Bangla Online News Portal Mon, 24 Jan 2022 13:38:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 BNP will remain happy if Fakhrul is given responsibility to form EC: Hasan Mon, 24 Jan 2022 13:38:12 +0000 Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud today said BNP will remain happy if only Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is given the responsibility of forming the Election Commission, otherwise they won’t be happy.

“In our constitution, it is mentioned that the Election Commission will be formed through a law. But the law was not enacted even in the last 50 years. During the Presidential dialogues with different political parties, many suggested for enactment of a law,” he told reporters at the meeting room of his ministry at Secretariat here.

The minister said BNP didn’t take part in the Presidential dialogue. But, they (BNP) claimed at different political meetings, rallies and talk shows that it doesn’t take long to form a law, said Hasan, also Awami League joint general secretary.

He said BNP also claimed that many things were happened in the country in the terms of need of the state and the law (EC law) is also needed for the state. For this, they (BNP) demanded to form the law, he added.

“But, now they are opposing when an initiative has been taken to form the law. But the law is not enacted till now. Proposal has been raised in the parliament and it has been taken to the parliamentary standing committee. After the meeting, the law minister and parliamentary standing committee chairman briefed. Representatives of BNP also briefed. And the parliamentary committee has said that many proposals of amendment of them (BNP) were accepted which means the law is being enacted following the whole process with everyone,” said Hasan.

The minister said in fact BNP wants to create a muddle situation across the country. BNP would not remain happy in anything, he added.

He said “BNP will remain happy if only Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is given the responsibility of forming the Election Commission. Otherwise, there is no sign of happiness among them.”

Replying to a query over the statements of Badiul Alam Majumder as the representative of civic society, Hasan said a team of the civil society including Badiul Alam and Shahdin Malik met with the law minister and demanded to form a law in this regard. They even handed over an outline and suggested to form the law through the Ordinance of the President, he added.

But now, the minister said they (civil society) have claimed, in an online meeting, that it is not appropriate to form the law in a hurry. They are now talking against the initiative, he said, adding “So what is their purpose? Now it is clear that they are also becoming a game of politics.”

Replying to another query about the students’ movement of Shahjalal University, he said, “The university students are like our children. We also carried out movements for various demands during our student life in the university. We also staged sit-in strike in front of VC’s residence. But we never cut the power supply. But today we heard that they (students) are not allowing water and food for VC. Prisoners also get food and water. It is not a part of a movement of cutting power lines or others.”

Hasan urged the students as none can use them as a game of politics.
He hoped that a logical solution would be held.

BNP falls in deep crisis due to its political failure: Quader Mon, 24 Jan 2022 13:04:52 +0000 Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader today said the BNP has fallen in deep crisis due to its political failure.

“Today, the BNP is in deep crisis because of its political failure. The despair-obsession of the darkness of their absolute political misery grips in their (BNP leaders) minds,” he said in a statement issued on the occasion the historic Mass Upsurge Day.

To cover up that crisis, he said, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is trying to tell ‘the cock-and-bull story’ to the nation.

Qauder, also the road transport and bridges minister, said the country’s people still bears the marks of the torture and oppression, which they faced during the BNP regime at different times, in their memory.

He said the people do not want to go back to the time of terror, militancy, hunger, poverty and extreme uncertainty.

Overcoming the dark days, the country’s people are now moving forward towards the enlightened future under the under the skilled leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the AL general secretary said.

Under the bold leadership of successful statesman Sheikh Hasina, he said, Bangladesh will advance on the path of development, prosperity and progress by resisting all the conspiracies of BNP-Jamaat and overcoming all obstacles.

“Bangladesh will reach its desired destination,” he added.

About the Mass Upsurge Day, Quader said the January 24 of 1969 is a historic day in the independence struggle of Bangalees.

“On this day, Matiur Rahman, Rustam and many others were martyred in a mass movement aimed at ousting the then dictator Ayub Khan. The day carries a unique significance in the history of Bangladesh’s independence struggle,” he said.

Recalling all the Bangalees’ movements en route to their independence, the AL general secretary said the whole nation became vocal in the Six-Point Movement declared by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the emancipation of Bengalees.

He said the inheritance of those – dictator Ayub-Monem – who were against the independence and emancipation of the Bangalees, is still main impediment to the country’s democracy, development, progress and prosperity.

Quader said the successor of that evil force – BNP-Jamaat – is involved in various intrigues to impede the democratic journey of Bangladesh.

Although the BNP, which was born in the womb of the dictatorship, wears the sleeves of democracy on its body, there is a monstrous form in their covers to clutch the democracy, he said.

