US man arrested trying to bring homemade explosive onto plane

A Pennsylvania man faces federal criminal charges after he checked in a suitcase with an explosive device hidden in the lining on a flight to Florida, authorities said Wednesday.

Marc Muffley, 40, is charged with possessing an explosive in an airport and possessing or attempting to place an explosive or incendiary device on an aircraft, according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutors allege that the material was found in a suitcase Muffley had checked in Monday at Lehigh Valley International Airport to Allegiant Air Flight 201, which was bound for Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida.

After an alert during security screening, the bag was examined and found hidden in the lining was a “circular compound” about three inches in diameter encased in a wax-like paper and clear plastic wrap.

An FBI bomb technician X-rayed the compound and concluded that it contained a granular powder consistent with a “commercial grade firework” and “suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars that are used in commercial grade fireworks.”

Attached to it was a “quick fuse” similar to a candle wick — apparently part of the original manufacture of the compound — as well as a “hobby fuse” that burns more slowly and appeared to have been added after the manufacture, authorities said.

Authorities said they concluded that both the black powder and flash powder “are susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers,” according to the criminal complaint.

The baggage also contained “a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a wireless drill with cordless batteries, and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape,” authorities said.

GFCI outlets are a type of circuit breaker.

Authorities said Muffley was paged over the airport’s public address system and shortly thereafter he was seen leaving the airport. He was traced to a Lansford address where he was arrested by the FBI late Monday night.

Officials said he remains in custody pending a probable cause hearing and detention hearing Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Allentown, with Muffley attending via videoconference. A message was left Wednesday for Muffley’s federal public defender, Timothy Wright.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

RU Prof murder: SC rejects convicts’ review appeal

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court today rejected review petitions of the two death-row convicts in Rajshahi University Professor S Taher Ahmed murder case.

A bench of eight justices, led by Chief justice Hasan Foez Siddique, passed the order, rejecting review petitions filed by the two death-row convicts.

With the order, there is no bar to the execution of the two condemned convicts, and they will also get a chance to seek mercy from the president.

Besides, the Appellate Division also rejected the review petition of another convict, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the case.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin and Additional Attorney General Sheikh Mohamamd Morshed were present during the review petition hearing.

The two death-row convicts in the case are Dr Mia Mohammad Mohiuddin, associate professor of Rajshahi University’s Geology and Mining department, and Md Jahangir Alam, caretaker of Professor S Taher’s residence.

Also read; RU prof murder: SC upholds death penalty of two

The two sentenced to life term are Nazmul Alam and Abdus Salam, relatives of caretaker Jahangir Alam.

Prof Taher’s body was recovered from a drain near his residence, two days after he went missing on February 1, 2006.

On February 3, a murder case was filed at Motihar police station in Rajshahi, following a complaint lodged by his son Sanzid.

A Rajshahi Speedy Trial Tribunal on May 22, 2008, sentenced four people to death in the case and acquitted two others, including former RU Chhatra Shibir president Mahbubul Alam Salehi.

Later on May 13, 2013, the High Court upheld the death penalty of Mohiuddin and Jahangir, but sentenced Salam and Nazmul to imprisonment until death. After the order, Mohiuddin, Jahangir and Salam moved the apex court.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Attack on doctor: Patients suffers as physicians’ work abstention goes into 2nd day

Physicians in Khulna district have halted services at all government and private hospitals, except for emergency care, protesting the attack on a fellow doctor. The work abstention, on its second day today, has been causing immense suffering to the patients.

Protesting doctors say that they will not be joining work until those involved in attacking Dr Sheikh Nishat Abdullah, head of Burn and Plastic Surgery Department of Shaheed Sheikh Abu Naser Specialized Hospital, are arrested.

The leaders of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), Khulna on Wednesday night announced to continue the work abstention programme until the arrest of the attackers.

They will also stage demonstrations in front of Sheikh Abu Naser Specialized Hospital.

Patients who came from different parts of the district failed to get medical services due to the work abstention.

Mehedi Hasan, who came from Rupsha upazila, said, “I came to Khulna Medical College and Hospital in the morning but after reaching here, I came to know that the physicians are on strike. Now I have to go back.”

Mujibur Rahman, another patient at the hospital said, “I have been here since morning with back pain. I thought I would be able to visit the doctor but no tickets are available there.”

On February 25, Dr Sheikh Nishat Abdullah, head of Burn and Plastic Surgery Department of Shaheed Sheikh Abu Naser Specialized Hospital, was physically assaulted, allegedly by a patient’s relatives including Assistant Sub-inspector Naim posted in Satkhira district police, at a nursing home in Sheikhpara of Khulna city during surgery.

