Saturday, 17 April 2010

no letter from UN, no int'l interference: outgoing UN resident coordinator

INTERNATIONAL community did not interfere in any way and the UN did not send any letter that apparently led to the postponement of January 22, 2007 election and declaration of state of emergency, said outgoing UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok Dessallien.
“International community including the UN did not interfere in Bangladesh's internal affairs...our only concern was to create a congenial atmosphere conducive to holding a free, fair and impartial election,” The Daily Star cites to be saying during in an interview.
She categorically said the UN did not send any 'special letter' to the then Bangladesh government. “There was no interference. There was continuous urge for accommodation,” she added.
Renata, who is going to take up her new assignment in China after more than a three-year eventful tenure in Bangladesh, did not agree with former Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed's contention that Bangladesh Army personnel would have lost jobs in the UN peacekeeping mission if the army had played any role in the general election originally slated for January 22, 2007.
“This was never discussed,” Renata added.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

nation celebrates Bangla New Year

THE nation on Wednesday celebrated Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla year 1417, amid tight security with traditional songs, music, fanfares and colourful processions.

Thousands of people from all walks of the society dressed in traditional costumes thronged the streets, parks and open spaces across the capital.

Tight security measures were taken in and around the traditional venue of the carnival, Ramna Park in the capital, to avert any untoward incident.

Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the tradition of celebrating the Bangla New Year in relation to closing of the annual tax collection. Traditionally, traders and shopkeepers open halkhata (fresh accounts) on this day and serve sweetmeats to clients.

In the course of time, it evolved into a day of celebration and an integral part of the Bangalee culture and tradition and has been considered as the spirit of a non-communal festival as people irrespective of religion, sect and creed celebrate the day.

The festivity in the city began with sunrise with the gathering of thousands of people under the banyan tree at Ramna Udyan where artistes of cultural organisation Chhayanaut sang the traditional Pahela Baishakh song of Rabindranath Tagore--"Esho hey Baishakh"--to welcome the day.

The students of the Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University brought out the decorated procession called Mongol Shovajatra in the morning to welcome the Bangla new year.

Tens of thousands of people joined the Shovajatra dancing along the beats of traditional musical instruments.

Sarah Palin's secret contract demands: big jets and bendable straws

Gov. Sarah Palin may be flexible on some of the perks she needs when speaking in public, but on the question of drinking straws, she shall not bend, Matthew Mosk reports in ABC News.

Six pages of the contract Palin's handlers sent to Cal State Stanislaus were unearthed in a dumpster by students there this week, and one of the many requirements that must be met for the former vice presidential hopeful: two unopened bottles of still water and "bendable straws" must be waiting on a wooden lectern.

That was just one item among the pages of elaborate demands that must be met to land a contract for Palin to come speak at an event. More costly were the requirement for her travel – the venue must supply her with business or first class commercial airfare, or with a private plane. And not just any jet will do.

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Monday, 12 April 2010

fraud 'pir' arrested in Munshiganj

POLICE today arrested fraud pir Amzad Hossain Bepari and his three associates, who allegedly tortured many children and women in the name of treatment, at Shirajdikhan area in Munshiganj.

Amzad's associates are Nuru, 45, Kalam, 46 and Ilias, 60.

Matiur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Shirajdikhan Police Station, told newsmen the arrests were made around 10:30am following a report published in Bengali national daily Prothom Alo.

The arrestees were taken to the police station for interrogation.

Friday, 9 April 2010

the past is never dead: Lawrence Lifschultz

WAS the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members on August 15, 1975 merely the result of personal malice and an act out of sudden fury of some army officers?
Long investigation by veteran US journalist Lawrence Lifschultz has made it clear that there was a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the dark episode of August 15.

Lifschultz in a number of investigative reports published in newspapers made it clear that Khandaker Moshtaque and a quarter of US embassy officials in Dhaka were closely involved with the small section of army officers in the August 15 coup.

At long last, Lifschultz disclosed the name of his "very reliable source", the then US ambassador in Dhaka Eugene Booster with whom he has maintained close communication for the 30 years.

Booster repeatedly objected to the conspiracy leading to the August 15 assassination, even issued written instruction in this regard, but failed to prevent the then station chief Philip Cherry of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Dhaka office from doing the conspiracy.

Lifschultz's plan to publish an interview of Eugene Booster in this regard remained unfulfilled as Booster passed away on July 7 last.

The new-born Bangladesh could not save herself from the wrath of then foreign secretary Henry Kissinger who could never forget that Bangladesh was born in opposition to his suggestion.

