Daily Archives: October 1, 2018
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Song that remembers there are tides
Song that remembers there are orphans
Song to the heights of tree, beyond trees to the heights of clouds
Song to mountain summits
Song to the mists and greens and roots of valleys;
Song that names the lonely, that remembers generations forgotten
Song that calls and cries and sends forth greetings to the forlorn and forsaken
to the falling and the fallen;
Song of rainbows and of seasons—of oceans and of seasons
Song first sung among ancestors
Song that holds life precious—Sacred Song
Song of courage and of laughter
Song that cannot be stopped
Song that is mortal but eludes death
Song to be sung from rooftops, in meadows, at cradles and gatherings hereafter;
Song of powers once were
Song of powers through lovers come ‘round
Song of crystal, song of water, song of fire, passing on from me to you
Song to be given to children
Song to be taught to outcasts and orphans
Song of avatars, song of warriors, song of flowering children;
Everywhere out over the Earth-song
Everywhere out across the sky
Song that is sun’s liturgy
Song that the changing moon recites
Bardic Song, song of pilgrims and pilgrimages, of passages and faces;
Song that is sung by Buddha—Buddha Song
Song danced to by Christ in the cosmic round dance;
the same song of renewal
the same song of resurrection
Song never departed
Song forever returned
This song that Rumi chants in the electric tavern of ecstasy
from the rose bleeding lips of Juan de la Cruz
from the eternal palms of Saint Francis
This song that I pass to you in passage;
Song of heritage
Song of legacy
out over the Earth – song sung
across the sky;
Song for all in need of shelter—nourishment and shelter
Song for all in need of caressing—embraces and caressings
Song for all in need of cleansing and of culture
Song for all in need of kissing—Kiss Song: touch
Song that bestows many blessings
Song never owned by any, belonging to none, open
out over the Earth
across the sky.
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I have returned to the USA from Bangladesh after staying there nearly three months. During my visit there I lost three close relatives; the most devastating of which was the loss of my brother-in-law Bahar who was married to my sister. He will always be missed in our family. He was a social worker who had affected the lives of so many who would always miss him dearly.
Bahar died shortly after returning from Chennai Apollo Hospital in India where he had undergone cancer treatment. Contrary to the false hopes given by the hospital doctors his case proved to be incurable. The hospital program coerced him into buying an expensive and lengthy treatment program that obliged him into buying very costly medicines that were simply wasteful, leaving a sense of being robbed monetarily. Soon after returning to Dhaka he was admitted to the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka where he died on July 27 before the Friday prayer. Before his burial in his ancestral land in a suburb of Comilla, three funeral services were held in Dhaka, Comilla city and his village, attended by thousands of people who knew him. I was able to see him alive a day earlier but could not speak with him when he was already in the intensive care unit. While those who attended his funeral prayers were ordinary masses, some dignitaries did attend the services – showing Bahar’s connection at all levels of the society.
The distance between Dhaka and Comilla is only about 100 kilometers. But the highway was so congested that it took us nearly four hours to reach Bahar’s ancestral home, outside the Comilla city, just before sunset. After his burial, hoping to return early, we left around 9 p.m. However, because of the terrible traffic jam and gridlocks at multiple places we reached Dhaka after 5:30 a.m. It was an awful experience for all the commuters that night!
In the last 20 years whenever I visited Bangladesh, I have avoided traveling between Dhaka and Chittagong by road, and the experience in July this year once again proved that my decision was rather wise. And this is a sad commentary given all the government publicity and hoopla about miracles in the road communication sector inside Bangladesh under the current administration. Truly, if the Communications Minister had put more time into ensuring the success of the government projects than badmouthing opposition parties the commuters would have benefitted and thanked the government. But the reality of a daily commuter in Bangladesh is quite different than those portrayed by the government.
I could understand why the commuters condemn, cuss or curse the government for its massive failure in the public sector where corruption is so rampant. I was told by many contractors that more than half of the allotted fund for construction projects ends up being gulped by government agencies and politicians before they see it. I am told that less than a quarter of the allotted money is spent on the project, thus leaving the newly constructed roads and highways quite vulnerable. That possibly explains why in a report on June 20, 2017, in which the World Bank presented a list of infrastructure cost, especially in road construction, it shows the cost of per kilometer road construction is $2.5 million to $11.9 million in Bangladesh, which is the highest in the world. This cost of construction is simply mind-blowing given the fact that the labor cost in Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world. [Note: A four-lane highway costs $1.1m to $1.3m a km in India and $1.3m-$1.6m in China.]
