Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

November 29, 2003


With the expiry of multi-fibre arrangement (MFA) by the end of 2004, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules will be applied in international trading. It means the quota system that ensures a certain level of export for Bangladesh will also go.

Bangladesh and other least developed countries (LDCs) have requested the EC to provide them with 30 per cent quota facility for readymade garments, rice, sugar and some other low technology based export items. Bangladesh feels that without the quota system, Bangladeshi exports will be severely hit by countries like China, India and Mexico. Currently Bangladesh heavily depends on import of raw materials. So this will put Bangladesh in a disadvantageous position.

The European Commission (EC) has assured Bangladesh of considering a proposal to provide the country with an alternative quota system in the quota-free regime beyond 2004.

(via The Daily Star)

The onion reports:

Bill Tepfer, an associate service-department manager at Shademaster Tent & Awning Supply, was ordered by his supervisor Monday to determine the party responsible for not flushing the second-floor toilet.

We had a similar crisis in our office recently when we were even thinking of puting up a notice containing demo "How to use toilet".

Seems like this is a global crisis and much efforts and policies are needed to tackle this sensistive issue.
Wringed and unable to breathe by Wal-Mart

There is an article in The Seattle Times, which describes how Wal-Mart is pressing its third world suppliers to supply the shirts and sorts it sells by millions at a lower price. Bangladeshi factory owners say Wal-Mart and other retailers have asked them to cut prices by as much as 50 percent in recent years.

One apparel manufacturer described a visit from a Wal-Mart buyer who showed him a European-made garment that retailed for $100 to $130. The buyer asked the Bangladeshi to produce a knockoff for $10 a dozen. He declined.

But the consequences are felt at the garments factories in Bangladesh who supply to Wal-Mart. The company bought 14 percent of the $1.9 billion in apparel that Bangladesh shipped to the United States last year. Keeping prices low like this means squeezing costs at every step. When the entrepreneurs think of cutting cost, inefficient workers get the axe first.

Khadija Akhter can attest to that. For about $21 a month, nearly three times what a maid or cook would make, the 22-year-old worked in a Dhaka factory, performing final checks on men's shirts and trousers.

Employees, she said, often worked from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. for 10 to 15 days at a stretch to fill big orders from Wal-Mart. Exhausted, she quit after a year and took a lower-paying but less grueling job.

But it was not long when Wal-Mart took the initiative to better the conditions in Bangladesh's garments factory by putting up clauses that they should abide by labor laws and be equipped with better safety precautions.

Sheikh Nazma, a former child laborer, has seen the way Wal-Mart can help clean things up.

She worked at a Dhaka garment factory that had no clean drinking water and only a few filthy toilets for hundreds of employees. After the owner refused to pay their wages for three months, the employees complained to Wal-Mart, the factory's main customer.

"Wal-Mart interfered, and ... the owner paid our salaries and overtime, and even paid bonuses to each worker," recalled Nazma.

But Nazma adds:

Wal-Mart undermines its good efforts with its incessant push for lower prices. Factories often force employees to work overtime or stay on the job for weeks without a day off.

Now Wal-Mart is opting more from Chinese suppliers.

In southern China, Wal-Mart has found all the ingredients it needs to keep its "every day low prices" among the lowest in the world. Although labor costs more here than it does in Bangladesh, China offers other advantages: low-cost raw materials; modern factories, highways and ports; and helpful government officials.

Bangladeshi garments factories are facing hard times and a bleak future. They will be facing more competition from China because the Chinese entrepreneurs are shifting their plants to remote regions of China where labor, electricity, housing and taxes are cheaper. Because of the lifestyle of Chinese rural people, they can work like a robot and lead a rigorous life without much of frills. So they can work at a competitive wage rate. The Bangladeshi infrastructures are being upgraded all the time but they cannot be done all at once by this poor country with its scanty budget. So Bangladesh is likely to loose the battle in cutting costs.

And the freedom loving happy consumers of the west will opt for a Chinese shirt, which costs $2 less from a shirt made in Bangladesh or Honduras. They would not know that they had just terminated a couple of women employers job in Bangladesh who had fought hard to establish their right in a society of gender inequity where many women are merely housewives with no income and are subjected to gender discriminations.

Read another article "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know" where it is discussed how Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush US companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas.

And why Wal-Mart matters:

Wal-Mart is not just the world's largest retailer. It's the world's largest company--bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year.

Thats when capitalism turns bad. Can anyone do something about it?

November 25, 2003


Let us raise our hands and pray to the Almighty for peace, for a world free from hatred and terrorism:

O Lord! Keep us alive with the peace
And enter us into the Abode of peace
Blessed is Thee; O our Lord!
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where, there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sickness, joy.


