EU releases €1 million in emergency aid for people affected by fire in Rohingya camp in Bangladesh

Following the fire outbreak in a Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar on 5 March, and its devastating consequences on people living in the most affected areas, the EU has released €1 million in emergency humanitarian assistance.

The funding will focus on shelter and stabilisation of slopes, repair of damaged water and sanitation facilities, emergency health interventions and prevention of disease outbreaks in the camp.

The International Organisation for Migration was able to immediately deploy response teams at the outbreak of the fire, to support the affected communities and prevent further damage.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, explained: “EU support has been essential to the immediate response to the widespread fire in the Cox's Bazar refugee camp. Right after the outbreak, EU-supported emergency units and volunteers were deployed on the ground to contain the fire and prevent even more dramatic losses."

"This confirms once again that disaster preparedness can be lifesaving for local communities. With this additional funding, we will ensure that the most urgent shelter, health and sanitation needs of people living in the affected areas are met."

On 5 March, a devastating fire broke out in one the 33 camps hosting almost 1 million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar district, Bangladesh.

The blaze destroyed an estimated 2805 shelters, as well as health and education facilities, water networks and other key infrastructures for people living in the camp.

Refugees in the most affected areas lost their belongings, including registration documents, with families and individuals displaced or relocated with relatives, friends or in facilities such as learning centres.

Rohingya refugees fled targeted violence in their native Myanmar in 2017, and the majority have since been hosted by Bangladesh in camps in Cox’s Bazar district.

Living conditions in the congested camps remain precarious, and the refugees are entirely dependent on humanitarian aid.

On February this year, the EU released over €23 million to support the efforts of Bangladesh in responding to the Rohingya refugee crisis. Part of the funds also contribute to disaster preparedness programmes in the country.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

PM Hasina to inaugurate 23 projects in Mymensingh on Saturday

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to inaugurate 23 projects worth Tk 570 crore during her upcoming visit to Mymensingh on Saturday.

The projects, among others, include 4-storey academic buildings in 21 schools and colleges, sanitation projects in 32 municipalities, Sheikh Kamal indoor stadium, and five bridges.

The premier will also lay the foundation stone of 14 more development projects in the district.

The projects worth Tk 2,762 crore, include the development of the road and drainage network of Mymensingh, and the construction of 7 regional offices for Bangladesh Public Service Commission among others.

Meanwhile, leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League (AL) and its associate bodies in Mymensingh are preparing for the prime minister’s visit.

On the occasion of the arrival of the party President Hasina, the whole city and its alleys have already been decorated with banners, festoons, billboards and other colourful means to receive her.

The premier will also attend a scheduled grand rally organized by district and metropolitan units of the AL at the Circuit House.

State Minister for Housing and Public Works Minister Sharif Ahmed, presidents, general secretaries and other leaders of the district and metropolitan units hung over 300 billboards across the city along with banners and festoons.

Md Ekramul Haue Titu, mayor of Mymensingh City Corporation and president of the city unit, said they completed all kinds of measures to succeed in the rally to be thronged by over 10 lakh people.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Pakistan Foreign minister says country in `perfect storm’ of crises

Pakistan's foreign minister said Thursday his country is facing "a perfect storm" of troules — an economic crisis, the consequences of catastrophic flooding, and terrorism "that is once again rearing its ugly head" as a result of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 34-year-old son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, said in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press that Pakistan, like other countries, is also beset by "hyper-partisan and hyper-polarized politics."

Discussing his cash-strapped country's crushing need for financial help, he sharply criticized the International Monetary Fund, which last month delayed a $6 billion bailout over Pakistan failing to meet terms of a 2019 deal. The government blames that failure on former Prime Minister Imran Khan, now the opposition leader.

The IMF gave new instructions to Pakistan to raise and collect taxes as well as slash subsidies without burdening poor people, government officials said.

Zardari said his party supports expanding revenue collection and believes those who are well off should pay more, but he said Pakistan has been unable to achieve structural tax reform "for the last 23 IMF programs that we have been a part of."

