Class X student ends life in Dhaka

A Class X student of a private school in Dhaka allegedly died by suicide in the Motijheel area early on Friday.

The deceased was identified as Oishi Bhowmik, 15, a student of Siddheswari Girls High School.

Father of the girl, Subal Chandra Bhowmik, found her hanging from the ceiling of her room around 11pm on Thursday and rushed her to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), according to police.

She was declared dead by doctors at 12:10am on Friday, said Bacchu Mia, inspector in charge of DMCH police outpost.

“Her father told us that she took the extreme step after being scolded for not studying hard as she was slated to take the SSC exams next month,” he said.

“The body has been sent for an autopsy,” said Bacchu Mia.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Energy crisis: Govt mulls 2-day weekly holiday in educational institutions

The government plans to introduce a two-day weekly holiday in educational institutions across the country soon to save energy, said Education Minister Dipu Moni on Friday.

She said this while responding to a question at an event in the capital.

Dipu Moni also said the government has announced a two-day weekly holiday in all educational institutions from 2023.

“We are thinking about whether it will be implemented from now to save electricity,” she said.

The decision will be announced soon, she added.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Afghan girls face uncertain future after 1 year of no school

For most teenage girls in Afghanistan, it’s been a year since they set foot in a classroom. With no sign the ruling Taliban will allow them back to school, some are trying to find ways to keep education from stalling for a generation of young women.

At a house in Kabul, dozens gathered on a recent day for classes in an informal school set up by Sodaba Nazhand. She and her sister teach English, science and math to girls who should be in secondary school.

“When the Taliban wanted to take away the rights of education and the rights of work from women, I wanted to stand against their decision by teaching these girls,” Nazhand told The Associated Press.

Hers is one of a number of underground schools in operation since the Taliban took over the country a year ago and banned girls from continuing their education past the sixth grade. While the Taliban have permitted women to continue attending universities, this exception will become irrelevant when there are no more girls graduating from high schools.

“There is no way to fill this gap, and this situation is very sad and concerning,” Nazhand said.

The relief agency Save the Children interviewed nearly 1,700 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 17 in seven provinces to assess the impact of the education restrictions.

The survey, conducted in May and June and released Wednesday, found that more than 45% of girls are not going to school, compared with 20% of boys. It also found that 26% of girls are showing signs of depression, compared with 16% of boys.

Nearly the entire population of Afghanistan was thrown into poverty and millions were left unable to feed their families when the world cut off financing in response to the Taliban takeover.

Teachers, parents and experts all warn that the country’s multiple crises, including the devastating collapse of the economy, are proving especially damaging to girls. The Taliban have restricted women’s work, encouraged them to stay at home and issued dress codes requiring them to cover their faces, except for their eyes, though the codes are not always enforced.

The international community is demanding that the Taliban open schools for all girls, and the U.S. and EU have created plans to pay salaries directly to Afghanistan’s teachers, keeping the sector going without putting the funds through the Taliban.

But the question of girls’ education appears to have been tangled in behind-the-scenes differences among the Taliban. Some in the movement support returning girls to school — whether because they see no religious objection to it or because they want to improve ties with the world. Others, especially rural, tribal elders who make up the backbone of the movement, staunchly oppose it.

During their first time ruling Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Taliban imposed much stricter restrictions on women, banning school for all girls, barring women from work and requiring them to wear an all-encompassing burka if they went outside.

In the 20 years after the Taliban were driven from power in 2001, an entire generation of women returned to school and work, particularly in urban areas. Seemingly acknowledging those changes, the Taliban reassured Afghans when they seized control again last year that they would not return to the heavy hand of the past.

Officials have publicly insisted that they will allow teen girls back into school, but say time is needed to set up logistics for strict gender segregation to ensure an “Islamic framework.”

Hopes were raised in March: Just before the new school year was to begin, the Taliban Education Ministry proclaimed everyone would be allowed back. But on March 23, the day of the reopening, the decision was suddenly reversed, surprising even ministry officials. It appeared that at the last minute, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, bowed to the opposition.

Shekiba Qaderi, a 16-year-old, recalled how she showed up that day, ready to start the 10th grade. She and all her classmates were laughing and excited, until a teacher came in and told them to go home. The girls broke into tears, she said. “That was the worst moment in our lives.”

Since then, she’s been trying to keep up with studies at home, reading her textbooks, novels and history books. She’s studying English through movies and YouTube videos.

The unequal access to education cuts through families. Shekiba and a younger sister can’t go to her school, but her two brothers can. Her older sister is at a private university studying law. But that is little comfort, said their father, Mohammad Shah Qaderi. Most of the professors have left the country, bringing down the quality of the education.