I take this opportunity to wish every person I can reach with this weblog a happy Eid. Let the festivity touch everybody and let us hope for a peaceful coexistence of people of all color, religion and race in the world without hatred or friction.

Eid is a Muslim festival. After the month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and abstinence, on the first day of the month Shawwal, Muslims celebrate Eid, which means 'festivity' in Arabic. This Eid is called Eid-ul-Fitr (first of the two in a year), which is the celebration of Allah's magnanimity in providing everything to man. On this day 1.2 billion Muslims around the world celebrate the joyous 'Festival of fast breaking'. It is very symbolic as it represents victory for Muslims who have successfully undergone a month long battle of self-restraint and abstinence by fasting.

The Eid prayer is obligatory on every male Muslim. The prayer is performed anytime between sunrise and afternoon. However it is customer to perform the prayer in the morning. In the morning everyone bathes, wears new or clean clothes, applies perfume and walks towards the Mosque or any other open place where they can offer the Eid prayer collectively. Part of the ritual is people embracing each other three times. And there should be no discrimination between rich and poor, old and the young, friend and enemy while embracing. For a Muslim Eid is a day of thanksgiving, sharing foods with the neighbors and the poor. On this day, according to holy Quran, Allah has ordained a dole for every Muslim who is free and is in possession of Alms worthy capital. It is to be given to a needy person as thanksgiving. It is mandatory on all the well-off Muslims. So that the poor, too, may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried for earning their livelihood at least on the day of happiness.

Apart from that Eid is celebrated all over the world according different cultures and customized celebrations.

In Bangladesh, Eid means sharing happiness with the family, giving new clothes of all colors to all dependent members of the family and wearing them on this day. On this day special foods are prepared, the preparation of which may start several days before. The items include Semai(vermicelli), Doi Bara, Chotpoti, Biriani, Firni, Sweets and many more. This day there is an open invitation to everybody. People visit family members', neighbors' or acquaintances' houses and everybody is welcomed with food and blessings. It is customary to take blessings from the elderly who in return give monetary tips (Eidi). Specially the children are more kin to collect all the tips they can accumulate and have some money to celebrate on their own, like going to theatre in bunch or having a party. The visits go on for a couple of more days till the Eid vacation is over. Some people go visit cemeteries to remember and pray for their loved ones.

November 24, 2003


To live is to war with trolls in heart and soul. To write is to sit in judgement on oneself.

- Henrik Ibsen

The interest of a writer and the interests of his readers are never the same and if, on occassion, they happen to coincide, this is a lucky accident.



This is the title of an article in JEWSWEEK written by Richard L. Benkin who portrays the real Bangladesh and its potentials when it is usually wrongly portrayed as a Muslim country where fundamentalists mullahs dominate and religious minorities are oppressed. A few such highlighted incidents are based to judge a country and its nation.

Richard starts with:

Bangladesh is a tiny country, and not one you hear about very often, but it could teach a host of lessons on pluralism, religious tolerance, and maybe even peacemaking in the Middle East.

Ask most Americans what they know about Bangladesh and, chances are, you will hear something about George Harrison, maybe about poverty and disasters, and a few might even say, "Oh, yeah, isn't that somewhere around India?" And that's after you eliminate those who just give you a blank stare. That's a shame, too. For I read your major English-language dailies, and I consider myself fortunate for having done so. For it is clear to me that you are a nation of thoughtful individuals with whom I can find agreement, and with whom I can disagree; individuals I can respect in either case. I have seen debate and dialogue even the beginnings of one surrounding the Middle East. Do you know what a rarity that is in the Moslem press?

He asserts this wonderful idea:

Bangladesh is also.... a democracy. I also believe that Bangladesh is uniquely positioned to help bring peace to a region that has resisted peace for so long: the Middle East. The first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country was signed not by doves from each side, but by two men who fought vehemently against each other's peoples: Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. So, what country is better qualified to broker a truce than a non-Arab Moslem nation and a democracy at that: Bangladesh.

and more:

Bangladesh is really a more logical vehicle to bring together Israelis and Arabs. On the one hand, you share a Muslim heritage with Arabs. On the other, you share Israel's religious diversity. (Do you know, Israel has approximately the same percentage of Jews as Bangladesh has Muslims?) You share the Arab world's past subservience to western powers; but your democratic government is much closer to Israeli democracy than Arab autocracy. There is only one thing missing to complete the equation.

He describes how this can be achieved:

Imagine for a moment what would happen if Bangladesh established diplomatic relations with Israel, then announced its intentions to hold a peace conference for the parties in the Middle East? Although it would not be the first Muslim nation to recognize Israel, your action still would no doubt shock many around the world. For you would be denying the pernicious belief, which holds that a sovereign Jewish state can exist in the Middle East only at the expense of Muslims. Consign that lie to the ashbin of history where it belongs. Declare to the world that Jews and Muslims can live side by side as equals, and the world can know peace. Your bold action would demonstrate to the world a level of courage and maturity that too few nations possess. And it would place Bangladesh on the center stage of world events.

