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

July 31, 2005


* The avatar versus the journalist: Making meaning, finding truth

* Bangladesh bans poultry from five more countries

* Michael Palin's travel books online for free

* The Muslim mind is on fire

Fareed Zakaria pinpoints in a Newsweek article:
"Like all ideologies, radical Islam is a phenomenon of the educated class."
He searches for the adrenalin of terror:
Radical ideologies of hate and violence have often seduced disaffected young men searching for some great cause. Forty years ago they would have embraced Leninist revolutionary dogma, with Che Guevara as the bin Laden of his day. Today, for Muslims, it is a violent interpretation of Islamic fundamentalism.
And how to win the battle:
In a battle of ideas, no one bullet will win. We must present a positive vision for Muslim societies, be seen as a friendly and progressive force by them and thus strengthen the moderates and liberals.

July 30, 2005


In an article published in the New York Sun, Daniel Pipes asks "What do the terrorists want?"He thinks that "the jihadi terrorists have a patently self-evident ambition: to establish a world dominated by Muslims, Islam, and Islamic law, the Shari'a. He quotes an Al-Qaeda leader "Due to the blessings of jihad, America's countdown has begun. It will declare defeat soon." and the murderer of Van Gogh: "Islam will be victorious through the blood of martyrs who spread its light in every dark corner of this earth."

Is it true that there is a significant rise of Muslim nationalism all over the world or is it sporadic and induced by local situations? I can't tell much of the world, but in Muslim majority democratic Bangladesh, the religious right wing party Jamaat-e-Islami wants an Islamic state through democratic way, but their share of popularity is much below than the other parties. My question is if they cannot do it in their own country of 140 million people (80% Muslims), how the so called vision (if any) of Muslims to rule the world will ever materialize?

I think Daniel Pipes did not shed a light to the reasons for the grudge against the US or its allies Britain et al. Many miss out the vital point - the Western military presence in Muslim dominated Arab world. Here is one Iraqi's apologist thoughts on the terrorists:

Your side:
1. Wants to spread democracy, and made my country (Iraq) a pawn in your scheme
2. Your Presidents send troops to achieve the objective
3. You will kill as many people (Collateral Damage) as necessary to achieve the objective

Do you realize that each and every one of you is personally responsible for every dead Iraqi child, mother, father and brother. You live in a democracy, which means that your presidents and your armies are merely representatives of your popular will. You pay your taxes to buy the guns and bombs used by your soldiers to come an kill my family. Yes, the soldier pulls the trigger, do you all sleep well at night knowing that you paid for the bullet that put was put in mother's head; do you sleep well knowing that the bomb that that broke my 11 year old nephew's body into a million pieces was personally paid by you; do you sleep well knowing that your messengers of death are doing your bidding well?

My side:
1. I want revenge for the deaths of my family and friends
2. There are people who are willing to do that for me - the Islamic Extermists
3. Yes, they have very different agendas as well, but they are doing my bidding - taking my revenge.
4. Your people die, you call them innocents, but I call them the financiers (voters) of the bullets put in my family's head.

Personally, they are not innocent to me. You are not innocent to me. Just like you kill my living to accomplish your goals, the Islamic Extremists kill your living to accomplish their goals If anything, I am more innocent to you because I had no role in appointing the suicide bombers, or financing their bombs, unlike you who finance their mercenaries and weapons.

Seems sarcastic, isn't it? Just as many Muslims are against the US's invasion of Iraq without UN's mandate many are also against these nonsense logics. I am afraid the terrorists like Al-Qaeda is cashing on this hatred, the medieval 'an eye for an eye' notion by brainwashing the effected Muslims. And until the military do not pull out from Iraq or Afghanistan, this hatred will be there.

There are debates about the failed role of 'moderate Muslims' to convince Muslims that 'the theology and ideology of jihad is wrong'. Even there are questions about the existence of 'moderate Muslims'. But my view on this is that by passing the ball to so called moderate Muslims court we are failing to examine the root cause of this hatred. Apart from the countries which are directly affected by the war and repression, many Muslims around the world are too busy with their own lives rather than driven by the so called Islamic nationalism as to become the next jihadi. Its a question of basic survival instincts. Unless an animal is attacked it tries to live in it's own world without disturbing others. So it is wrong to misinterpret some nationalistic zeal of the effected Muslims as a notion of every Muslim of the world. People wear religion, religion do not wear them. And one hatred triggers counter hatred which may lead to more chaos (like another crusade?). Should we go backwards? The global rise of terrorism and their apologists are fed by the very sins, the occupations and the political manipulations that the West constantly ignore as a root cause.

"No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them."


On BBC World's Hard Talk Extra, presenter Gavin Eslar introduced pundit Ravi Shankar as the famous living Indian on earth. I was watching the interview with much enthusiasm as I love Ravi's Music (Sitar) and I have a high regard for him for his efforts in organizing 'The concert for Bangladesh'.

Shankar talked about how he was brought to the big scene after George Harrison had become his disciple in 1966. It was hard for him to be associated with fellow musicians and fans who were deep rooted in hippie culture and drugs like ganja, hashish. He anguished that his music is even today tagged with visual representations of that culture which his music has nothing to do about. The tunes of Sitar are about devotion, contemplation and serenity.

Then he talked about his early life and his Guru (teacher) Ustad Alauddin Khan. Khan was a great classical musician and a great teacher. As a pious Muslim, he also knew much about Hindu religion and his attached students of other religions never felt any discrimination on them. Shankar lamented on the peaceful Hindu-Muslim coexistence and tolerance those days.

Actually this tolerance was prevalent is much of India except for some sporadic hatred and violences which were politicized and lead to the the division of India on the basis of religion. Shankar realizes that something has happened to the world recently which disturbed much of the religious tolerance. So what actually has happened to the world?

Arnab links to an interesting article published in the Toronto Star which says:

As the modern medicine and science started to demolish the human barriers, people increasingly started to go away from the fear and the God. However, starting from the 1980s, the religion started to rise again. Iranian leader, Khomeyni started to use religion in every aspect of life. Religious fundamentalism also started rising in the west. A new political wave also became visible. We started calling it Christian right in the west. Religion increasingly became political and people increasingly became "religious."

