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     Volume 6 Issue 36 | September 14, 2007 |

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News Notes

A World on the Edge
the Lesions of 9-11
Six years after the terrorist attacks on the US, the world has witnessed a sharp rise in religious extremism across the globe. It is indeed ironic that though the attacks have fomented hatred and intolerance in the Muslim world, the so-called free societies like Europe, not to mention the US itself, have seen a marked increase in the role of religion in their social fabric. God has always played a pivotal role in US politics, and after the twin tower tragedy this has increased manifold, with more and more of the country's politicians trying to prove how god-loving they are, or they want their fellow country-men to be.
In Europe, racist political parties have gained significant ground in England, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Immigration has become a thorn in the flesh for some of these countries, for some it remains a necessary evil. And the war on/in Iraq. Many have started calling it the west's Waterloo, and so far it looks even graver than that. The US went there without any exit strategy, and though the vile dictator is long gone, instead of welcoming the 'liberators' with garlands, some of the common Iraqis have put up one of the bloodiest resistances in the modern history of the Middle East. The US is in a strange dilemma: to quit or not to quit is a big question really. If it opts for the former, chances are high that Iran will emerge as the most important player in the region. If it sticks to the ground and decides to put a brave face, it will also have to count the body bags.
And what about Al Qaeda? With the US on its knees in Iraq and forever confused in Afghanistan, the terrorist organisation that has launched numerous attacks, killing and maiming thousands, remains a formidable force in world politics. Recently acquired intelligence reports suggest that Al Qaeda has become stronger across the Middle East and Europe. In Afghanistan, it is at war with the Nato-led Coalition Forces, and it is difficult to tell who really controls the poverty-torn, ragged country. In Iraq, the terrorists are having a field day, thanks to the moronic invasion of the US forces. Pakistan, which once actively supported the Talibans, remains on the edge; this nuclear-armed country, in the absence of proper democracy and rule of law, is tittering on the brink of total chaos. And everyone knows what comes with chaos, who becomes the ultimate beneficiary of ignorance and deprivation.
In Europe, more and more young Muslim men, most whom were born in the west, have been translating their frustrations into anger. The recent riots in France and the attacks on the London underground are mere examples of what happens when a significant number of a country's population feel disillusioned. The response with which the governments have come up is breeding more frustration, causing a divide between the white rich and brown-black citizenry.
One single attack on the US on the September 11, 2001 has indeed changed our lives. Violence proverbially begets more violence, and in this case, it has brought bigotry, intolerance and war. The lesson, if one must try to find any, is that we have refused to learn from history. Instead of addressing basic issues like hunger and crisis with identity, we have gone on solving the immediate problems, and while doing so we have given birth to a list of new problems. And everyone knows that too many problems together form a crisis. There is no denying that the world now is facing a crisis, grave and menacing, with no sign of abating.

Never Ending Floods
Just when one thought the curse of the floods was over for one year they have come back with a vengeance. Since early August the floodwaters across Bangladesh have been receding and in the low lying areas some semblance of normality returned only to be jolted again by unusually heavy end season rains. The result was the same as usual, the south, central and northeastern regions of the country were the worst hit. People had barely returned to their lives and livelihoods when they were left without shelter for the second time in two months. In a country such as ours floods are part and parcel of everyday life and the government must formulate a comprehensive plan to deal with the situation. It is fair to say that the lack of a strategic flood plan was one of the major issues that all our successive governments never fully dealt with. This year proved to be yet another shining example of that proud tradition being perpetuated. After the first phase of the floods millions were left homeless and without food. The recovery plan put forward was shaky to say the least and it was mismanaged from the start as hundreds of thousands of people went days and at times even weeks without food and supplies. How the government deals with the second round of floods is of major importance. If they have learnt anything from the floods of the last few months they should know when, where and how to tackle them now. If they fail to deal with the floods and most importantly the people who suffer from them then they will have much to answer for. The last few months has seen millions of dollars donated towards the flood affected people, the government has got an opportunity to put that money into use faster than expected. This is the time to act.

Tech-aided Sleaze Bags
Depraved, one-track minded men of Bangladesh have found themselves in possession of a new weapon to harass young, defenceless girls. It's small (fits inside their pockets), it's easy to manoeuvre and it's always with them. The innocent mobile phone that brings joy to people for its speed in communication and information exchange, keeps parents happy when their children are out of sight and can even be used to buy and sell products as varied as furniture and vegetables, is now being used by a certain section of people to do something more sinister.
Unsuspecting girls are being victimised by this section of people by having their photos taken or videotaped sometimes in compromising positions. One girl (according to a Prothom Alo report) was in a shop buying personal items when a man secretly took a shot of her using her phone camera. At public places there is no rest from the wicked phone-clicking menace to society. Jilted lovers have also found a much more powerful weapon of revenge in the cell phone. So do we blame it all on the cell phones? Of course not! There will always be such people who will find new ways to harass people. But the laws regarding this form of harassment need to be stricter. People need to be more aware of the terrible consequences of such acts that cause so much trauma to the victims and their families. 'Eve teasing' has led to an end of many girls education and even suicides from frustration. This new weapon is much more sophisticated and dangerous. If it is not controlled properly, the situation may go out of control. 'Eve teasing' is basically sexual harassment and should be seen as a reprehensible crime that must not go unpunished.

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