His views of Bangladesh as a country:

Of all the nations that were carved out of the former British colony in South Asia, Bangladesh has become the most successful in accommodating a diverse population. Its different groups have been able to live side by side without inter-ethnic violence. Can either India or Pakistan make the same claim? You provide the world with a unique example of a nation that allows its people freedom of religion, even while having its own state religion. Yes, Bangladeshis do have a great deal to teach the peoples in the Middle East.

He ends with:

Peace is possible in the Middle East, but it will take a special kind of wisdom and courage. Most nations are too mired in self-interest, stilted thinking, and ideologies to take that leap of faith. Let the nation and people of Bangladesh be the one to lead us out of those traps and into a new era of peace.

Well I, as a Bangladeshi, am much honored Richard and I would be the happiest person if Bangladesh can ever make that possible. Thank you very much for your optimistic thoughts.


Wake up boys, there's a light at the window,
I can hear someone knocking on the door,
There are voices in the street,
And the sound of running feet,
And they whisper the word --

There are men coming down from the valleys,
There are tall ships lying off the coast,
And they carry the light,
In the dark of the night,
Like a whisper in the wind --

- Chris De Burgh

Another revolution occurred in the world without bloodshed. Nicknamed "the velvet revolution", it forced resignation of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi. This shows that "Nobody can go against their own people" and "people is the source of all power". And if all people are willing and guided to right path by true leaders they can achieve anything. Read more here.

"By his resignation, he avoided spilling blood in the country. ..... History will judge him kindly." said Mr. Saakashvili, the 35-year-old leader of the opposition National Movement who is seen as a radical pro-Western reformer. We must all remember many revolutions even ones in our country were not achieved without bloodshed.

Lets hope for a better Georgia and wish that we can contribute in revolutions which becomes inevitable in our lives whenever we are in similar situations.

Eid holidays are starting from Tuesday to Thursday followed by weekly holiday Friday in Bangladesh. Offices, Banks etc. will all be closed except some emergency services. The shops would be open till the Eid day which is Wednesday (most likely but subject to moon sightings). But the good things about living in Dhaka, the capital during the holidays is that the streets are deserted no jams. It is a megacity and almost 8 million people live here. During the Eid holidays almost 5 million people go back to their native villages or towns where some of their families live. It is a trend, which causes many problems like transportation crisis and highway accidents during the holidays.
People are on the move as they cram onto buses, trains and ferries to be with their families and friends for Eid al-Fitr Festival. The festivities have more to do with culture and sense of togetherness than to religious activities. Being able to enjoy the holidays with all the family members is a unique pleasure the Bangladeshis share.

I will probably use my holiday in some housekeeping to start with. That day I was surprised with the pile of shopping bags that are to be discarded. I abhor such consumptions and yet my family is guilty of it. There is also some mails(credit card statements etc.) to be sorted and discarded/recorded. I wish I could be out of the town enjoying holidays somewhere. But this time (like many more) I can't for some personal reasons. Hope to read some books and engage in family affairs mostly. Blogging would be intermittent.

November 21, 2003


I was watching the news coverage of the Istanbul blasts yesterday and was horrified with the scenes. These are the most dreadful images of the recent times that I have scenes. Such destruction, such infliction of wounds, bloody faces, disfigured bodies... really was unbearable to watch. These images kept me haunted for the day. I still can't think of those. The 9/11 images were much of shock and disbelieve. But the scenes of Istanbul blasts and plights of innocent people were simply hurting me.

There was also images from the big rally in London where more than 150,000 people took part. Many of the people have never protested before. They felt that they had to do something in this critical situation. Some of these peoples' reactions on these blasts "These are the consequence of the War in Afghanistan & in Iraq. Had US & UK not attacked those countries, there would not have been these many attacks on British and US targets and innocent people would not lose their lives."

Bush & Blair was giving their usual condemnation speech and same sentences of fighting terrorism as before. But what did they do to capture Laden and uproot Al-Qaida? They were created by US. So why they can't be found & destroyed. How many lives would it take to stop the terrorism and hatred?

The recent figures tell that the US forces killed in the first three months of occupation of Iraq has outnumbered the loss of US soldiers in Vietnam in three years.

Who is to take the blame? Where is justice? What can people of the world do? And if you are still sitting in front of the screen not moved by these images in Istanbul, in Jerusalem, in Baghdad, in Bali, in NY, and you do not feel an urge to ask many questions then you are a living dead.

