Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Oil Crisis



By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
March 17, 2004


Whether we like it or not, oil plays a large role in economic up and down swings around the world. The feasible applications of alternative energy seem to be still far away from achieving any noticeable dent in energy market. Now that the oil price has hit the 14-year high, many heads have begun rolling.

Twice a year oil and gas evaluation consultants provide a composite price forecast for crude oil. In more likelihood than not, these forecasts resemble astrologer’s horoscope predictions, like the entertaining crystal ball. In the last 30 years, the volatile energy market had shown wild behavior in the face of wars, natural disasters, political instability, terrorism and other man made follies. Price is indeed relative to demand, however, when we add vices of men into this simple economic model, convoluted picture arises. OPEC boasts biggest control on world’s largest provable reserves, and from time to time, tinkering of oil productions by OPEC causes price fluctuations.

Seven years ago, a prominent geologist, Dr. Colin Campbell published a book, titled “The Coming Oil Crisis”. Dr. Campbell has a distinguished career in the oil industry, worked as a consultant to the International Energy Agency based in France. Though his book was published in 1997 with no mention on recent developments of tar sands and heavy oil in Canada and Venezuela, still the book provides a striking imagery for the last three decades’ volatile and increasingly unpredictable price of crude oil.

Dr. Campbell also published an article, “End of Cheap Oil” for the Scientific American’s March 1998 issue. In his book and article Dr. Campbell painstakingly showed that the distribution of global oil reserves is finite. This is a known fact for the engineers, geologists, geophysicists and anyone working in the energy industry, but this issue never gets much attention that it deserves in the wider public arena. Even the financial analysts play safe in muting down the very finiteness of global oil reserves to their clients, the world traders.

Dr. Campbell also gives a timely warning, that “a peaking of oil production is imminent and there will be a rapid decline and a profound situation of demand exceeding supply.”

For his analysis, Dr. Campbell used a mathematical procedure, Fractal Analysis in analyzing and processing conventional reserves predictions and production decline curves that the engineers regularly use for the reservoir and production analysis. There are uncertainties involve in all predictive methods, this is the reason Dr. Campbell provided three scenarios, “a base case, a middle case and a high case providing a range of peaking of world oil production supplanted between 2005 and 2013 and declining thereafter.”

There are 131 illustrations in Dr. Campbell’s book that contains “significant tables and graphs on the reserves and depletion rates of global oil reserves.” In one plot Dr. Campbell showed that world oil production as far back as 1930 was at 3,724,000 barrels per day, climbing to a “maximum prediction of 66,725,000 in 2001 and declining at 3.25% thereafter.”

In his Scientific American article Dr. Campbell raised question on six OPEC members’ “suspiciously and cumulatively adding 300 billion barrels of oil to the official tallies despite no major discovery of new fields in their respective countries.”

Just imagine what would happen to our world if suddenly there is a sharp decline of oil supply, “provable” but undeveloped oil and gas reserves turn out to be murky Enron like shams, there would be unimaginable economic wrecks, millions and millions of layoffs, rampant bankruptcies filed by the giant energy and other related companies would be abundant, stalled transportation systems, endless lines for the scarce oil in gas pumping stations, and there would be chaos, eventual starvations, violent crimes, riots and wars among the nations and political rivals fighting for the remaining but diminishing leftover of the lucrative energy pie.

Is this too pessimistic scenario for our world? Has this ruined your luncheon or dinner appetite? Perhaps heavy oil and tar sands will provide a few extra years with the possibility of heavy degradation of environment since heavy oil is not like the sweet Texas crude, its sulfur content is high, and when the energy crunch time arises, nothing will be left unturned. All the sacred environmental and ecological refuge for the birds, fish, polar bears, concerns for human health and longevity, the arctic, and panoramic sea costs, will be thumped and new drilling sites will surely appear.

But the end of fossil fuel’s reign is approaching fast. Unless alternative energy speeds up in energy race, that appetite-ruining end is a frightening possibility.