However, what type of "religious" is this? Our devotion on God has decreased dramatically but we are becoming religious. Our low devotion of God can be shown through the low moral of the society. The porn industry is thriving, the family is breaking down and other things. Basically, now-a-days, when it comes to lying, disturbing the neighbour, watching porn and others, we do all of them. However, when it comes to being religious, we try to show that we are really religious. We never miss any religious occasions.

Today people identify themselves with religions. Therefore, religious identity has become important. As a result, today, religions have become really a sensitive issue. When people talk about religions, the radical things of religions start to come out.

This is true for many of the major religions. The article laments the way out of this situation:

In this destroyed world, I think it is better not to talk about religion with people, who don't follow your belief. The reason is because it will only create hatred and disagreement. Nothing good will come out of this. We need to now look for the grounds, where we agree and religion is something where we cannot agree. Let's keep our religion inside us and continue with life.

Its time we should discover the root of our problems.

July 28, 2005

"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears."
A sign in Nottinghill tube station reads:

Please do not run on the platforms or concourses. Especially if you are carrying a rucksack, wearing a big coat or look a bit foreign. This notice is for your own safety. Thank you.
There you go! Warnings like this instilling fear into everybody. Over at Sepia Mutiny a commenter says:

Everyone is looking at the Indians and black people funny (because the bombers were black too!) - but all the Indians are looking at each other funny too.

Harry's place discusses the funny looks and suggests transparent backpacks for those who are adamant to use it. Although funny it may seem, but people are actually resorting to things like this:

As I'm an Asian male that's been getting suspicious looks, I've taken to carrying a bottle of wine as if I'm taking it home for dinner. It's ironic, I don't even like wine, but it's a clear visual symbol that says I'm not a fanatic Islamic bomber.

Many more such discomforts are stated in this BBC article.

Surely paranoia is gripping the Londoners and people elsewhere in the world:

In Bangladesh: A question asked to a Muslim Visa requestee by an EU country Visa councellor: Do you know how to make bombs?

The question now is, 'how to conquer this fear'?

"When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear." -Budhdha

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Dhaka experienced heavy rains (156mm within 24 hours) early this month. The excess downpours inundated nearly a quarter of the cosmopolitan disrupting lives of its 10 million citizens. Streets and roads remained waterlogged, schools were shut down and shopping malls remained closed.

But nothing is close to what Mumbai has experienced in last couple of days. The incessant rains recorded at 896 mm in 24 hours were more than anybody could imagine. The streets looked like rivers, people stuck at workplaces overnight, powers are cut in many places, phonelines are not working, interconnectivity with outside is on halt as flights and trains are suspended. The state government has declared a public holiday for two days.

Indian bloggers have updates on the situation here and here.

Update: Cloudburst Mumbai is a group blog providing links & news of the floods.

July 27, 2005


This news has been gathered from Taslima Nasrin's website:
Taslima was not allowed to read her poem 'America' during a Bengali Convention held in Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening (3rd of July 2005). 'America' is an anti-war poem which is against weapons of mass destruction while taking a stand for humanity. As she was reading this poem, many from an audience of six thousand American-Bengalis booed and did not let her continue after the first few lines of the poem. Taslima had no other alternative but to skip to the end of the poem. She was soon forced by the organiser of the convention to leave the Madison Square Garden area.
From Taslima's article "Unbreathable America" (sloppy translation from French) written in 2003:
"I am applauded when I criticize Islam, but when I protest against the policy of the United States, I have to hide myself."
"I still remember the shock that I felt, a few days after the attack of World Trade Center, on the road between New York and New Hampshire, doubled by a car which had a telling sign: "Fuck Allah". I do not believe in Allah, and that is quite equal for me that somebody sends it to shit. But this sign terrified me. A question came up to my mind: why its author decided to curse Allah rather than Mohammed Atta and his band? What did Allah have to do with these attacks? I immediately understood that this anger was mistaken in target: what it aimed, it was a religion."

For Taslima lovers and haters I would like to reiterate:

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

July 25, 2005


* Arundhati Roy's opening speech in the 'World tribunal on Iraq'

* Zimbabwe On the Edge of the Abyss.

* U.N. seeks first political definition of terrorism.

* An alternative explanation of God through science.

* SMS, Internet and e-mail are making telegraph service obsolete in Bangladesh.

* Quran on hold: Mahmood raises some legitimate questions.

Here is today's round up of some of the blogs of South Asia.


'BDeshini' has some thoughts on the stained glass art she is mastering.

Sadiq links us to the only site that brings together the Scriptures from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - all in one place and with the finest translations available in English.

Mezba explains why fishing is a cruel sport.


Dina Mehta tells about a protest by SMS - The Thane Municipal Corporation is being bombarded by text messages from 627 families of Saket Complex, a society of buildings, complaining and urging action against the stench created by open garbage.

Desipundit points to discussions about bothering nasty comments in blogs.

Seven notable Indian journalist/economists have started a blog called 'The Indian Economy'.


Pakistani Perspective posts an interesting review of the book 'The dancing girls of Lahore'.

Abez has a receipe of Mango Milk for the husbands.

'Chapati Mystery' construes an interesting analogy:The logic of the war on terror demands that there exist a cohesive 'them' while the premise of the jihadist narrative is the disintegration and dispossession of 'us'.


United we blog has an informative post citing the usual misconceptions of Nepali Politics.

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July 24, 2005


The devils in many disguises are striking everywhere, everyday, indiscriminately killing innocent peoples of all races and religions. We may be next. So please don't just sit there, unite against terror. And show them that we are not afraid.

The news is coming to light that the South Asian-looking man killed by plain cloth British secret police on the London tube last Friday is a Brazilian. Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, a catholic Christian, used to work as an electrician and has no connection to the Thursday's bombings. The Brazilian foreign ministry has already demanded explanation from the British Government. There is an interesting discussion going on in Sepia Mutiny about this incident. One reader comments:

Even if they're pursuing a suspect, should they be allowed to shoot? Shooting a known criminal is different from shooting a "suspect". Everyone can be (a) suspect. You, me, everyone.