"Is it really the time to nitpick about our tax policy and tax collection while we're suffering from a climate catastrophe of this scale?" he said.

The IMF is not being fair to Pakistan, which is also dealing with 100,000 new refugees following the West's withdrawal from Afghanistan and "a steady uptick of terrorist activities within our country," Zardari said.

The IMF is stretching out talks on a bailout when the country needs money now to help "the poorest of the poor" whose homes and crops were washed away in the floods, he said. "And they're being told that until their tax reform is not complete, we will not conclude the IMF program."

Economically, he said, Pakistan had been able to keep its head above water despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the August 2021 Taliban seizure of power in Afghanistan, inflation and supply chain disruptions. But then last summer's floods killed 1,739 people, destroyed 2 million homes and caused $30 billion in damage — "the biggest, most devastating climate catastrophe that we've ever experienced," he said.

On the diplomatic front, Zardari said, Pakistan faces a number of challenges with its neighbors. He pointed to a host of bilateral issues with India, decades of "tragedy and conflict" in Afghanistan, and sanctions against Iran that hinder Pakistan's trade with the country.

Pakistan has "a very healthy economic relationship with our neighbor China that obviously is also in the spotlight as a result of geopolitical events," he said. The government is "very grateful" to Beijing for another $1.3 billion loan announced March 3, especially in light of the destruction of the floods, he said.

"The government of China have supported Pakistan whether by rolling over our debt or by providing economic assistance in one form or the other," Zardari said. "I am not concerned about this issue at the moment. We need help and support from wherever we can get it."

To meet its energy needs and provide relief to people paying for expensive imported fuel, he said, "we are looking to work with anyone, including Russia, to meet our energy needs." He added that he believes there is now space for imports from Russia within the U.S. price cap.

In an ideal world, Zardari said, a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan should be completed, but "unfortunately, I don't see that happening in the immediate future as a result of geopolitical complications."

Last May, Zardari had said that the United States and Pakistan needed to move beyond past tensions over Afghanistan and enter a new engagement after years of strained relations under Khan's administration.

"We are on a healthy trajectory," he said Thursday, pointing to talks on climate, health, technology and trade.

U.S. and Pakistani officials also just met to discuss counterterrorism, an issue Pakistan's government has also raised in Afghanistan, he added.

Zardari insisted Pakistan's "alleged influence over the Taliban has always been exaggerated" — before and after the fall of Kabul. He said Pakistan, however, has always maintained the importance of engagement with the Taliban on terrorism and other issues, especially women's rights to education and jobs. He was at the U.N. speaking at several meetings promoting women's rights.

Zardari said Pakistan would like to see the Taliban take action against all terrorist groups, including those linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic state. But he said there are questions about the Taliban's capacity to combat these groups because it doesn't have a standing army, a counter-terrosim force or an effective border management force.

Zardari said his advice to the West is to engage with the Taliban "regardless of what's going on on the ground."

The West should also not only maintain humanitarian aid to Afghanistan but provide economic assistance to get its economy and central bank running and help Afghans from falling into an even worse economic crisis, he said.

Zardari said he understands how difficult this will be with lawmakers in the United States, United Kingdom and European Union.

But without a functioning economy, he said, there won't be "space" for the Taliban to implement political decisions including trying to get them to keep prior commitments including on women's rights to education and jobs.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Iraq’s crackdown on booze, social media posts raises alarm

Only a few months into its term, Iraq’s government is suddenly enforcing a long-dormant law banning alcohol imports and arresting people over social media content deemed morally offensive. The crackdown has raised alarm among religious minorities and rights activists.

Some see the measures as an attempt by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to head off potential political challenges from religious conservatives and to distract from economic woes, such as rising prices and wild currency fluctuations.

The ban on the import, sale and production of alcohol was adopted in 2016, but was only published in the official gazette last month, making it enforceable. On Saturday, Iraq’s customs authority ordered all border crossings to impose the prohibition.