Along with Salvador Allende of Chile and Taiyoo of Vietnam, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in Kissinger's political vendetta.

What USA started during the Liberation War in 1971 with attempt to split the Awami League using Khandaker Moshtaque and his accomplices continued after the
independence following a direct US instigation, resulting in the carnage on August 15, 1975.
On basis of his 30 years' investigation that included interviews with the US sources, Moshtaque and others concerned, Lifschultz has written a series of that tale which was published in The Daily Star in August 2005.
This is the first installment headlined 'The long shadow of the August 1975 Coup'.
"The 30th anniversary of the August 15th military coup in Bangladesh powerfully illustrates the dictum of William Faulkner that the past is never dead, it is not even past. For those of us who lived through the years of Bangladesh's 'War of Independence' and the decade of the 1970s, we remember these dates as milestones of an era. They are markers on a road we traveled to a destination many did not reach.
"After thirty years Bangladesh still lives with the legacy of the violent night of August 15th. Just over four years from that dark March night in 1971 when Pakistani Army troops rolled their tanks and armoured vehicles through the streets of Dhaka slaughtering their fellow countrymen instead of accepting the outcome of national elections they had agreed to accept, a small unit of the new Bangladesh Army invoking the sordid tradition of Pakistan Army staged a traditional military putsch.
"Within hours, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, symbol for many of an ideal of liberation, was dead in a military coup d'etat that had run amok in a frenzy of killing. Mujib and almost his entire family were slaughtered including his wife and sons, the youngest only twelve. On that deadly night groups of soldiers broke into squads and traveled around the city killing relatives of Mujib's family..."

Part-1: The long shadow of the August 1975 coup

Part-2: Mustaque group approached US embassy in Dhaka

Part-3: Nixon and Kissinger know everything, said Mustaque

Part-4: Fearing a Leftist challenge, Rightists struck


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Naqvi to Lifschultz
Bangladesh's Quest for Closure

Thursday, 8 April 2010

toxic ships to sail in smoothly

Ship-breakers now to produce toxic free certificates as import policy changed; HC directive ignored
BYPASSING the court's clear directives to ensurereports.
Without considering the country's environmental aspects and workers' safety, a certain quarter within the government allegedly changed the policy order in a way that exporters themselves will now certify their ships as not toxic.
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan told reporters that the change in the import policy order for ships to be scrapped was decided at an inter-ministerial meeting considering the development of the country.
Following a High Court directive dated March 17, 2009, the commerce ministry incorporated a condition in its Import Policy Order 2009-2012 that an exporter has to submit a pre-cleaning certificate from a state agency of its country saying the ship is cleaned before export. The importer will have to submit that certificate to the authorities here.
But now the company that sells the ships will provide this certificate saying all toxic substances are cleaned, Faruk said.
Shipyard owners were reluctant to go by the old policy since pre-cleaning of toxic substances including asbestos involves huge cost and reduces their profit.
import of toxin-free ships, the government yesterday altered an import policy order, which will help ship-breakers import toxic ships, The Daily Star

women must not be forced to wear veils

THE High Court today said in a ruling that none can force women, working at public and private educational institutions, to wear veils or cover their heads against their wills. The court has also directed the education ministry to ensure the execution of its order.
It is their personal choice if they wear scarves or cover their heads, the court said.
The HC asked the education secretary to make sure that women are not harassed by their superiors at educational institutions.
The verdict came after a writ petition was filed seeking HC directive following a newspaper report that an upazila education officer of Kurigram insulted a female teacher by making a disgraceful remark in June last year.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Syeda Afsar Jahan also asked the education secretary to carry out the directives given by this court in May last year on sexual harassment of women at the institutions.
The court on May 14 last year directed the authorities concerned to form a five-member harassment complaint committee headed by a woman at every workplace and institution to investigate allegations of harassment of women.
Majority of the committee members must be women, it ruled.
The bench today asked the secretary to transfer upazila education officer Arif Ahmed who made the offensive remark on Sultana Arjuman Huq, headmistress of Atmaram Bishweshwar Government Primary School.
Earlier in January this year Arif apologised to Arjuman before the HC and the court acquitted him of the charge, as Anjuman pardoned him.
The daily Shamokal on June 26 last year reported that Upazila Education Officer of Kurigram Arif Ahmed had called Sultana Arjuman Huq 'Beshya' (prostitute) at an open meeting in the upazila auditorium on June 25.
Anjuman felt insulted and became sick after the incident, the report said.
Following the report, Salahuddin Dolon, a Supreme Court lawyer, filed a writ petition seeking HC directive upon the government to take action against the accused and to prevent harassment of women working at educational institutions.
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Service Trust later became a party to the petition.

