The Daily Star

Your Right To Know
Thursday, October 2, 2014


News of: Sunday, 15th of February, 2009

Front Page

Time runs out fast for ratification

The House might have to race against time to ratify the ordinances placed on January 25 as two-thirds of the constitution-stipulated 30 days have already passed without a single one tabled as bill.

Corrupt unionism starts to creep up

Unruly trade unionism that systematically drained out thousands of crore taka in the past few decades and protected plunderers of national resources is creeping back into Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd (TGTDCL) as the new government took office last month.

Direct election next time

The government will amend the constitution to stage direct election to reserved seats for women in the House from the next parliamentary polls, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam said yesterday.

Little care in hasty textbook publishing

Most of the textbooks for secondary level students are coming to the market with low quality printing and binding as publishers are doing their work haphazardly amid tremendous pressure by the taskforce on textbooks.

Fishing in 16 sewerage lagoons goes unabated

As the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority failed to kill fish of all the 16 lagoons around Pagla Sewerage Treatment Plant in Narayanganj last year, fishing at the lagoons are still going on posing a serious threat to public health.

BNP to recast upazila bodies next month

BNP, the main opposition in parliament, is set to start reconstituting its upazila level committees through elections next month, in a bid to revitalise the party from bottom up, said party insiders.

Love lost,yet it goes on

One of her son is a doctor and the other an architect, one of her daughter's live in the US and the other is married to a wealthy man.

Zillur pays homage to Bangabandhu

President Zillur Rahman yesterday paid homage to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara in Gopalgonj.

BSMMU, Dhaka Medical made smoking free

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) premises have been formally announced “smoking free zone” yesterday as a part of massive campaign to create awareness against smoking.

India restarts Tipaimukh barrage work

India has started construction of Tipaimukh barrage barely one kilometer away from Jakiganj border threatening to dry up the flow of the Surma and Kushiara rivers during the winter.

SSC exams start today

The Secondary School Certificate (SSC), Dakhil and SSC vocational examinations under 10 education boards across the country will start today amid strict measures to prevent students from adopting unfair means.

Drug addict kills 2 sisters

A drug addict youth along with his accomplice killed his two sisters at Surjapur village in Devidwar upazila early yesterday.

Star connects English schools to Bengali culture

Students of renowned English-medium schools of the country took part in a cultural programme at Jatiya Natyashala of Shilpakala Academy in the city yesterday.

Attorney office won't get right to recruit

The Awami League-led alliance government will not ratify the Attorney Service Ordinance 2008 promulgated by the immediate past caretaker government.

Blight blow for potato target

A fungal disease -- late blight-- has badly affected potato crop in different areas of the country raising fears that the government-fixed target of producing 80 lakh tonnes of potato this season might not be achieved.

Buyers' rights to stay less protected

The government is unlikely to approve the real estate development and management ordinance promulgated during the tenure of immediate past caretaker government to protect the rights of buyers and reduce their sufferings.

Death toll in Ctg crash rises to 9

The body of a missing student of Chittagong Government College in Thursday's road accident in Bandanban was recovered yesterday after 44 hours of the tragic crash.

Demand up for little magazine

Amar Ekushey Book Fair became lively yesterday as a huge number of visitors thronged the venue where book-enthusiasts were looking for the books written on the liberation war of Bangladesh and the war criminals.

Police yet to nab ntv staff killers

Police are yet to arrest the two killers of Atiqul Islam, a video editor of private television channel ntv, and recover his motorbike the criminals had snatched.

Fight against Taliban for Pak survival

Pakistan's President Ali Zardari has acknowledged in a television interview the Taliban is present "in huge amounts" of the country and Pakistani forces are "fighting for the survival of Pakistan."

Lanka bus carrying refugees attacked

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels lobbed a grenade and opened fire at a bus transporting civilians out of Sri Lanka's war zone yesterday, killing one woman and wounding 13, the defence ministry said.

16 killed in Indian train crash

Rescuers searched through the wreckage of smashed carriages yesterday after a train derailed in eastern India, leaving 16 people dead and almost 200 injured, rail officials said.

