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

April 28, 2009

Panic is Spreading Faster Than Swine Flu

Pink markers are suspect - Purple markers are confirmed or probable - Deaths lack a dot in marker - Yellow markers are negative
Swine Flu threat spreads worldwide, the panic is spreading faster than that.

If you feel you have contracted swine flu please check "Do I have Swine Flu?".

Via niman. Check for updates at Swine Flu World Map

April 26, 2009

Coping With The Heat And Load Shedding In South Asia

Heatwaves during this time of year is not uncommon for countries in South Asia. But the recent dry weather has kept sufficient rain away from the region keeping the mercury rising. And load shedding (rolling electricity blackouts) due to power crisis in several countries have made the lives of millions of people unbearable.

Last Friday (April 24, 2009) was the hottest day of this summer (with 38.5 Celsius) for Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The Eastern parts of India is choking as mercury rises above 45 degree Celsius. Several deaths have been reported. Zoo officials in Patna took special measures to protect the animals from heat. There have been reports of forest fire in Nepal, and droughts in the typical rain prone areas.

The netizens are reacting strongly to this situation. Sukanya M writes in the post “United We Sweat” about the heat and the constant power cuts:

Phew. It's been unbearable.

Temperatures ranging around 40, 41, 41.8, and if we are lucky (like today), 39 degrees. Plus Humidity - according to Yahoo it is 84% today (felt like 100%). And of course power cuts everywhere and in a bizarre turn of affairs, Kolkata - Dumdum to Behala had 6-10 hours of power cut on Sunday..[..]

Here are some Twitter messages catching up the mood of common people:

calamur: Melting in the heat . #mumbai is seriously hot .

vitrag: afternoon heat, and boarding the Mumbai trains… damn it fells like stepping in the oven.

Amit Varma at The India Uncut jeers:

It’s so hot in Bombay… … that when I heat food in my microwave, it comes out colder.

In Bangladesh people are suffering badly because of heat wave and frequent rolling blackouts. Most people do not have air-condition at home; they use electric fans, which are useless during power cuts. Those who can afford to use power inverters do not get enough electricity to recharge the units. Worse, there is not enough electricity to run the water pumps. The water crisis has grown acute and people are protesting against the water shortage.

From Twitter:

dkhall44: Load shedding now at ridiculous levels in Dhaka. Electricity supply is cut for one hour every other hour. And its *38* degrees.

shahreaz: Working from the evening sounds more realistic in Dhaka. 6 hours of load shedding during the working hours do not make sense.

The power authorities have put up schedules of power outages online. Bernie Allen at Life & work in Dhaka city writes about the cause of the power outages in Dhaka:

Typical demand is 2000MW and one day this week we were allocated 1200W, so the shortfall had to be managed.

In Nepal, the power crisis has become a bit better. From an average of 14-16 hour load shedding a day the duration has come down. From Twitter:

zickme: Country facing an Electricity crisis and to over come this Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has imposed a 12 hrs load shedding each day.

Geshan's blog posts the load shedding schedule of Kathmandu showing the plights of the people.

The residents of Karachi city in Pakistan are facing unannounced power outages of 8 to 10 hour everyday. Pakistan Daily Photo posts pictures of how people are tackling the unbearable heat which is increasing day by day.

South Asia has seen much worse heatwaves than this. But the power crisis has really crippled peoples ability to cope with it. Until the rains bring some respite people will continue to suffer.

From Dhaka, battered by the heat, Blogger Kowshik is sarcastic [bn]:

সরকারের এখন বিদ্যুৎ এর বদলে বৃষ্টি উৎপাদনের চেষ্টা করা উচিত

The government should try to produce rains instead of electricity.

Even if it sounds imprudent, in this situation the people of South Asia cannot ignore this idea.

This was first published in Global Voices Online

April 25, 2009

Leaning House At Cambridge

Displaying a friend's Brightkite feed:

Leaning living.

dsasaki @ Western Ave & Gilmore St, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States - about 21 hours ago - via iphone

April 22, 2009

World Digital Library

The World Digital Library has been officially inaugurated today:

(It) has started small, with about 1,200 documents and their explanations from scholars in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian. But it is designed to accommodate an unlimited number of such texts, charts and illustrations from as many countries and libraries as want to contribute.