Obama, Medvedev sign treaty to cut nuclear arms

SEEKING to end years of rancor, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday signed the biggest nuclear arms pact in a generation and envisioned a day when they can compromise on the divisive issue of missile defense, the ABC News reports.

The new treaty, the first of its kind in two decades and nearly a year in the making, signaled a bold new opening in relations between the former Cold War foes. Both leaders hoped for more progress on economic matters and potentially even deeper cuts in their robust nuclear arsenals, while the Russian president still warned of potential pitfalls ahead.

The pact will shrink the limit of nuclear warheads to 1,550 per country over seven years. That still allows for mutual destruction several times over. But it is intended to send a strong signal that Russia and the U.S. — which between them own more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons — are serious about disarmament.

Obama and Medvedev reaffirmed their commitment to considering new sanctions against Iran if the Islamic republic continues to refuse to suspend uranium enrichment and start talks on its nuclear program.

upheaval in Kyrgyzstan could imperil key U.S. base

THE president of Kyrgyzstan was forced to flee the capital, Bishkek, on Wednesday after bloody protests erupted across the country over his repressive rule, a backlash that could pose a threat to the American military supply line into nearby Afghanistan. Clifforf J. Levy reports in NY Times.
Opposition politicians, speaking on state television after it was seized by protesters, said they had taken control of the government after a day of violent clashes that left more than 40 people dead and more than 400 wounded. The instability called into question the fate of a critical American air base in the country.

priest accused of raping teen girls claims innocent

AN Indian priest accused of raping two teenage girls while he worked at a Catholic church in Minnesota says that he is innocent, and claims that the accusations were inspired by a desire for money, ABC News reports.

"I am not guilty," the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul told ABC News. "I am innocent. I did not commit any sin against anybody." He added that he was ready to return to the U.S. to stand trial.

"I am ready if they call me for any trial, I am ready to come and explain myself that i am innocent," said Jeyapaul.

Police in Roseau County, Minn., have an arrest warrant for Jeyapaul and considers him a fugitive, but Jeyapaul continues to work in a Catholic school system five years after the Vatican was made aware of the accusations against him, according to documents and testimony in a lawsuit.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

mutiny in BDR: all 29 accused in Panchgarh handed punishment in first ever trial

A special court of Bangladesh Rifles, the country's border security force, on Wednesday sentenced all the 29 jawans of 25 Rifles Battalion to imprisonment for different terms with a seven-year term in the highest punishment.

BDR Director General Maj Gen Mohammad Mainul Islam, who heads all the special tribunal formed to try the mutiny accused across the country, delivered the first verdict of BDR mutiny case in Panchagarh.

Thirteen jawans were sentenced to seven years in jail, one sentenced to six years, six sentenced to three years, two to two years, one to four years and another jawan was sentenced to one year and one month in connection with the mutiny.

On completion of arguments from the defendants and prosecutors on Tuesday, the Special Court-2 delivered the judgment around 4:00pm.

The same court on Sunday framed charges against the 29 alleged BDR mutineers.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

defamation case against PM's advisor dismissed

A Dhaka court on Sunday dismissed the defamation case hours after it was filed against prime minister's Adviser HT Imam and three others for 'hurting sentiment of Muslims'.

Metropolitan Magistrate Mustafa Shaheriar dismissed the case saying, "The case was dismissed as there were no element of defamation or hurting religions sentiments of Muslims."

Earlier in the morning, Advocate Mirza Mohammad Rashed Sarwar Palash filed the case with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka against HT Imam, a Focus Bangla reporter, Editor of the daily Naya Diganta Alamgir Mohiuddin and Publisher Shamsul Huda.

The plaintiff, in his case statement, alleged HT Imam, while addressing a conference of Awami Olama League as chief guest in the city on April 2, said Islam has been protected in Bangladesh by Awami League and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was its patron.

Naya Diganta published the report on the following day.

FBI warns U.S. governors on extremist group letters

IN the past week over 30 state governors have received letters from an anti-government group demanding their resignations or they could be "removed, Jason Ryan reports in ABC News.

The letters allegedly came from a group called the Guardians of the Free Republics.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued an intelligence note about the mailings and said that while there was no specific threat linked to the letters, "law enforcement should be aware that this could be interpreted as a justification for violence or other criminal actions."