We do not know in what situation the police shot Menezes at close range. Was it a human error? No, you will be surprised to learn that the London Police was given a new shoot-to-kill guideline in recent weeks. According to that the armed police and surveillance officers confronting suspected suicide terrorists were advised to shoot to the head and not the body in case the suspect has a bomb.

It is evident that the faulty guidelines have killed an innocent man. The public is skeptic about the fact that the police had already caught the guy, hold him down, and clearly outnumber him. So was it necessary to shoot five bullets into his head?

It just reminds me of the cases of the extra-judicial killings in Bangladesh by Police & RAB and some innocent civilians' death in the process. If the police is given extra-judicial power then there is every chance of an innocent person getting wrongly killed. No one can undo the mistake.

Green landscape & village, countryside, Bangladesh (via Faruque in Flickr)

Flickr is the best online photo repository & sharing tool. With its dynamic tagging system, one can easily categorize the pictures for archiving & sharing. And when an user searches for picture with one tag (say Bangladesh) they get all the public photos posted by Flickr members using that tag. No wonder the users of Flickr, now owned by Yahoo!, are growing exponentially.

The above photo is taken by Faruque, a Bangladeshi living in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He has a wonderful collection of exclusive pictures of Bangladesh which is a must see. I must admit that he is a very good photographer.

July 23, 2005


I have been awarded author status in the Global Voices Blog. This is my first post in that blog. Wish me luck.

Kenan Malik writes:

Ten years ago no one had heard of Islamophobia. Now everyone from Muslim leaders to anti-racist activists to government ministers want to convince us that Britain is in the grip of an irrational hatred of Islam - a hatred that, they claim, leads to institutionalised harassment, physical attacks, social discrimination and political alienation.

Now what is Islamophobia? Journalist Stephen Schwartz says notwithstanding the arguments of some Westerners, Islamophobia exists; it is not a myth. Islamophobia consists of:

• attacking the entire religion of Islam as a problem for the world;
• condemning all of Islam and its history as extremist;
• denying the active existence, in the contemporary world, of a moderate Muslim majority;
• insisting that Muslims accede to the demands of non-Muslims (based on ignorance and arrogance) for various theological changes, in their religion;
• treating all conflicts involving Muslims (including, for example, that in Bosnia-Hercegovina a decade ago), as the fault of Muslims themselves;
• inciting war against Islam as a whole.

(more definitions)

This phobia is derived from lack of understanding of Islamic culture, consistent tagging of terrorism with Islam and Islamic practices instead of criticizing political Islam.

Stephen also argues that the Wahhabi lobby in US engages in its own forms of profiling, which mainly consist of branding every opponent of Islamist radicalism an "Islamophobe." In addition, the charge often includes labeling of such critics as Jews, Zionists, and Israeli agents.

There are contradictory websites like Jihad Watch & Islamophobia Watch which are fueling the controversy.

The UN recognized Islamophobia as a growing problem and arranged a seminar titled "Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding" late last year.

According to the website 'No to Political Islam':

Many apologists for Political Islam claim that to criticize any aspect of Islamic practice is to be guilty of racism and Islamophobia. But much of the criticism is directed not against Islam itself but against Political Islam. And much of the criticism comes from Muslims. How then can this be racism? How then can it be Islamophobia?

It is essential to distinguish between criticism of Political Islam and either fear of Islam or fear, hatred or contempt for ordinary Muslims, who are themselves the victims of Political Islam.

So there are two faces of the menace 'Islamophobia'. One is the confused and ignorant hatred against ordinary Muslims which can trigger something like this and on the other hand the apologists of political Islam who do not want to hear any criticism for Islamic practices and term those criticisms as 'Islamophobic'.

The sooner we understand the crux of the matter, the better.

Rockstar, blogger & poet Mac writes a hilarious poem slating Bangladesh capital Dhaka's ugly pretty ‘beautification’ which was done prior to the postponed SAARC summit. Some excerpts:

Come 2005, Dhaka was again ‘beautified’ for yet another SAARC reunion…. and this time around there are more bathroom tiles and aluminium
and as if ‘uff’ is not enough
they also had aluminium flower tubs.
aluminium dividers, aluminium rails, aluminium signage
aluminium planetariums, aluminium auditoriums,
aluminium gates, aluminium,
aluminium , aluminium…
the chicest thing if you wanna remember Dhaka by or BUY
is well ALUMINIUM –

The unlucky 13th SAARC is due in Dhaka end of 2005 – Hail to ALUMINIUM
…………..and if it fails once again as it very well may, a louder hail to ALUMINIUM….

And a nice quote in the end:

"When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it." - Hugh Newell Jacobsen

Read it all.

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"..Whoever kills an innocent soul.. it is as if he killed the whole of mankind, And whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind" [The Quran, 5:32]

The Muslim communities across Britain condemn the terrible atrocities of the recent bombings in London and denounce the terrorists.
Islam forbids the killing of innocent people. We reject anyone who tries to link such brutal acts to the teachings of Islam.
(Via Shappir)

July 22, 2005


Do all virtual relationships transform to real life relationships? There are already many fictions and movies about it. But they are not as much interesting as the real life experiences.

Bangladeshi blogger Rikhi wrote in her blog in November 2004 about her first date with another blogger she met online. Her comment:

I have always thought that there is a very thick line between the virtual and the real life. I never really expected the people I met over internet to come to my real life as well. However, there is this one person who made me believe at last that these two worlds can merge wonderfully and I am thankful to him. He made me realize it is not frightening at all to know the person I know so well virtually in real life and it only paves the way of the affinity.

Read all about the date here. Her prince's reactions are here. Shafi has written wonderfully in Bangla. So for the non-Bengali speaking readers here is an excerpt from the 'Rajputro' blog:

It was Tuesday, 12th October... our first meet. Was it the first? If one considers four eyes should meet to call it a date, then its the first. But if one considers that there is something called our inner eyes, something called realization, then we have met long before. This meet was just to tally Rikhi I already know with my physical eyes.