Although many liquor stores across Iraq continued business as usual — presumably using up their stocks — border crossings went dry overnight, with the exception of the northern, semi-autonomous Kurdish region which hasn't enforced the ban. The price of alcohol, meanwhile, spiked due to tightened supply.

Iraqi president says country now peaceful, life is returning

Ghazwan Isso manufactures arak, a popular anise-flavored spirit, at his factory in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. He sells it, along with imported, foreign-made alcohol, at 15 stores in Baghdad.

“There are imported goods at the borders that are not allowed to enter, with a value of tens of millions of dollars,” he said.

Isso said he is also stuck with $3 million worth of goods in warehouses — liquor produced in his factory. It's not clear yet if and when the ban on the sale of alcohol will be enforced as well, but Isso said he won't send his trucks from his Mosul factory to Baghdad for fear they'll get stopped.

For Isso, the ban is a blow to Iraq’s multi-confessional social fabric. He believes it will prompt more non-Muslims to emigrate.

Alcohol is generally prohibited in Islam — the religion of the vast majority of Iraqis — but is permitted and used in religious rituals by Christians, who make up 1% of Iraq's population of about 40 million.

“The law is a narrowing of freedoms,” Isso said, adding the ban would encourage “bribes and blackmail, because alcohol will be sold the same way like illegal drugs.”

Joseph Sliwa, a former Christian lawmaker, blamed the decision to start enforcing the law on extremists within Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities. He said alcohol shop owners and producers would become vulnerable, with those in power or armed groups likely trying to squeeze them for bribes.

Like Isso, Sliwa also worried the alcohol ban could increase the use of illegal drugs.

A judge and former lawmaker, Mahmoud al-Hassan, defended the ban as constitutional and argued that it's in line with the beliefs of most Iraqis and therefore would not impact personal freedoms.

“Quite the opposite, the majority of the people of Iraq are Muslim and their freedoms should be respected,” he said. “They make up 97% of the country.”

He downplayed fears that outlawing alcohol would increase trafficking of other drugs. “Drugs already exist, with or without this law,” he said. “Alcohol also causes addiction and social problems.”

The alcohol ban comes on the heels of the contentious campaign to police social media content.

In January, the Interior Ministry formed a committee to investigate reports of what it called indecent posts and set up a website for public complaints. The site received tens of thousands of reports.

A month later, judicial authorities announced the courts had charged 14 people for posting content labeled indecent or immoral; six were sentenced to prison time.

Among those targeted were people who posted videos of music, comedy skits and sarcastic social commentary. Some showed dance moves deemed provocative, used obscene language or raised sensitive social issues such as gender relations in Iraq's predominantly conservative society.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as local and regional rights groups, said the crackdown on expression violates fundamental rights.

“Iraqis should be free to express themselves ... whether it is to make jokes or engage in satire, criticize or hold authorities accountable, discuss politics or religious topics, share joyful dancing, or have public conversations on sensitive or controversial issues,” the groups said in a joint statement.

Amer Hassan, a Baghdad court judge dealing with publishing and media issues, defended the arrests in an interview with the state Iraqi News Agency.

“There is a confusion between freedom of expression, which is protected by the constitution” and what he called offensive content.

Hamzeh Hadad, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, said the measures could be part of an attempt to distract from Iraq's unstable currency and to pander to the base of the conservative Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, a rival of al-Sudani’s bloc.

Hadad said the alcohol ban could disproportionately affect Christians and other non-Muslim religious minorities — a dwindling population in Iraq, particularly in the years since the formation of the extremist Islamic State group, which at one point controlled wide swaths of the country.

However, Hadad noted there were also “powerful actors with financial interests in alcohol” who might legally challenge or simply flout the ban.

Religious minorities are not the only ones pushing back against the measures.

“I personally am a Muslim and am not with the law,” said Mohammed Jassim, a 27-year-old from Baghdad who says he drinks alcohol regularly. Now he and others like him "will be forced to purchase alcohol under the table from those who dare sell it illegally,” he said.

Many Christians see the ban as an attempt to marginalize their community.