November 20, 2003

The third force in Bangladesh Politics

A third platform of Bangladesh Politics is emerging from January -reports The Daily Janakantha.

Eminent politians like Dr. Kamal Hosain, Dr. AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury (ex president), Sheikh Razzaq Ali (Former Speaker) and some intellectuals of the civic society are said to be organising the platform. This platform is deemed to create some mobilization into the Bangladesh politics which is stagnant due to political acrimonies between the ruling party alliance and the opposition party.

This is a good sign and another hint of hope among the Bangladeshi people who want to see some educated, honest and respectable personalities coming into politics and take the country on the path of progress.

But this news has not been taken by the existing political parties lightly. There have been reports of govt. intelligence people covering the people behind the new proposed platform. But why should they fear or resist the emergence of a new political party? Do they have anything to hide? Are they afraid that their misdeeds would be exposed? Are they concerned that the easy and legal source of earning millions would stop? If the existing political parties believe in democracy, and if they practice democracy as they claim to do, then they should rather welcome such moves by senior and competent citizens.

Another political party would strengthen the process of making democracy the ideal method of governance in this country. The general people will certainly welcome the new political party where educated people with good social background are likely to lead the country in right path.

Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.

W. H. Auden 1907-1973, Anglo-American Poet

November 19, 2003

Taslima Nasrin's book now banned in India

PTI reports:

The Calcutta High on Tuesday passed an interim injunction restraining publication, sale, marketing and circulation of Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen's latest book 'Dwikhondito -- Aamar Meyebela Tritiya Khando'.

The order by Justice Jayanta Kumar Biswas was passed against Nasreen, Shibani Mukherjee and Peoples' Book Society, the publishers, on a defamation suit by Sayed Hasmat Jalal, a poet and brother of litterateur Syed Mustafa Siraj.

The petitioner, who has claimed Rs 11 crore as compensation, complained of several defamatory words and references against him in the book, 'Split into two, my girlhood, third volume', which he said were entirely false, frivolous and imaginary.

The court, which heard the matter ex parte, restrained the defendants from publishing, marketing, selling or circulation of the book in any manner without first removing the words complained of in the application.

I have learnt that this book contains most of the prose in her book "Ka" which is banned in Bangladesh earlier. She added some of her intimate episodes with the Kolkata writers.

Update: Reactions from writers of West Bengal, India

She has written fictitious fantasies about sexual involvement. I was shocked. I was surprised how anyone could write like this. I feel this is invasion of someone's privacy, This is unethical, illegal, immoral. - S Hasmat Jalal, poet.

This is not literature. It may be good reading, if you want to know about some scandals about some writers. But it is not literature. - Sunil Gangopadhyay, writer.

You know why this book will sell? Primarily because it is pornographic - Dibyendu Palit, writer.

Kolkata's literary circles are worried about what might be in the second half of this book, to be out soon. Speculation is, it's a kiss and tell on Kolkata's literary giants, the very people who had stood by Taslima in her times of trouble.

* Official Homepage of Taslima Nasrin
* Another Page of Taslima Nasrin

The writer has a grudge against society, which he documents with accounts of unsatisfying sex, unrealized ambition, unmitigated loneliness, and a sense of local and global distress. The square, overpopulation, the bourgeois, the bomb and the cocktail party are variously identified as sources of the grudge. There follows a little obscenity here, a dash of philosophy there, considerable whining overall, and a modern satirical novel is born.

- Renata Adler (American writer)

I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.

Samuel Johnson 1709-1784 (British author)

The need to express oneself in writing springs from a mal-adjustment to life, or from an inner conflict which the adolescent (or the grown man) cannot resolve in action. Those to whom action comes as easily as breathing rarely feel the need to break loose from the real, to rise above, and describe it... I do not mean that it is enough to be maladjusted to become a great writer, but writing is, for some, a method of resolving a conflict, provided they have the necessary talent.

Andre Maurois 1885-1967 (French Writer )

One reason writers write is out of revenge. Life hurts; certain ideas and experiences hurt; one wants to clarify, to set out illuminations, to replay the old bad scenes and get the Treppenworte said -- the words one didn't have the strength or ripeness to say when those words were necessary for one's dignity or survival.

Cynthia Ozick 1928-, American Novelist, short-story Writer

November 16, 2003

Taslima Nasrin Banned again

Taslima Nasrin just cannot be ignored by the media. Her recently published book "Ka" (the first consonant of the Bengali alphabet) has created a huge degree of controversy. The exiled Bangladeshi writer has, to use the clich�d phrase poked the hornet�s nest, and the reactions have been extreme. The general readers have also taken to the book in great numbers. Ever since Taslima Nasrin secretly escaped from Bangladesh to seek refuge in Sweden she has been in the news at regular intervals. No writer in contemporary Bengali literature has provoked such extreme reactions. Already three of her books �Lajja�, �Amar Meyebela� & �Utal Hawa� have been banned by the authorities. The first one banned before she was forced to leave Europe and the other two were banned in 2000. Now �Ka� has been banned by the court after an eminent writer, Syed Shamsul Haque sued her BD Taka 100 Million (Appx 1.7 million USD) for libel and tarnishing his reputation.