The intelligence note issued on Wednesday was sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the United States. The FBI has also advised all 50 governors they could be receiving the letters, in addition to the 30-35 that have already received them.


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Saturday, 3 April 2010

arms dealer 'linked to militancy' confesses to arms, currency racketeering

DETECTIVES have arrested a person allegedly involved in arms and fake currency rackets that finance militancy. A team of Detective Branch (DB) led by Assistant Commissioner Golam Azad Khan made the arrest at a restaurant on Babar Road in the capital's Mohammadpur area on Thursday night. The Daily Star reports.

It also recovered a huge amount of fake currencies and a pistol from the arrestee, Shafique Mahmud Selim alias Professor Selim.

Of the seized counterfeit notes, Tk 5 lakh are Bangladeshi currency and Tk 50,000 Indian.

Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday placed Selim, 42, on seven days' remand in two cases--one filed for possession of illegal firearms and the other for fake currencies.

city gets new roads shortly

1 expected to be complete this month, another in July, 2 more by 2012
DHAKA city dwellers are likely to get a new street this month and construction of another one will be done in July, Helemul Alam reports in The Daily Star.

Two more roads are expected to be completed by 2012.

The construction of Bijoy Sarani-Tejgaon Road and the street from Staff College in Mirpur cantonment under Mirpur-12 to Zia Colony is almost completed.

Begunbari-Hatirjheel peripheral road and the road from Kuril to Debagram Kanchan under Rupganj upazila in Narayanganj are under construction.

Of the streets, the 1,114-metre-long and 60-feet-wide Bijoy Sarani-Tejgaon Road will connect the Old Air Port Road with Tajuddin Ahmed Sarani near Nabisco intersection in Tejgaon.

Over 99 percent of the work is done, said Anwar Hossain, director of the project to build the road. Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha is entrusted with implementing the project.

govt to shut 2,931 'dubious' NGOs

THE social welfare ministry will shut down activities of 2,931 NGOs in 16 districts for violating voluntary social agency rules, The Daily Star reports.

Anomalies in fund handling and mismanagement have been detected in most of these organisations while many have been found involved with militancy. Activities of a few NGOs were never reported to the authorities while others have remained inactive for several years, a high official at the ministry said.

The Department of Social Services will execute the closure.

The NGOs include Grameen Kalyan Sangstha, National Income Employment Project, Social Organisation for Distribute, Helpful Association for Social Advancement, Islamia Orphanage, Insaf Sammilito Samaj Unnayan Sangstha, Agency for Social Forestry and Environmental Conservation in Rajbari, and Community Development Organisation, Bhumihin Unnayan Programme, Islami Manab Kalyan Sangstha and Society for Rural Development in Chapainawabganj.

Russia offers to help Venezuela set up space industry

RUSSIA has offered to help Venezuela set up its own space industry, including a satellite launch site, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made his first visit to the South American country, the Telegraph reports. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, announced Russia's offer before Mr Putin arrived, saying officials would discuss the possibility of setting up a "satellite launcher and a factory."
The two countries are also discussing new weapons deals, Mr Chavez said Thursday night in televised remarks, without giving details.

Mr Chavez has built close ties with Russia, buying more than $4 billion in Russian weapons since 2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.

bearing witness to Nazi horror

THE men in stripes came in looking like boxers and ended up like skeletons. Denis Avey could see them wasting away in a place so evil that even nature had abandoned it, without a bee or butterfly in sight. Henry Chu reports in the LA Times.

They were the Jewish inmates housed in the ghastliest part of Auschwitz, subjected to brutalities and atrocities that Avey, an English prisoner of war confined to another section of the camp, could barely imagine.

But then, he thought, why only imagine them? What if, somehow, he could see those horrors for himself -- see them, remember them, bear witness to the world about them?

So the then-25-year-old pondered and plotted, soon hatching a plan so audacious that, more than 65 years later, he shakes his head at its absurdity. While so many Jews and others held at the infamous extermination camp were desperate to get out, Avey was actually devising a way to sneak in.

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Friday, 2 April 2010

teen 'black widow' suspected in Moscow bombing

ONE of the two suicide bombers who attacked Moscow's subway system Monday, killing 40 people, was a 17-year-old girl, Alexander Marquardt reports in ABC News quoting authorities.

Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova was the young widow of Umalat Magomedov, an Islamist militant leader from the restive southern republic of Dagestan who was killed on New Year's Eve by Russian federal security forces, according to media reports.