Maiden Saudi woman minister appointed

King Abdullah on Saturday made sweeping changes to his government, axing the head of the religious police and appointing Saudi Arabia's first-ever woman deputy minister in the biggest shakeup since he took over the throne.

Language hero Gaziul yet to regain full consciousness

Despite slight improvement in physical condition of ailing veteran language hero Gaziul Haque yesterday, he is yet to regain full consciousness at city's Square Hospital.

100 fall sick in food poisoning

Over 100 students and teachers of Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology fell sick owing to food poisoning at a feast yesterday.

Stimulus bill 'major milestone on road to recovery': Obama

President Barack Obama, savouring his first major victory in Congress, said Saturday that newly passed $787 billion economic stimulus legislation marks a "major milestone on our road to recovery."

Editorial

Dropping out of SSC examinations

NEWS on the education front is indeed disquieting. With the Secondary School Certificate examinations beginning this morning, it is estimated that as many as 42 per cent of registered students at the SSC level will be dropping out even before the exams get under way. By any standard, such a huge number of examinees staying away from examinations which are regarded as a decisive stepping stone to higher education is not only surprising but also raises questions about the direction in which education is headed. As to the matter of why these students, more than 5,00,000 in all out of a total of nearly 13,00,000, will not sit for the examinations, a number of reasons have been cited. Included among these reasons are some fundamental social problems like students' inability to clear their dues before the examinations, failure of students to get promoted to class ten from the preceding class, inability of many to emerge successful at the qualifying tests for the exams, early and sudden marriage in the case of girl students, et al.

Anti-crime drive

WITH the deteriorating crime situation in the country, especially in the capital city, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) announced plans for the second time in the media to carry out raids to apprehend listed criminals. We are aware of very little result achieved by them in the last week's drive as the top terrors or their godfathers remained out of the dragnet. In the first phase of the drive they only succeeded in apprehending some drug addicts, small-time peddlers or muggers. When the crime network apparently remains one step ahead of the police, we wonder why should DMP send wrong signals to them by making its plans public? It is only likely that immediately after the announcement, thugs flee to take refuge in some safer areas and remain there as long as the hullabaloo lasts.

To devalue or not to devalue?

WHETHER or not Bangladesh should devalue its currency is a question that has assumed some prominence. For some time now exporters have been pressing for devaluation, primarily on the ground that the currencies of some competitor countries have depreciated considerably over the past few months. The president of Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association opposed devaluation and asked for higher export subsidy.

Manning our maritime borders

THE proposal made by the visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Richard A Boucher, to assist Bangladesh in protecting its mineral-rich sea areas in the Bay of Bengal, has made many suspicious of any hidden notion behind this apparently innocuous offer.

Sports

Arman ton stuns Mohammedan

A scintillating unbeaten hundred by Arman Hossain helped Victoria pull off the first upset in the Premier Division Cricket League with an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Mohammedan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.

BD's hopes dashed

Visiting Pakistan have confirmed their berth in the final of the Grameenphone Women's Tri-Nation Cricket Series with Sri Lanka after a resounding nine-wicket victory over hosts Bangladesh in the last league match at the Shahid Flight Lieutenant Motiur Rahman Stadium in Khulna yesterday.

Yousuf won't quit ICL

Batting star Mohammad Yousuf said Saturday he would not end his contract with an unofficial Indian league, insisting that if Pakistan needs him it must solve the matter with cricket's governing body.

Four semis in Super Cup

Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) is planning to bring in some changes to the traditional format to make the Super Cup more attractive.

Local Snippets

Yuan-Tao Pan of China beat Norway's Sander Breandmoe 6-2, 6-4 in boys singles round in the Dhaka Bank Tennis Tournament at the Ramna National Tennis Complex yesterday.

Khelaghar sail, Agrani crawl

Agrani Bank and Khelaghar won their respective matches yesterday in the Dhaka First Division Cricket League.

New venue, new game

West Indies and England will hope the conditions are far more favourable, and seek to make the aborted second Test a bad memory, when they begin the third Test on Sunday at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

'83 triumph inspired Sachin

Had India not won the 1983 cricket World Cup, the game may have missed Sachin Tendulkar, the batting maestro has revealed.

Nadal struggles thru'

Rafael Nadal had to struggle through another three-set challenge before beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 on Friday to reach the Rotterdam Open semifinals.

An arrow through Richards's heart

Players, fans, media personnel, and concessionaires all had reason to bemoan the abandonment of the second Test between West Indies and England on Friday at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

Tait could be a Tanvir

Darren Berry, the Rajasthan Royals' director of coaching, has said Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait could make an "enormous" impression during the Indian Premier League's (IPL) second edition if he is available for the whole season.

T20 time in Australia

The four-year anniversary of the inaugural Twenty20 international falls on Tuesday, and the original combatants, Australia and New Zealand, will again face-off at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Sunday. The format has certainly come a long way since the New Zealanders took to Eden Park in figure-hugging retro uniforms and handlebar moustaches, providing players with not only an extra avenue in which to represent their country, but also the opportunity to perform before potential Indian suitors.

Sania in final

India's Sania Mirza fought her way through a gruelling three-set semifinal at the Pattaya Open Saturday, winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 for the chance to take on top seed Vera Zvonareva for the trophy.

British press slate sand farce

British newspapers heaped criticism on the West Indies cricket authorities on Saturday after a sand-logged pitch caused one of most bizarre days in the history of Test cricket.

Becks to return to LA

The LA Galaxy expect David Beckham to return in March after AC Milan failed to meet a Friday deadline to make the US club an acceptable offer for the England midfielder.

MU target sweep

Nemanja Vidic has no intention of resting on his laurels as Manchester United continue their bid for a trophy clean sweep at Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.

Bayer rout Hoffenheim

Germany striker Patrick Helmes scored twice as Bayer Leverkusen shocked Bundesliga leaders Hoffenheim 4-1 on Friday.

Another award for Bolt

The honours keep piling up for triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, who was named Jamaica's Sportsman of the Year for 2008 on Friday.

Hoeness fears meltdown

Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness claims clubs throughout Germany "can only pray" that the global financial crisis leaves them unharmed.

Parker signs new deal

West Ham midfielder Scott Parker signed a new contract on Friday which ties him to the Premier League club until 2013.

Makelele ponders retirement

Claude Makelele has revealed there is a 50-50 chance of him quitting football at the end of the season.

O'Neill angry at Capello

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill plans showdown talks with England coach Fabio Capello after admitting he was surprised that Emile Heskey started Wednesday's friendly against Spain.

FIFA bans Mendoza

Honduras international Sergio Mendoza has been given a one-year ban for testing positive for doping, FIFA have announced.

Business

Local RMG carves niche in China market

China, the world's largest apparel supplier, has become a major export destination for Bangladesh as Chinese manufacturers are showing reluctance to produce basic RMG items, exporters said.

Banks go tech-smart to cut costs of business

Banks in Bangladesh are increasingly adopting technology-driven products to fast-track services to their clients at reduced costs.

US pulls off $787b win for economy

The US Congress late Friday approved a 787-billion-dollar package of tax cuts and fresh spending to salvage the broken US economy, handing President Barack Obama a major political victory.

1 lakh join mobile network in January

The momentum in new customers joining the mobile phone network staggered in January as only 0.1 million (1 lakh) users were injected into the six-operator mobile market.

Invest in undeveloped areas to remove regional disparity

Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Salehuddin Ahmed yesterday called upon the state owned banks (SoBs) to invest in the undeveloped areas to remove regional disparity.

Govt to set up watch cells for coordination with businessmen

Food Minister Abdur Razzak said Saturday the government would set up monitoring cells soon both at the centre and regional levels for coordination with importers, wholesalers and retailers of the essential commodities.

Darling defends British handling of banking crisis

British finance minister Alistair Darling has defended the government's bailout of crippled banks after one of the institutions involved said it expected to make huge losses.

Oil price slumps, gold shines

New York crude oil prices sank this week as data revealed a large jump in US energy stockpiles and top industry bodies forecast falling demand because of the global economic slowdown.

Merkel slams bonuses at bailed-out banks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hit out at banks that have doled out bonuses to executives despite having received government aid to weather the global financial crisis.

BTI announces Tk 100cr project

Building Technology and Ideas Ltd (BTI) yesterday announced its biggest building project, at a cost of Tk 100 crore, which will encompass 117 apartments.

Huawei, Intel develop WiMax lab

Huawei Technologies (Huawei) and Intel Corporation have announced the launch of a new WiMax Interoperability Testing (IOT) laboratory in Beijing, says a press statement.

An asparagus village

Bujrukshokra, a village in northern Bangladesh, is a world apart from William Somerset Maugham's famous story, The Luncheon, but promises bright days for asparagus farming.

Taxi!

Most of us have had the customer experience of riding a taxi. Let me share with you some of these rides. A memorable one was the taxi ride from Mumbai airport to the Taj President Hotel. This was of course much before the horrendous attacks that had terrorised Mumbai. As we came out of the airport arrival hall, the taxi driver was waiting with our names on a display board. He guided us to the taxi, we put our bags in the boot, and he checked back, you have two bags of luggage, sir.

Wall Street takes a roller coaster ride amid gloom

Wall Street's roller coaster ride showed no sign of ending over the past week as the market churned lower and waited for help from Washington in easing the deep economic crisis.

Japan welcomes US stimulus package

Japan's prime minister Saturday welcomed the approval of a US stimulus package and expressed envy at its speedy passage through Congress.

G7 nations vow to avoid protectionism

Group of Seven finance leaders vowed to avoid protectionism as they seek to stabilise the tottering world economy and financial markets, a draft statement of the body said at talks here Saturday.

Peanut of America files for bankruptcy

The peanut processing company at the heart of a national salmonella outbreak is going out of business. The Lynchburg, Va-based Peanut Corp. of America filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Virginia Friday, the latest bad news for the company that has been accused of producing tainted peanut products that may have reached everyone from poor school children to disaster victims.

DBS Group Q4 net profit down 40pc

DBS Group Holdings, Southeast Asia's biggest bank by assets, said Friday that fourth-quarter net profit fell 40 percent year on year as weak financial markets hit income.

Donald Trump quits casino company's board

Donald Trump fired himself Friday from the casino company that bears his name.

Weekly Currency Roundup

February 6-February12, 2009
Local FX Market

This week, the market was active and US dollar was stable against the Bangladesh Taka. The market was mostly liquid this week.

Correction

In a Friday news item headlined “Bank Asia gets new VP”, it was mistakenly mentioned that Nurul Islam Anu was elected vice president of the bank.

Metropolitan

Form special tribunal to try war criminals

Speakers at a discussion yesterday urged the government to form a special tribunal for trial of the war criminals as they said it was a special crime.

Women pay high price for lack of awareness about maternal healthcare

Humaira, a housewife and seven months pregnant, is yet to go to the health care centre for any medical check-up and even cannot think of her delivery with the health care facilities, though Cox's Bazar Sadar hospital is merely half a kilometre away from her home.

Hearing on graft cases against Hasina likely today

Hearings of the High Court (HC) rules on the proceedings of Niko and barge-mounted power plant corruption cases against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and others are likely to be held today.

Coast Guard to be modernised

Home Minister Sahara Khatun has expressed her satisfaction over the arrest of two alleged collaborators of Pakistani occupation forces in Rajshahi on Friday and assured that war criminals of the liberation war in 1971 will be tried in the country.

Enact new labour law to protect workers' rights

Leaders of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre (BTUC) at a meeting yesterday demanded the government enact a democratic labour law with provisions for protecting interests of labourers and cancel the undemocratic provisions in the existing laws.

Ashuganj Power Company runs on ad hoc basis

Although over 5 years have elapsed since the formation of Ashuganj Power Station Company Ltd (APSCL), the public limited company still runs on ad hoc basis as its assets and liabilities have not been made over from Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDP).

Website launched to promote Dhaka to tourists abroad

In celebration of 400 years of Dhaka city, The Bangladesh Monitor, a travel magazine, has launched a new website to promote Dhaka to tourists worldwide.

Mindset change a must for quality management in public service

Top bureaucrats and experts at a seminar yesterday said top-level civil servants must bring a change in mindset of the civil administration to deliver better public service.

Int'l confce on climate change adaptation Feb 22-24

The 3rd International Conference of Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change will be held at Hotel Sheraton in the city on February 22-24, says a press release.

Govt starts implementing election manifesto

State Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Advocate M Quamrul Islam yesterday said the government started working to implement its election manifesto to fulfill the expectations of the people.

Domestic help dies in rooftop fall

A domestic help died after falling from the rooftop of a five-storey building at Banani in the city yesterday.

Burglars loot valuables, kill house owner in Manikganj

A gang of burglars looted valuables and killed a house owner at Joynagar village under Sadar Police Station here in the early hours of yesterday.

Rangpur Sadar Hospital to be turned into 100-bed hospital soon

Jatiya Party Chairman and former president HM Ershad MP yesterday said all necessary steps would be undertaken to turn the Rangpur Sadar Hospital to a 100-bed modern hospital soon.

Two PBCP operatives held

Police arrested two people, including a female member, of underground outfit Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP) M-L Red Flag faction at Baghmara upazila yesterday.

Porno, pirated CDs seized, one held in port city

Detective Branch (DB) members of Chittagong Metropolitan Police seized over 5,000 porno and pirated compact disks (CDs) with other equipment from the port city's Tamakumandi Lane area yesterday.

Galaxy holds medical seminars

Galaxy Healthcare Service and SingHealth jointly held several medical seminars in Dhaka yesterday, says a press release.

Kishoreganj Zila Samity executives

Shah Md Mansurul Huq and AKM Kamal Uddin were elected president and general secretary of the executive committee of Kishoreganj Zila Samity in Dhaka for the term 2009-10, says a press release.

Jubo League worker stabbed to death in Noakhali

A Jubo League worker was Stabbed to death by unidentified criminals at Sonaimuri in Noakhali yesterday.

Current nets worth Tk 2.3 lakh seized in Bagerhat

Bangladesh Coast Guard members seized banned current nets worth Tk 2.32 lakh during their ongoing drive from Pashur River in Mongla upazila early Friday.

Death anniversary

Today is the 15th death anniversary of renowned journalist Anwarul Islam Bobby, says a press release.

National

2 held for '71 killing on police remand

Daud Hossain and Nur-e-Anwar, arrested on Friday, in a case filed in connection with killing of 15 people during the Liberation War in 1971, were yesterday taken on a two-day remand.

Pro-AL staff at RU assault dy, asst registrars

Pro-Awami League officials and employees of Rajshahi University (RU) yesterday assaulted Deputy Registrar Gyanendra Narayan Roy and Assistant Registrar Zakirul Islam and forced them to leave their offices as they appointed a fourth class employee at steward section under 'political consideration'.

Padma water level falls threatening irrigation

Water level of 'mighty Padma' is falling fast threatening irrigation projects in the southern and northern districts.

For want of textbook in mother tongue

Want of textbooks in mother languages and lack of teachers from the communities hamper schooling of indigenous children in the district.

Gaibandha awaits bumper potato

Despite some problems due to chilly and foggy weather, potato farmers in Gaibandha district are expecting high yield in the current crop season.

Youth stabbed to death

A young man was stabbed to death in Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar district on Friday night.

Sundarbans Day observed

People of Satkhira yesterday took out a procession, formed a human chain and held a discussion in the district town in observance of the Sundarbans Day.

Letters

Killing of animals

The killing of big cats and other wild creatures is horribly increasing in the rural areas. It's clear that lack of awareness among the rural people is causing this casualty. Also, there are no proper measures to save these animals or their habitats. Firstly, due to rapid clearing of forests, these animals are losing their homes. On top of that, they are dying at the hands of people when hunger forces them to go beyond their locality.

True democracy

Albeit having some flaws, "democracy" is the best among the different doctrines in politics. So, a democratically elected government will run the country in a better way, it is hoped. But all elected governments finally do not remain good. Hitler of Germany and Marcos of the Philippines were chosen by the people but we know about them.

Rafa!

Australian Open '09 man's singles was a historic event for many reasons. It was the defining time for both the players engaged in the battle on the court world's number one seed Rafael Nadal from Spain, and the number two seed Roger Federer of Switzerland. It was a test of nerves, skills for both the players on court that evening in Melbourne. Federer was ready before the game to take himself to the elite group of maximum number of grand slam winners Pit Sampras was alone before him only. On the other hand, Nadal had to make a mark there in Australia winning that trophy --- it was his maiden Australian grand slam.

Relocate the control room

Occupying a big chunk of land of immense value, the police control room at Shahbagh, Dhaka serves no purpose. There is no reason to have a separate police control room in the heart of the city and depriving the city dwellers of a breathing space. Moreover, the police control room is not situated centrally either. The city has expanded far and wide. With modernization and expansion and increase in the number of the police stations in the city, each of these police stations should be developed separately to serve as control room. In case, the police authorities feel the necessity of having a central control room, it should be located elsewhere. Possible sites could be Sher-e-Bangla Nagar or Nilkhet. The entire area presently occupied by the police control room should be vacated and the area developed and beautified under the overall development of Suhrawardy Uddyan. Outside the police control room premises are few shops and billboards. These should be removed immediately to give the landscape a cleaner and greener look. As of now, the entire area looks chaotic and clumsy and needs refurbishing.

Ombudsman

As we see for transparency of government actions in various disciplines, an instrument or institution for check and balance is necessary as a watchdog. I offer my humble opinion here as follows:

Bishwa Ijtema

Thank you for publishing pictures taken from the recently concluded Bishwa Ijtema in your daily (February 3, 2009). It really helps readers to understand the magnitude of participation of Muslims in this congregation. However, I differ (though I am not a scholar in the field of Islam) from the way you described the Ijtema in the page. The Bishwa Ijtema has been referred to as 'the second largest Islamic congregation in the world'. Obviously, the reference was made in comparison with the Hajj, a compulsory congregation of 'financially and physically capable' Muslims. My view is that Hajj is a congregation where it is compulsory to participate only for a 'capable' Muslim, whereas necessity to participate in Bishwa Ijtema is voluntary ('nafal'). I think it is not proper to compare a voluntary Islamic event ('nafal') with a compulsory Islamic event like Hajj ('farz'). I would appreciate if you verify this view of mine with qualified Islamic scholars. If my view is valid, then I would recommend everyone to refer 'Bishwa Ijtema' using the phrase 'the largest voluntary Islamic congregation'.

Open pit mining

Since this new government took office, this is the best news for the power starved and fuel import dependent country as reported in most dailies on February 3. Congratulations to the government for a pragmatic policy decision, taken in the overall interest of the country.

Reforms

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rewarded her loyalists and handed favours to certain members of her party.

A sincere campaigner

Recently, I was reading an article on agriculture written by eminent media personality Mr. Shaikh Siraj in a national daily while my four and a half years old toddler was playing beside me. A photograph of Mr Siraj was attached in the inset of the article. When I asked my son to name the man, he instantly recognized him. Mr. Siraj has emerged as an icon of Agricultural Information after decades of persistent service for creating awareness in the agriculture arena. This story asserts that if some one dedicatedly and devotedly serves the nation for a good cause he can reach so deep in people's minds, even in the minds of kids.

Jute sector

While giving the inaugural speech in an international seminar on jute, the jute minister aptly remarked that the collaborators of the soil along with World Bank and IMF policy caused the golden sector's demise. World Bank and IMF's dubious policy has greatly undermined our jute sector.

Parliamentary issues

After nearly two years the caretaker government on 6 January 2009 handed over power to the grand alliance. From the beginning it was apparent that the government & the opposition were at loggerheads over several issues like election of the deputy speaker from the opposition, seat arrangements in the House, slide in law & order & lately the withdrawal of the Special Security Forces (SSF) escort for the Leader of the Opposition.