References

1. Dr. Colin Campbell, “The Coming Oil Crisis”, Petro-Consultants, SA, 1997.

2. "Oil Prices Push Past $38 a Barrel", Yahoo News, March 17, 2004.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: sohelkarim@yahoo.com.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Problems in Bangladesh and the Global Pattern



By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
March 7, 2004


“Fresh ideas”, freethinking concepts are not from out of this universe. From the ages immemorial, liberty and freedom have been thwarted back, whatever progresses have been made are resisted, repeatedly, around the globe, by orthodoxy and even by the so-called “secularists” who would not relinquish or share their power in greater extent for the betterment of the whole.

The strife in Bangladesh is perhaps not a local phenomenon. Bangladesh is part of our world. If you look closely, remarkable pattern emerges from various nations’ on going problems, which is strikingly similar to Bangladeshi problems, oppositions’ allegations of government censorship, etc. Here is one example from Russia that I find familiar in Bangladeshi context:

“What democracy? The ordinary Russians may mumble while huddling around a heating furnace, or standing in a line for baked bread, but albeit in lower tone. Vladimir Putin’s Government has stranglehold on virtually all Russian news media, newspapers, television and radio. The editors, program producers, journalists are being threatened with legal actions unless they implement self-imposed censorship. There are allegations that, whoever crosses the line in criticizing Putin’s increasingly autocratic rule, may be in danger of losing their dear life or livelihood.” [Source: http://www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidDate=2004-03-07&hidType=EDT&hidRecord=0000000000000000001789 ]

Bangladesh probably has better freedom of press, at least from the autocratic Russia, but according to various international and our national organizations, our nation is one of the most dangerous nations for the journalists and freethinkers. Without establishing the fundamental of any democracy, the freedom of expression of the people, where journalists, writers and others can express their views, however radical they seem to be, our progress would be limited.

The on going oppressions of Palestinians by the Israelis while the world feels helpless to watch, is a reminder of our collective failure, our global leaders’ inability in putting aside partisan visions for the oppressed Palestinians. These can be translated into other local, small to large-scale conflicts related to minority oppressions around the globe, but not being reported by the big media in appreciable quantity. Here is an excerpt from one of my articles published in the Palestinian Chronicle recently:

“Behind the security and threat pronouncements, there are other motives that Israel does not want the world to know. It is about its unyielding control over the vital water resources, fragmenting the Palestinian communities, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children living in small enclaves that the wall is purported to achieve. And its eventual design is creating more wretched circumstance for the millions of Palestinians, entrapped by this wall’s conniving zigzag pattern, incising deep into the occupied lands, so that, in years to come, Palestinians are forced to accept their inevitable fate, their complete eviction from their ancestral homes for the purpose of a greater Israel. [Source: http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story.php?sid=20040226130810816 ]

I would propose that it is our overall global inability in addressing the questions of increasingly widening gap between the rich and the poor, have and have not, is one of the fundamental issues that we have bungled, which are causing resentments, and these resentments are being manipulated by the exploiters, once again, for creating more tensions among the ethnic groups, political parties, even between the nations.

Here is a quote from one of my earlier articles “Understanding Terrorism and Freedom”:

“The following lines of Mr. Wade Davis presents the above idea in further accessible language, “The voices of the poor, who deal each moment with the consequences of environmental degradation, political corruption, overpopulation, the gross distortion in the distribution of wealth and the consumption of resources, who share few of the material benefits of modernity, will no longer be silent. True peace and security for the 21st century will only come about when we find a way to address the underlying issues of disparity, dislocation and dispossession that have provoked the madness of our age. We desperately need a global acknowledgement of the fact that no people and no nation can truly prosper unless the bounty of our collective ingenuity and opportunities are available and accessible to all.”” [Source: http://theopinion.com/engine/article.asp?id=1362 ] I would recommend you to read the article in full.

For the case of Bangladesh, what we must do are the following:

1. Land Reform: It was proposed way back in 1950s, and promised by many past leaders, but never been materialized effectively. We have gross inequity where only a few possess vast amount of lands, whereas the majority don’t possess anything. That creates anger, which transmutes to violence in many forms.