Bangladesh reports 14,828 fresh cases, 15 deaths from Covid-19 Mon, 24 Jan 2022 13:03:23 +0000 Bangladesh today reported 14,828 Covid-19 cases while the coronavirus claimed overnight 15 lives. “The country reported 32.37 percent Covid-19 positive cases as 45,807
samples were tested in the past 24 hours,” Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said in its routine daily statement.

In the past 24 hours, the combined figure of coronavirus in Dhaka city and upazilas of the district is 9,426 while four Covid-19 deaths were reported during the period.

The official tally showed that the virus killed 28,223 people and infected 16,99,964 so far, the statement added.

The recovery count rose to 15,57,859 after another 998 patients were discharged from the hospitals during the past one day.

From the beginning of the pandemic, 91.64 percent Covid-19 patients recovered among the infected people while 1.66 percent died, the DGHS statistics showed.

The DGHS said among the total 28,238 fatalities, 12,351 occurred in Dhaka division, 5,718 in Chattogram, 2,069 in Rajshahi, 3,628 in Khulna, 955 in Barishal, 1,283 in Sylhet, 1,377 in Rangpur and 857 in Mymensingh divisions.

Work to protect independence, uphold democracy: PM to police Sun, 23 Jan 2022 09:02:17 +0000 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today asked the police personnel to work with professionalism to protect the country’s hard- earned independence along with maintaining the law and order situation and
upholding the democracy in the country.

“You have to protect the independence achieved through the 24-year long struggle by the Father of the Nation and in exchange for blood of your predecessors, from all sorts of attacks,” she said.

She said this as the chief guest while opening the Police Week-2022 at a function held at Rajarbag Police Line in the city, joining virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence here.

The prime minister added: “My belief is that each member of the police force will work with professionalism and carry out pro-people service to maintain the country’s law and order and uphold democracy”.

She said that the police force quickly responds to the people’s call through 999 service, adding, “The quick response from the police through 999 has increased people’s confidence and belief in the police force.”

Sheikh Hasina said her government has been providing all the required modern facilities and transportation alongside imparting training to the police personnel to render quick services to the people.

The premier said purchasing two helicopters for the police is now under process.

She also extended her thanks to the policemen for standing beside with people by risking life during the global Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Police Week-2022 is being observed in the country this year with the theme “Skilled Police, Prosperous Country, Bangabandhu’s Bangladesh.”

Different police contingents staged a spectacular parade led by police superintendent Md Saleh Uddin to mark the police week.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on behalf of the prime minister visited the parade and took salute, riding on an open jeep.

On behalf of the prime minister, the home minister handed over the police awards in four categories to 230 policemen for their outstanding performance in 2020 and 2021. Nine of them were awarded posthumously.

A total of 115 members of police and RAB have been adorned with the award of the BPMs and PPMs in 2020 and 2021 each.

In 2020, of the 115 awardees, 15 of them received the BPM-gallantry and 25 the PPM-gallantry awards while 25 got BPM-Service and 50 the PPM-Service awards for their outstanding performance in respective fields.

In 2021, of the 115 awardees, 15 received the BPM-gallantry, 25 the PPM- gallantry, 25 the BPM-Service and 50 the PPM-Service awards.

RAB Director General and Additional Inspector General of Police Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun was among the awardees.

Sheikh Hasina greeted the awardee police personnel and hoped that it would inspire others in the force to follow the footprints of them.

Spelling out various measures taken by the Awami League government for the overall development of police, she said that they have raised facilities regarding housing, ration, healthcare and providing training and supplying of necessary vehicles and other equipment to the police.

The prime minister said the budget for the police was only Tk 400 crore when they assumed office in 1996.

But, later they made the amount double and introduced a risk allowance, she said.

During their 1996-2001 periods, she said they, for the first time, appointed a female police officer as a superintendent of police, formed a police welfare trust giving Taka 5 crore seed money, established 25 police stations, 86 investigation centres, 58 highway police outposts, 150 police camps and 10 police outposts.

The premier said at that time they appointed 803 sub inspectors, 507 sergeants, and 14,680 constables, adding that her government has also set up the Police Staff College in 2000.

After coming to power in 2009, she said they have created 82,583 new posts in the police force alongside forming special police units like tourist police, industrial police, the Police Bureau of Investigation, anti- terrorism, counter-terrorism and transnational crime.