How romantic!

July 20, 2005


* Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) has a blog.

* The smallest linux computer in the world.

* Blind faith, not poverty, is the key to terror.

* Today's Bangladesh- successes and achievements

* Trading with Iraqi civilians' lives

Bahraini blogger Mahmood reports that Bahrain has taken primary steps to separate Mosques from the state. He quotes the Islamic Affairs Ministry from the Gulf Daily News:
Mosques are places of worship and their religious sanctity should not be breached.
Meanwhile Omar of 'Iraq the Model' argues the demands of religious quarters that 'Islam has to be declared as the official religion of Iraq'. He cites example that in the 1st constitution written for a dominantly Muslim society there was no mention of Islam as the official religion of the state! This state established by the prophet Muhammad himself at Yethrib was named "Al-Madina" (which means "The City") and was based on a kind of civil governance free from coercion or oppression.

Answering the question "how USA should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons", Colerado congerssman Tom Tancredo said:
: Well, what if you said something like -- if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites.

: You're talking about bombing Mecca?

: Yeah.
That is the stupidest thing I have heard in recent times.

Now the question is can we understand our stupidity? This is a test of intellect, not of character.

Anna of Sepia Mutiny writes that it took 48 hours the pirated version of the new no. 6 volume of the Harry Potter series to reach the Mumbai streets.

She quotes the BBC news:
Pirated Harry Potter copies started appearing on Monday, following the worldwide release in the early hours of Saturday.

At almost every major traffic junction the book was being offered by hawkers. Hawkers and street book stalls are offering JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for $6, compared to the legitimate stores’ $20.
Well, the exact thing happened in Dhaka streets also. I also saw a slim paperback version of the book (not the big and fat one as seen on TV) in the hands of hawkers as early as Monday of this week. I was wondering how the book can pirated so professionally and in the shortest possible time right in front of the law enforcement authorities?

Piracy is a big obstacle in this region. But considering the low purchasing power of an immense crowd of book lovers, the publication houses could easily publish a budget version of the same for sale in this part of the region only. Only the riches and upper middle classes are able to buy at the costly self price. These copycats are only filling the gap.

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July 19, 2005


I have installed my own tagcloud plugin Meghmala and placed it on the bottom of my sidebar. Its a nifty tool which searches RSS feed of my blog, extracts keywords from the content and lists them according to prevalence within the RSS feed. Clicking on the tag's link will display a list of all the article abstracts associated with that keyword.

Check it out. (Hat tip: Desipundit)

July 18, 2005


The Daily Star's weekly technology supplement, 'StarTech' has published an article about blogs.

It is just another attempt to educate what 'blog' is about. But I think what the print media can do to create more interest and passion for blogs is to constantly publish interesting writings from all kinds of blogs. Well it was some excerpts of Salam Pax's 'Where is Raed' in a local newspaper that got me interested in blogs during the start of Iraq war in 2003.

The only notable thing for me in this article is the mention of mine and Imtiaz's blogs. The writer Saad Hammadi had contacted me earlier for some information but he seemed to be in a lot of hurry in receiving the answers because he had a deadline to meet. Thanks Saad and do you know the advantage of the bloggers? We do not have deadlines and can take our own time for our creations. Anybody interested in starting a new blog?

A Probe news magazine report profiles Bangladeshi criminals' activities in Kolkata. It says:
Bangladesh's top criminals have found a safe haven in Nadia, Bongaon, Dumdum, Teghatia, Thakurpukur and Kolkata of the Indian state of West Bengal. When (Bangladeshi) law enforcers turn tough or the criminals commit any serious crime here, they simply cross the border, legally or illegally. They take refuge in familiar haunts there, sheltered by official and unofficial 'protectors'.
It also lists the 23 most wanted outlaws declared by the Bangladesh Police. This online weekly magazine is an interesting read.

It does not get worse than this. Some 15 suicide bombers has struck within 48 hours killing hundreds of innocent civilians and some security forces members. It is really sickening and simply beyond my forbearance to receive these kinds of news everyday. After reading about yesterday's new attack I closed all the windows and remained frozen for sometimes in front of the PC. These Satans are killing indiscriminately. They are happy to blow even little children and women. These bombers goal is maximum casualties. There should be no single compassion for these persons. They will never achieve what they are trying. Humanity will prevail over barbaric zealots.

Meanwhile Global Voices reports that one Iraqi blogger Khalid Jarrar has been taken into detention by the Iraqi mokhabarat, or secret service since 11th of this month. His brother, another famous blogger Raed Jarrar (remember 'Where is Raed?') says:

He's just one of the thousands of people in Iraq who disappeared and ended up in one of the many jails and prisons around the country without a clear reason.
The number of U.S.-held prisoners in Iraq reached all-time record levels earlier in June and has since gone down slightly. The average prisoner total in June stood at 10,783. The number of Iraqis held in Iraq's governmental and paramilitary jails is unidentified.

Their mother thinks the Iraqi government would keep khalid imprisoned if they knew his family is anti-occupation and critical to the current regime.

The Global Voice appeal is:

Please show your support for the Khalid Jarrar by posting supportive comments at Raed’s and Khalid’s latest posts. If you’re a blogger, please help spread the word by linking to them.
You can sign a petition here.

What these all show is a complete chaotic situation prevailing in Iraq.

July 16, 2005


Atiqur Rahman, nicknamed Hridoy (heart) is a bright student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). He has been suffering from acute lymphoblast leukemia (blood cancer). The doctors said that he has to be flown out to a foreign country for treatment which would require $80,000 (equivalent to 5 million Taka). It is unbearable for his family as the required amount is almost 25 times of their annual income. So his classmates started a campaign which has created much publicity and response among the Bangladeshis home and abroad. In less than a month a website dedicated for fund raising has attracted 15,000 visitors and about 2.8 million Taka (56% of the required amount) have been raised so far.