Even if the young woman gets a university degree, “what is the benefit?” asked Qaderi, a 58-year-old retired government employee.

“She won’t have a job. The Taliban won’t allow her to work,” he said.

Qaderi said he has always wanted his children to get a higher education. Now that may be impossible, so he’s thinking of leaving Afghanistan for the first time after riding out years of war.

“I can’t see them growing in front of my eyes with no education; it is just not acceptable to me,” he said.

Underground schools present another alternative, though with limitations.

A month after the Taliban takeover, Nazhand started teaching street children to read with informal outdoor classes in a park in her neighborhood. Women who couldn’t read or write joined them, she said. Some time later, a benefactor who saw her in the park rented a house for her to hold classes in, and bought tables and chairs. Once she was operating inside, Nazhand included teen girls who were no longer allowed to go to public school.

Now there are about 250 students, including 50 or 60 schoolgirls above sixth grade.

“I am not only teaching them school subjects, but also trying to teach them how to fight and stand for their rights,” Nazhand said. The Taliban haven’t changed from their first time in power in the late 1990s, she said. “These are the same Taliban, but we shouldn’t be the same women of those years. We must struggle: by writing, by raising our voice, by any way possible.”

Nazhand’s school, and others like it, are technically illegal under the Taliban’s current restrictions, but so far they haven’t shut hers down. At least one other person operating a school declined to speak to reporters, however, fearing possible repercussions.

Despite her unwavering commitment, Nazhand worries about her school’s future. Her benefactor paid for six months’ rent on the house, but he died recently, and she doesn’t have any way to keep paying for rent or supplies.

For students, the underground schools are a lifeline.

“It is so hard when you can’t go to school,” said one of them, Dunya Arbabzada. “Whenever I pass by my school and see the closed door … it’s so upsetting for me.”

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Khulna University student lands in jail accused of rape

A student of Khulna University, arrested over raping a young girl, landed in jail on Friday.

The accused is Jewel Hossain, a student of the law department of the University and son of Md Sobhan Ali Gazi of Balia village of Mamdkathi upazila of Satkhira district.

A Khulna court sent Jewel to jail on Friday morning after police arrested him from a rented house in Islamnagar on Thursday night and produced him before the court, Officer-in-charge of Harintana police station Md Emdadul Haque, said.

Police made the arrest followed by a rape case lodged at Harintana police station, said the OC.

Jewel and the victim were acquainted with each other for a month. During this time they used to travel to different places, according to the case statement.

Jewel rented a room in Islamnagar and often stayed there. On Thursday, the victim came to the house around 2.30 pm. There, Jewel tried to rape her, finding her alone in his house, it said.

The victim was sent to the OCC (One Stop Crisis Centre) of Khulna Medical College Hospital for treatment.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

AL to occupy streets in September as August mourning ends: Hasan

Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud has said the ruling party Awami League (AL) will take control of the streets in September and keep it occupied until the national polls.

Hasan, also AL joint general secretary, was addressing a meeting in Rajshahi city Thursday night. Rajshahi Metropolitan AL leaders and activists were present.

“At a public rally in Dhaka’s Nayapaltan, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir today (Thursday) said they will have to take control of the streets,” the minister said.

“In reply, I would tell my party leaders and activists: August is a month of mourning, which we are observing through different programmes. When the mourning ends, we will occupy the streets in September.”

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Brazilians rally for democracy, seek to rein in Bolsonaro

Thousands of Brazilians flocked to a law school Thursday in defense of the nation’s democratic institutions, an event that carried echoes of a gathering nearly 45 years ago when citizens joined together at the same site to denounce a brutal military dictatorship.

In 1977, the masses poured into the University of Sao Paulo’s law school to listen to a reading of “A Letter to Brazilians,” a manifesto calling for a prompt return of the rule of law. On Thursday, they heard declarations defending democracy and the country’s elections systems, which President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly attacked ahead of his reelection bid.

While the current manifestos don’t specifically name Bolsonaro, they underscore the country’s widespread concern that the far-right leader may follow in former U.S. President Donald Trump’s footsteps and reject election results not in his favor in an attempt to cling to power.

“We are at risk of a coup, so civil society must stand up and fight against that to guarantee democracy,” José Carlos Dias, a former justice minister who helped write the 1977 letter and the two documents read Thursday, told The Associated Press.

In Sao Paulo, drivers stuck in traffic on one of the main roads to the law school applauded and honked as marching students chanted pro-democracy slogans. A huge inflatable electronic voting machine by the building’s main entrance bore the slogan “RESPECT THE VOTE”.