What has earned the rage of the most in the current book is Taslima�s frank discussion of her sex life. This is something very unusual among Bangladeshi writers. In most autobiographies, and even biographies, there is little mention about sex. In the west most writers do not hesitate to discuss their sex lives but here in Bangladesh it is still considered as taboo. But there is a catch here. In their novels and other literary works they do not hesitate to describe sexual act in good details. However about their personal lives some writers appear almost asexual beings. So Taslima being a woman and talking openly about her, significant number of, asexual is something very difficult to swallow for most people. In a hypocritical society like Bangladesh women are expected to never give a vent to sexual passions.

Taslima clearly considers sex as an ennobling and pleasurable act and this is something the intellects of the country are not ready to accept. She always picks such controversial topics as oppression against minority by the Islamic fundamentalists and sometimes exaggerates. This has infuriated some of the fundamentalists and they have threatened her by putting a price on her head before her exile. The govt. has eased the tension by banning the books. But she had to leave the country in fear.

Taslima in the book �Ka� is not content with talking about her sexuality, she goes on to divulge the name of some quite eminent personalities of Bangladesh she has slept with. Apparently a large number of writers in Bangladesh wanted to have physical relations with her because she had an uncontrolled life in the past. Some of them succeeded with Taslima�s consent, some of them failed. Taslima exposes all. She even rationalizes their behavior. She says that as she is a single woman and writes freely about sex, many of these men felt she would be easy to seduce. In fact more often than not Taslima tries to portray herself a victim of sort.

However she was hardly a naive character falling for the guile of worldly men.

The writers who have been portrayed in the book have denied the allegations. That�s also hypocritical, because they want to be a person without controversies in this conservative society. However I feel that they should have confessed boldly that they have slept with her. If that is wrong they should not have done it in the first place. Like the Monica-Bill Clinton controversy, people have understood when Clinton confessed.

But there is another thing, the breach of trust. Taslima had sex with the writers in her consent and there might be honest relationships. She should have not broken the trust by divulging them. That strips her of any dignity and honor. She is acting very cheap. Just like those in the West who wants to expose dignitaries whose life can be unsettled with the claim and thus she can earn some money from the media.

She is always picking up controversial subjects to be in the limelight. Instead of being a feminist, her view is extreme sadist who wants men to be under control of women. These will never be welcomed by the society. She has talent and even though some says that she does not write well, I think she is a free flowing writer and can write something remarkable like one of her earlier books �Nirbachito Kolam�. But if her target is the press and strengthening the cause of the refuge then she will always remain controversial and avoided by the common reader.

Her next project is to expose the writers of West Bengal, India with whom she slept with. Watch out for more controversies and banning.

(Based on an article in the Daily Independent by Syed Mehdi Momin)

Update: Here are a few excerpts from Taslima Nasrin's book "Ka" hosted on e-mela.com:

Page 65| pg66-67 | pg68-69 | pg70-71 | pg72-73 | pg74-75 |

November 15, 2003

Mohammed or Jesus?

A persian girl in California, a born muslim, has been in churches with her friends. She loves Mohammad and she loves Jesus. Now she poses the interesting question. Does she have to choose between them? Go read the post and some answers in the comments section.
Lies & trivia

Gina has a great post about Donald Rumsfeld's lies. Go check it out here.

She also discoveres that US Presidents entourage for his trip to London will include:

� Up to 250 Secret Service agents.
� Up to 150 advisers from the National Security department and about 200 representatives of other US departments.
� About 50 White House political aides.
� A team of 15 sniffer dogs and their handlers.
� A personal chef and his team of four cooks.

Among the equipment they will bring will be:

� Two identical personal Boeing 747-200s and a third chartered jumbo.
� One personal US Marine Corps Sikorsky Sea King helicopter and a second A VH-60N, a VIP version of the Black Hawk helicopter.
� Two identical motorcades each made up of 20 mostly armoured vehicles, including the President's converted Cadillac Deville.
� The "football", a briefcase carried by a military aide which contains the launch codes for America's nuclear arsenal.

Surely American tax payers got their moneys worth with this impressive entourage.

November 14, 2003


Korean industries have been a congenial workplace for the low wages employees from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other foreign countries. I know that many people from Bangladesh have spent more than BD Taka 600,000 (5000 USDs) to get into South Korea, to get a decent job and to accumulate some savings after paying back the loans and come back to country to start a business or something.

Recently Korean govt has declared its new labor policy which entails that no foreigners would be allowed to work for more than 4 years. The foreign workers who are staying there for more than 4 years and other illegal aliens were given a deadline to leave the country within November 15. After that a crack down on illegal aliens will begin.

Facing forced deportation for being an illegal worker, a Sri Lankan laborer killed himself this week by jumping in front of a subway train. Another Bangladeshi named Liton Barua (30) hanged himself because of despair, thinking of how to repay the loans he has taken to come to Korea.

In an editorial the Chosun Ilbo notes that a lot of companies where these individuals have worked are withholding pay because they're about to get deported, on average of W2.15 million per worker. Or, enough to go start your own company in Bangladesh.

Says the editorial:

These are people who have worked in our companies and learned Korean, starting with phrases such as millin don juseyo ["Please give me the money I'm owed."] and Ttaeriji maseyo ["Please don't hit me"]. It doesn't take much to imagine what they'll tell people in their home countries if they get caught in the government's dragnet and forced to get on planes home without their wages. What would it feel like if it was your family or your acquaintances treated this unfairly overseas before being forcibly returned?

This is so shocking. The death of Liton Barua was also the headline in the Newspaper yesterday. I wonder what Bangladesh government is going to do about it.

Links via Oranckay.

Wouldn�t life be so wonderful without any obstacles? How nice it would be if each day were smooth and carefree without a trouble or problem to pool us down.

And when we are down with loads of obstacles, fearing to go forward, we look for God. Only in time of our needs and despair we want God to help us out. But why not think in the other way?

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. Life without obstacles is very boring. We wouldn�t be strong & solid if we were not put to test. So do not fret and fume. Do not have a nervous breakdown. Do not ask God for deliverance from the problem. Thank God instead for giving us the strength to tackle the problems. By learning to take things in our stride, by persevering, we are growing strong and resolute, tough & hardy, solid & sturdy. And backed by this powerful strength we can accomplish achievements beyond our expectations.

Start welcoming obstacles from today.

November 13, 2003


Hooman brought up an interesting discussion regarding Islam, democracy & compatibility here and there are a lot of discussions going on. Go check it out.

Hooman starts another thread here.

November 12, 2003


This is amazing. A man benting like a car seat in a desperate attempt to cross U.S. border. He was eventually caught.

Read more here.

Hat Tip Boing Boing.

November 10, 2003

Whatmore on what Bangladesh Cricket Team needs more to win

Andrew Miller, the Wisden journalist had an interview with Bangladesh's Australian coach Dav Whatmore and talked about the challenging yet rewarding task of turning Bangladesh into a competitive Test nation.

Dav Thinks:

About the skill level of players: The skill level's there. But it's not the skills that are holding them back. It's other attributes, such as fitness, nutrition and general knowledge of the game. But most importantly, it's the tough mental attitude needed to perform under stressful periods. The team hasn't won anything in recent years, so there are more stressful situations for them than there are for other sides.

How many more defeats can Bangladesh take? Whatever it takes. There's no short-term fix. We can't bring back some older guys, some harder nuts, to win one match and then what? I reckon we can win tomorrow, but that's not the right way to go about it.

About the first one-dayer in Chittagong against England: I will say that the previous games have been a terrific upward curve. This one is a downer for sure. But I can also say, in my experience, anyone trying to get anywhere in life, it's never a straight line. This defeat can only be judged in time. To judge it now would be unfair and far too early.

That recent one-wicket defeat at Multan. Was it encouraging or shattering? We'd built ourselves up to believe we could win, and so when we didn't, that was when it really hurt. I was particularly upset, because we should have won.

But to get so close, did it give you the belief that you can do that again? Yeah, I think so. But I've detected a negativity in the team about playing at home. Instead of being lifted by the energy of the crowd, they seem to fear them. Every member of the public is itching for the team to get ahead.

About Bangladesh Team's future: I honestly believe I can make a difference, so that's why I'm here. I've got plenty of support from a great support team, and we've just got to keep working for that right formula. It's not just about one win, but really cementing the foundations for something big in the future.

In my view consumption beyond need is always irrational. German Scientists also confirm this:

Researchers at the University of Muenster in Germany thinks a woman’s rational thought disappears when she goes shopping. They measured the electrical activity in the part of the brain which deals with common sense and rational thought in female shoppers. They discovered the part of the brain governing the emotions and pleasant feelings was in overdrive during shopping.

The scientists also found men experience a similar loss of control when offered the chance to buy electrical gadgets, fast cars and computer games.