In the northern Christian town of Qaraqosh, a liquor shop owner who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear his business could be targeted, said the government's move stings, particularly in the wake of years of deadly attacks on Christians by IS militants.

“They are telling us to get out, we don’t want you in this country anymore,” he said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank

A Palestinian man who entered a settlement in the occupied West Bank armed with knives and explosive devices was shot and killed by an Israeli settler on Friday, the Israeli military said, just hours after a Palestinian gunman shot and wounded Israelis in downtown Tel Aviv.

The new violence was the latest to grip Israel and the West Bank in one of the deadliest periods of unrest among Israelis and Palestinians in years.

The Israeli military said the armed Palestinian slipped into a farm near the settlement of Karnei Shomron, in the northern West Bank, and was fatally shot by an Israeli settler overseeing the land. Palestinian authorities identified the man as 21-year-old Abed al-Sheikh. His father, Badaie al-Sheikh, said Israeli security forces searched his house, interrogated him and confiscated his son's phone in the nearby Palestinian village of Saniriya.

Hours earlier, Israeli security forces entered the Palestinian village of Naalin and prepared to demolish the family house of the Palestinian suspected of carrying out the shooting in Tel Aviv on Thursday night. The shooter had opened fire near Dizengoff Street in a bustling area of Tel Aviv’s city center and wounded three Israelis, including one critically.

Hamas group claimed the attacker, a 23-year-old former prisoner named Moataz Khawaja, as a member of the organization’s armed wing. Hamas said the shooting came in response to an Israeli military arrest raid that day that killed three gunmen in the northern village of Jaba, along with another raid earlier this week that killed seven Palestinians in the flashpoint Jenin refugee camp, including a wanted assailant and a 14-year-old boy.

“We promise more painful strikes throughout our occupied land as long as (Israel's) aggression continues and its crimes escalate,” the Palestinian group said.

Israeli police said Friday they were continuing their investigation into the attack, and that two men from the Israeli town of Ramle, near Tel Aviv, and the Bedouin town of Kuseife, in the Negev desert, had turned themselves in over their alleged smuggling of the gunman and other Palestinians from the occupied West Bank into Israel.

As Israeli forces stormed into Naalin and arrested two family members of the suspected attacker for questioning, they said they were met by a barrage of explosive devices, Molotov cocktails and stones. Israeli troops responded with gunfire, which they said struck at least one Palestinian. The person's condition was unclear.

Before being arrested, Khawaja's father, Salah Khawaja, said he felt pride in his son for carrying out the attack. Like many Palestinians living in an environment where attacks on Israelis are celebrated and their perpetrators exalted, he expressed little sympathy for Israeli civilians and said he understood his son's desire for revenge.

“Praise God, Moataz is beloved by everyone,” he told reporters. “Any young man who witnesses such massacres will naturally respond.”

Further north, Israeli forces entered the Palestinian city of Tulkarm, home to an emerging armed group that has increasingly attracted young Palestinians angry at Israeli violence and disillusioned by their leadership. Gunmen opened fire, striking an Israeli military vehicle in the city, the army said. Others hurled explosive devices and shot at Israeli forces from a passing car. The Israeli army said it responded with live fire. There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.

The past few months have been marked by rising violence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the Gaza strip in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians seek them for a future independent state.

At least 75 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during military arrest raids and other confrontations so far this year, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Over that same period, a series of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis has left at least 14 Israelis dead so far this year, all but one of them civilians.

The upsurge in deaths has raised fears of a possible greater escalation under Israel's most right-wing government in history, which has pledged tough action against the Palestinians.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

What’s happening at Fukushima plant 12 years after meltdown?

Twelve years after the triple reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan is preparing to release a massive amount of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea.

Japanese officials say the release is unavoidable and should start soon.

Dealing with the wastewater is less of a challenge than the daunting task of decommissioning the plant. That process has barely progressed, and the removal of melted nuclear fuel hasn’t even started.

The Associated Press recently visited the plant. Here’s an update on what’s happening.