The premier said her government has also established Rangpur and Mymensingh range, one armed police battalion in airport and two armed police battalions in Cox’s Bazar, three battalions for RAB, 30-inservice training centres, 62 police stations, 95 investigation centres, one police outpost and 999 unit after assuming office in 2009.

She said they have reintroduced a rank badge for the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and created two posts of grade-1 and 11 of grade-2, 52 DIG, 159 additional DIG, 402 police supers and 800 for additional police super posts.

She said that her government promoted 215 additional police supers to police supers, 253 senior assistant police supers to additional SPs and elevated the posts of sub inspectors and sergeants to second grade from third grade while the posts of inspectors were made first class from second class.

The prime minister thanked the police personnel for their successes in controlling the BNP-Jamaat sponsored violence, sabotage and arson attacks to kill the innocent people and destroy the state property, recalling deaths of police personnel in those attacks.

She added that Bangladesh Police, particularly female police earned repute abroad as well due to their performance with utmost efficiency and professionalism in the UN Peacekeeping Missions.

Pointing out the influx of lakhs of Rohingya people into Bangladesh, she said Bangladesh Police was playing a praiseworthy role in providing shelters and security to the huge number of displaced Myanmar citizens.

The prime minister reiterated her commitment to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country as envisioned by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman maintaining the status of a developing nation.

She also called upon the policemen to continue their efforts to materialize the Vision-2041.

UK accuses Moscow of trying to install pro-Russia leader in Ukraine Sun, 23 Jan 2022 08:59:33 +0000 Britain on Saturday alleged that it had information that Moscow was “looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv” as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine grow.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks as tens of thousands of Russian troops mass on Ukraine’s border, along with an arsenal of tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery and missiles.

London said it had seen evidence that several former Ukrainian politicians had maintained links with Russian intelligence services, and that former MP Yevgen Murayev was being considered as a potential leader.

Some of those in contact with Russian intelligence officers were “currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine”, the Foreign Office said in a statement, though did not release details of the evidence. A US official called the alleged plot “deeply concerning”.

Moscow dismissed the claims as “disinformation”, and urged London to “stop spreading nonsense.”

“Disinformation circulated by @FCDOGovUK is yet another indication that it is the @NATO Members led by the Anglo-Saxon nations who are escalating tensions around #Ukraine,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a tweet.

The accusations come at the end of a week of intense international diplomacy, which concluded with Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov, Washington and Moscow’s top diplomats, agreeing to keep working to ease tensions.

Murayev, the man named by London, lost his seat in the Ukrainian parliament when his party failed to win five percent of the vote in 2019 elections.

He is considered to be an owner of Ukrainian TV station “Nash”, which regulators have been seeking to shut down since last year, accusing it of airing pro-Russian propaganda.

– ‘Russia must de-escalate’ –

The other four politicians named by the UK were Mykola Azarov, Sergiy Arbuzov, Andriy Kluyev and Volodymyr Sivkovich.

Azarov served as prime minister under pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych. Both fled Kyiv for Russia following the 2014 uprising in Ukraine that toppled a government that had rejected pressure to move the country closer to the West.

Sivkovich, a former deputy secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, was sanctioned by the United States this week for allegedly working with Russian intelligence.

Arbuzov and Kluyev both served as deputy prime minister under Yanukovych.

“The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

“Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy.”

In Washington, US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said: “This kind of plotting is deeply concerning.

“The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically elected partners in Ukraine.”

The claims came hours after a senior UK defence source said that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had accepted an invitation to meet British counterpart, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, to discuss the crisis.

“Given the last defence bilateral between our two countries took place in London in 2013, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has offered to meet in Moscow instead,” the source said.

– Ukraine ‘will fight’ –

Few military experts believe that Kyiv’s smaller forces — although rapidly modernising — could repel an outright Russian invasion.

But Truss warned on Friday that Moscow still risked becoming embroiled in a “terrible quagmire” if it invaded.

“The Ukrainians will fight this,” she warned.

Russia has put pressure on Ukraine since the 2014 uprising, Moscow seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and a few weeks later a pro-Russian insurgency broke out in eastern Ukraine that has since claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Britain is among a handful of Western nations rushing lethal weapons — such as anti-tank missiles — to Ukraine, dramatically increasing the prospect of Russian casualties.

But Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday condemned Germany for its refusal to supply weapons to Kyiv, urging Berlin to stop “undermining unity” and “encouraging Vladimir Putin”.

The head of Germany’s navy later resigned following controversial remarks
on the crisis, a defence ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

Kay-Achim Schoenbach said the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine was “nonsense”, adding that Putin deserved respect, in comments at a think-tank meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday updated its travel advice to Ukraine in light of the ongoing crisis.

The department now advises against all travel to Donetsk oblast, Lugansk oblast and Crimea.

It also advises against all but essential travel to the rest of Ukraine and British nationals are advised to register their presence in the country.

Coronavirus: Latest global developments Sun, 23 Jan 2022 08:57:11 +0000 Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

– Russia tops Covid daily record –

The Russian government reports a record number of new coronavirus cases after the Kremlin warned of a looming surge in cases driven by the Omicron variant.

– Virus lands in Pacific island nations –

Kiribati and Samoa enter lockdowns after overseas arrivals brought Covid to the Pacific island nations that had avoided the worst of the pandemic for two years.

– Scientists track Omicron ‘sub-variant’ –

Scientists are keeping a close watch on a recently discovered sub-variant of the Omicron version of the Covid-19 virus, dubbed BA.2, to determine how its emergence could affect future pandemic spread.

– Thousands protest in Sweden –

Thousands of protesters demonstrate in Sweden’s two biggest cities against the use of vaccine passes, in marches that passed off peacefully despite concern about clashes between neo-Nazi groups and their opponents.

– Thousands march in France –

Around 38,000 people protest across France, according to government figures, two days before everyone aged 16 and above has to start showing a proof of vaccination to access restaurants, bars and transport.

– French govt deputy assaulted –

French government deputy Romain Grau is punched by a protestor after demonstrators in the southern city of Perpignan gather at his constituency office and he goes out to talk to them.

– Arab summit postponed –

The Arab League has for a third year in a row postponed its annual summit because of Covid-19. There is no new date yet for the event originally scheduled for March 22 in Algiers.

– More than 5.5 million dead –

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,583,378 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Saturday.

The United States has recorded the most Covid deaths with 864,564, followed by Brazil with 622,563, India on 488,884 and Russia 325,433.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.

Covid-19 vaccines showed high efficacy against severe Omicron: US data Sat, 22 Jan 2022 09:07:05 +0000 Covid-19 vaccines and boosters continued to have very high efficacy against severe outcomes during the Omicron wave of the virus, a large real-world study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed Friday.

The paper evaluated data from more than 300,000 visits to emergency departments, urgent care clinics, and hospitalizations across 10 states from August 26, 2021 to January 5, 2022.

During the period when the Delta variant was dominant, vaccine efficacy against Covid-19 hospitalization was 90 percent between 14-179 days after dose two of a vaccine, fell to 81 percent more than 180 days after the second dose, and rose to 94 percent 14 days or more after dose three.

After Omicron became dominant, the vaccine efficacy estimate against hospitalization between 14-179 days after dose two was 81 percent, 57 percent after more than 180 days from dose two, and 90 percent 14 or more days after dose three.

A second CDC paper, based on data from 25 US state and local jurisdictions, found that vaccine efficacy against infection waned from 93 percent prior to Delta to around 80 percent when Delta became dominant, but protection against death remained stable and high at 94 percent.

Vaccine efficacy against infection fell to 68 percent by the time Omicron emerged. The authors weren’t able to derive an estimate for vaccine efficacy against death during Omicron, because of a lag in reporting, but the broad scientific expectation is that it will remain very high.

The paper also showed that while deaths among fully vaccinated people rose sharply during the Delta wave — totaling more than 20,000 people between July to November — unvaccinated people were still 16 times more likely to die during the same period.

Protection was even greater for people who were boosted. Between October to November, unvaccinated people were around 50 times more likely to die from Covid than people who were vaccinated and boosted.

US, Russia promise to work to ease Ukraine tensions Sat, 22 Jan 2022 09:03:11 +0000 Washington and Moscow’s top diplomats on Friday agreed to keep working to ease tensions over Ukraine, with the United States promising a written response to Russian security requirements next week and not ruling out a presidential meeting.

As fears grew that Russia could invade its pro-Western neighbour, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed warnings of severe Western reprisals as he met for 90 minutes with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.

The Russian foreign ministry said later that, in his talks with Blinken, Lavrov had warned of “the most serious consequences” if Washington kept ignoring Moscow’s security demands.

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, denying it plans to invade but demanding security guarantees, including a permanent ban on the country joining NATO.

Blinken told reporters no major breakthroughs had been expected but he believed the two sides were “now on a clear path” to understanding each other’s concerns and positions.

He expected “to share with Russia our concerns and ideas in more detail in writing next week,” followed by “further discussions.”