She was identified based on forensic and genetic tests, along with "identification procedures," a spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee said today.

The first picture that surfaced was of the couple, each holding a pistol; Abdurakhmanova in traditional Muslim dress looking menacingly into the lens. Others have since emerged of the baby-faced teen holding various other weapons.


U.S. economy adds 162,000 jobs

THE payroll increase was slightly below the 190,000 new jobs economists were expecting. The U.S. government contributed significantly to the jobs increase: 48,000 of the jobs created came from the hiring of 48,000 temporary workers for the U.S. Census. Rich Blake and Dalia Fahmy report in abcNEWS.

The Census hiring in March, however, was lower than some were expecting. The Census is expected to hire of 1.2 million temp workers this year.

The new jobs numbers don't mean much to Wilton, Conn., resident Sean Byrnes. About a month ago, the 41-year-old father of four lost his job as a salesman at a Manhattan-based financial research firm. He has struggled to find so much as even a job interview since then.

"I talk to headhunters and they say the same thing," he says. "No one is hiring."

gay Iranians fleeing country after June crackdown

AS Hassan walked -- well, more like sashayed -- through the market in this southern Turkish city, the population on the sidewalk -- elderly women in dark veils, men behind stalls selling Turkish pears five to a bag, children in woolly striped sweaters -- all gawked. Anthony Faiola reports in The Washington Post.
"Yes, look! Look all you want," Hassan said with a flourish, opening his arms in a benevolent gesture, as if their stares were rooted in adulation and not curiosity bordering on disgust. A portly, middle-aged woman narrowed her eyes and curled her lip at him.

"What?" said the 34-year-old Iranian refugee. "Is this the first time she's seen a man wearing makeup? Maybe she should take notes. She could use a few beauty tips."

Britain protects Chagos Islands, creating world's largest marine reserve

THE British government on Thursday announced the creation of the world's largest marine reserve, designating a group of 55 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean off-limits to industrial fishing and other extractive activities. Juliet Eilperin reports in The Washington Post.
The Chagos Islands are home to roughly half of the Indian Ocean's healthy coral reefs, along with several imperiled sea turtle species and 175,000 pairs of breeding seabirds. The new preserve covers 210,000 square miles -- an area larger than California and more than twice the size of Britain -- and will shelter at least 76 species classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

U.S. changing the way air travelers are screened

THE Obama administration is abandoning its policy of using nationality alone to determine which U.S.-bound international air travelers should be subject to additional screening and will instead select passengers based on possible matches to intelligence information, including physical descriptions or a particular travel pattern, Anne E. Kornblut and Spencer S. Hsu report in The Washington Post senior officials said Thursday.

After the attempted bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day, U.S. officials hastily decided that passengers from or traveling through 14 specified countries would be subjected to secondary searches. Critics have since called the measures discriminatory and overly burdensome, and the administration has faced pressure to refine its approach.

Under the new system, screeners will stop passengers for additional security if they match certain pieces of known intelligence. The system will be "much more intel-based," a senior administration official said, "as opposed to blunt force."

alleged US jihadis on trial in Pakistan

PROSECUTORS began a trial against five Americans in this dusty Pakistani city, accusing them of wanting to launch terrorist attacks here and in Afghanistan.
THE men, in their late teens and early 20s, make up the highest profile overseas case of more than a dozen recently arrested terrorists or would-be terrorists who hold U.S. citizenship. The trend reflects a new threat of
U.S.-based Islamic extremism, Nick Schifrin reports in abc NEWS quoting U.S. officials.

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brutality personified!

59-year-old Gofran draws all eyes at BDR court for leading role in massacre
FIFTY-nine-year-old BDR Subedar Major Gofran Malllick became the centre of focus when 668 accused of the 24 Rifle Battalion were hauled before the Special Court-5 on the second day's proceedings Saturday.

Gofran looked a little restless as he was sitting on the first chair on the front row dock. He along with other rebel leaders allegedly led the massacre during the BDR mutiny in Pilkhana on February 25-26 last year.

Officials linked to the trial and investigation told The Daily Star Gofran's cruelty even in this old age astonished them. They said some of his brutality is evident in some video footage.

The three-member BDR specials courts would not try the grievous offences committed by the mutineers, as the civil court would deal with those on completion of investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department.

So, many of the grievous offences committed by the alleged mutineers of 24 Rifle Battalion did not come in the case of mutiny before the special court.