During their visit, AP journalists saw 30 giant tanks for sampling and analyzing the water for safety checks. A concrete facility for diluting the water after it is treated and tested is in the final stages of construction. From there, the water will be released via an undersea tunnel.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, aims to have the facilities ready by spring. TEPCO needs a safety approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The International Atomic Energy Agency, collaborating with Japan to ensure the project meets international standards, will send a mission to Japan and issue a report before the discharge begins.


Japan lifts evacuation in parts of Fukushima plant hometown


A magnitude 9.0 quake on March 11, 2011, triggered a massive tsunami that destroyed the plant’s power supply and cooling systems, causing reactors No. 1, 2 and 3 to melt and spew large amounts of radiation. Water used to cool the reactors' cores leaked into the basements of the reactor buildings and mixed with rainwater and groundwater.

The 130 tons of contaminated water created daily is collected, treated and then stored in tanks, which now number about 1,000 and cover much of the plant’s grounds. About 70% of the “ALPS-treated water,” named after the machines used to filter it, still contains Cesium and other radionuclides that exceed releasable limits.

TEPCO says the radioactivity can be reduced to safe levels and it will ensure that insufficiently filtered water is treated until it meets the legal limit.

Tritium cannot be removed from the water but is unharmful in small amounts and is routinely released by any nuclear plant, officials say. It will be also diluted, along with other radioactive isotopes, they say. The water release will be gradual and tritium concentrations will not exceed the plant's pre-accident levels, TEPCO says.


How dangerous is the Fukushima nuke plant today?


Fukushima Daiichi has struggled to handle the contaminated water since the 2011 disaster. The government and TEPCO say the tanks must make way for facilities to decommission the plant, such as storage space for melted fuel debris and other highly contaminated waste. The tanks are 96% full and expected to reach their capacity of 1.37 million tons in the fall.

They also want to release the water in a controlled, treated way to avoid the risk that contaminated water would leak in case of another major quake or tsunami. It will be sent through a pipe from the sampling tanks to a coastal pool to be diluted with seawater and released through an undersea tunnel to a point 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) offshore.



Local fishing communities say their businesses and livelihoods will suffer still more damage. Neighboring countries such as China and South Korea and Pacific Island nations have raised safety concerns.

“It would be best if the water isn't released, but it seems unavoidable,” said Katsumasa Okawa, owner of a seafood store in Iwaki, south of the plant, whose business is still recovering. Okawa said he hopes any further setbacks will be short-lived and that the releases might reassure people about eating fish from Fukushima.

“I find those massive tanks more disturbing," Okawa said. "The next time the water leaks out by accident, Fukushima’s fishing will be finished.”

The government has earmarked 80 billion yen ($580 million) to support Fukushima fisheries and to address “reputation damage” from the release.

TEPCO has sought to reassure people by keeping hundreds of flounder and abalone in two groups — one in regular seawater and another in the diluted treated water. The experiment is “for people to visually confirm the treated water we deem safe to release won't adversely affect creatures in reality," said Tomohiko Mayuzumi, TEPCO's risk communicator.

Radioactivity levels in the flounder and abalone rose while they were in the treated water but fell to normal levels within days after they were returned to regular seawater. That supports data showing a minimal effect on marine life from tritium, said Noboru Ishizawa, a TEPCO official overseeing the experiment.

Officials say the impact of the water on humans, the environment and marine life will be minimal and will be monitored before, during and after the releases which will continue through the 30-40 year decommissioning process. Simulations show no increase in radioactivity beyond 3 kilometers (1.8 mile) from the coast.

Scientists say health impacts from consuming tritium and other radioisotopes through the food chain may be worse than from drinking it in water and further studies are needed.

Cross-checks are another concern: TEPCO says water samples are shared with IAEA and the government-funded Japan Atomic Energy Agency, but experts would like to see independent cross-checks.

University of Tokyo radiologist Katsumi Shozugawa said his analysis of groundwater in multiple locations in no-go zones near the plant has shown that tritium and other radioactive elements have been leaking into groundwater.