There is a weblog for Hridoy which logs the developments. There are also requests circulating via mails (I have received from a couple of different sources). Numerous articles have been printed in local newspapers.

I am sure the required fund would be accumulated soon. Hridoy's mates have done a commendable job in using the technology to propagate the plea. There are surely enough good hearts there to save a budding heart.

Charukesi writes about a disturbing trend emerging in Flickr where members are tagging picture of the London Bombings with the words 'Muslim', 'Arab' or 'Islam'.

One reader asks:

Why should not Islamic terrorism pictures be labeled Islam? Is it possible to alter reality by denial? From now on, should mayhem caused by people who follow Islam – and act according to the dictares of Islam – be labeled "Martian" violence?
Dilip D'Souza has answers:

Did you, or anyone, refer to Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahome outrage as "Christian terrorism"? What about the earlier terrorism that London was so used to, from the IRA? Was that "Catholic terrorism"? What about the Spanish inquisition, do we call it the "Christian inquisition"? How about the LTTE in Sri Lanka, are they "Hindu terrorists"; or the Sinhala leaders in that country who have spouted venom and instigated violence against Tamils for years, are they "Buddhist thugs"? Slaughter in Gujarat in 2002, was that "Hindu terrorism"?
I would like to quote this to the people who tag religion to all explanations:

There's no reason to bring religion into it. I think we ought to have as great a regard for religion as we can, so as to keep it out of as many things as possible.
- Sean O'Casey 1884-1964, Irish Dramatist
Update: There is an interesting discussion going on in Sepia Mutiny on the issue of confusions of the browns as the backlash is happening to Desis indiscriminately.

Related reading: What does a Muslim look like anyway?

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July 14, 2005


The truth is coming out. The alleged four London suicide bombers are young, second generation British and Muslim. Amongst them three are confirmed as of Pakistan origin. They had the profiles like your neighborhood 'family man' or 'a cricketer'. So what has turned them into a killing machine is a mystery.

The history of self sacrificing is rather long. From the earliest days fallen soldiers were honored as heroes. In World War II, the Japanese Kamikaze bombers used aero planes as flying bombs. The first modern suicide bombing was evident in Lebanon in 1981. The guerilla groups that employed suicide bombings in recent decades include the Viet Minh, Kurdistan Workers Party, Tamil Tigers, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Japanese Red Army.

Most experts agree suicide bombers are not lunatics. They are usually rational idealists who are prepared to die for what they believe is the greater good of their society. These acts are seen by Islamists and Tamils alike as instances of martyrdom, and should be understood as such. Its implementation generally requires at least six separate operations: target selection, intelligence gathering, recruitment, physical and 'spiritual' training, preparation of explosives, and transportation of the suicide bombers to the target area. After the bombings the police and intelligence forces generally concentrate on the 5th & 6th stage of the operation. People do not have much information about the first four stages.

Kush Tandon has a hypothesis called the terror bee equation which can lead us to the first four stages of a suicide bombing operation:

Terror Bee Equation = Poverty X Exponential (Sense of Being Disenfranchised or No Hope) + Lack of Progress + Lack of Democratic Institutions + Cultural Trappings + Lack of Visionary Leaders (Mandela, Gandhi, King in Middle East)

Most Arab terrorists are well-educated, married men from middle- or upper-class families, in their mid-20s and psychologically stable. High profile acts are committed by "elitist, richer" Arabs but most of their foot work is done by orphans in Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. The only difference between radical Islam and radical versions of other religions is that they are finding recruitment very easy.

And why mostly the Arab countries are generating these terrorists? Between 1980 and 1999 the nine leading Arab economies registered 370 patents (in the U.S.) for new inventions. Patents are a good measure of a society's education quality, entrepreneurship, rule of law and innovation. During that same 20-year period, South Korea alone registered 16,328 patents for inventions. Its the issue of social advancement. You don't run into a lot of South Koreans who want to be martyrs.

But where do these Pakistani-British recruits fit in? Abhi of Sepia Mutiny analyzes a film "My son the fanatic" which portrays the struggle of the Asian immigrants in an alien society which refuses to accept them, treat them as equals and the ways in which they deal with the alienation. Its a growing debate how these youths were lured into suicidal acts. Personal accounts suggest how Asians are treated in England and every Asian is a 'Paki' to the skinheads. So that may have lead to their alienation and people can speculate that:

The unrest that is transformed into hatred all starts with the news of Islam being suppressed, treated unfairly and from the feeling that Islamic peoples across the globe are under attack. Islam is seemingly under attack from the US to the Middle East and inwards to India (even China suppresses Islam and holds innocent leaders in jail). The results of suppression, the fruit of the seeds of unrest, bloom in blood in the mosques where men like Tanveer are changed, fundamentally and internally, into soldiers of a spiritual war by the ideology preached by the leaders of their faith. The belief that war is the only way to call to attention and change the fate of Islam around the globe becomes the only solution to a growing problem.

Kush has a final thought:

The sense of alienation need not be limited to non-democratic societies but also come from people within democratic and free societies, as recent London Bombings seems to indicate. I also think that this malaise is not related to a religion, it could happen to any of them over time.

Yes, unless we understand the grounds which make a suicide bomber and do something drastically in unison to prevent these, the next suicide bomber is looming somewhere near us, where ever we are.

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* We are 'not afraid' of what happened in London.

* The logic of suicide terrorism.

* Bangladesh ranked top being the most populous country in the earth.

* Wordcount tracks the way we use language.

* Is this the world's first blog?

* The Diary of a terrorist

Sadiq is one notable Bangladeshi blogger who is searching wisdom from all the religions and even from the atheists. In his blog "Inspirations And Creative Thoughts" you will find wisdoms and knowledge from the Koran, Bible, Tanakh, Gita, Tipitaka and many others holy books.

A quote in his blog:

"Probably no one of us has the True Religion. But all of us together - if we are allowed to be free - are discovering ways of conversing about the great mysteries. The pretense to know all the answers to the deepest mysteries is, of course, the grossest fraud. And any people who declare a Jihad, a holy war on unbelievers - those who do not share their believers' pretended omniscience - are enemies of thinking men and woman and of civilization. I see religion as only a way of asking unanswerable questions, of sharing the joy of a community of quest, and solacing one another in our ignorance."
- Daniel Boorstin

Go check out my first post in the Asiapundit blog. It is a South Asian blog roundup.

July 13, 2005


In 2000, Bangladesh hosted India to play their first ever test match after getting the test status from ICC. Five years have surpassed since then and Bangladesh are yet to make their maiden full tour of India. Bangladesh's scheduled tour of India has been indefinitely postponed for the second time as BCCI, the Indian cricket board has cited their pre-occupations with the ICC Super Series and the two biggest Indian festivals Diwali and Dussera falling in October-November.

Anand Vasu slams the Indian board as "narrow-minded mavericks" and says:

The bottom line is that India are not trying especially hard to fit in Bangladesh - and the onus is on the BCCI, since it was they who postponed Bangladesh's visit the first time around - because the tour does not mean much financially.

I think commerce is playing a major role here. But the Indian board is seizing the opportunity to promote a budding Asian test team like Bangladesh whereas no other Asian teams are likely to emerge anytime soon. They could have taken the gamble of like the England Board who hosted a tri-nation series recently putting Bangladesh along with the top two nations. Bangladesh had a few surprises and it was not at all a commercial disaster.

All we can say is that it is not at all cricket.

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Tasnuva writes about an ignorant Pakistani-Canadian who has weird ideas about Bangladesh & the liberation war which separated itself from Pakistan. I am putting this issue on board because in a number of occasions I have encountered Pakistanis who do not have a clear view on what really happened in 1971. This ignorance has grown to a mammoth proportion which creates sometimes a lot of confusion. Quoting the above person:

"You must hate it how India made Bangladesh separate from Pakistan. Bangladesh would have been prosperous like us if we 'brothers' stayed together".

Yeah, where were you brothers when your Armies were relishing rape & genocide of Bengalis in a bid to tame the Bengalis. Have they ever apologized for the 500,000 to 3 million death, and the plight of 6 million to 12 million who were made refugees? Did they ever think of compensating for the destruction of infrastructure of a country in the name of controlling the rebels? What did they do when then Pakistan President Yahya Khan said "Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands. (Robert Payne, Massacre [1972], p. 50).

You will not get an answer. Instead you will hear things like:

* Pakistan Army was not responsible for the rapes.

* Pakistan Army unappreciated for 'gallantry' in 1971.

I think these people should wake up to the reality of the things - the sooner, the better. They should consider themselves lucky running free with all the crimes under their belt.

Tasnuva suggests the Pakistanis:

All they have to do is 'Google' the words - Bangladesh war, 1971 or even East Pakistan- and voila! You have facts. Not conspiracy theories of how India instigated the Bangalis to revolt or that 'only a few people died'.

She also has a final thought:

Considering world politics is not that dissimilar to school playground politics, I don't think its that childish to ask for the three current leaders to meet sometime and shake hands while
- Pakistan says 'Sorry' to Bangladesh
- Bangladesh says 'Thanks' to India
- and India says 'Peace, man' to Pakistan
......maybe then we'd stop hearing stupid comments from stupid people.
Or not.

I think its high time Bangladesh sues the Pakistani Army in the UN war crimes commission and demand compensation from Pakistan for the destruction of lives and infrastructure so that these ignorant Pakistanis (should not generalize all) are forced to face the reality.

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July 11, 2005


After the 7/7 incident the blogosphere has become alive like the aftermaths of 9/11. Almost everyone has something to say about the incident and if you filter those thoughts you will find the emotions "fear" and "rage". Some are thinking that the terrorism is a Muslim problem and it needs a Muslim solution. One such view:

Either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.

But the problem lies elsewhere. There are some sane thoughts going on in "Thinkers Room" which asks some logical questions.

* Just what is it that would drive a human being to feel passionately enough about something to do this to innocent people?

* Now ask yourself -- what can make you feel so passionately, so deeply, so totally in something that you'd give your life, that you'd blow yourself up?

And the answer is "Fear" and it grips everybody, the oppressor and the oppressed, one of another:

The unfortunate thing is that human beings have this tendency to fear things they do not understand, and fear is a very powerful force. Fearful people in large enough numbers are a recipe for disaster.

The consequence:

There is no short supply of these (deranged) people who feel this passionately about whatever it is their misguided cause is. They are lining up to blow themselves up. They have been there for years. It is naive in the extreme to introduce religious connotations into this, and this is the slant that the world seems to have gripped with both hands, inadvertently or otherwise.

But why terrorism and Islam always seem to end up in the same sentence?

People do not understand Islam at all, and this has contributed immensely to the problem. The world would have no problem (generally) with dismissing Osama and his associates as a deranged and isolated bunch of crazies. But since they claim to be Muslims, for some reason the world has a problem divorcing them from Islam at large. Perpetually referring to them as 'Islamic Extremists' is doing little to help, besides subtly drawing an association between the two. And what is the result? Muslims who have nothing remotely to do with Osama Bin Laden are increasingly finding themselves on the defensive.

Here is another proof how people understand Islam:

A Sikh temple had been vandalised in an arson attack in Leeds after the 7/7 incident alongwith attacks on Mosques. Anna mocks:

We are foreign and we wear turbans, just like that bastard Osama. Thanks to a coincidence of complexion, we are complicit and we will pay.

Over at "Thinkers Room":

Organized religion is a convenient scapegoat for the many atrocities man commits. Man has spent millennia looking for scapegoats for antics, right from blaming snakes for appropriated apples right down to religion to killing others. Osama Bin Laden and his ilk have no problem appropriating Islam for their own use, violating almost all its basic tenets in the process. With all our experience and all the information at our disposal we should be wise enough to divorce the two.

On the other hand are the Muslims acting sensible? Few questions from comments on a buzzmachine post:

* Why there is not the same public outrage over slaughter committed in the name of Allah as there is about stories about a book being put in a toilet an unreasonable question? (May I add that Dan Brown is still moving with his head attached to his shoulders even after his heretic claims that Jesus married Mary & had a son in his book "The Da-Vinci Code" and there was no notable public outrage)

* If Bin Laden and Al Qaeda did not enjoy widespread popular support among Millions of Muslims, he would have been killed or turned over a long time ago.

* It's high time for the terrorists' co-religionists to stand up and demand a stop to all of this, publically, loudly, and consistently. To cast them out. To say "you don't represent us." To take back their religion from a small group of extremist butchers who have hijacked their faith in the name of worldwide jihad, instead of complaining that it's unfair when Muslims who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Allah are called "Islamic terrorists."

Are the Muslims ready to do it boldly?

I would say that it is everybody's problem. We should not be driven by this mideaval urge "An eye for an eye" endangering the innocent civilians and at the same time weshould denounce the people who attach a religion to their crime as terrorism has no religion. We all have to play our part, positively, to bring about a change.

July 10, 2005


* Birth control for tigers.

* The education of Bob Geldof.

* Hartal has a website.

* Compelling photos of the London Bombings aka 7/7. (HT Saurav)

* What's happening in Birmingham?

* Audiofile - A magazine for people who love audiobooks.

* Language is a virus.

* Don't click it.

* Bangladesh launches its first wind generated power plant.

* Bangladesh has so far about 300 registered software firms.

* The Bangladesh government has already acquired 232 acres of land in Kaliakoir of Gazipur district to set up an IT (Information Technology) village.

* 'The Daily ICT Bangladesh' - is the first Bangla ICT daily newspaper published online.

* Bangladeshis brave rain to observe first white band day.

* Bangladesh - the holy land of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimages.


July 09, 2005


This weekend was amongst the worst for me in recent times. I had heard the news of the London blasts first on Thursday evening (BST) but could not grasp the height of it. The scale of devastation was apparent when I watched the coverage on CNN, BBC & Sky News late at night. I was filled with disgust and outrage and at the same time started worrying for the keens (extended family) staying in London. My cousins were not picking up their phones. The cells were not reachable. We had much to worry in the night. We had to wait till next morning to get the confirmation that they are safe. By today news came that no Bangladeshi was dead but a number of Bangladeshis were hurt and a 21 year old girl is still missing. This was a bit of relief as the first blast happened near Brick lane, the "china town" for the Bangladeshis, which accommodates a significant portion of around 250000 Bangladeshis(-Britons) living in London. Its good to know that Bangladeshi bloggers Joe & Nashat are safe. There is still no news from Shapps but I hope he is alright.

It is not strange that another Islamist group claimed the responsibility and politicians like Galloway claimed it is the price of Iraq. The likely consequence is the growing hatred against the Muslim community and the Muslims fear of backlash. The last thing the world needs is losing sanity over all these issues. It was good to see the efforts of the efficient British emergency workers in preventing panic and restricting the casualties and damage.

One thing we should keep in mind is that the terrorists have no religion. Can you show me any religion which prescribes murder of innocent people to propagate its agenda? So we should not be pulled by strings of fear that the terrorists attach to our lives with their inhuman and ungodly acts. We should hold our hands together to find and erase these menaces from civilization. Our job is not complete until then.

An editorial in the Daily Star of Bangladesh sums it up:
Every individual, every country today is a potential target of terrorism. The London massacre is not an act against Britain, nor the UK, nor the G-8, it's an act against the entire humanity. All such diabolic, yet cowardly actions must be severely condemned, censured and deterred with steeled resolve and equally resolute counteraction.
While doing so, I also pray for the people and the families affected in this carnage. I hope the perpetrators will be taken to justice in the shortest possible time.

Related: Wikipedia has a good round up of events and news of the bombing.

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July 07, 2005


* Asian highway will link 32 nations from Tokyo to Istanbul.

* Islam is wonderful, but I can't stand the Muslims

* World Chill -How chill are you?

* A peek into the Shadow people books

* Dream of a chinese girl: in twenty years' time

* Bangladesh loom as Zimbabwe replacement for the cricket tour to New Zealand in December this year.

May Yip, a Singaporean, is a freelance writer for a new magazine called Asia! . The publication has a circulation of 50,000 and is distributed on various international airlines. She contacted me earlier to let me know that she is going to feature my blog in an article along with some other Asian blogs. Here is a snippet of the article published in the Asia! magazine backpage via "The Spoon Blog".

A revolution is sweeping through Asia's virtual community, transforming what began as a random collection of personal journals into a dynamic, controversial and sensationalised community known as a blogosphere.

With 3.35 million people operating blogs in Japan, and networks like www.blogkumedia.com aiming to make blogs a mainstream reality in Chinese Internet, it is hardly surprising that Asia has been dubbed the next frontier in blogging. Join us on this voyeuristic ride as we log onto some of the best virtual idiosyncrasies the east has to offer.

From Singapore, a cross between an FHM model and manga character, the (photoshop-enhanced) pictures of “Xiaxue” alone are worth a blog visit. Foul-mouthed or irreverent, sex kitten or just plain smutty, decide for yourself at XiaXue's Blog Site.

Blog Quote:
“Some girls say they are mean & bitchy too, but they are actually mild like hand soap - while I am the real thing, baby! I look at you in the eye and tell you you look like a blind La Salle student (note: art school student) dressed you up.”

If you prefer the girl-next-door, check out: BKKSoul by Lynn, an equally photogenic, but utterly wholesome, Thai blogger with so much grey matter that her first manuscript has landed a New York literary agent representation.

The outsider view of Bangladesh isn’t always postcard-pretty. Political unrest, natural disasters and religious extremism define the South East Asian republic in global news headlines. The mission of Third World View is to offer an alternate perspective, to be “a window of Bangladesh” from an insider’s point of view. Learn about Bangladeshi bands (the blogger, Rezwan, is a fan of The Doors), cricket and one opinionated blogger’s take on affairs around the world at The Third World View.