Prosecutor Lt Col Md Shamsur Rahman told the court Gofran and 449 others spontaneously collected arms and ammunition from armoury and took part in the mutiny, sources say.

The majority of the BDR personnel of 24 Rifle Battalion were involved in the mutiny under the leadership of their JCO (Junior Commanding Officer) Gofran, he added.

Yesterday's trial started at 1:22pm, over three hours behind schedule as it took more time to bring the accused from Dhaka and Kashimpur jails.

Before the court started its proceeding, the alleged mutineers were lined up outside the Darbar Hall, where the courtroom has been set up to try the mutineers.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Mojaheed's convenient amnesia!

BANGLADESH Jameet-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed yesterday claimed he is not being able to recall the total range of his activities during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
He however said during the war he acted according to the ideals of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the erstwhile student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami that sided with Pakistani invading forces, and opposed the birth of Bangladesh.

The Jamaat leader, who is also widely known as an active participant in crimes against humanity during the 1971 war, made the statement during a media briefing at the party's headquarter in the capital's Boro Moghbazar yesterday.

"I was a student during the liberation war, and was engaged in educational and other organisational activities. But I was never involved in war crimes," Mojaheed said.

"I am 60 now, and till this day I never even slapped anyone," he added.

When reporters pointed out that reports published in Jamaat's mouthpiece the Daily Sangram, and the government intelligence reports about him and some other top Jamaat leaders during the war shows that they were involved with the Razakars and Al-Badrs, the auxiliary forces of the invading Pakistani army, Mojaheed replied that those reports are false and baseless.

"You cannot use newspaper reports as evidence. Reporters make things up," Mojaheed claimed.

federal judge finds N.S.A. wiretaps Illegal

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program of surveillance without warrants was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration’s effort to keep shrouded in secrecy one of the most disputed counterterrorism policies of former President George W. Bush. CHARLIE SAVAGE and JAMES RISEN report in The Washington Post.
In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been “subjected to unlawful surveillance,” the judge said the government was liable to pay them damages.

travelers with Muslim names find themselves fighting for U.S. visas

THE clean-cut young Frenchman seemed to have everything going for him. A graduate of an elite French engineering school, he had interned at the upper-crust Rothschild bank in Paris, handled wealth management for a while on Wall Street and was accepted for a prestigious master's degree program at the University of California at Berkeley. Edward Cody reports in The Washington Post.

Except for one thing: His name was Mohamed Youcef Mami.

The State Department held up his student visa for more than two months for "administrative processing," which according to diplomats is the euphemism-of-art for a check against multiple watch lists maintained by intelligence agencies in Washington designed to prevent suspected terrorists from entering the United States.

when military moves a war, there are no shortcuts

EARLY this year a “fob in a box” — military slang for 80 shipping containers with all the tents, showers and construction material needed to set up a remote forward operating base — was put on trucks here for the trip from one war to another, STEPHEN FARRELL and ELISABETH BUMILLER report from Joint Base Balad in Iraq.
Left over and never used in Iraq, the fob rumbled north to Turkey, east through Georgia and Azerbaijan, by ship across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, then south on the old Soviet rail lines of Uzbekistan into northern Afghanistan. There — the end of a seven-nation, 2,300-mile, two-and-a-half-month odyssey — it was assembled just weeks ago as home for several hundred of the thousands of American forces entering the country.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Zia was Bangladesh's first president, BNP claims!

ZIAUR Rahman was the first president of Bangladesh, as he took charge of the country after proclaiming independence in 1971, The Daily Star quotes today senior BNP leaders to be claiming.
It was his leadership that won the nation independence, they added.
The opposition leaders were addressing a discussion organised by BNP at the city's Mahanagar Natya Mancha on the occasion of the Independence Day.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia attended the programme as chief guest, but did not speak.
Party's Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain, who presided over the discussion, said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's March 7 speech was not a declaration of independence.
“Even Awami League leaders AK Khandaker, Major (retd) Rafiqul Islam and Subid Ali Bhuiyan in their books say Zia declared independence,” he added.
The ruling AL is now creating confusion over the issue only to divert people's attention from the anti-government movement, he said.
Former law minister Moudud Ahmed said there is no room for causing confusion that Zia was the proclaimer of independence.
Rafiqul Islam Mian said Zia led the Liberation War, and Bangladesh gained independence under his leadership.
Mirza Abbas said the country's sovereignty is safe only in the hands of BNP, as Bangladesh became independent following Zia's declaration.