If highly radioactive water escapes and is dispersed into the sea it becomes impossible to trace, a concern not only for Japan but also for countries in the Pacific, he said. “There should be a continuous, science-based effort to show other countries that it's thoroughly handled, which I think is lacking the most."

Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth oppose the release. They have proposed long-term storage of the water by solidification, as used at the Savannah River waste repository in the U.S.



Massive amounts of fatally radioactive melted nuclear fuel remain inside the reactors. Robotic probes have provided some information but the status of the melted debris is largely unknown.

Akira Ono, who heads the cleanup as president of TEPCO’s decommissioning unit, says the work is “unconceivably difficult.”

Earlier this year, a remote-controlled underwater vehicle successfully collected a tiny sample from inside Unit 1's reactor — only a spoonful of about 880 tons of melted fuel debris in the three reactors. That's 10 times the amount of damaged fuel removed at the Three Mile Island cleanup following its 1979 partial core melt.

Trial removal of melted debris will begin in Unit 2 later this year after a nearly two-year delay. Spent fuel removal from Unit 1 reactor’s cooling pool is to start in 2027 after a 10-year delay. Once all the spent fuel is removed the focus will turn in 2031 to taking melted debris out of the reactors.



Ono says the goal is a good “guidepost” but too little is known. The government has stuck to its initial 30-40 year target for completing the decommissioning, without defining what that means.

An overly ambitious schedule could result in unnecessary radiation exposures for plant workers and excess environmental damage, said Ryo Omatsu, an expert on legal aspects of nuclear plant decommissioning.

Some experts say it would be impossible to remove all the melted fuel debris by 2051.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Ford to cut 1,100 jobs in Spain after other European layoffs

Ford Motor Co. announced Friday that it will cut around 1,100 jobs at its plant in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia.

The cuts are in addition to the 2,300 layoffs largely in Germany and the U.K. that the automaker announced last month as part of a “leaner, more competitive cost structure in Europe.”

Ford Spain said in a statement that it notified unions on Friday of what it said was “a profound restructuring of its operations,” which comes even as Ford champions the Valencia plant as its preferred site to assemble “next-generation” electric vehicles on the continent.

The plant is Ford’s only such facility in Spain and employed 5,400 people.

Ford has said its strategy to offer an all-electric fleet in Europe by 2035 has not changed and that production of its first European-built electric car is due to start later this year.

The cuts were “mainly due to the already announced discontinuing production of the S-Max and Galaxy models in April 2023,” Ford Spain said in an email.

In January, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company announced a new solar power plant had opened at the Valencia facility as it looks to become a carbon-neutral business.

The job cuts come amid a sea change in the global auto industry from gas-guzzling combustion engines to electric vehicles. Governments are pushing to reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change, and a resulting race to develop electric vehicles has generated intense competition among automakers.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

India-Bangladesh ‘friendship’ pipeline in Dinajpur to ensure energy security: Nasrul Hamid

The India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline under construction at Parbatipur in Dinajpur will ensure power and energy security in the northern region, said State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid on Friday.

After visiting the project area on Friday afternoon, he gave reporters details about the benefits of the pipeline.

The Fellowship Receipt Terminal will be the first modern automatic and computerised system in the country. If something is done in the pipeline on the way or otherwise, the place of automaticity can be identified immediately, he said.

Two and a half to three lakh tonness of diesel will be imported annually from Numanigarh Refinery Station in India to Parbatipur Resort Terminal in Dinajpur through a 131.57-km underground pipeline.

In addition to reducing the cost, it has created a big ring for fuel security. At least 40,000 litres of fuel have been stored at the terminal and depot for two months.

The price of diesel per barrel imported in different ways is $11.50. Because of imports through the pipeline the price will come down to only $ 6.

Fuel import from India through pipeline to start from 2023: PM

With the import of diesel in Parbatipur, the supply of fuel will be ensured for cultivation for irrigation pumps in the agriculturally dependent northern region and power plant in Saidpur for the production of electricity.