Most of the large government projects these days are given to the Chinese contractors who continue to make a very bad name for themselves in the construction sector. They have been accused amongst other things of unfair price-gouging, dragging and slowing down projects to maximize their gains. Thus, within a very short period, these newly constructed roads and highways are inundated with potholes. Most Indian convoys of lorries that are using Bangladesh as a transit to move their goods are overloaded, beyond the design capacity of the roads and highways being built, compounding the problem further. Unless such abuses of Indian lorries are stopped it would be impossible to stop the premature destruction of the roads and highways. I am also told that Sheikh Hasina government’s more-than-generous policy with the Indian transportation of goods and materials have had a very negative impact on Bangladesh economy.
One of my nephews works with the Rohingya refugees for an international NGO. He lives in Cox’s Bazar, only about 150 kilometers south of the port city of Chittagong. Cox’s Bazar beach, long known for fishing and tourism, is sandy and has a gentle slope with an unbroken length of 120 km (75 miles); it is the longest natural sea beach in the world. He and his wife insisted that I visit Cox’s Bazar. Since I have not been to the area in more than four decades, I could not reject their invitation. We left very early in the morning by a private car to avoid heavy traffic, but still it took us nearly five hours to reach the town.
I recall that in the 1970s, when I travelled with my parents and siblings it took us only three hours to reach Cox’s Bazar from Chittagong. These days, the traffic on the road connecting the two cities has grown several folds while the condition of the road has deteriorated severely, and as I have noticed elsewhere, it was full of potholes, some as deep as a foot. In order to skip some of these deep potholes, drivers were often driving on the wrong side of road, thus, making the entire traveling experience a very risky and tiring one, taking away all the charms out of visiting scenic Cox’s Bazar.
After spending some hours in the city, we planned on going towards Ukhia, located further down south. Bangladesh Army Engineers have done a superb job in connecting Ukhia and Teknaf to Cox’s Bazar town with a scenic two-lane road that goes by the shoreline. However, getting to that Marine Drive meant driving through a two km-long road connecting Marine Drive to Cox’s Bazar town that was full of potholes. It was one of the worst roads I have ever travelled in my life. What concerned me most is that nearly half the traffic on that road comprised of vehicles belonging to the UN and NGOs – local and international – that are trying to provide material help to the persecuted Rohingya refugees settled in Teknaf and Ukhia camps. What impression are these foreign visitors making about Bangladesh, the host country of the Rohingya refugees? Surely, a very bad impression!
Any concerned local administration should have realized the importance of that connecting road and made sure that it remained functional. Sadly, the local municipality has miserably failed in that vital task and is leaving its visitors with a very negative impression about the local government. Such an oversight from municipal and government authorities is simply inexcusable when hundreds of thousands of foreigners are visiting Cox’s Bazar to provide the necessary material aid to the most persecuted Rohingya who had fled to Bangladesh to escape genocide in Myanmar.
What was supposed to be a short ride took several minutes, and my body was aching from the bumpy ride over the potholes in a private car before we entered the Marine Drive. After a few minutes of ride along the scenic Marine Drive, we stopped by the coast of the Bay of Bengal to enjoy its natural beauty. Before sunset, we headed back home for Chittagong city. The ride took longer time and we arrived in Khulshi after five hours and a half.
On our way back home at night, I noticed that more than 80% of the trucks and buses were operationally unfit (most did not have tail lights, brake lights and signal lights) and should not have been permitted to drive on the roads and highways. The potholes were making everyone’s drive a dangerous one, let alone a difficult one, esp. for those unfit buses and trucks, driven sometimes by reckless drivers who seemed to care less about saving lives.
As I have already noted in an earlier article, roads and highways in Bangladesh remain some of the most dangerous in the world. The Government of Bangladesh needs to make its communication system safer for its commuters and every citizen failing which more people will die from traffic accidents. It can start that process with the much-needed fitness tests on trucks and buses and road repair/maintenance jobs. Seemingly, road repair or maintenance work is not a priority or profitable enough business to the greedy ones who have had illicitly made millions from the misery of commuters compared to a full job on the roads when they could have a bigger share of their Hari-loot! This vulture-like attitude of corrupt government officials, politicians and their clients is not only unhealthy, it is simply suicidal for a poor country like Bangladesh.
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These old Republican Good ‘Ole Boys are crafty “Me, Too” Chicken Coop marauders. Yep.
In setting up this so-called Hearing as He Said, She Said with no proper and fair previous Investigative Process (preferably by the FBI), they intend to kill two Chickens with one cold, hard, pre-sharpened Stone. A winning History of past He Said, She Said inquiries and incidents, nationally and globally, where He Said wins the day, because How could such a man of accrued Republican Party Power and ultra-Con-servative Judicial Power, renown, celebrity, inspiration, and so on and so on Do such a Thang ? What do you think Dr. Cosby ?
Nope. No fair and just process for you little lady. