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Cairo, One Day

IT is not everyday that the President of the United States of America greets his audience with 'Assalumu Alaikum'. Indeed, a few years ago, nobody would have expected a US president to be honoured with a standing ovation in a country with a Muslim majority; but that is Barack Obama for you.

Cairo, 4th June. Obama addresses his audience, and the Muslim world- widely touted as a good move in general because people have seen in it an end to conflict and a beginning to the path of peace between USA and the Muslim world.

Anybody who hasn't heard the speech should do so already. Obama comes across as not only a responsible leader, but also as someone who is aware of the contribution of Islam towards the development of the world in general, and thus of the need to preserve its sanctity. By quoting accurately from the Holy Quran thrice during his speech, he has also shown knowledge about, and respect for, Islam and Muslims. Muslims have discovered the order of algebra, tools of navigation, printing, contributed to medicine and been known from ancient times for their 'timeless poetry' and 'cherished music'. He has accepted responsibility as the US president to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam.

Obama's speech is a visual and auditory treat not merely because of his magnificent oratory, but also because of its outstanding clarity of opinion and refusal to keep the world in ignorance. He balances facts and figures with opinions and future plans. Obama elaborates that USA plans to keep aside $ 1.5 billion each year over the next 5 years for Pakistan, more than $ 2.8 billion for the Afghans, and that issues with Iran will be resolved. He promises to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq by July, and all troops by 2012, as well as withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and stands up for Palestine and Israel's right to exist without destroying each other.

This speech, one hopes, will be instrumental in negating misconceptions about the religion. By quoting from the Holy Quran that “Whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind”, he has replied to the misguided accusations of Islam being de facto an extremist and violent religion.

Bangladesh gets an honourary mention, besides Turkey, Pakistan and India, as icons for Muslim-majority countries with elected women leaders. He defends the right of the Muslim woman to cover her head at will, with 'hostility towards any religion cannot be disguised behind the pretence of liberalism', and although he mispronounces 'hijab' as 'hajib', we have goofy smiles on our faces.

Interfaith dialogues, internships for promising Muslim students, ensuring that American Muslims can fulfill zakaat, funds to support devlopment of technology in Muslim-majority countries- this man has some lofty plans. He has a long way to go, and promises to keep. He has already paved the way with respect and tolerance of other cultures and religions, as he has aptly demonstrated in his speech by ending it with quotes from the Holy Quran, the Talmud and the Bible. We can only 'hope' he succeeds. Ah, that 'hope' word again. Seems to have become almost contagious, no?

By Anika Tabassum

Environment 2009
The battle is still on

I hate life.
This sentence is quite a cliché, I've come to conclude after past few hours of surfing through 100 year old juvenile literature microfilms. Some things never change even with time, my gramps once told me. Be it 100 years ago or now, teenagers will always complain about how crappy their lives arehe said.

Well, at least WE have a valid reason to complain.

The cooling fluid of my thermostat-suit has run out. So, the elders have forcibly shoved me deeper inside one of the many pitch black tunnels of the huge cave that our people now occupy to hide away from the sun during daytime. Frankly speaking, I don't mind, this darkness. I hate this suit, it makes me look like a pre-historic rock-monster. I hate the sun, the satanic rays of which have made it mandatory for us to wear these ugly suits so as not to get UV-roasted when we go outside amid the maniacally dazzling sunlighttoo bright, too blinding, too…demonic. The elders say light was often associated with heaven in ancient times. I rather find more resemblances with hell…

Exactly WHAT in Lord's name were the old-timers thinking? Were human beings really that stupid only 100 years back?? How could they NOT notice the Godforsaken hole in the ozone layer that became oh-so-prominent during the 70's??? To think that where we stand now is solely because of our idiotically careless ancestors who selfishly sucked the planet dry of its resources and left this barren world minus an entire ozone layer for us. For crying out loud, the best idea of a 'tree' this generation has is of a dry twig with two petty leaves crystal-preserved in the museum! At present state, I am still confused whether to believe in God or not, but if there truly exists a Judgement Day, I will by all means wait for it. I will await my chance to point these cancer-infected, genetically deformed fingers at our irresponsible ancestors, whose ignorant acts now have me counting away each slowly-decaying day towards an imminent, painful death.”

-- (Fictitious angst micro-notebook extract of a future teenager)

Sounds scary? What if you were told that the teenager here in question could be you? What if the ozone depletion theories were never taken seriously and mankind continued to destroy the environment carelessly as they pleased? Yes, then, if it were the case, even this little fictitious parallel future mentioned here could pose threats of turning into reality. At least, Paul Newman of NASA's Goddard Centre says so by conducting a study that shows a comparison between a projected world (present planet Earth) and a world avoided (ignorant planet Earth). The results clearly indicate the neglected world's complete loss of ozone layer by 2060 while our present world still hangs in there, not truly cured of the problem but all the more with new hopes of struggle against this environmental crisis. Since the Montreal Protocol in 1987, the 'green' movement has come a long way, nourished by mass awareness as well as sincere initiatives taken by powerful governments. And so, with the celebration of World Environment Day 2009 (June 5), we now finally have some good news for our planet: Our world is no longer in imminent danger of imploding. In the end, the collective effort of the conscious people all around the world has bought us some more time in this crucial battle for our existence. Yes, there is still a long way to go until total salvation. But this time we will have more effective weapons for combatrenewed hope and strength.


By Raisa Rafique

World Cyber Games (WCG) is the world cup for all the gamers around the world, a chance to truly see just how you good you are with keyboard and mouse against other human players. For the last couple of years, F1 Management Limited, an event management company has been organizing the National Round in Bangladesh, selecting the winners who will face the players from all over the globe.

This year for the first time Bangladesh has been invited in the WCG 2009 Asian Championship. Other participants include Sri Lanka, Singapore, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Asian Championship of WCG will be held in Singapore on the first week of July, where all the past Asian Championships has been held, along with the WCG Grand Finals back in 2005. The participating countries include Bangladesh, Australia, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Thailand, and New Zealand among others. This event is more than just a gathering of a thousands of gamers around the world…it's the benchmark of the Asian gaming world. This is where the high scores and records are set and broken. The event finals will be held in Singapore, from 3-5 July 2009. The official games this year are DoTA (Defense of The Ancients), a modified version of Warcraft III Frozen Throne, FIFA '09 and Guitar Hero: World Tour.

In order to select the best gamers to represent Bangladesh in the Asian Championship, a Qualifier round shall be hosted at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (Dhanmondi Campus).

F1 Management Limited in association with Department of Computer Science and Engineering of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh shall be organizing the Qualifier Rounds for Asian Championship from June 11-13.

The games to be played at the Bangladesh Qualifiers shall be FIFA09 (1vs1), DOTA (5vs5), Guitar Hero(1vs1). For more information log on to WCG Bangladesh's official site www.wcg.com.bd

The winners of the WCG 2009 Asian Championship Qualifiers shall be heading to Singapore this July. (5 player of DOTA, 1 player of FIFA, 1 player of Guitar Hero and 1 Team Leader. Total 8players shall be going to Singapore).

The event kicks into gear from today, so all you crazy gamers out there, head over to WCG to check out the action.



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