The Daily Star

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

News of: Friday, 31st of August, 2007

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Banks told to freeze accounts of Khaleda

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) Wednesday asked all banks to freeze the accounts of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, her son Arafat Rahman Koko and nine others of her family.

Shajahan Siraj, wife, son jailed for 8 years

The Fourth Special Court on Wednesday sentenced former jute and textiles minister Shajahan Siraj, his wife Rabeya Siraj and their son Rajib Siraj to eight years' imprisonment each in connection with two offences of tax evasion.

Two DU teachers remanded again

The two detained Dhaka University (DU) teachers yesterday told a court that they were subjected to mental torture during interrogation over the past seven days.

Government mulls forming campus police

The government is thinking about forming campus police for maintaining internal security of the country's higher educational institutions, as the recent violence at Dhaka University and backlash on other campuses worried the authorities.

No seats for 1.2 lakh after HSC results

Around 1.2 lakh of the students who passed Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations this year will be denied admission to the public and private universities and other institutions due to shortage of seats.

Keep patience for next 15 months for a fair election

Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus on Wednesday urged all to have patience for the next 15 months to have a free, fair and acceptable general election to consolidate democracy.

Shab-e-Barat observed

The holy Shab-e-Barat was observed across the country on Wednesday night with due religious fervour.

CA for starting FTA talks with Pakistan

Chief Adviser (CA) Fakhruddin Ahmed has stressed the need for starting negotiations on Bangladesh-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Govt's highest level to decide lifting of politics ban

Law and Information Adviser Mainul Hosein on Wednesday said the decision on lifting the ban on indoor politics would be taken at the highest level of the government.

ACC asks ministries to take action after probe

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has started sending directives to different ministries and other departments to take actions after inquiries against their own employees and public representatives against whom complaints were earlier lodged with the commission for their alleged corruption.

Survived from flood, only to suffer

Insab Ali, a day labourer of Ranigram in Sirajganj Sadar, was staring at the Tk 10 note wondering how he is going to feed his family of eight with this last bit of savings he had held on to since the flooding began.

Prof Anwar says sorry to army

The detained general secretary of Dhaka University Teachers Association (Duta) yesterday apologised to the army for the attack on them during the recent campus violence.

UK gives $20m for voter list scheme

In support of Bangladesh's effort to hold a credible, safe and fair election, the UK has contributed $20 million, equivalent to Tk 140 crore, towards 'Preparation of Electoral Roll with Photographs (PERP)' project, says a DFID press release.

RU official held on charge of arson, vandalism

Public relations officer of Rajshahi University, Sadikul Islam, was arrested on Wednesday and shown arrested in a case filed on August 23 under Emergency Power Rules for arson and vandalising of government property.

Saarc transport ministers meet in Delhi today

Communication and transport ministers of eight Saarc countries will meet in New Delhi today to discuss ways and means to strengthen a multi-modal transport network in South Asia for boosting intra-regional trade.

Probe body records DU student's statement

The one-member probe commission of Justice Habibur Rahman Khan, formed to investigate the untoward incidents in and around the DU campus, recorded the account of an M Phil student of Dhaka University (DU) on Wednesday.

Forgery in CSB's frequency allocation

A probe body of the information ministry has recommended that the government cancel the frequency allocation to the Focus Multimedia Company, which runs CSB News satellite TV channel, for 'forgery'.

Tax evasion case against Tuku stayed

The High Court on Wednesday stayed the proceedings of an income tax evasion case against detained former state minister for power Iqbal Hassan Mahmood Tuku and issued a rule upon the government to explain why the case would not be quashed.

No problem in talks despite politics ban

Awami League (AL) Presidium Member Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said the AL should sit with the Election Commission (EC) at a dialogue even if there is a ban on indoor politics.

BNP to observe low-key founding anniversary

BNP will observe its 29th founding anniversary tomorrow on a limited scale as the government has imposed some conditions on party programmes.

Musharraf shrugs off pressure from Benazir

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf yesterday rejected pressure from former premier Benazir Bhutto to make a snap decision on a power-sharing deal that would see him quit as army chief.

Indian Maoists kill 12 cops in ambush

Maoists shot dead 12 Indian policemen in an ambush in the densely forested central state of Chhattisgarh, police said yesterday.


