke on him. Saddam Hussein, the man behind most of the atrocities performed in and around his country, the patron weapons of mass destruction and also supposedly having given shelter to Osama Bin Laden, was never linked with the al-Qaeda. In fact, the former dictator currently thrown from his throne, rejected overtures from al-Qaeda and believed Islamic extremists were a threat to his regime.
Reports, released last Friday from Washington, disclose for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that prior to the war Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbour or turn a blind eye toward" al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his associates.
Everyone remembers the silly smile of pride on the President's face when he announced on television all over the world with a “We got him!” and probably spent the week rejoicing over the 'success'. However, in spite of all the 'happy happy joy joy' attitude at the White House, evidence of these weapons of mass destruction are yet to turn up.
As recently as an August 21 news conference, President Bush said people should "imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein" with the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction and "who had relations with Zarqawi."
Democrats singled out CIA Director George Tenet, saying that during a private meeting in July Tenet told the panel that the White House pressured him and that he agreed to back up the administration's case for war despite his own agents' doubts about the intelligence it was based on.
The report speaks for itself, Democrats said. The administration exploited the deep sense of insecurity among Americans in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, leading a large majority of Americans to believe contrary to the intelligence assessments at the time that Iraq had a role in the 9/11 attacks, according to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginias, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
According to the report, postwar findings indicate that Saddam "was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime." It quotes an FBI report from June 2004 in which former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said in an interview "Saddam only expressed negative sentiments about bin Laden."
Saddam himself is quoted in an FBI summary as acknowledging that the Iraqi government had met with bin Laden but denying that he had colluded with the al-Qaeda leader. Claiming that Iraq opposed only US policies, Saddam said that if he wanted to cooperate with the enemies of the US, he would have allied with North Korea or China, the report quotes the FBI document.
The report concludes that postwar findings do not support a 2002 intelligence community report that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear programme, possessed biological weapons or ever developed mobile facilities for producing biological warfare agents.
Wonder what intelligent thoughts President Bush wants to shower the world with now.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006