English In Schools

Recently, the education minister inaugurated the 'English In Schools' (EIS), a programme jointly launched by The Daily Star and Aktel to promote English language teaching at secondary schools across the country. The programme includes, publication of teaching materials on English language, social and health issues, distribution of complementary copies of DS to selected schools, etcetera.

Good thinking

Our finance minister has backed away from his contemplation to devalue taka against the dollar because of a very reasonable argument by Bangladesh Bank that it would be punishing for fifteen crore people to pay higher prices for essentials. We have to import the major part of such essentials from abroad and people are already groaning under pressure of high prices of basic necessities!

Rickshaws

I read with interest the letter under the above heading published in your issue of 4th February written by Prof. Zahedul Haq.

Corridor, transit, and connectivity

We find this incredible that ministers can think that a bilateral transit or a corridor is only an economic issue and is beyond any gamut of political considerations. We, as a nation, are surely headed for a disaster if this mindset persists. We urge our respected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to intervene and to request her ministers to get up-to-date on issues of political economy and regional cooperation. We are speechless to see that currently our ministers are speaking along the same line of argument that is being advocated by the Honourable High Commissioner of India on bilateral corridor/transit, purely from an economic perspective without any political consideration whatsoever. While we surely need a friendly relation with India, we must not forget that on this particular issue, we are two contending parties engaged in a sharp diplomatic discourse, trying to maximize our respective country's interests.

Transit issue

The above is an economic as well as political issue. When we want to politicise it, we turn it to our benefit. Primarily it is an economic issue .If transit is allowed it will benefit the stakeholders of the Chittagong Port and service providers. Their income will rise and scope of business will rise. Transit ICDs will mushroom with the influentials trying to get part of the cake. Some of the customs brokers will specialize on transit cargo. Transport companies will be routing containers through Bangladesh to the entry points in India. Franchise holders of the toll roads/bridges will be happy to have additional trucks on the highway meaning more income. Roadside eating houses will earn more.

International

Hospital in Lanka war zone overwhelmed

A makeshift hospital serving Sri Lanka's war zone is badly understaffed, running out of crucial medicines and overwhelmed by a flood of civilians wounded in intense fighting between the government and the rebels, the top doctor there said.

Pakistan presses India over Mumbai investigation

India must "come clean" about those on its own soil involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Pakistan said Friday, a day after it said that the assailants set out from Pakistan.

Congress ready for alliance with Trinamool, lists conditions

The Congress in West Bengal yesterday decided to go for an alliance with the Trinamool Congress for the Lok Sabha polls, but with a rider that it has to be on "honourable" terms and that the TC has to snap all ties with the NDA.

'US drones fly from base in Pakistan'

CIA's unmanned Predator aircraft striking terrorist targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are flown from an airbase inside Pakistan, a senior US lawmaker said on Thursday.

Suu Kyi's party calls on UN to take action

Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party urged the United Nations yesterday to take action against human rights abuses in military-ruled Myanmar, voicing hope and frustration over the visit of another UN envoy.

Kidnappers threaten to kill UN official

Kidnappers threatened on Friday to kill an American employee of the United Nations within 72 hours and issued a grainy video of the blindfolded captive saying he was "sick and in trouble." A letter accompanying the video delivered to a Pakistani news agency said the hostage, John Solecki, would be killed unless authorities released 141 women it said were being held in Pakistan.

Hamas accuses Israel of 'backtracking' on truce talks

The Islamist Hamas movement accused Israel on Saturday of "backtracking" on Egyptian-brokered truce talks by demanding an open-ended agreement and stepping up attacks on the group's Gaza enclave.

'US may adjust missile defence plans if Russia helps on Iran, N Korea'

The US may adjust controversial missile defence plans if Russia helps in eliminating threats from North Korea and Iran, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns was quoted Friday as saying.

Washington moves toward dialogue with Damascus

The United States has opened the door to a dialogue with Syria with a visit to Damascus by a high-ranking congressional delegation and the lifting of certain sanctions, even while firmly insisting on its continued support for Lebanon.