Protesting the attack, Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), Khulna decided to observe 24-hour work abstention from yesterday morning to Thursday morning.

Dr Sheikh Baharul Alam, president of BMA Khulna unit, announced the work abstention programme while speaking at a press briefing at Kazi Azharul Haque Auditorium on Tuesday.

While reading out the statement, Dr Baharul also demanded the arrest of the attackers.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

COVID-19 conspiracies soar after latest report on origins

COVID-19's origins remain hazy. Three years after the start of the pandemic, it’s still unclear whether the coronavirus that causes the disease leaked from a lab or spread to humans from an animal.

This much is known: When it comes to COVID-19 misinformation, any new report on the virus’ origin quickly triggers a relapse and a return of misleading claims about the virus, vaccines and masks that have reverberated since the pandemic began.

It happened again this week after the Energy Department confirmed that a classified report determined, with low confidence, that the virus escaped from a lab. Within hours, online mentions of conspiracy theories involving COVID-19 began to rise, with many commenters saying the classified report was proof they were right all along.

Far from definitive, the Energy Department’s report is the latest of many attempts by scientists and officials to identify the origin of the virus, which has now killed nearly 7 million people after being first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The report has not been made public, and officials in Washington stressed that a variety of U.S. agencies are not in agreement on the origin. On Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Fox News that the FBI “has for quite some time now” assessed that the pandemic’s origins are “most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.”

But others in the U.S. intelligence community disagree, and there’s no consensus. Many scientists believe the likeliest explanation is that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans, possibly at Wuhan’s Huanan market, a scenario backed up by multiple studies and reports. The World Health Organization has said that while an animal origin remains most likely, the possibility of a lab leak must be investigated further before it can be ruled out.

People should be open-minded about the evidence used in the Energy Department’s assessment, according to virologist Angela Rasmussen. But she said that without evaluating the classified report, she can’t assess if it’s persuasive enough to challenge the conclusion that the virus spread from an animal.

“The vast majority of the evidence continues to support natural origin,” Rasmussen told The Associated Press Wednesday. “I’m a scientist. I need to see the evidence rather than take the FBI director’s word for it.”

Many of those citing the report as proof, however, seemed uninterested in the details. They seized on the report and said it suggests the experts were wrong when it came to masks and vaccines, too.

“School closures were a failed and catastrophic policy. Masks are ineffective. And harmful,” said a tweet that’s been read nearly 300,000 times since Sunday. “COVID came from a lab. Everything we skeptics said was true.”

Overall mentions of COVID-19 began to rise after The Wall Street Journal published a story about the Energy Department report on Sunday. Since then, mentions of various COVID-related conspiracy theories have soared, according to an analysis conducted by Zignal Labs, a San Francisco-based media intelligence firm, and shared with The Associated Press.

While the lab leak theory has bounced around the internet since the pandemic began, references to it soared 100,000% in the 48 hours after the Energy Department report was revealed, according to Zignal’s analysis, which combed through social media, blogs and other sites.

Many of the conspiracy theories contradict each other and the findings in the Energy Department report. In a tweet on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, called COVID-19 a “man made bioweapon from China.” A follower quickly challenged her: “It was made in Ukraine,” he responded.

With so many questions remaining about a world event that has claimed so many lives and upended even more, it’s not at all surprising that COVID-19 is still capable of generating so much anger and misinformation, according to Bret Schafer, a senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a Washington-based organization that has tracked government propaganda about COVID-19.

“The pandemic was so incredibly disruptive to everyone. The intensity of feelings about COVID, I don’t think that’s going to go away,” Schafer said. “And any time something new comes along, it breathes new life into these grievances and frustrations, real or imagined.”

Chinese government officials have in the past used their social media accounts to amplify anti-U.S. conspiracy theories, including some that suggested the U.S. created the COVID-19 virus and framed its release on China.

So far, they’ve taken a quieter approach to the Energy Department report. In their official response, China’s government dismissed the agency’s assessment as an effort to politicize the pandemic. Online, Beijing’s sprawling propaganda and disinformation network was largely silent, with just a few posts criticizing or mocking the report.

“BREAKING,” a pro-China YouTuber wrote on Twitter. “I can now announce, with ‘low confidence,’ that the COVID pandemic began as a leak from Hunter Biden’s laptop.”