There is not much on Bangladesh now. But the Bengali readers may be interested in this:

Memoirs of the Revolution in Bengal, anno Dom. 1757 by William Watts

This work by William Watts (active 1737-58) is an account of the Battle of Plassey, which took place on June 23, 1757, near the village of Pâlāshir, some 150 kilometers north of Calcutta (present-day Kolkata). In this decisive encounter, the forces of the British East India Company, under Robert Clive, defeated Siraj Ud Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal. The British victory and the treaty with the Moghul Empire that ensued brought the province of Bengal and its great wealth under the control of the company, thereby establishing the basis for the expansion of British control in the rest of India. The French East India Company (La Compagnie des Indes Orientales) supported the nawab, and his defeat hastened the elimination of French influence in India. The “Meer Jaffeir” referred to in the title is Mir Jafar, one of Siraj-ud-Daulah's military commanders, who betrayed his leader and helped to cause the defeat. The British East India Company later selected Mir Jafar as its puppet ruler in Bengal.

You can read the 161 page pamphlet (published in 1760) online.

April 17, 2009

Let us get the record straight

From the Daily Star:
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni today said Bangladesh is not a moderate Muslim country as dubbed by foreigners but a secular country with a majority population of Muslims.

"We achieved our independence through an armed revolution with a dream to establish a non-communal country," Dipu Moni added.

The minister said many countries were termed with different labels but it is not necessary to take other's indication when it contradicts the fundamental values, she said.

"So the concept of moderate Muslim democratic country is not applicable here,"

Kudos to FM for telling the truth with guts. We have seen that the politicians like to use religious labels as a strategical ploy. But at last somebody had the guts to spell out the spirit of our liberation war - to be free from communalism.

Bijli strikes Bangladesh!

Image courtesy Earth Snapshot

According to the previous prediction weather system "Bijli" gained strength to be a Tropical cyclonic storm is and rushing into Bangladesh's Southern shores, packing winds up to 90 kph. Warning signals have been raised by the authorities (more in BD News24).

People in Bangladesh has been complaining about extreme heat. The warm sea temperature is a bit to bother. Remember cyclone Nargis which striked Myanmar last year? It gained its energy due to warm ocean temperature:
Cyclones thrive on warm layers of ocean water that are at least 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). As they traverse the ocean, they typically draw deep, cold water up to the ocean surface, a process that limits their ability to strengthen, and even weakens them as they evolve.

The satellite pictures are showing that it will make a landfall in the Chitatgong and Cox's Bazar region onto Myanmar:

Image courtesy NOAA

Update: TV channels are reporting that people are being evacuated as heavy rain and gusty winds increased in coastal lines. The landfall is expected during early morning of Saturday. BRAC blog reports:
Cyclone Bijli has hit land in Bangladesh as a category 1 storm. BRAC is currently monitoring Cyclone Bijli and all teams are prepared to respond. We have been coordinating closely with the Bangladeshi government and will continue to track the progress of the Cyclone.

Update II: Latest pictures of Bijli from Joint Typhoon Warning Center:

Update III: Thanks God Bijli did not do significant damage. According to BDNews24.com:

* At least five people, including two children, were killed (mostly due to lightening and tree fall)
* Reports were received of over 600 houses and about 650 hectares of cropland being damaged
* Thousands of mud-and-thatch homes were destroyed.
* Cyclone Bijli turned into a land depression early Saturday morning after striking the Chittagong-Cox's Bazar coastline overnight with winds of up to 100 kph.
* Chittagong seaport was up and running again from morning.Chittagong airport, which had also been closed the previous night, was operating again from 8am.

Live Twitter messages:

April 16, 2009

Tropical Cyclone Bijli

A tropical storm/cyclone is intensifying in the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh has issued a cyclone alert.

According to the prediction in Weather Underground it is going to miss most parts of Bangladesh and will be a tropical storm only. But we have seen that these weather systems so often intensify and/or change course.

Image courtesy Weather Underground.