2. Strict and effective Population Control: Though we have progressed on this critical issue, we must enforce this, urgently, if Bangladesh wishes to retain any viability as a successful nation-state in the global arena in the foreseeable future.

3. Undertaking projects in dredging rivers that would lessen our yearly misery from floods: Every year millions and millions of dollar amount of properties are ruined from recurring devastating flood, scores of innocent people die, animals and livestock perish. Yes, there are unsolved issues with the neighboring nations, mostly India and Nepal, that need to be resolved regarding the water sharing issue, but there are the acute needs for undertaking effective engineering projects that could alleviate flood problem to a great degree if our rivers and other smaller tributaries are excavated, soil erosions are checked in the river banks and other vital issues that the folks who reside in the villages around the river knowsthe best.

4. Developing Oil and Gas sector with non-partisan vision: The demands for oil and gas will not be infinite. There are upcoming new technologies; new fuel will be coming to the market soon. We need to get the best outcome, after fulfilling our domestic needs, but at the same time, benefiting economically by selling our oil and gas in regional or international basis, so that the profits can be invested stabilizing the free market with developing new industries or maintaining the old ones, with the prudent government monitoring role.

5. Getting a long-term solution for Arsenic Crisis in Bangladesh: Quoting from my article published earlier last year: “The World Health Organization (WHO) calls it the “biggest mass poisoning of a population in history”. There are millions of Bangladeshis exposed to poisonous arsenic from drinking water. Even rice and other crops irrigated with toxic water are in question. The rise of cancer, ulcers, gangrene, and painful warts are reported from various corners of Bangladesh those are directly linked to arsenic poisoning. WHO says that within the next decade one-tenth of all deaths in southern Bangladesh will be due to this arsenic crisis. That is about 20,000 deaths per year……The major obstacle is to developing and marketing the water purification equipments that can be affordable for all Bangladeshis. “ [Source: http://www.mediamonitors.net/mahbubulkarimsohel12.html ]

6. Establishing a non-partisan judicial system that can oversees any breech of conducts, even by the highly influential political leaders, without bias, and without being put under unlawful pressures for the favorable verdicts.

7. A well-paid and efficient police force: This can be achieved if the political parties, especially, the government does not influence on police investigations, does not prevent police from apprehending thugs and goons who are under government or other powerful entity’s protections.

8. Keeping our students, the next generations of our leaders, our engineers, doctors, our civil servants, from violent student politics. Here is a few excerpts from one of my earlier articles on this issue published in various places: Most of us are very much aware of the golden history of our heroic students’ self-sacrificing contribution in the past for their ceaseless pursuance of democratic goals or for their forthright protests against any oppression. 21st February 1952 shall always remain in our heart, the rousing inspiration the students of 1950s and 60s produced in then East Pakistan, is unforgettable. Similarly, the path toward our liberation war in 1971 was greatly supported by the student movements in those times of our national pride. Students played the vital role in Bangladesh’s post-liberation democratic struggle against the multiple military and autocratic regimes, which ultimately lead to the spontaneous overthrow of the last military dictatorship of Hussein Muhammad Ershad. Many known and unknown student politicians’ blood has paved the pathway toward our now almost a decade of successive democratically elected governments.

The arguments for and against banning the current form of student politics in Bangladesh both have their own merits. I agree that it’s not only the student politics that is to blame. The proponent for the student politics says that why condemn the victims rather than acting on the cause. Good arguments there. However, like all other criminal activities in every sector of our Bangladeshi society, the criminal acts are prohibited by the effective laws rather than trying to solve all the causes of socio-economic problems in one single session. If we say that we will keep this monstrous rogue form of student politics continue to make mayhems in academic and non-academic arena of Bangladesh until all the roots of the problems are decimated, that will be a serious mistake.

Student politics is indisputably linked with teacher politics. Many of our teachers, professors are completely biased in their political views. There is nothing wrong in supporting a particular political party or ideology. That’s what democracy is for. But it does become a serious problem when the mentors of the academic institutions, the respected professors completely ignore their professional oaths to uphold the neutrality in their dissemination of lights of learning for their innocent disciples.