Source: United News of Bangladesh

After father-in-law, woman dies of ‘Nipah virus’ in Naogaon

A 25-year-old woman, who was admitted to Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital with symptoms of Nipah virus infection, died on Wednesday, 20 days after her father-in-law had died of the same virus.

The deceased was identified as Farida Begum, wife of Abdul Khalek of Chakoar village in Manda upazila of the district.

Besides, the mother-in-law of Farida has been undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital with the same symptoms.

Dr Bijoy Kumar, Manda Upazila Health Officer, said Farida was admitted to Manda Upazila Health Complex on Sunday with fever and cold.

Later, the hospital authorities took samples suspecting that she was infected with Nipah virus and sent the sample to Dhaka for test.

Meanwhile, she was shifted to Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital where she breathed her last around 5 pm.

Local people said Abdul Khalek along with his family took raw date juice on February 4. On February 6, Khalek caught fever and cold. He was taken to Naogaon Sadar hospital the next day and later he died on way to Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital on February 8.

Dr. Bijoy Kumar Roy, said already a medical team has been sent to the area and process is on to take necessary steps.

A total of five people died of Nipah virus across the country this year, said Health Minister Zahid Maleque on January 29.

Healthy people who come in contact with the infected ones also have possibility of being infected with the virus and it spreads from person to person quickly which is a matter of concern, he added.

The government has taken steps to prevent the spread of Nipah virus, said the minister.

According to icddr,b in Bangladesh, Nipah virus is usually acquired through consumption of date palm sap contaminated with bat saliva or urine.

Also read; Suspected Nipah virus patient dies in Barishal

On January 29, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said a total of five people died of Nipah virus across the country this year.

Eight people were infected with the Nipah virus and of them five people died.

According to icddr,b in Bangladesh, Nipah virus is usually acquired through consumption of date palm sap contaminated with bat saliva or urine.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Woman burned to death in Chattogram fire

A sexagenarian woman was charred to death when a fire broke out at her house at Amuchia in Boalkhali of Chattogram district early Thursday.

The deceased was identified as Protibha Mohajon, wife of Swapan Mohajon of the area.

Saidur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Boalkhali fire Station, said the fire broke out at the cowshed of one Swapan Mohajan around 1:30 am following an electric short circuit and engulfed three adjoining houses.

Noticing fire, Prothibha and Swapan tried to bring out the cows from the cowshed.

Fire at jhut warehouse in Gazipur

At one stage, fire caught Prothibha when she tried to sace valuables, leaving her dead on the spot.

Three cows were also burnt in the fire.

On information, two firefighting units extinguished the fire.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Father, son killed in Sylhet road crash

A man and his son were killed in a collision between a microbus and a CNG-run auto-rickshaw in Sylhet's Zakiganj upazila Thursday morning.

Several others were also injured in the accident that occurred on Sylhet-Zakiganj road at Parchak Botratol Bazar of Barhal union of the upazila.

The deceased were identified as Folik Ahmed, 45, and his son Shahin Ahmed, 8.

Witnesses said Folik was going to his father-in-law's house in Shahbagh area of the union when the auto-rickshaw collided with the microbus around 11:45 am and fell into a ditch and got twisted. Shahin died on the spot.

Critically injured Falik was taken to Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Zakiganj Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Mosharraf Hossain said the microbus drive managed to flee with the vehicle. Police are working to identify the microbus, he said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

British navy seizes Iran missiles, parts likely Yemen bound

The British navy seized anti-tank missiles and fins for ballistic missile assemblies during a raid on a small boat heading from Iran likely to Yemen, authorities said Thursday, the latest such seizure in the Gulf of Oman.

The seizure by the Royal Navy comes after other seizures by French and U.S. forces in the region as Western powers increase their pressure on Iran, as it now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels. It also comes as regional and international powers try to find an end to the yearslong war gripping Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, and as Iran arms Russia in its war on Ukraine.

The raid took place Feb. 23 after an American aircraft detected a small motorboat with cargo covered by a gray tarp heading from Iran, with a helicopter from the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster chasing the vessel as it ignored being hailed by radio, the British Defense Ministry said. The boat tried to reenter Iranian territorial water, but was stopped before it could.

Inside the boat, British troops found Russian 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles, known in Iran as “Dehlavieh,” the U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet and the British navy said. Those weapons have been seen in other seizures suspected to be from Iran and bound for Yemen.

Also on board were small fins that the U.S. Navy identified as jet vanes for medium-range ballistic missiles. Also on board were devices the Navy identified as “impact sensor covers” that go on the tips of those missiles.