At the end of the 15-year contract, it will either be renewed or run by the government itself.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are scheduled to inaugurate the supply of fuel to the pipeline through video conferencing on March 18.

On September 18, 2018, the two leaders inaugurated the pipeline construction work. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard on April 9 in 2018.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Saudi Minister in Dhaka to discuss trade, investment issues

Saudi Minister of Commerce and Chairman of General Authority of Foreign Trade Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-kassabi arrived in Dhaka on Friday to attend Bangladesh Business Summit 2023 and to discuss bilateral, commercial, and global issues with Bangladesh leadership.

A special flight carrying the Saudi Commerce Minister landed at the BAF base Bangabandhu in Dhaka.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen welcomed him at the airbase.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce were also present at that time.

He is in Dhaka on a two-day visit and is scheduled to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today. He is also scheduled to call on Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen, MP and Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, MP tomorrow. He will attend a welcome dinner hosted by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Private Industry and Investment Salman F. Rahman today.

Saudi Commerce Minister is leading a twenty-member high-level delegation.

A thirty-five-member business delegation is also accompanying him.

This visit is expected to impart further momentum to the bilateral and trade relations of these two fraternal countries, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the three-day summit at 10am on Saturday at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC).

She will also inaugurate the ‘Best of Bangladesh Expo’ on the same day.

FBCCI, the apex trade organization of the country, is organizing this international summit on its 50th founding anniversary.

The summit will highlight the success stories that have set the foundation for Bangladesh's sustainable growth.

Ministers from seven countries including the United Kingdom (UK), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), China, Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates, CEOs of 12 multinational companies, and more than 200 foreign investors and business leaders from 17 countries of the world are also going to participate in the summit.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Child marriage ban bill resurrected in West Virginia Senate

A bill to prohibit minors from getting married in West Virginia was resurrected in the state Senate on Thursday, a day after its defeat in a committee.

The about-face didn't necessarily give the bill a clear path to passage. Several senators gave impassioned speeches after the bill was brought back, some of whom defended the right of teenagers in love to marry.

The House of Delegates passed the bill last week. The Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly rejected it Wednesday night without debate. Republican Sen. Charles Trump of Morgan County, a committee member, made a motion that was adopted by the full Senate Thursday to withdraw the bill from the committee and give it a second reading. It will be up for a final reading Friday, and the Senate will have the right to amend the bill.

Currently, children can marry as young as 16 in West Virginia with parental consent. Anyone younger than that also must get a judge’s waiver.

The bill's main sponsor, Democratic Del. Kayla Young of Kanawha County, has said that since 2000 there have been more than 3,600 marriages in the state involving one or more children.

Cabell County Democratic Sen. Mike Woelfel, an attorney, said he represented a girl who got both married and divorced when she was in the eighth grade. Woelfel said he was concerned about older men who court young girls “and the next thing you know, some young girl has convinced her parents to let her get married.”

“What we have here is a good bill, because it does recognize that we aren’t in the 1950s or ’60s,” Woelfel said. “I think we’re moving into the modern era with this."

Both Kanawha County Republican Sen. Mike Stuart, a former federal prosecutor, said he supports the age of 16 to marry. Stuart said his parents 50 years later “are still giddy teenagers” who were married at age 16.

Putnam County Republican Sen. Eric Tarr said he got married in high school but understands problems need to be addressed in the bill.

"Knowing what it means to be two mature high school students in love and getting married and creating a life together, that's a family born and a family that stays together," Tarr said. “I think every one of us in this chamber values that and understands that.”

The bill would establish that 18 is the age of consent and remove the ability of a minor to obtain consent through their parents, legal guardians, or by court petition. Existing legal marriages, including those done in other states, would be unaffected.

According to the nonprofit group Unchained At Last, which seeks to end forced and child marriage, seven states have set the minimum age for marriage at 18, all since 2018. Supporters of such legislation say it reduces domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies and improves the lives of teens.