Link via Diana

November 08, 2003

Monga � Another kind of famine

Bangladesh has been devastated by a famine-like condition in eight districts of its northern region. This year due to untimely rain, the Ropa Amon (a variety of rice) crop has been planted a month and a half earlier. So there is no work for agricultural workers for a couple of months until the harvest season, which starts in December. This year poverty has gripped more seriously than in the previous years as there has been no arrangement of work under food for works or test relief program, which was introduced to provide a earning source for agricultural workers and day laborers in this lean period. Many people had been already affected by the recent flood and all their food stocks have depleted. Another reason is the widespread corruption in the VGF program, an initiative by the government.

A special program of Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) has been started in Rangpur to help many people affected by monga. A total of 1,17,300 cards have been issued and 1,17,300 metric tons of rice has been allocated for the poor and landless people. But corruption is rife in the matter of distribution of cards and relief goods. Fifty percent of cards are distributed among ruling party members; of the rest twenty per cent are shared out among chairman, members and high officials of the society. Only the remaining twenty-five percent go to the poor and landless people. Under govt. directive, each cardholder is to get 10 kg food grain. But the cardholder receives only 7 to 8 kg.

So it seems that sheer mismanagement and lack of preparedness of the respective govt. sector is the root cause of this famine. There has been much talk about this in the political arena. The opposition is trying to exaggerate the facts to portray the failure of the ruling govt. They are naming it a devastating famine. Whereas the ruling party is telling that proper measures have been taken and the situation is not so worse. When the harvesting season starts, agricultural workers will have jobs and this situation will improve.

But its true that people are suffering and the govt. aids are not reaching the real needy people. The main city markets of the country are buzzing with activities as large-scale consumptions are being made for the coming Eid Festival. People have no shortage of money. But what would happen to the poor people of those eight districts. Many have no jobs and can barely sustain themselves. They would have a hard time in this Eid while the rest of the country celebrates. I am really depressed about it and many questions remain unanswered like why the food for work program has not been carried out this year. The govt. is busy defending their stand while nobody else is there to end the affected people�s sufferings.

A new online travel magazine with about title is all set to be published in December. The great thing about this is that you can send your ideas of stories, articles with photos to them and they will contact you if your's is nominated for publishing. You can become a travellog writer! So don't miss the chance and go there.

Diana Moon, who declared to cease blogging with much emotion has started again from October 30, 2003.

She cannot believe that she's doing it again. I guess blogging is a addiction like smoking. You cannot quit forever.
When your Good (bad!) post crashes your website

Kim du Toit, a writer and a US citizen since 1989 has posted an essay "The Pussification Of The Western Male" in his weblog. The requests for the essay, have overwhelmed the database, caused his webhost's server to crash. Thats what you can call overwhelming respons. Go read it now.
Thats what you call information overload

Rebcca Blood reports:

The quantity and flow of information is exploding at an amazing rate. The amount of new information stored on paper, film, magnetic and optical media has roughly doubled in the last three years. Five exabytes of new information -- roughly five billion gigabytes -- was created in 2002 alone. Each year almost 800 MB of recorded information is produced per person (to have an idea: 5 MB is needed to store the complete works of Shakespeare) . If stored on paper, that would take about 30 feet of books. But 92% of all that new information is stored on magnetic media, mostly hard disks, rather than on paper, film or optical media.

But there's much more than stored information. Information flowing through electronic channels --telephone (both cellular and landline), radio, TV and the Internet -- is far larger. Almost 18 exabytes of new information was generated in 2002, three and a half times more than the amount stored. Five billion instant messages per day produce 274 terabytes a year. (A terabyte is about 1,000 gigabytes.) E-mail racks up about 400,000 terabytes of new information each year worldwide. About 31 billion e-mails are sent daily, a figure which is expected to double by 2006. E-mail ranks second behind the telephone as the largest information flow. E-mail users include 35% of the total U.S. population and accounts for over 35% of time spent on the Internet. The UC-Berkeley study estimates that about one-third of all e-mail is spam.

Now how we can utilize these loads of information? Make them accessible online, with proper copyright and compensations ofcourse. More and more people should be PC/internet savvy and use the required information among all the information for their daily necessities. Or would people be disgusted with the information overload and shy away from PC/internet?

November 04, 2003


Dear Lord,

I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be. I pray that we will be more sensitive towards the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests. AMEN.