While the British did not identify where it suspected the weapons would go, the U.S. Navy described the seziure as happening “along a route historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully to Yemen.”

Iranian components have helped build a missile arsenal for Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have held the country’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014.

A United Nations resolution bans arms transfers to Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Tehran long has denied arming the rebels, despite physical evidence, numerous seizures and experts tying the weapons back to Iran.

“This seizure by HMS Lancaster and the permanent presence of the Royal Navy in the Gulf region supports our commitment to uphold international law and tackle activity that threatens peace and security around the world,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of the American 5th Fleet, said in a statement that this was the “seventh illegal weapon or drug interdiction in the last three months and yet another example of Iran’s increasing malign maritime activity across the region.” In that time, the Navy said, its sailors and allies have seized more than 5,000 weapons, 1.6 million rounds of ammunition, 30 anti-tank missiles and other weapon components.

Iranian state media did not immediately acknowledge the seizure. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The war in Yemen has deteriorated largely into a stalemate and spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. However, Saudi-led airstrikes haven’t been recorded in Yemen since the kingdom began a cease-fire at the end of March 2022, according to the Yemen Data Project.

That cease-fire expired in October despite diplomatic efforts to renew it. That has led to fears the war could again escalate. More than 150,000 people have been killed in Yemen during the fighting, including over 14,500 civilians.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

‘Suffered a heart attack,’ Sushmita Sen says

Former Miss Universe and Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen says she suffered a heart attack.

Sen, in her latest Instagram post today, said she suffered a heart attack a few days ago, reports NDTV.

"Keep your heart happy and courageous, and it'll stand by you when you need it the most Shona" (Wise words by my father Subir Sen). I suffered a heart attack a couple of days back...Angioplasty done...stent in place...and most importantly, my cardiologist reconfirmed 'I do have a big heart'," she wrote posting a picture with her father Subir Sen.

"Lots of people to thank for their timely aid and constructive action...will do so in another post," she added in the post.

"This post is just to keep you (my well-wishers and loved ones) informed of the good news ...that all is well and I am ready for some life again. I love you guys beyond!!!!" — she also wrote.

Best-known for starring in movies like “Biwi No 1”, “Main Hoon Na”, “Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya”, “Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge”, and “No Problem”, Sen made her acting comeback with the International Emmy-nominated series “Aarya” and also starred in the second instalment of the show. The actress will soon be seen in the third season of the series, said the report.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

‘Cuts in food rations for Rohingyas to have serious health impact’

Cuts in food rations received by around one million Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar will increase their risk of malnutrition and have a serious impact on their health, said international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Thursday.

Citing lack of funding, yesterday, the World Food Programme (WFP) cut rations by 17 percent, bringing the number of calories per person below the accepted minimum standard of 2,100 calories per day.

Rohingyas in the world's largest grouping of refugee camps in Cox's Bazar are almost completely dependent on food assistance, as they are confined to the camps and prohibited from finding formal employment, preventing them from supplementing meagre food rations which are already below the recommended daily calorie intake.

A reduced calorie intake puts people at risk of malnutrition and anaemia and weakens their immune systems, increasing the risk of future outbreaks of infectious diseases such as measles and cholera.

MSF said many pregnant women receiving antenatal care at its health facilities are already malnourished. "Last year, 12 percent of pregnant women at Kutupalong hospital and Balukhali clinic were diagnosed with acute malnutrition and 30 percent with anaemia."

Mothers who are malnourished and anaemic are at a higher risk of experiencing complications during childbirth, while their newborn babies are more likely to have poor health outcomes.

Even at the current level of food rations, 28 percent of babies born in Kutupalong hospital and Balukhali clinic have a low birth weight, heightening their chance of becoming sick and malnourished, MSF said.

Many refugees in the camps also suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and type II diabetes.

MSF said it currently provides care for a cohort of more than 4,500 patients.

For non-communicable disease patients, a healthy diet is a critical part of managing their health conditions. Reduced access to adequate food would increase their reliance on medical care, potentially increasing demand for already overburdened health services in the camps.

Health services in the camps are already under enormous pressure as they struggle to deal with the medical impacts of people's dire living conditions, including frequent outbreaks of scabies, dengue fever and cholera – the result of poor sanitation, stagnant water and overflowing latrines, MSF said.

A reduction in food rations would also heighten the sense of desperation already prevalent throughout the camps and could drive more Rohingya to undertake highly dangerous sea and land journeys in search of a better life and a more hopeful future, the international medical organisation added.