Inside, hundreds of guests gathered in the university’s Great Hall to hear speeches, while others stood outside watching on big flat screens.

The proclamations are contained in two letters. The first went online on July 26 and has been signed by nearly 1 million citizens, including ordinary people; popular musicians such as Caetano Veloso and Anitta; high-profile bankers and executives; and presidential candidates, among them former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who leads all polls ahead of the October election.

The second letter, published in newspapers last Friday, carries the endorsement of hundreds of companies in banking, oil, construction and transportation — sectors that traditionally have been averse to taking public political stances, said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo. They appear to have made an exception now, given the fear that any democratic backslide would be bad for business, he said.

“Democracy is important for the economy,” he said.

Bolsonaro’s commitment to democracy has been scrutinized since he took office, in large part because the former army captain has insistently glorified the country’s two-decade dictatorship, which ended in 1985. Earlier this year he met with Hungary’s autocratic leader, Viktor Orban, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The president only spoke about the event late Thursday, saying it was crafted to support da Silva’s campaign. He also criticized the Workers’ Party for supporting leftist authoritarian regimes in Cuba and Venezuela.

For over a year, in actions that appear to be lifted directly from Trump’s playbook, Bolsonaro has claimed Brazil’s electronic voting machines are prone to fraud, though — like Trump — he never presented any evidence. At one point, he threatened that elections would be suspended if Congress didn’t approve a bill to introduce printed receipts of votes. The bill didn’t pass.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Wildfires spread, fish die off amid severe drought in Europe

Firefighters from across Europe struggled Thursday to contain a huge wildfire in France that has swept through a large swath of pine forest, while Germans and Poles faced a mass fish die-off in a river flowing between their countries.

Europe is suffering under a severe heat wave and drought that has produced tragic consequences for farmers and ecosystems already under threat from climate change and pollution.

The drought is causing a loss of agricultural products and other food at a time when supply shortages and Russia’s war against Ukraine have caused inflation to spike.

In France, which is enduring its worst drought on record, flames raged through pine forests overnight, illuminating the sky with an intense orange light in the Gironde region, which was already ravaged by flames last month, and in neighboring Landes. More than 68 square kilometers (26 square miles) have burned since Tuesday.

The French wildfires have already forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people and destroyed at least 16 houses.

Along the Oder River, which flows from Czechia north into the Baltic Sea, volunteers have been collecting dead fish that have washed ashore in Poland and Germany.

Piotr Nieznanski, the conservation policy director at WWF Poland, said it appears that a toxic chemical was released into the water by an industry and the low water levels caused by the drought has made conditions far more dangerous for the fish.

“A tragic event is happening along the Oder River, an international river, and there is no transparent information about what is going on,” he said, calling on government authorities to investigate.

People living along the river have been warned not to swim in the water or even touch it.

Poland’s state water management body said the drought and high temperatures can cause even small amounts of pollution to lead to an ecological disaster but it has not identified the source of the pollution.

In northern Serbia, the dry bed of the Conopljankso reservoir is now littered with dead fish that were unable to survive the drought.

The water level along Germany’s Rhine River was at risk of falling so low that it could become difficult to transport goods — including critical energy items like coal and gasoline.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Brace for showers Friday

Light to moderate rains or thunder showers accompanied by temporary gusty or squally winds is likely to occur in parts of Bangladesh on Friday, according to the weather department.

According to the weather bulletin of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), light to moderate rains or thunder showers accompanied by temporary gusty/squally wind is likely to occur at most places over Khulna and Barishal divisions, at many places over Chattogram division and at a few places over Rajshahi and Dhaka divisions, and at one or two places over Rangpur, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions with moderately heavy to heavy falls at places over the southern part of Bangladesh.

The well-marked low over Madhya Pradesh and adjoining areas weakened into a low pressure area and merged with the monsoon axis. The axis of monsoon trough runs through Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to Assam across central Bangladesh.

One of its associated troughs extends up to the Northwest Bay. Monsoon is fairly active over Bangladesh and strong elsewhere over North Bay, as per the bulletin.

The day temperature may rise slightly and night temperature may remain nearly unchanged over the country.

The country’s maximum temperature on Thursday was recorded at 36 degrees Celsius in Sylhet and Syedpur of Rangpur division and the minimum temperature was 23.4 degrees in Kutubdia of Chattogram.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

PM pays homage to Bangabandhu at Tungipara

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at his mausoleum at Tungipara in Gopalganj.

She placed a wreath at Bangabandhu’s grave at 10:45 am and stood there for a while in solemn silence as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the architect of Bangladesh’s independence. He was assassinated by some disgruntled army men on the dreadful night of August 15, 1975 along with most members of his family.