On the Bangladeshi rock scene (and piracy):
“Elephant Road is a street which has three stores (namely Rainbow, Gitali, Ganer Bhuban) which has all kinds of LPs and later on CDs which they copy onto cassette for you for a fee (screw copyright). I remember that in my teens "Rainbow" was also my favorite shop for recording songs of my choice into cassettes. The owner Kabir was famous for knowledge in world music and his collection.”

Using the blog as a kind of alternative journalism, Gluttergirl, or Yan Sham-Shackleton writes about freedom of the press, art and the state of Hong Kong’s political affairs. Her blog is banned in China for its support of the democratic movement in Hong Kong. If you happen to be residing outside the state, do visit Glutter.org for no-holds-barred opinions, otherwise absent from mainstream media.

On the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989:
It was an incomprehensible day because few and seldom days in history do we ever see a government launch a military attack on its own people. And in the backdrop students sang the “Internationale” and the residents of Beijing shouted “Ting Si, Ting Si” -Stop the killing, Stop the killing” as machine guns fired, people fell, tanks did not stop, and hospitals overflowed.

Masamania is a documenter of Japanese subculture, porn director and student of the English language. His blog is subsequently a hilarious melange of visual anecdotes, peppered with “Engrish” commentary on Tokyo’s neon underbelly. Possessing a keen eye for the weird and subversive, the level of photojournalism represented on this blog is not quite something you’ll see on Lonely Planet. It is, however, a through and through off-the-beaten-track guide to some of the stranger sights Tokyo has to offer.

Blog Quote:
“Hi, this is masamania who create this page, MasaManiA.com. This page is made up of photos I actually take in twon. I hope I can show and tell you the real, true Japan that cannot be seen in other mas media. I am living in Tokyo, Japan. I was born in Japan, grown up in Japan, study English in Japan. This is the reason I can speak Engrish. Some people complain that my updating and email response is slow. And other people conplain that my englsih is poor. Please forgive me. Now I study English hard, so i have no time to post new entry to my site. And I also update my site so hard, so i have no time to study English."

Thanks May Yip for promoting these blogs. I hope you would be promoting more blogs in a regular basis.

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July 05, 2005


"Who, being loved, is poor?"

- Oscar Wilde 1856-1900, British Author

"I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life."

- Anatole France 1844-1924, French Writer

"That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much worse, they are not seen."

- Michael Harrington

July 04, 2005


Be a part of it. Sign the Live 8 List.

Related: Live 8 Full Coverage.

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If you ask what good I have missed lately, then the answer has the be the Live 8 concerts. Concerts in nine cities were staged simulteneously where the mainstream musicians around the world performed. An estimated 3 billion people watched the concerts either live, via TV or online.

Sadly I couldn't find any cable channels running the shows live in Dhaka and that is really pathetic. I was too busy yesterday, but caught glimses of the live coverages at my work PC via AOL Music. AOL's coverage was so superior, even with the low bandwidth available in Bangladesh, it may one day serve as a historical marker in drawing people to computers instead of TV screens for big events. With a click of the mouse, AOL visitors could jump from a video feed of the London concert to one from Philadelphia, Berlin or Rome. The performances were shown in their entirety. AOL programming chief Bill Wilson claimed that 160,000 people were simultaneously viewing the video streams at any given time, and that more than 5 million people sampled the video at some point during the day. Whereas MTV coverages were poor with many commercial breaks & shortened clippings.

The motto of the Live 8 is "The Long Walk To Justice" a symbolic journey of millions of people across the world to show the G8 leaders that the world is watching and waiting. According to Live 8 website, the mentor behind the event musician Bob Geldof says: "By doubling aid, fully cancelling debt, and delivering trade justice for Africa, the G8 could change the future for millions of men, women and children." It must be noted here that the previous such effort "Live Aid" was staged in 1985 which had the mission of raising fund for Ethiopian refugees. However, Havilland at Samizdata has other thoughts:

"But alas the main thrust of what Live 8 seems to be about is to induce the governments of the G-8 to take money from their taxpayers and assign it to nebulous and frequently counter-productive projects in Africa, often in effect propping up the regimes who are the single biggest cause of their own nation's problems and directly responsible for local poverty."

The African blogosphere had other views too. The world's most famous African, Nelson Mandela said at Johannesburg concert: "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice."

Ethan Zuckerman says "Africa’s a continent. Not a crisis."

Whatever the politics around the Live 8 events are, the fans didn't bother as they were simply overwhelmed to see many stars playing, many big bands uniting.

Now the song playing in my head is Michael Jackson and other artists classic song "we are the world" sang in the 1985 "Live Aid" which can be remembered in any such occasions.

There comes a time when we hear a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
and its time to lend a hand to life
There greatest gift of all

We cant go on pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So lets start giving
Theres a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
its true we'll make a better day
Just you and me

If events like these never happened, how could we wake up a large number of people?

Update: The African blogosphere has more debates on Live8.

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July 02, 2005


Ennis of Sepia mutiny writes a commendable post about Kissinger's recent apology to the Indians for his derogative remarks about Indira Gandhi & India in 1971.

Ennis writes:

I find this "apology" completely unsatisfying. I really don’t care what language Nixon and Kissinger used to discuss Indira Gandhi in private. I care far more about the 500,000 to 3 million who died, and the 6 million to 12 million who were made refugees. These were not accidental deaths. This was an intentional mass slaughter of civilians by the Pakistani government, coupled with a campaign of ethnic cleansing. In Bangladesh, they call this genocide .

Will he ever confess that he has supported and committed massive human rights violations in the name of America's national interests? Will Bangladesh ever demand for an apology from him too?

The truth is some words cannot bring back the millions died. And he will remain as a monster amongst the descendents of the dead.

Related post: Nixon and the two face of America.

July 01, 2005


* The reigning African predators.

* Extremism is a worry in Bangladesh; but it's the mainstream that is polluted.

* Because of Bananagate, gas field inferno costing Bangladesh $100,000 a day.

* Tokyo Art Beat - the most comprehensive art event site for Tokyo (Hat tip -Joi Ito) .

* The impending decline of Saudi oil output.

* Exciting links for boring days.