"Funding has gone down and the number of aid organisations working in Cox’s Bazar has declined by almost 80 percent. Donors must reprioritise the Rohingya and reaffirm their funding commitments," Claudio Miglietta, MSF country representative, said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Assault on Khulna physician: Strike by doctors makes patients suffer

The strike enforced by physicians in Khulna protesting the attack on one of their fellows allegedly by a cop and others continued for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

It caused immense suffering to hospitalised patients and others who sought medical treatment.

Medicare services came to a halt at all government and private hospitals, except for emergency care, in the district due to the strike.

Though the physicians are steadfast at their decision to continue the strike until the accused cop is arrested, the accused Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Naim was attached to the district’s police lines after withdrawing from his workplace in Satkhira on Thursday.

Attack on doctor: Medical services at Khulna hospitals hampered as physicians go on 24hr work abstention

Kazi Moniruzzaman, superintendent of Satkhira police, said the cop was attached to the police lines after withdrawing from his workplace when the allegation of harassing a physician by him surfaced.

Actions will be taken against him once the allegations are found to be true through investigation, he said.

Dr Baharul Alam, president at Khulna unit Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), threatened to continue the strike unless the cop is arrested, and a case filed against the physician is withdrawn immediately.

He issued the threat from an emergency meeting of their association.

The BMA leader said they would fix the next course of action in this regard after another meeting of the executive committee at Shaheed Sheikh Abu Naser Specialised Hospital on March 4.

“A decision of a mass resignation of physicians may come from the scheduled meeting on March 4,” he said.

Patients who came from different parts of the district failed to get medical services due to the work abstention.

Mehedi Hasan, who came from Rupsha upazila, said, “I came to Khulna Medical College and Hospital in the morning but after reaching here, I came to know that the physicians are on strike. Now I have to go back.”

Mujibur Rahman, another patient at the hospital said, “I have been here since morning with back pain. I thought I would be able to visit the doctor, but no tickets are available there.”

On February 25, Dr Sheikh Nishat Abdullah, head of Burn and Plastic Surgery Department of the specialised hospital, was physically assaulted, allegedly by a patient’s relatives including ASI Naim, at a nursing home in Sheikhpara of Khulna city during surgery.

Protesting the attack, BMA Khulna unit decided to observe a 24-hour work abstention from Wednesday to Thursday morning.

The physicians continued the strike for the second day as the accused cop was not arrested till Thursday.

On the other hand, Nusrat Ara Moyna, wife of the cop, held a press conference on Thursday at Khulna Press Club seeking intervention of the Prime Minister to resolve the problem and claimed that no incident of attack on the physician and vandalism happened on that night.

“I have video footage of that night which shows no evidence of assault and vandalism,” she claimed.

Moyana also demanded justice for harassing her and implicating Naim in a false case.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

100 Dhaka, Sylhet students graduate from US Embassy’s English Access Microscholarship Program

One hundred students from Dhaka and Sylhet have completed the English Access Microscholarship Program, administered by the Global Educators Initiative for Sustainable Transformation (GEIST) International Foundation.

The students strengthened their English language, critical thinking, and leadership skills by completing the rigorous US government-funded program.

US Ambassador Peter Haas Wednesday participated in a graduation ceremony of the program. He praised the 50 young women and as many young men for their leadership skills, including their support last year to victims of the Sylhet floods.

"You are the leaders of tomorrow that Bangladesh needs today; your English, leadership, and critical thinking skills are crucial to your community and country," Ambassador Haas said.

The English Access Microscholarship Program, funded by the US Department of State, is a two-year interactive program building a foundation in the English language, American culture, critical thinking, and leadership skills for students, aged 13 to 17, who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The program helps them become more competitive for higher education and employment opportunities. Since it began in 2004, 1,300 Bangladeshi students have completed the program.

Yesterday's graduating class joined almost 100,000 other Access program alumni in more than 85 countries.

The program is one of the US Embassy's many endeavours to strengthen and expand people-to-people ties and educational linkages between the US and Bangladesh, enhance the quality of education locally, and empower Bangladeshi youth through innovative learning opportunities.

GEIST is a Bangladesh-based non-profit organisation, founded by alumni of US government exchange programs, and is focused on teacher training and English instruction. Its membership includes 1,000 students, 400 teachers, and 580 professionals from the education and development sectors.

Currently, GEIST works with alumni of US-funded teacher training programs in 143 partner educational institutions in India, Nepal, Vietnam, Columbia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Iraq, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Columbia, Lithuania, Nigeria, Germany, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and France.

Source: United News of Bangladesh