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Showing posts from March, 2013

Bangladesh – A Nation Divided? – Part 1

March 26 is a very important day in the history of Bangladesh. It is celebrated as the Independence Day of Bangladesh although the true liberation of the country came some nine months later in 16 December, 1971. I was a high school student studying in a cadet college. Our school was closed sine die on March 8, 1971 - a day after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had delivered historic speech in the Ramna Race Course of Dhaka (now the capital city of Bangladesh) where he called a nationwide strike and launched a non-violent non-cooperation movement against the Government of Pakistan. His party – the Awami League – had won 160 of the 300 National Assembly seats (all from East Pakistan) contested in the parliamentary election of 1970, and was supposed to form the government. But the military regime of General Yahya Khan with the backing from the People’s Party of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, which had won only 81 seats (all from West Pakistan) in the election, won’t hand over the power to Sheikh Mujib.

Th…

Prof. David Wasserstein's article on Jewry and Islam

In these days of anti-Muslim paranoia and hatemongering, it is difficult to find too many sane voices which contest that common hysteria. But that is what Prof. David Wasserstein has done in his article:
So, what did the Muslims do for the Jews?
David J Wasserstein is the Eugene Greener Jr Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

He wrote, "Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth." He continued, "Had Islam not come along, Jewry in the west would have declined to disappearance and Jewry in the east would have become just another oriental cult."

He wrote, "Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation…

Another Muslim Village in Myanmar burned down by Buddhists

Within hours of posting my previous article on anti-Muslim riots in Burma, I came across fresh news about another attack on a Muslim village in Yamethin. You can read the information by clicking here.

The Never-ending Pogroms in Myanmar

It was not too long ago that we witnessed the grisly massacre of minority Rohingya Muslims in the Arakan (Rakhine) state of Myanmar (Burma). Many of the western observers who grew up seeing the smiling face of Dalai Lama were simply shocked to see armed Buddhist monks participating in that ethnic cleansing of the unarmed Rohingya Muslims. Not only had the monks participated in those violent criminal acts with their fellow Buddhist Rakhine zealots terrorizing the minority Muslims of the western frontier state but they were also guilty of providing the very rationale – a criminal one - for such inhuman crimes against the members of a non-Buddhist faith who were different ethnically, culturally and religiously.

In that pogrom, while we may never know the exact casualty figure because of government complicity in the tragedy – Rohingyas probably died in thousands, and hundreds remain unaccounted for even after nine months. With international pressure, and worldwide condemnation, while tha…

The 10th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

During the first Gulf War I was surprised by the wild and obscene enthusiasm for the war displayed by a colleague of mine whom I considered to be one of the most liberal Americans. He was a brilliant engineer who after completing his Ph.D. had briefly worked at the MIT. In the late 1980s when I moved from the beautiful and sunny Los Angeles to the colder northeastern part of the USA, he and his wife were the first ones to invite me for a dinner at his newly bought modest home. He appeared genuine and wiser than others.  We developed a very cordial relationship and he would seek out my advice on any problem that he could not personally solve. I was his go-to guy for complex problems. Even though we don’t work together any more for almost two decades he would pick up his phone once in a while to call me from Boston to ask for my opinion on problems.
Seeing the gory pictures of the war in which the fleeing unarmed Iraqis were bombed in what was described as the Highway of Death or more p…

The Legacy of Hugo Chavez

The charismatic leader of Venezuela - Hugo Chavez died last Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was only 58 years old. The former army paratrooper first came to prominence as a leader of a failed coup in February 1992 to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Perez amid growing anger at economic austerity measures. He and a group of fellow military officers involved in the coup belonged to a secret movement - the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement, which was named after the South American independence leader Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), who was born and buried in Venezuela.

Mr. Chavez spent two years in prison before being granted a pardon. In 1997, he re-launched his party as the Movement of the Fifth Republic and made the transition from soldier to politician. In 1998, riding a wave of popular resentment at the traditional political elite, he caused a seismic tremor in Venezuelan politics to win the presidency. Since then, he won a series of elections and referen…

The Sequester is back

When the Democrats and Republicans could not agree on budget cuts by mid-night on last Friday, the US President Barack Obama signed into effect a wave of steep spending cuts - known as the sequester – which will take $85bn from the US federal budget this year. The “sequester” was drawn up in mid-2011 as Congress and the White House feuded over raising the debt ceiling and how to slash the huge US deficit. Republicans wanted deep cuts in spending while Democrats insisted on raising taxes to pay for much needed services.
So with the “sequester” in, Americans can expect budget cuts of $43bn in defense, $26bn in non-defense discretionary, $11bn in Medicare and $5bn in other sectors. Defense officials say 800,000 civilian employees will have their working week reduced. They say they will also have to scale back flight hours for warplanes and postpone some equipment maintenance. The deployment of a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf has also been cancelled.
The US has been spending a hu…