For that matter when we are talking about this, the issue of appointing the lucrative posts of Vice Chancellors in various Universities must be non political. Each time a new government takes over, the old VC and important administrative staff in various academic institutions in Bangladesh are shown the red card, the pink slip or a long Salaam while they are escorted toward the exit door. The new favorites replace the old posts with the full backing of the ruling party to wage the propaganda war, to "fix" the ideologies "fabricated" by the opposing groups. Students learn from their teachers. And this is what our students are learning from each successive government, the full-blown partisanship that is supported by the unrestrained muscular thugs and drugs and guns habituated delinquents. [Source: groups.yahoo.com/group/Shetubondhon/ messages/3801]

The following excerpt is taken from my article published in Alochona magazine in the August of 2001, just before the last Bangladeshi parliament election, the title of that article was, “Bangladeshi Politics, Steamy Carrots and Yummy Roshgollas”: “From their thickened spectacles hanging on the tip of their pointed and flattened noses, invisible party accountants are scrutinizing their account balances of money needed to keep happy their big happy family of rented mercenaries. The sacred directives have already been sent to local thugs with another list of names and addresses of opposition party activists and leaders, they must be eliminated before the final showdown. The execution of that sanctified plan has already begun with picturesque precision from both quarters. It’s like a big chess game. You take my pawns here, I’ll take your pawns there, and our queens and kings, rooks, bishops and knights of the game must be protected before the final face-off. On some rare occasions, major powers will also be sacrificed for the strategic gain. Unfortunately, in chess, one cannot switch its side in any standard game while it was being played. In Bangladeshi politics, the game has more dimensions and angles than a mere board game like chess can offer. Party switching and flip-flopping of ideas are the normal business of any sunny day. It’s all about getting into that earthly paradise of power, the medium and the ride isn’t important. Materializing the dreams of devouring country’s output of national GDP is." [Source: http://alochona.org/magazine/2001/august/politics.htm ]

The irony is, even if Bangladesh takes all the positive steps, still perhaps we won’t be able to solve core problem, reducing the widening gap between the rich and poor in Bangladesh. And the reason is that there are unfair trade issues in the global scale. Here are a few excerpts from another of my article: “The poorer nations lack the resources to compete with the richer nations. And the individuals in these poor nations are in further dejected form. Their government can’t provide them subsidies that the richer nations are able to provide to their farmers, their producers, and their manufacturers of various kinds…….it does not matter a great deal on how much progress the poor nations can make in creating viable investment climate, “if you find that the opportunities that are generated by them are hugely restricted” due to trade barriers imposed by the richer nations, all the good deeds of World Bank or other institutions and the sincere efforts of the poorer nations to get rid of poverty will never work. The aspirations of poorer nations to be independent, to elevate themselves in respectable contributing status in the world economy will always be frustrated by trade distortionary policies. And this is a central issue that the richer nations must look hard at if they wish to see an equitable world where poverty is reduced and the depressions and angers of the poor are replaced by hopefulness toward progress." Read the full article from the following source: Trade Protectionism and Poverty: http://www.mediamonitors.net/mahbubulkarimsohel10.html

Free market is essential for economic development in Bangladesh, but it is not treating “free market” policy, even the unfair ones, as another form of sacred scripture, will achieve positive developments. Here is one excerpt from my review on Joseph Stiglitz’a book on Market Fundamentalism:

“Controversy over rapid privatisation: A notion prevalent among the mainstream economists of these days is that government is intrinsically inefficient in managing business or any large-scale profit-generating enterprises. According to them, private companies or corporations are more efficient, in the long run, managing any specific business. However, there are problems in IMF and World Bank’s “Market Fundamentalism” approach. These international financial institutions believe that privatisation should be achieved rapidly. So much so absorbed IMF and the World Bank in their orthodoxy perception of rapid privatisation in developing nations are that they maintain a scorecard system in which they evaluate on how fast a given nation is able to privatise their business infrastructure. The faster a nation is able to meet IMF/World Bank’s “conditions”, the higher score they are awarded in that all-important scorecard…..Developing nations’ share of poor people are many folds higher than the economic mighty United States; the underprivileged peoples’ enormous sufferings in developing nations can effortlessly be understood when rapid privatisation is enforced upon them without establishing any fair competition regulatory bodies whatsoever. The concept of privatisation itself is not a negative one; it does have beneficial effects on the market and the government. But Stiglitz argues that “privatization needs to be part of a more comprehensive program, which entails creating jobs in tandem with the inevitable job destruction that privatization often entails. Macroeconomic policies, including low interest rates, that help create jobs, have to be put in place.

Corruption in Government and the private sectors are pervasive in many Third World nations. With its long circuitry tentacles, corruption has invaded almost every social stratum in those of these nations, which are going through transition process toward privatisation. In the non-privatised nations, before their market liberalisation process began, government officials usually “either skim off the profits of government enterprises or award contracts and jobs to their friends.”

IMF/World Bank and other passionate proponents of rapid privatisation firmly believe that privatisation would eventually eradicate corruption after withstanding the short-term increase in corruption in the private sector. They believe that “once private rights were clearly defined, the new owners would ensure that the assets would be efficiently managed, thus the situation would improve in the long-term even if it was ugly in the short term.”

Stiglitz clearly disagrees with this conventional view held by many economists, and specially by IMF and the World Bank. He argues that” without the appropriate legal structure and market institutions, the new owners might have an incentive to strip assets rather than use them as a basis for expanding industry. As a result, in Russia, and many other countries, privatization failed to be as effective a force for growth as it might have been. Indeed, sometimes it was associated with decline and proved to be a powerful force for undermining confidence in democratic and market institutions.” [Source: http://www.weeklyholiday.net/020802/busi.html ] “IMF claims that when a poor nation goes through economic downturn, it can ask its foreign investors “to make up for a shortfall in domestic funds.” Stiglitz is particularly harsh and sarcastic on this issue; he labels it as “laughable”. This claim of the IMF is clearly disproved in the aftermath of the global financial crisis that began in 1997. Stiglitz chuckles, “the IMF economists were supposed to be practical people, well versed in the ways of the world. Surely, they must have known that bankers prefer to lend to those who do not need their funds; surely they must have seen how it is when countries face difficulties, that foreign lenders pull their money out – exacerbating the economic downturn.” Premature capital market and trade liberalisation before establishing appropriate financial institutions increases instability that is awful for economic growth, and also, most significantly, “the costs of the instability are disproportionately borne by the poor.” [Source: Weekly Holiday, Link: http://www.weeklyholiday.net/160802/busi.html ]

There are more to say, perhaps in other time, but the central theme should not be mistaken. Problems facing Bangladesh are not unique, with a notable exception like arsenic crisis and perhaps yearly flooding problems and a possible few others. Bangladesh is entrapped in the dynamic global process, may that be from unfair form of globalization, degrading human rights, minority oppressions, political instability, acute shortages of resources, etc., and all these problems cannot be solved with single silver bullet. Incremental steps need to be taken, and the very first step would be addressing the increasingly difficult to solve the have and have-not issue, impartial judicial process and establishing real democracy not the ones pampered by the plutocrats or oligarchs only. There is still time for building a better Bangladesh, and Bangladeshis should do all they can in achieving that long cherished dream, but in the same time we must recognize our limitations due to international issues, like unfair trades, water issues, human rights, and the global power struggle, these are all enmeshed in the same picture.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: sohelkarim@yahoo.com.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Humayun Azad and a few Self-Criticisms



By Dr. Asif Nazrul


Translated by: Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
March 6, 2004


Professor Humayun Azad used to refer white group as the group of purity. In 1987 the white group, composed of Dhaka University’s teachers, arranged a meeting under the leadership of Sirazul Islam, and Dr. Azad was one of the main speakers in that meeting. He had participated in the Senate Election under the same white party, and once he had performed his duty as the warden of international dormitory.

He did not actively participate in the white party for long, and neither did he join in another faction. Instead, as a truth seeker, this academician delved entirely into writing for his self-development of social thoughts and freethinking. He became the bearer of free, independent and greed-less pen. That pen would become a threat for his life; this premonition was there for many years. Political parties and various related groups who misuse religion demanded the banning of his writings. Several threats to his life cropped up more than once, and at last, that threat became the truth in his life.

In his writings, dark or darkness related issues used to emerge in roundabout way. He tried to elucidate dark as the fundamentalists, the anti-democratic forces who are against the progress and the progressives. To him, darkness represented all forms of activities in contrast to the betterment of humanity. His stance against the dark was always consistent, constant and resolute. Like many other Bangladeshi writers, by writing against darkness, he did not get involved with other similar detrimental or less murky politics. Consequently, though there might be different opinions on the intensity of his writings, still, every person with freethinking capacity respected him wholeheartedly.

This is the reason that the barbaric attack on Humayun Azad has saddened and also flared up people of Bangladesh. This attack is seen as the attack on Bangladeshi cultural and intellectual soul. People have become louder in their protest against fundamentalism forces that are deemed as the opposition to the progressives. Nonetheless, is this instantaneous and reactionary protest enough for today’s background? Before this protest stifled, with our demand for justice to be served on the attackers of Humayun Azad, we must take consideration many other issues. We must deduce the BNP and Awami League’s opportunistic politics relating to fundamentalists and communalism.


2.

Only a few days before Humayun Azad was attacked, the leader of Jamaat-E-Islami, Delowar Hossain Sayedi had uttered speeches with provocative messages against his writings. As far as I know, no one protested against his speech then. The political parties were out of the question and even the writers and cultural activists were mute. Then our political attention, perhaps, was centered on BNP and Awami League’s various violent activities. But we have forgotten that before the last general election, these two parties had promised to the nation for developing harmonious political movement that espouses tolerance. When they discussed with the former American president Jimmy Carter, promises were made on very specific issues. Among these issues, there was proposed commitment in not calling strikes, electing deputy speaker from the opposition parties, for the sake of preserving neutrality the resignation of the speaker from his political affiliation, conducting the parliament following the rules of business. To the people of Bangladesh, these two main leaders promised to strengthen democracy.

Just aftermath of the announcement of election 2001 result, these two major political parties forgot all these past promises. On one side the strikes, and on the other side the autocratic way of running the parliament and the nation, these two venomous political processes swallowed the nation. It didn’t take long for the same old conflict ridden imageries to return as they were just after the fall of Ershad government. Once again, for the Awami League, it became way more urgent to face BNP in battles than resisting the Jamaat or communalism infested politics. And for BNP, it became essential taking vengeance against Awami League. For this reason alone, BNP never flinched in sharing of running the nation with Jamaat-E-Islami. If opportunity arises in future, for this same reason of mutual hatred, Awami League, in most likelihood, would not back away from combining with Jamaat in political struggles once again as they did in the past.

Accordingly, under this strange circumstance, in the last one decade, the communalist force that opposes progressive groups, attained sizzling power in almost uncontestable efforts. For this gaining of unprecedented power by Jamaat and other communal forces, failures of running the government by the two major political parties contributed greatly as their never ending violence did the same. Awami League and BNP have failed, Ershad is an old man, the left is not comprehensible – under this scenario, the alternative force can be Jamaat – this type of devastating thoughts have convinced between far and few. It has been curiously observed that the BNP ministers have praised “Shibir” more than “Chatrodol”. And on the other hand, Awami League was seen more vocal against BNP than Jamaat.

The most unfortunate thing is that due to the violent polarization between BNP and Awami League, the professional organizations have become divided or simply acrimonious to each other; civil society and even newspaper columnists have shown the similar acute divergence. During the past struggles against Ershad government’s autocratic rule, the professional organizations and groups had powerful rise and development against autocracy and fundamentalism, but in the so-called “democratic” government, their effects were curtailed, even in many cases had become obsolete. By blindingly supporting or resisting BNP or Awami League’s all just or unjust actions or policy without condition, a large number of organizations of our civil society have become weak, collectively and morally. In approximately after the death of Jahanara Imam, the movement against fundamentalism and communalism have all but dissipated. It is the negligence of the civil society that became the fertile ground for the rising of the communal forces. But on this very time of national and international unstable state of affairs, it was imperative to resist these communal forces.