Election Commission's dialogue plans

The Election Commission has made a good move toward re-energising its polls-related programme. By informing the country that it plans to begin consultations with political parties on September 12 (in the expectation of course that the ban on indoor politics will have been lifted by that date), it has given a new spurt to its goal of holding free, fair and transparent elections before the end of the year 2008. We welcome the announcement and at the same time hope that the EC will stay focused on its programme. The dates announced must be kept unchanged as far as possible.

FBCCI's good counsel

Nothing like the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) urging its constituents not to make 'extra profit' during the month of fasting. It has appealed to the businessmen to be imbued with a sense of social commitment and responsibility to keep the profit margin at a minimal level. Their exhortative counsel welcome as it is, we would expect they take upon themselves some of the responsibility of ensuring consumer-friendly market behaviour. As well as playing a monitoring role as the apex body the FBCCI should be in constant touch with the representatives of the associations of wholesale and retail networks for any market correction needed to attain the objective of containing price jacking.

Margin of error

It is said that King Richard III of England lost the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 when his horse's shoe came loose, throwing him to the ground. His troops were in retreat against the forces of Henry, Earl of Richmond, and Richard was trying one last ditch attempt to rally them when his horse lost one of its shoes and fell.

A seminary for the jailbirds

As the list of people getting prison terms keeps lengthening, an idea comes to mind whether they can form a sizeable class for a jailhouse seminary. I know exactly what should be the curriculum for that class. They should study history, philosophy, and lots of religion. No math since they have already done enough calculation. Throw in a little bit of literature. I would highly recommend "The Rocking Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence. These people have to learn that what they have done is very very wrong.


Harmer interview today

The Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) quest to find a new foreign coach for the national team gained momentum with John Harmer's arrival in Dhaka yesterday morning.

India clinch Nehru Cup

Turbo-charged India scripted history Wednesday evening by lifting the Nehru Cup international football trophy for the first time with a 1-0 victory over a depleted Syria, Pappachan Pradeep's 44th minute header settling the matter for the hosts.

Queensland down NCA

Morning always does not show the day. Having won their tour opener down under, BCB National Cricket Academy (NCA) crashed to their second consecutive defeat yesterday.

Bangladesh play Thailand today

Bangladesh open their 7th Asia Cup Hockey campaign against Thailand in Chennai today.

Eng keep India in check

Kevin Pietersen struck with his third ball to remove Indian dangerman Sachin Tendulkar as the tourists slipped to 103-4 in the 30th over of the fourth one-day international against England at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Lawson banks on pace

New Pakistan cricket coach Geoff Lawson said his newly fit fast bowlers can give his team an edge at next month's inaugural World Twenty20 Championship.

Matuail win again

Matuail Udayan Sangha blanked Rainbow AC 2-0 in the Third Division Football League at the Kamalapur Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium yesterday with goals from Biplab and Shailesh.

Indians stay ahead

GN Gopal and Surya Shekhar Ganguly stay in contention for the title as the Indian duo enter today's 11th and the final round of the Asian Zonal Chess Championship level on eight points.

Murali blow for Lanka

Sri Lanka's prolific spinner Muttiah Muralidaran was on Thursday ruled out of the inaugural World Twenty20 Championships next month due to an elbow injury.

Bob inquest on Oct 16

The long-awaited coroner's inquest into the death of the former Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer will begin on October 16, according to a Jamaica radio station.

T20 trophy unveiled

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed on Wednesday unveiled the trophy that will be at stake when the World Twenty20 Championship gets underway in South Africa on September 11.

Nadal struggles through

Rafael Nadal struggled on a sore left knee past unheralded Australian Alun Jones on Wednesday to reach the second round of the US Open but his bid for a third Grand Slam final in a row appears doomed.

France recall Trezeguet

France coach Raymond Domenech has named Juventus striker David Trezeguet among his 24-man squad for crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against Italy, on September 8, and Scotland four days later.

Puerta laid to rest

Thousands of football fans gathered at Sevilla's stadium Wednesday to pay their last respects to defender Antonio Puerta, who died three days after suffering a heart attack during the club's opening match of the Spanish league on Saturday.

Beckham injury scares England

David Beckham has given England manager Steve McClaren cause for concern ahead of two crucial qualifiers after he limped off with a knee injury while playing for his club Los Angeles Galaxy.

Atletico snap up Riquelme

Atletico Madrid continued their summer spending spree Wednesday in snapping up Argentine playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme from Villarreal, Cadena Ser radio reported.

Ribery best in Bundesliga

Bayern Munich's French star Franck Ribery has been choosen as the Bundesliga's player of the month for August, it was announced on Thursday.

Injury strikes Eto'o again

Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o will be sidelined for at least two months after straining a tendon in his right leg, according to the Spanish league side Thursday.

Dyer breaks leg

West Ham's England international midfielder Kieron Dyer has suffered a double fracture of his right leg, the Premier League club confirmed on Wednesday.

Anelka signs new deal

France striker Nicolas Anelka has pledged his future to Bolton after signing a new four-year contract on Thursday.

Sehwag relishes chance

Virender Sehwag, ignored for India's ongoing tour of England, says the Twenty20 format will suit his aggressive batting style and hopes a good performance in the World Championship will pave his comeback into the Indian team.

Life without McGrath

Stuart Clark has been unable to escape Glenn McGrath-like descriptions over the past couple of years, but this season the tag will be even harder to lose as he steps into the retired bowler's position. Clark has had a full off-season to prepare for the daunting promotion and he will work with Brett Lee to cover the loss of the world's most successful fast man.

Something new

Asia's big guns will need a slice of beginners luck and good fortune to propel them forward at the inaugural Twenty20 World Championships.

Afghans gaining ground

In the shadow of Kabul's Gazi stadium, where the Taliban used to execute people, young Afghan cricketers play on an unkempt dusty patch.

NZC's no to ICL-bound cricketers

New Zealand will not give permission for any of its contracted players to take part in the Indian Cricket League.

Ponting fears player grab

Ricky Ponting is worried by the "danger" of private Twenty20 tournaments taking away players from international cricket. The Indian Cricket League's (ICL) deals with four Pakistanis changed Ponting's attitude towards the lucrative series and he has called for cricket boards to develop official competitions.

Gilchrist only for Tests?

Adam Gilchrist is contemplating something he never thought he would do -- leaving one-day cricket to focus on Tests. The decision is not going to be made in the short-term -- he is keen on playing both forms "for a while yet" -- but the change from dismissing the idea to considering it is significant.

Olympics could see Twenty20

Cricket's world governing body is seeking membership of the International Olympic Committee so Twenty20 matches can be part of future Games.


$1,493m BoP surplus in FY '07

Boosted by a rise in foreign direct investment, remittances and foreign aid, the balance of payments (BoP) surplus reached US$1,493 million last fiscal (2006-07).

Jubok yet to return Tk 4cr to depositors in Barisal

Violating the order of Bangladesh Bank, Jubo Karmasangsthan Society (Jubok), a non-government organisation that was illegally engaged in banking activities, is yet to return Tk 4 crore to its members and depositors in Barisal division.

Trade with Dhaka to be raised to $1b per annum

Bangladesh and Pakistan have decided to consider certain measures of duty concession to each other's export products to raise the annual bilateral trade to US$ 1 billion from a paltry US$ 300 million.

Ashok-Nissan deal to develop light vehicles

Indian heavy vehicle maker Ashok Leyland has entered into an agreement with Japanese automotive major Nissan Motors to jointly develop and market light commercial vehicles for Indian as well as export markets.

US grows at 4pc pace in Q2

The US economy expanded at 4.0 percent pace in the second quarter, the government said Thursday, showing strong momentum heading into the turbulence from housing and credit woes of recent weeks.

Continental Ins declares 7.5pc dividend

Continental Insurance Ltd has declared a 7.5 percent dividend for its shareholders for the year 2006.

IDB president in town

President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali arrived here yesterday on a two-day visit to Bangladesh. During his stay here, he is scheduled to strike several deals.


Distribute seeds among farmers on urgent basis

Speakers at a press conference yesterday called on the government to distribute local seeds among the farmers on an urgent basis to overcome food uncertainty in the country.

12 killed in road accidents

At least 12 people were killed and 29 others injured in separate road accidents in Chittagong, Chandpur, Naogaon, Sherpur, Mymensingh and Magura yesterday and on Wednesday.

'Implement Phulbari contract'

Leaders of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Electricity and Port yesterday demanded that the government clarify its position on Phulbari contract that was signed between the government and the committee in the wake of a movement to prevent open-pit mining in the country.

Relief distribution for flood victims continues

More individuals and organisations, government and non-government as well, came to the aid of flood-affected people yesterday as relief operations continued in the flood-hit areas of the country.