A contingent of Army soldiers presented guard of honour and played bugle on the occasion.

The premier offered fateha and raised hands in prayer seeking eternal peace of the departed soul of Bangabandhu.

PM Hasina started from Ganabhaban at 8 am for her ancestral home in Tungipara by road. She crossed the Padma Bridge for the second time after its opening and paid a total of Tk 25,750 toll at the Mawa toll plaza.

Enroute to Tungipara the PM’s motorcade briefly paused on the bridge.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

European firefighters join battle to stop French wildfires

Firefighters from across Europe started arriving in France on Friday to help battle several wildfires, including a giant blaze ravaging pine forests in the southwest of the country.

The firefighters’ brigade from the Gironde region said the spread of the forest fire was limited overnight due to little wind but conditions for containing the blaze remained “unfavorable” due to hot, dry weather.

The fire in the Gironde region and neighboring Landes has burned more than 74 square kilometers (29 square miles) since Tuesday and led to the evacuation of at least 10,000 people.

More than 360 firefighters and 100 specialized land vehicles were sent from Germany, Romania, Poland and Austria. They are joining over 1,000 French firefighters already on site. Greece sent two specialized Canadair aircraft.

Sweden deployed two two firefighting Air Tractor planes to to help battle separate wildfires in the Brittany region, in western France.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

UN chief affirms support for denuclearized North Korea

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday proclaimed unwavering U.N. commitment to a fully denuclearized North Korea, even as a divided Security Council allows more room for the isolated country to expand its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Meeting South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul, Guterres said he affirms the U.N.’s “clear commitment to the full, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and DPRK,” using the initials of North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“There’s a fundamental objective to bring peace, security and stability to the whole region,” he told Yoon, while also praising South Korea’s participation in international peacekeeping efforts and fighting climate change.

Guterres, who arrived in South Korea on Thursday, later met with South Korean Foreign Minster Park Jin for discussions that were expected to be centered around the North Korean nuclear threat.

North Korea has test-fired more than 30 ballistic missiles this year, including its first flights of intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017, as leader Kim Jong Un pushes to advance his nuclear arsenal in the face of what North Korea has called “gangster-like” U.S.-led pressure and sanctions.

The unusually fast pace in weapons demonstrations also underscore brinkmanship aimed at forcing Washington to accept the idea of North Korea as a nuclear power and negotiating badly needed sanctions relief and security concessions from a position of strength, experts say. The U.S. and South Korean governments have also said the North is gearing up to conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017, when it claimed to have detonated a nuclear warhead designed for its ICBMs.

While the Biden administration has said it would push for additional sanctions if North Korea conducts another nuclear test, the prospects for meaningful punitive measures are unclear. China and Russia recently vetoed U.S.-sponsored resolutions at the U.N. Security Council that would have increased sanctions on the North over some of its ballistic missile testing this year, underscoring division between the council’s permanent members that has deepened over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Guterres’ meetings with South Korean officials came a day after North Korea claimed a widely disputed victory over COVID-19 but also blamed rival South Korea for the outbreak, vowing “deadly” retaliation. The North insists its initial infections were caused by leaflets and other objects flown across the border on balloons launched by South Korea’s anti-Pyongyang activists, a claim Seoul describes as unscientific and “ridiculous.”

North Korea has a history of dialing up pressure on the South when it doesn’t get what it wants from the United States, and there are concerns that North Korea’s threat portends a provocation, which might include nuclear or missile tests or even border skirmishes.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

BNDF celebrates 4th anniversary

Bangladesh Nutrition and Dietetics Forum (BNDF) on Friday celebrated its 4th anniversary.

The annual meeting of the BNDF was also held at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh chaired by its President Shamsun Naher Mohua.

General Secretary of BNDF Tamanna Chowdhury delivered opening speech, said a media release.

Professor Shaheen Ahmed, former Principal and Nutrition head of the Government College of Applied Human Science, was the chief guest.

Special guests were Prof. Dr. Modasser Ali, Advisor-BNDF (Chairman, Bangladesh Medical Research Council), Prof. Dr. Liyakot Ali, Advisor of BNDF (Chief Scientist and Advisor, Pothikrit Institute of Health Studies), Sayeda Saliha Saleheen Sultana Apa (Associate Professor Gov. College of Applied Human Science) and Loby Rahman spoke as special guests.

Chowdhury Tasneem Hasin, Associate General Secretary of BNDF) also spoke at the programme hosted by Shayela Sabrin Shormi and Nishat Sharmin Nishi.

Source: United News of Bangladesh