3.

What is the meaning of opposing fundamentalism and communalism? The meaning is obvious. There is no need to embark on a festooned war opposing them. What is needed is practicing the real democracy, establishing constitutional and lawful government, and needs for the civil society to fulfill their managerial responsibility, neutrally and with unity. If we had had a effective parliament, an independent police force and justice department, human rights commission, and if there were real efforts in BNP and Awami League for practicing democracy, and the bare minimum mutual patience and respect for each other existed, in that scenario, the politics of fundamentalists and communalists would have become weak on its own course. Then the life of writers, journalists, cultural activists or the general people would have been safer.

Without accomplishing this goal, and only blaming the fundamentalists for the barbaric attack on Professor Humayun Azad type of prominent writer, would not bear any fruits. It was the fundamentalist force that had the most imperative implementing this attack. However, at the same time, we must not forget that in the past, the attack on Rashed Khan Menon was blamed on the fundamentalist force that was proven to be wrong afterward. In many other previous cases in the past, other allegations for violence and terrorism against the communalist were not proven either, and indeed, there were many cases that were proven. We should demand that the government should unearth the culprits, whoever they are, with honest approach. The responsible criminals should get their deserved justice in speedy justice process. If justice were served, without deceit, in this specific case, the attacks on freethinkers would diminish in many folds.

There is no reason for not being able to do this. Humayun Azad was taken swiftly to the Combined Military Hospital because of fast and prudent actions done by the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University and the proctor. And for getting good treatment from the military hospital, Humayun Azad perhaps will return to us, completely recovered. Then the investigation can expect to get inputs from Dr. Azad solving this heinous crime. And still, there is no reason for the government not being able to expose the conspiracy behind this transgression. By insinuating that Awami League was behind this attack, government has already done considerable damage in this investigation. Government must realize that it should discard this policy of shifting blame, and right this moment they should take urgent steps for arresting the responsible culprits behind this incident, and place them under the law so that justice is served. If necessary, they should seek assistance from Scotland Yard types of efficient investigative force.

If the government fails to serve justice for the attack on Humayun Azad, the current and future generations will not forgive them.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr. Asif Nazrul is the professor of Dhaka University’s Law Department. He is also a writer and a researcher.

Bangla Original Link: http://www.prothom-alo.net/newhtmlnews1/category.php?CategoryID=4&Date=2004-03-05

Courtesy: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MuktoChinta/

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Read this information on virus


Be aware of this rapidly spreading virus. It is judicious not to click on
any attachment files that you are not sure about. Search the attachment file
name in Google group (http://groups.google.ca/grphp), and there is good
chance that you will get tons of info on any specific virus.

It is a good idea updating your anti-virus software database in every week.

Regards,
Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)


Example 1:
=============

Dear user of e-mail server "whatever server name",

Some of our clients complained about the spam (negative e-mail content)
outgoing from your e-mail account. Probably, you have been infected by
a proxy-relay trojan server. In order to keep your computer safe,
follow the instructions.

For details see the attached file.

Best wishes,
The Server Name team
http://www.servername.com


Example 2:
==============

Dear user of Acc-growing-deeper.de gateway e-mail server,

Some of our clients complained about the spam (negative e-mail content)
outgoing from your e-mail account. Probably, you have been infected by
a proxy-relay trojan server. In order to keep your computer safe,
follow the instructions.

For details see the attach.

Attached file protected with the password for security reasons. Password
is 26321.

Kind regards,
The Acc-growing-deeper.de team http://www.acc-growing-deeper.de


Example 3:
=================

Dear user, the management of Acc-growing-deeper.de mailing system
wants to let you know that,

Our antivirus software has detected a large ammount of viruses outgoing
from your email account, you may use our free anti-virus tool to clean up
your computer software.

Advanced details can be found in attached file.

For security reasons attached file is password protected.
The password is "67588".

Sincerely,
The Acc-growing-deeper.de team http://www.acc-growing-deeper.de

Freethinking and Dangers



By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
March 2, 2004


Distance, national origin, race or belief system do not matter in feeling pain for the fellow beings a few miles or thousands of miles away, or decades and hundreds of thousands years of difference.

Our world is in the grip of rising violence, wars, terrorism, corruption and unfortunate natural disasters. What happened to Dr. Humayun Azad, hacking of a noted author in Bangladesh, is no different than today’s bomb blasts in Karbala or Baghdad, indiscriminate firings in Pakistan, Israeli oppressions on Palestinians, suicide bombers’ vengeance against the Jewish civilians, or a few years ago the unforgettable carnage in Gujarat of India, or the merciless killings of thousands of innocent civilians in the World Trade Center in New York.

Humanity does not differentiate between races, religions, gender or distance. It is our entrenched system that throw ample amounts of distraction, in the form of entertainment news, or other conjured issues, so that human moral conscience remain in perpetual slumber while the rampage, pillaging and carnage continue in the background, small to large scale, and in many occasions, just before our eyes, while our feelings of compassions get numbed or blinded by the political rhetoric, religious or non-religious doctrines, thus the killings of fellow animals, including humans, do not stir us strongly anymore.

We crunch the bones of chickens, tear the ribs of cows or goats, and savor the taste of dead sautéed fish and condemn wholeheartedly cannibalism. Our slumbered humanity gets agitated when one of our fellow countrymen is attacked, that we must do so without hesitation, but we remain indifferent or not so interested on the inflicted pains on raped Ugandans, heat stroked Sudanese babies, murdered Mexicans, uprooted Chechens and ravaged Jews or Hindus.

Thousands and thousands of years the similar repetition emerged in now extinct nations, tribes and communities, our present is no different from our bloodied history.

Dr. Humayun Azad is a fearless writer, who knew that hatred filled communalism, that is the sneaky fundamentalism in Bangladesh is one of the major causes of political turmoil, is also a contributing part in our increasingly fractious sub-continent and the overall global arena. And the fundamentalists and other indoctrinated ones from the opposite sides of fences, even there are “secularists” who, as well as the Taleban like mullahs, do not have clean hands in masterminding other hacking attacks, revenge, and bombardments in present and during the time of the past governments, that perhaps get not-so-prominent places in the columns of newspapers or sensation seeking media.

What is occurring in Bangladesh and other parts of our world, is kind of the old gang warfare, like the old Mafia, and these crooks exploit scriptures or equally violent non-religious texts, so that the strife, the battle between the opposing groups of varied ideology continues unabated. There are profits to make from tensions; there are naked clutches for more power needs to be actualized; it does not matter if more blood needs to be shed, as long as it is not their own blood.

Pen is mightier than sword. But pen may bring dangers too. Thousands of years ago, Plato depicted the life of Greek philosopher Socrates, who was executed for his non-customary views, and there are other plenty of examples in history where writers, truth seekers and freethinkers were deemed as the threat to the powerful, and thus destroyed. Dr. Humayun Azad knew this prickly truth. But fear of dangers, constant threats coming through his home telephone, or the forewarning from a parliamentarian did not stop him expressing his views. He knew, a writer may die for the pursuance of truth, upholding freethinking, contradicting mendacious dogmatic notions defended by the tenacious traditionalists, but the refreshing ideas, the thoughts of freedom and liberty cannot be suppressed in the end.

None of us are immortal. But freethinkers like Dr. Humayun Azad knows that we are all part of the same global community and evolving process. Every bit helps, may that come from writings or singing, or reciting an inspiring or melancholic poem, or the solemn journey of one’s spirituality through non-harmful religious practice.

Religious or irreligious, God or no God, our empathy for the fellow beings must not be crushed.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) is a freelance writer. His email address is: sohelkarim@yahoo.com.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------