- Prophet Mohammed

Bangladesh: political crisis and a hint of hope

Everybody knows that there is a political crisis going on in Bangladesh. I think the crisis is not only political but the lives of the nation are in crisis too. The real root of this crisis lies in the tremendous accumulation of wealth of a few quarters. We were always known as a nation with sufficient resources; fields were filled with crops and the ponds with fishes. But our nation accumulated much wealth after the liberation in 1971. We accumulated many times more in thirty years, what we could not achieve in three thousand years. But this achievement did not come smoothly. Most of us went crazy after the chances that were created when the nation was in a building process after the devastation of war. In past our nation always knew that modest living is our virtue and neglected wealth. But in these 32 years many of us have allured wealth forgoing our ethics, our virtues and oppressing the poor. We ran after money, simple as that.

Our main two political parties are in the heights of their conflict. But think where the difference lies. They are fighting for their own interests, not for ideologies or for betterment of the country. The robbers of the country have taken shelters under the two parties, because they need protection from justice. One party had ruled for five years (and robbers under their shelter robbed the country) and then another party had ruled for five years (ditto). This cycle may repeat also. But where are the common people's interests? You have to belong to a party, take a shelter. Otherwise you won't be heard. You won't get your rights. It is our interest or their interest. There is no common interest. There are no ethics, morality, virtue or more of these nice words. Those who still hang on to those morality or ethics are the loneliest person in this society.

But there is also another positive thing in this accumulation of wealth. If the people of the nation develops individually then the nation develops also. These individual developments transforms to a collective development after sometime. I think the nation is slowly thinking about this notion of collective development (apart from personal interests). Those who accumulated wealth robbing the society are now trying to give some of that back to the society. Because, the nation is becoming more aware of the situation as the literacy rate is growing up. And nobody wants a robber as a leader. I think someday more and more people will be able to comprehend the interests of these culprits and their greed and selfishness won't be materialized.

There is also a hint of hope. There is a saying in our country that the first generation of riches only robs, occupies, buys or steals wealth from others. They do it like crazy because they don't have a penny in the sack yet they want to be rich and famous. The second generation of riches comes to the world inheriting great wealth. They do not have to steal, oppress others for wealth and also do not understand why their parents had to engross this wealth from others and what were their problems. They think their parents are uncultured and not posh enough to live a life as rich and famous. They think of themselves as blue blood and most of them inherit the savageness of their parents too. But some of them also try to do something for the society. As they do not have to earn their living, they sacrifice their wealth to the society. The third generation is the best of the three. Many of them are not inclined to accumulation of wealth, involved in intellectual and aesthetics thinking of the society. They want to make a mark in the society by giving away or selling their inherited wealth.

Now our nation is still reined by the first generation of the riches. Our hint of hopes lies here that the second generation will be prominent soon. Our politicians are critic about the quality of education in the country. Instead of doing something about it, they are keener to have their kids educated abroad. But these kids are also a part of the society. Many will come back. They will play the role of the second generation of the riches. I hope that they will not be robbers like their parents if they are properly educated in other countries (and have seen the morality of other nations). Because they do not have to try to accumulate wealth, which their parents have done before and relieved them of that headache. Our efforts should also be to educate the other kids in our country, to enlighten them with the real picture, what is right and what is wrong. We have to do it. Our escape plan lies with the next two generations.

November 02, 2003

Comments cannot be sued

The lefty blogger Atrios got a letter from Donald Luskin's (an NRO Online Contributor) attorney, Jeffrey J. Upton. Atrios was accused for linking Mr. Luskin in one of his posts with the label "Diary of a stalker". His readers, in responding to his invitation to comment, have posted numerous libelous statements regarding Mr. Luskin.

Mr. Jack M. Balkin, a professor of Yale Law School defends Atrios's chances stating:

Despite Mr. Upton's suggestions to the contrary, Atrios is not liable for the postings in the comments section. And he has no duty to take them down.

Section 230 of the 1996 Telecom Act protects people who run websites from being sued for republishing the libels of another person. Section 230 states that " no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

Mr. Balkin also adds:

This does not mean that bloggers are immune from libels they themselves write. So if bloggers defame somebody, they can still be sued for what they say, just not for what someone else who publishes on the blogger's site says.

via Buzzmachine.
Why George Bush Sr. didn't occupy Iraq

I found this in Joi-Itos Blog.

Excerpts from George Bush Sr.'s memoir, "A World Transformed" (1998)

Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq.... there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.

Joichi Ito wonders if George Bush Jr. read it. Thats a good question.

November 01, 2003


Of the 1,457,738 weblogs indexed so far by the The National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITL) BlogCensus, the overwhelming majority are published in the English language. Top 4 languages are

English : 802947
Portugese: 61050
Polish : 42265
Farsi : 37172

Only 65% of those are estimated as active. 39.8% of bloggers in the sample were men, and 36.3% were women and others are group blogs or anonymous. In the Personal Diary Category, women reigned with 56% over mens 28%. In other categories, women were greatly outnumbered: Political bloggers - 80% Men and only 6.2% Women.

Read more here.