Acid victim demands arrest of land grabbers

A housewife, who received burn injuries earlier in an acidattack by alleged land grabbers, yesterday demanded immediate arrest and punishment to culprits.

Three Ctg godowns with stolen RMG sealed off

Members of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) unearthed and sealed off three godowns piled with huge stolen readymade garments at Terri Bazar and Asadganj wholesale clothe markets in the port city on Wednesday night.

Accused held

Detective Branch (DB) of police arrested an accused of journalist Manik Saha murder case from rail colony area in Khulna Sadar on Wednesday.

Sabina Yasmin awarded Shaheed Altaf Mahmud Padak-2007

Sabina Yasmin, one of the most melodious voices in the country, has been awarded 'Shaheed Altaf Mahmud Padak-2007' for her outstanding contribution to the musical arena.

2 murdered, one shot

Two people were killed and another one was bullet-hit in three separate incidents in the capital on Wednesday.

UAE extends amnesty for illegal residents up to Nov 3

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended the amnesty period for the illegal residents up to November 3, allowing them to leave the country without punishment.

BSF returns body of Bangladeshi cattle trader

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) returned the body of a Bangladesh cattle trader to Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) yesterday after a flag meeting.

Workshop on Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever

A two-day workshop and training on 'Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever Management' ended on Wednesday at BARDEM hospital where 23 medical officers and 12 nurses were trained, said a press release.

1380 Indian chocolate bombs seized

Police seized at least 1380 Indian chocolate bombs from Birampur in the district yesterday and arrested seven people in this connection.

Smuggled Indian sarees worth Tk 1 cr seized in Chittagong

A huge quantity of smuggled Indian sarees and garments was seized in the port city yesterday.

Arms, weapons seized in Trishal

The police seized a foreign-made gun with five bullets and several weapons at village Mokkhampur in Trishal yesterday.

Tarique to be released through legal process

BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman would be released soon through legal process, party chairperson's adviser Brig Gen (retd) Hannan Shah said on Wednesday.

Two drug peddlers killed in crossfire: 2 Rab members injured

Two alleged drug-peddlers were killed in a 'crossfire' between Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and their cohorts at Hemayetpur Balughat in the early hours of yesterday.

UAE to compensate camel jockeys

Children under 18 years of age, who were subject to physical or mental damages for working as camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since January 1, 1993, have been advised to apply to the offices of respective Deputy Commissioners (DC) for compensation.

Chief executive of Marie Stopes arrives Sept 1

Dana Hovig, chief executive of Marie Stopes International (MSI), UK will visit Dhaka from September 1 to 4 to review the work of Marie Stopes in Bangladesh, says a press release.

Pakistan reaffirms fight against terrorism

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan yesterday reaffirmed Islamabad's resolve to fight terrorism and extremism.

Train crash kills one

One person was killed when a speeding train knocked him at Pahartali level crossing at around 8:30am yesterday.


Soaring prices of essentials

The talk of the day is the rising prices of essentials. Wherever one goes, whatever subject one talks about one hears the topic invariably almost everywhere, especially in tea stalls. You open a newspaper and you will find this as news, letters to the editors, articles highlighting plight of the middle class and lower middle class people and so on. The leading economists have varied and often diverse opinions regarding the causes of the price hike.

August 21

The month of August has been the cruelest one as we witnessed the most horrific incident of the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib on the 15th of August, 1975. There was yet another such ugly incident on August 21 three years back at a public meeting of then opposition party Awami League. The attempt to kill opposition leader Sheikh Hasina somehow didn't work; but many died on the spot; and many more were crippled/splintered.

Bush at crossroads

Of course, the Bush administration that began a global terror war to track the so-called "terrorists" across the globe following Sept 11, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, had not expected that their "democratic" drive would be fruitless and disastrous and that they would end up at the crossroads with their eyes looking pathetically at passers-by for help.

Influence of history

Why should we study history and what is its practical application? Once I was really confused about these questions. Reading Md. Anwarul Kabir's article on the phenomena of history distortion after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu, I have now fully realised that the history has tremendous impact on the formation of mass psychology. Mr. Kabir has rightly analysed that the distorted history, as fabricated by the 'victors of 1975', enabled the collaborators of 1971 to erase the spirit of our liberation war from the mindset of the new generation. If we could be aware of the true history embedded with the spirit of liberation war, then the nation could move forward. This, in turn, could have transformed Bangladesh into a 'Sonar Bangla' as dreamt by our valiant freedom fighters. Unfortunately, we have become the victims of the distorted history. To escape from this, we must take some corrective measures.

Coal exploration

Having made a blunder of Great Wall proportions with Phulbaria coal mining; opening salvoes have been launched by interested ROK parties (Aug.22 report) for more misadventures. May be the South Koreans believe that once hooked; we will be addicted to more mining scams! Despite lack of background, expertise or know how of mining issues, the ROK business entity knows the type and style of doing real big business in Bangladesh. They know how to win friends and influence the authorities in Bangladesh! No wonder they prefer to come to Bangladesh, the land of 'milk and honey'. Both in Bangladesh and ROK proper and effective administrative tie up is what counts in big business; which gives them the confidence about it.

Moral crime and punishment

Moral crime goes unpunished. There is no legal framework to proceed against an offender of moral crime in Bangladesh. There is no real culture either to admit moral responsibility and offer any self -punishment. The prime minister of Bangladesh has no responsibility if his or her government is said to be involved in generally perceived moral crime. The example is, the prime minister is not responsible for any corruption in the government unless he or she is directly charged with criminal acts including corruption. The most powerful Anti-Corruption Commission is not even able to proceed against any perceived moral corruption. This is what I see happening in Bangladesh.

Poor handling

The law enforcing agencies did not behave the way they should have. As a result, the DU campus became a battleground. The capital became a city of curfew like the five other divisional headquarters. Had the police on Monday acted in the right way, this situation would not have arisen. The government has failed in many sectors as well succeeded in a few. But the failure to manage a simple situation in Dhaka University is an indication of what may come up in the days ahead.

DU incident

It was shocking that some men in uniform assaulted a few DU students over an inconsequential matter. The students legitimately erupted into an outburst of protests and demonstrations against the assault. Students' persistent protests made the government accept their demands. Accordingly, the army deployed on the DU campus has been pulled out and the CTG has said sorry for this unwarranted incident. In addition, a judicial probe committee has been formed to investigate the matter. In this situation, it is very reasonable to say that the students should return to their respective dorms (of course they were asked to vacate the same).

Malaysian way of justice

A disturbing video posted on Internet shows that a prison official in Malaysia lashing a Rohingya refugee on charge of possessing drug. However, while the drug charge against the victim is very flimsy, the brutal lashing has exposed the way prisoners are treated in Malaysia's crammed detention centres. Most of these detention centres house the 'illegal immigrant workers'. It is reported that whipping the immigrant workers is ubiquitous in Malaysian detention camps and it has become a standard procedure of punishing those who work in Malaysia without legal documents. Many of the prisoners in those detention camps are citizens of Bangladesh, who were lured into Malaysia for jobs in the plantation and construction sectors. These gullible workers are duped by the unscrupulous manpower agents to come to Malaysia and then leave them with no documents, only to be at the mercy of vindictive Malaysian prison officials. But often, the news goes unreported as the detention camps are inaccessible to media and human rights organisations.

Same old idea

Indian Deputy Commerce Minister was ringing the old bell, "Give us transit the problem of your balance of payment would be solved." This time he has added another point: port facility. We are fed up for the last few years listening to Indian advice and demand in regard to providing access to our products to the Indian market. The idea is "If you accept Tata, they will industrialise you and you can export to the north-eastern states of India and the balance of payment position will improve." Is it really possible?

History repeats itself

History repeats itself or the whole nature goes into cycles. Each and every military regime in the world came to power promising to root out corruption. The result is the opposite in order to cling to power they abuse it and eventually it produces even more corruption and chaos.

Political parties fail

Failure of our major political parties to reach a political understanding paved the way for the present caretaker government(CTG) to assume power with the backing of the army. People at the beginning were more or less appreciative of the CTG, especially for its chasing the top tier corrupt politicians. However, hope tended to gradually fade away as the CTG plunged into an over-stretched agenda within a limited period of time. Moreover, the price hike of consumer products, lack of business activities and subsequent economic slow down have resulted in a growing discontent among the common people.

DU incident

When the caretaker government of Bangladesh is holding out hope for a better future, it is being held back by the student unrest. Out of a minor incident between some army personnel and some DU students, the whole student community got agitated and resorted to violence. This is tarnishing the image of our youth because both the parties primarily involved were made up of young people. While the aftermaths can be suspected as sabotage by the vested quarters, the general public feel frustrated at the severe lack of sense of responsibility shown by both the army personnel involved and the reacting students.

Caretaker administration

Bangladeshis in Lebanon, perhaps several thousands, are almost entirely in favour of the steps taken by the CA, the caretaker administration and the military to restore sanity in the country after years of unabated corruption, mainly at the leadership level.

Tax amnesty

In a seminar held at the National Press Club on 19 August 2007, NBR Chairman Mr. Badiur Rahman told (as reported by Prothom Alo of 20.8.07) that our GDP-Tax ratio was lower than that of Nepal. This year it has been fixed at 10.8% while Nepal's is fixed at 14%. He maintained that if we could raise this ratio, then we could dismantle ERD, only IRD would suffice and we could dispense with foreign aid. He further said that no self respecting person would like to work in the ERD swallowing the insult and harsh conditions of donors. Therefore, there is no substitute of taxation. "We have a tax evasion culture. And the NBR couldn't adequately discharge the responsibilities of motivating the tax payer," he said. He also acknowledged that there were yet some complaints of harassment of taxpayers, while they should be respected. Good results cannot be achieved by harassment; it has to be achieved by showing respect and love for them, he stated. Commenting on tax reforms, he opined. "Collecting tax by coercive means isn't reform. Reform means devising a system whereby people would pay tax being self-motivated."


US auditors see Iraq failing to attain goals

The Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush's Iraq war strategy, congressional auditors have determined.

Iran nuclear accord a 'significant step': IAEA

Iran's agreement to answer key questions about its nuclear programme is "a significant step forward," but Tehran must do more to build confidence that it does not seek atomic weapons, the UN nuclear watchdog agency said yesterday.

Sharif advised to stay in exile by Musharraf

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has urged Nawaz Sharif not to return home and said that an "eminent personality" asked the former prime minister to honour his agreement with the government to complete 10 years in exile.

Afghan forces kill key Taliban commander

One of the Taliban's most senior commanders, said to be close to the leader of the extremist militia, was killed yesterday in a clash in southern Afghanistan, the defence ministry said.

Taliban release 12 Korean hostages

A total of 12 South Korean hostages including two men were released in groups by the Taliban on Wednesday, a day after the insurgents agreed to release all 19 captives.

Gun-toting Sadr fighters

The black-clad, gun-toting fighters of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr disappeared from the streets of Baghdad's Sadr City on Thursday, apparently obeying their leader's order to lie low.

India, Pakistan open talks on Kashmir dam dispute

India and Pakistan yesterday launched two days of talks in a bid to settle a more than two-decade-old dispute over the construction of a dam in Indian-held Kashmir, a foreign ministry official said.

Dragging train with teeth

A Malaysian man with a mouth of steel yesterday beat his own world record and dragged three train coaches 2.8 meters (nine feet) using only his teeth, his manager said.

'Virginia Tech could have saved livesí

Virginia Tech failed to properly care for a mentally troubled student gunman and waited too long to warn faculty and students after he killed his first two victims in a shooting spree that eventually claimed 31 more lives, including his own, a panel's report concluded.

Climate change to dominate Guyana meet: McKinnon

The Commonwealth finance ministers will hold a 3-day meeting beginning on October 15 in Georgetown, Guyana to consider the implications of climate change particularly those from the poorest and most vulnerable member states.

Arts & Entertainment

Selected graphics and drawings

Though eminent artist Murtaja Baseer is known for his paintings, he has done noteworthy works in other mediums as well, such as drawings and graphics. To celebrate the 75th birthday of the veteran artist, Galleri Kaya at Uttara has arranged a unique exhibition titled Selected Graphics and Drawings by Murtaja Baseer. The exhibition that began on August 17 ends today. The exhibition features works of Baseer during his student life to contemporary times. Eighty-eight drawings and 49 prints covering five decades reflect a journey into the artist's life.

Theatre festival in aid of flood victims

To lend a hand to the flood victims, Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation (BGTF) and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) have jointly arranged a theatre festival at the National Theatre Stage. The eight-day festival began yesterday (August 30). Aranyak Natya Dal staged their popular play Raarang, by Mamunur Rashid, on the opening day.

Finalists of LUX Channel-i Super Star '07

LUX in association with Channel-i first launched the LUX Channel-i Super Star contest in 2005. Shanarei Devi Shanu became the first LUX Channel-i Superstar.

"Daruchini Dwip" on Channel-i today

The much-hyped film Daruchini Dwip will have its world premier today at 2:40pm on Channel-i.

Dilip Kumar-Saira Banu: Made for each other

Conjure up Bollywood star couples and the newer names that come to mind are Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai, Kajol-Ajay Devgan and Akshay Kumar-Twinkle Khanna. Going back in time there are Amitabh Bachchan-Jaya Bhaduri and Dilip Kumar-Saira Banu. This is an opportune moment to zero in on the latter as Saira Banu celebrated her 63rd birthday on August 23.

Cultural programme at Rangamati Charukala Academy

The lone art school in the hill town of Rangamati -- Rangamati Charukala Academy -- was abuzz with cultural activities recently. Child artists of the Academy performed dances, and songs in Chakma, Tangchangya and Bangla at the programme held at the academy auditorium.

Venice Film Festival gets star-studded opening

This year's Venice Film Festival -- celebrating its 75th anniversary -- also sees the premiere of Kenneth Branagh's thriller Sleuth, with Sir Michael Caine and Jude Law.


Shadows of past protest

But let's step back for just a minute, to ask: What was the protest for? Was it really simply the case that students were unhappy with the encampment of army troops within university campuses? And did the protest really spread from campus to the streets only because of the 'rising price of essentials'?

What's wrong with this picture?

A brother and sister come home from school in the afternoon. After a short break at home, they are back to coaching classes. The classes are not close to home, and these children have to travel through the Dhaka traffic to get there. They are not tutored one on one, but are part of a huge group of boys and girls, all in it to glean the best methods to score high in their upcoming final exams. However, coaching classes start earlier for the school children, they are required to go to them at least from class nine, otherwise they may not make the grade, so to speak. Ergo, all parents who have children in public schools will enroll them in a coaching class. The child's after school time revolves around coaching classes. In a family with working parents, the parental schedule revolves around coaching classes.

Inflation and price fixing

While watching the news on a cable TV channel recently, I came to know about a few arrests made by the authorities for price fixing. The questions that automatically came to mind were: How may these arrested persons be brought to justice? What legislation in Bangladesh deals with price syndicates?

Let's go to the videotape

In its recently-released annual economic report for Bangladesh, the IMF notes that "the destructive political rivalry of the past three decades, together with weak accountability and rule of law, has squandered a good portion of available resources" and "Bangladesh needs political stability to restore investor confidence." As general principles, one cannot argue with these statements. But quite often, these sentiments morph into a denouncement of political governments and an endorsement of prolonged rule by unelected technocratic regimes.

Of wars and generals

General of the Army, Bradley, in his memoirs, was emphatic that a general should never aspire to the presidency. I do not know if a similar inhibition weighed down General Colin Powell -- his successor several times removed as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- who declined to run for president in 1996, notwithstanding that successive polls showed him to be easily the strongest Republican candidate. An American friend attributed Powell's reluctance to Mrs. Powell's distaste for the hustings and, perhaps, also a shrewd assessment that one could not realistically hope to be the first black president of the US without the wholehearted endorsement of the major black organisations.

Islam now, China then: Any parallels?

On some days, a glance at the leading stories in the Western media strongly suggests that Muslims everywhere, of all stripes, have gone berserk. It appears that Muslims have lost their minds.


Water: Life and death

To us, water is the most precious substance, the substance from which all life upon the earth has sprung and continues to depend. If we have no clean, drinkable water, we are doomed. This is exactly what has happened in the country of late. With flood water inundating almost one third of the country affecting the lives of about 20 million people and surface water getting seriously contaminated by sewage flow from open outlets, the country now faces an environmental disaster that threatens public health in the flood affected areas. As flood water recedes from different parts of the country, the incidence of diarrhoea and even cholera has shot up to an astounding number. With about one thousand patients getting admitted to the Icddrb hospital at Dhaka almost on a daily basis, the issue of drinking water pollution has featured most prominently.

Modhupur: The banana war

The war against "illegal" banana plantation in the Modhupur sal forest has been resumed from August 1, 2007. Throughout August, the Forest Department (FD), with support of the security personnel, has engaged hundreds of non-local labourers everyday in chopping down the banana gardens and planting acacia.

The Daily Star

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