Speaking separately, Lavrov told reporters “Blinken agreed that we need to have a reasonable dialogue, and I hope emotions will decrease.”

He added that another meeting could be held between the two, but that it was “premature” to start talking about another summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, who met in Geneva last June.

Blinken did not rule out fresh talks between the presidents after Biden twice warned Putin by telephone of consequences for any Ukraine invasion. – ‘A disaster for Russia’ –

Biden bluntly assessed on Wednesday that Putin is likely to “move in” on Ukraine and warned of a “disaster for Russia”.

And broader moves were afoot when the United States announced large-scale NATO naval exercises in the Mediterranean beginning on Monday and with the participation of the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman.

US officials said the maneuvers had nothing to do with Ukraine, already reminiscent of a Cold War era stand-off.

But the announcement came a day after Russia announced its own all-out naval exercises, with more than 140 warships and about 10,000 soldiers taking part in January and February in maneuvers that will take place in the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Pacific and the Mediterranean.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that he welcomed the fact that diplomacy “remains active.”

He added that he and Blinken had discussed further strengthening Ukraine’s defences.

Canada, meanwhile, has offered a loan of Can$120 million (US$95 million) to Ukraine to support the country’s “economic resilience” in the face of Russian efforts to destabilise it, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Russia, which already fuels a deadly insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014, has demanded guarantees that NATO never admit the former Soviet republic or expand otherwise in Moscow’s old sphere.

The United States has declared the idea a “non-starter”.

– ‘Unacceptable’ demand –

Earlier on Friday Russia reiterated demands for the “withdrawal of foreign forces, hardware and arms” from countries that were not NATO members before 1997, this time singling out Bulgaria and Romania, two former Warsaw Pact countries that joined NATO in 2004.

Romania’s foreign ministry quickly hit back, calling the demand “unacceptable”.

NATO rejected the demand saying it would “not renounce our ability to protect and defend each other, including with the presence of troops in the eastern part of the Alliance”.

Even while rejecting the core Russian demands, the Biden administration has said it is willing to speak to Moscow about its security concerns.

One proposal by Washington is to revive restrictions on missiles in Europe that had been set by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War accord trashed by Donald Trump’s administration as it accused Moscow of violations.

– US says clock is ticking –

The Biden administration has also offered more transparency on military exercises.

Russia has not rejected the proposals but says that its core concern is Ukraine and on Thursday announced massive naval drills as a show of force.

The United States has warned that the clock is ticking, putting forward intelligence alleging that an invasion could come shortly and be preceded by a “false-flag” operation as Russia tries to trigger a pretext against Ukraine.

Blinken said he asked Lavrov to prove Russia has no intention to invade, suggesting Moscow start “by de-escalating, by bringing back — removing — those forces on Ukraine’s border.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be against international law.

“I’m convinced it will not happen and I strongly hope to be right,” Guterres added.

Lawmakers in Russia’s parliament have presented a bill that would ask Putin to recognise the independence of two pro-Moscow separatist territories in Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk.

Ukraine’s military intelligence service on Friday accused Russia of sending fresh arms and equipment to the separatists since the start of this month.

Blinken travelled to Geneva after a trip to Kyiv and talks with Britain, France and Germany in Berlin.

Govt issues five-point fresh restrictions to tackle COVID-19 Fri, 21 Jan 2022 11:41:19 +0000 As the country witnessed a sharp rise of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, the Cabinet Division today issued five- point fresh restrictions to contain the deadly virus.

The restrictions are as follows:

1. All schools, colleges and equivalent educational institutions will remain closed from January 21 to February 6.

2. The authorities of all universities will take similar measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

3. More than 100 people would not be allowed at religious, political, social and state programme. Participants must obtain vaccination certificate/RT-PCR Covid-19 test report not older than 24 hours.

4. Officers and employees of government, non-government organizations, industrial establishments and factories must receive vaccination certificate. The authorities of these organizations must bear responsibilities in this regard.

5. Everyone must wear facemask at all public places such as at all places of worship as well as mosques, kitchen markets, shopping malls, bus stand, launch ghat and railway stations.

Local administration and law enforcers will be constantly monitoring the situation, according to a notification of the Cabinet Division.

All educational institutions to remain closed for two weeks Fri, 21 Jan 2022 11:32:17 +0000 Health Minister Zahid Maleque today said all schools, colleges and universities will remain closed for the next two weeks due to a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country.

“We decided to shut down all schools, colleges and universities for next two weeks after discussion with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the spread of coronavirus has increased sharply,” he told a press conference here.