Hillary vows to deepen US bonds with Asia

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged Friday to deepen US bonds with Asia in order to tackle the global economic crisis and climate change as well as prevent nuclear proliferation.

Saffron brigade, cops play spoilsport

Valentine's Day has turned out to be very grim day for lovers in many parts of India. There have been many instances of young couples being beaten up, humiliated and some of them have even been forcibly married off by the moral police.

Zimbabwe swearing-in of unity govt marred by treason charge

The swearing-in Friday of Zimbabwe's new unity government was marred by the arrest of a top aide to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai whose party said he was then charged with treason.

7 Afghan cops, official killed by bombs

Three separate roadside bombs killed seven police and a government official in a spate of attacks around Afghanistan, officials said yesterday.

Residents return to fire-destroyed Australian town

Residents of the town worst hit by Australia's wildfire disaster made a brief and emotional return yesterday but were not allowed to stay because the entire village is being treated as an arson crime scene.

Small bomb hits UN office in Nepal

A small bomb was thrown at a United Nations human rights office in southwest Nepal late Friday, but the minor explosion caused no casualties, police said.

Arts & Entertainment

Nrityanchal showcases its dancers in the making

Nrityanchal, one of the leading dance schools in the country, held a recital at National Theatre Stage, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on February 13. The recital showcased 250 students of the school, demonstrating their 'Kathak' aptitude.

Jewel Rana crowned Khudey Gaanraj

Jewel Rana, 11, was crowned the winner of "Meridian Channel i Khudey Gaanraj 2009" at the talent hunt's grand finale held at National Women's Sports Complex in Dhanmondi on February 13. Jhuma became the first runner up and Porshi was announced the second runner up.

Film screenings in and outside the city

Dhaka University Film Society (DUFS) has arranged a six-day film festival titled “Amar Bhashar Chalochchitra” at the TSC auditorium starting from February 13, while on the same day a four-day film screening began at the Central Auditorium of Jahangirnagar University. Both events feature popular and critically acclaimed Bangla films from Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. On the other hand, Centre for Asian Arts and Culture (CAAC) arranged its 4th Asian Film Festival at Alamgir Kabir Film Centre, Science Laboratory Road from February 12.

An interface between East and West

Ever since it was founded in 1951, Berlin International Film Festival (nickname: Berlinale) has seen itself as a showcase of the world and an interface between East and West. But the festival really got a new lease of life when it moved to its current location, Potsdamer Platz centre in Berlin, on its 50th anniversary in the year 2000. The red carpet is now rolled out in the heart of Berlin for a good two weeks in February and the German capital has become an attractive venue for Hollywood stars. After Cannes, Berlinale is considered the biggest international film festival in the world.

Bashontokaleen Shahitya Utsab in Barisal

Like every year, 'Bashonto-kaleen Shahitya Utsab' (spring literary festival) was held in Barisal city on February 13.

Shironamhin launches its third album Bondho Janala

Alternative band Shironamhin launched its third studio album "Bondho Janala." The album launch was held at the G-Series outlet, Bashundhara City Mall on February 13. Members of the band were present; giving out autographs to the fans.

Khagrachhari talent hunt programme

The 5th round of the Khagrachhari hill district talent hunt programme rounded off successfully with the judges selecting the top 10 singers from various places in the hill district of Khagrachhari.

OP-ED

A presidential vow for the ruling party

WITH assuming of office by the new president, we have completed full cycle of democratic transition that started with last year's elections. We, the Bangladeshis, have renewed our faith in democracy in spite of disappointments that have haunted us for more than one and half decade. The office of the presidency has been repeatedly belittled by partisan and reckless politics of successive ruling parties. Since AL has come to power with promise of change, for a change, let's propose the following presidential vow for the ruling party.

Israel's inverse exceptionalism

CRITICS of Zionism and Israel -- including a few Israelis -- have charted an inverse exceptionalism, which describes an Israel that is aberrant, violates international norms with near impunity, engages in systematic abuse of human rights, wages wars at will, and has expanded its territories through conquest. This is not the place to offer an exhaustive list of these negative Israeli exceptionalisms, but we will list a few that are more egregious.



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