Although recent figures are unavailable, according to the Pew Research Center, West Virginia had the highest rate of child marriages among the states in 2014, when the state's five-year average was 7.1 marriages for every 1,000 children ages 15 to 17.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Ukraine rebounds from Russian barrage, restores power supply

Ukraine's capital restored most of its power supply on Friday, officials said, as the country again responded swiftly and defiantly to the latest Russian missile and drone barrage targeting critical infrastructure.

In what has become a familiar Russian tactic since last fall, the Kremlin’s forces struck Ukraine from afar amid months of a grinding battlefield stalemate on the front line in eastern areas. The apparent aim is to weaken Ukraine’s resolve and compel the Ukrainian government to negotiate peace on Moscow’s terms.

Ukrainian authorities scrambled to counter the bombardment's consequences, part of a recurring cycle of urban smash-and-repair that has brought little change in the course of the war that recently moved into its second year.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said in an assessment that “these missile strikes will not undermine Ukraine’s will or improve Russia’s positions on the front lines.”

Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said the Russians are striking civilian infrastructure, because they can’t efficiently target Ukrainian military assets.

“The Russians lack data about the location of Ukrainian troops and weapons, so they are targeting civilian infrastructure and using the same old methods of attacking civilians to sow fear and panic in the society,” he said. “Ukraine has survived the winter and Russia’s strikes on the energy system in the spring hardly make any sense.”

Power and water were restored in Kyiv, said Serhii Popko, the head of the city’s military administration. Popko said that about 30% of consumers in the capital remained without heating and that repair work was ongoing.

The electricity supply was restored to more than nine in 10 consumers in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, local officials said, while power was also restored to a third of consumers in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region.

The Russian onslaught was the largest such attack in three weeks, deploying more than 80 Russian missiles and exploding drones.

The barrage, which also damaged residential buildings, killed six people and left hundreds of thousands without heat or running water. The salvo was noteworthy for the range of munitions the Kremlin’s forces used, including hypersonic Kinzhal cruise missiles that are among the most sophisticated weapons in Russian's arsenal.

Even so, the bombardments on energy infrastructure that gathered pace last fall have become less frequent.

“The interval between waves of strikes is probably growing, because Russia now needs to stockpile a critical mass of newly produced missiles directly from industry,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in an assessment Friday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the strikes were in retaliation for a recent incursion into the Bryansk region of western Russia by what Moscow claimed were Ukrainian saboteurs. Ukraine denied the claim and warned that Moscow could use the allegations to justify stepping up its own assaults.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Young will drive economic growth of Bangladesh: BGMEA President

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan has laid emphasis on providing young people with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to succeed in the business world as they achievements would contribute to building a more prosperous and better Bangladesh.

“We have a young and vibrant population that has the potential to drive economic growth and lead Bangladesh to the position we aspire to reach,” he said.

He called on students to gather knowledge and master skills to build themselves keeping pace with the changing trends in the world so that they could unleash their potential and create a better future for themselves and the country as a whole.

Faruque Hassan made the observations while addressing the opening ceremony of the “1ST DRMC National Business Carnival 2023” as chief guest in Dhaka on March 10.

Principal of DRMC Brigadier General Kazi Shameem Farhad, ndc, ps chaired the opening ceremony.

The business carnival organized by Dhaka Residential Model College’s Business and Career Club is being held from 10 to 12 March at the college campus with 23 amazing segments to participate in.

The carnival is supported by BGMEA.

In the carnival, there will be different types of Olympiads, including accounting, finance, marketing, management, economics, analytical ability, and general knowledge.

Praising the DRMC Business and Career Club for their the initiative of organizing the business carnival, the BGMEA President said such kind of event was a very useful platform for students to interact with industry professionals and learn about the latest happenings in the business world.

The carnival would enrich the experience of the students and inspire them to venture into the business world, he said.

“We have to equip our students with entrepreneurial skills such as business planning, marketing, and financial management along with fostering a mindset of innovation and resilience,” he further commented.

He expressed hope that DRMC would continue the initiative for the students in the coming days.

He invited all, including BGMEA members, to visit the carnival and inspire students who are displaying their ideas there.

Source: United News of Bangladesh