Public advisory:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 01b (bijli) located approximately 265 nm
south-southwest of kolkata, India, has tracked north-northeastward
at 11 knots over the past 06 hours. The initial position is based on
animated visible satellite imagery and a 16/0800z trmm microwave pass
with a high degree of confidence. The initial intensity remains at 45
knots based on the Dvorak estimate from pgtw. Upper level analysis
indicates the system is tracking along the northwest periphery of a
subtropical ridge centered over Myanmar. The ridge is expected to
gradually move south, enhancing a more northeasterly progression for
tc 01b. There is no significant change to previous forecast
philosophy-the system will intensify slightly during the next 36
hours as it continues to track over warm sea surface temperatures and
under low vertical wind shear before it makes landfall then dissipate
near the bangladesh-Myanmar border. The majority of available numeric
models are in agreement with this forecast. Maximum significant wave
height at 161200z is 14 feet. Next warnings at 162100z and 170300z.//

April 14, 2009

That shameless plagiarist

In recent days Bangladesh media (especially the tabloid ones) have been taken over by an Indian writer called Sunita Paul. She has been writing sensational articles on Bangladesh affairs and never bothers a bit before raging personal attacks on various persons without any valid source of information. Her famous sources are like 'according to information', 'a senior official' etc. It can be argued whether what she writes can be called journalism. She usually writes for unknown and less read online magazines like American Chronicle. But a section of of the Bangla and English newspapers are republishing her articles to amplify her baseless propaganda.

Blogger Mashuqur Rahman wrote an article in the Daily Star asking "who is Sunita Paul" and furnished evidence that she plagiarized from his blog:
On February 6, "Sunita Paul" published an article in the online publication American Chronicle with the breathless headline "Ruling party getting set to try Bangladesh Generals." Now, if the claim in the article's headline were true, this would be big news.

However, the article was thin on backing up the main charge in the headline. As one reads further through the long article though, one comes across a number of paragraphs that seemed very familiar to this author. For a very good reason. The paragraphs were originally written by me in two October 2007 articles. [The articles, titled"Banking: Junta Edition" and "In Denial" are available at:http://www.e-bangladesh.org/2007/10/page/4/]

"Sunita Paul" copied, word for word, five paragraphs that I had written in 2007 and passed them off as her own writing in 2009. No citation was given, nor did she put the passages in quotations. In other words, she has stolen someone else's words and claimed them as her own. Not only did she plagiarise, she also used copyrighted material without the author's consent.

Sunita Paul responded in the American Chronicle with a personal attack on Mashuqur Rahman calling him part of the alliance of evils:
Mashuqur Rahman calls me a plagarist and cheat. He did not cite one example behind such nasty allegation. I have never violated any copyright of any publication, ever. Wherefrom he invented this plagarism theory? Why he terms me as a 'cheat'? Just because I am not also one of the lap-dogs of Bangladesh Awami League like him?

Before publishing that she deleted the article in question from the American chronicle. But she forgot there is a thing called google cache which stores the articles. Here is the article she deleted. Need more proof Sunita Paul?

After Mash published these things in his blogs, the blogosphere started to dig dip. Shada Kalo writes:
Sunita Paul:

* Deaf
* Dumb
* Born in an affluent family in Kochin
* Twice masters (what the hell is that?)
* A Fraud
* A Plagiarist, and
* A Liar

Her bio in the American Chronicle raises more questions than answers. She claims to be a deaf and dumb and yet completed masters degree twice, that's an extra ordinary achievement for a handicapped women. However nobody heard of her before 2006. Shada Kalo gives logic to prove that she is a liar, a fraud and a plagiarist. The deaf and dumb trick is to get some sympathy and keeping away from face to face interviews.

Turns out our dear "Ms." Paul, this "twice masters" in Political Science and Journalism, would have one hand up in the air. Because there is no city/town/hamlet/village in India called Kochin. There is, however, a famous city called "Cochin", since 1967 called "Kochi." However, in its many incarnations, it has never been spelled "Kochin."

Could this be true that "Ms." Paul does not know how to spell the name of her city of birth?

Now Mash has uncovered more plagiarism from her writings:

“Sunita Paul” lifted 11 of the 13 paragraphs from Helene Cooper’s article and included them in her American Chronicle article. Nowhere in “Sunita Paul”’s article is Ms. Cooper or the New York Times given credit. Now, it is possible that the New York Times and Helene Cooper decided to waive copyright and give the entire contents of their original work to “Sunita Paul” to publish as if the words were written by her, but I very much doubt that. It is much more likely that “Sunita Paul” has plagiarized the New York Times article and tried to pass it off as her own writing.

I am sure in many articles she wrote there are some lines stolen from a newspaper article or someone's blogpost and she does it without ever crediting the source. Now either she should confess that she is a plagiarist and cheat or plagiarism should have a new meaning.


Shada Kalo exposes the contradictions in her scores of lies:
According to this article, it was known (to "Ms." Paul and "her" loyal readers) that Mr. Wajed was at the Dubai airport giving thick envelopes (presumably containing cash) to fleeing mutineers. Then why, oh why, "Joy was very dissatisfied to see long list of Awami League leaders and activists as collaborators and conspirators of the massacre" as described in the April 14 article?

I mean, if he is the paymaster of the fleeting murderers, why would Joy have to "see" the long (or short) list? Shouldn't he already know about who was involved? Why would he have to defy his mother's orders to return to Dhaka so he could instruct Sohel Taj what to tell the CID officer about the investigation? He should have known all this by February 27, and not wait until the information came out during the interrogation.

The person hiding behind the Sunita Paul pen-name fell in the typical liar's dilemma, and forgot the previous lie.

April 10, 2009

Picture of the day

Staying connected while on a fast train journey (250 kmh)..laptop power, mobile internet, working desk, spacious seats.. somewhere in Germany.

April 09, 2009

Quote of the Day

যেই দেশের সাড়ে ছয় কোটি মানুষ যে দারিদ্র্য সীমার নিচে বাস করে, যেই দেশে লক্ষ লক্ষ মানুষ বাস্তু হারা, সেই দেশের প্রধান বিরোধী দল তাদের নেত্রীর বসবাসের জন্য দুই দুটা বাড়ি চায়! তার জন্য আবার বিক্ষোভ-সমাবেশ করে! সত্যি সেলুকাস! কি বিচিত্র এই জাতি!
The country which has 65 million people living in poverty, which has millions of homeless people; has to provide two homes for the leader of the opposition. And her party engages in a nationwide protest for cancelling one. Ha Selucas! How strange is this nation!

Via Irteja S. Ali

Right Intentions Wrong Approach

Bangladesh State Minister for Liberation War Affairs, AB Tajul Islam, told German Press Agency dp that:
"We will take the matter to the International Criminal Court and seek the trial of the members of the Pakistani occupation forces who committed crimes against humanity during our liberation war."
However there is a problem with that because apparently the International Criminal Court came into being on 1 July 2002 — and it can only prosecute crimes committed on or after that date. (wikipedia)

I think Bangladesh can resort to the International Court of Justice which was established in Established in 1945 by the UN Charter. It may be noted here that the Nazi war crimes were trialed under the International Military tribunal established in 1945 by USA, UK, France and USSR. The tribunal came into being for the just and prompt trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis. So if Bangladesh establishes such a military tribunal with India and Pakistan then the proper justice of the genocide can be done easily.

April 02, 2009

Guest of the Stauffenbergs

I am attending a conference of international activists in Rißtissen, a small village in Germany. The highlight of the conference was being hosted by the Stauffenberg family in their seventeenth century castle.

Schloss Rißtissen

The Stauffenbergs are an aristocratic Roman Catholic family from Swabia in Germany, whose best known member was Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg - the key figure in the 1944 "20 July plot" to assassinate Adolf Hitler. You can learn more about him in the movie Valkyrie featuring Tom Cruise.

The best part was that this place is a real antic heaven. The family kept this remotely located palace as a summer house and Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg also visited here several times. This house remains closed most of the time of the year. The porcelain in which we had our dinner had inscriptions - "Villeroy and Boch 1570". Googling it I found this:
Rouen V&BM, Made in Saar Basin 1570. This Villeroy & Boch mark dates this piece from 1885 to 1895.
There were warnings about handling the furniture and porcelain but I was extra cautious because I felt that these were precious pieces of antic.

Someone was joking whether ghosts live there. I am staying in a hotel in a nearby village. It might have be interesting to be able to live there to see whether there are ghosts for real.

Some progress

Bangladesh parliament passed anti-beggar bills which is a sign of progress. However they should have stated how they plan to rehabilitate the beggers.
"The new laws fix no fines for beggars, but state if anyone is caught begging in public places or shows disabilities to get alms, they will face time behind bars (for 3 months). The laws also says anyone guilty of 'eve teasing' will face imprisonment for three months, a fine of Tk 500 or both. If anyone uses public places as a lavatory, they face a Tk 500 fine.

It sets a Tk 300 fine for anyone caught spitting or smoking in violation of public notices. Similar punishment is applicable if anyone bathes or washes in public ponds, tanks or by their banks."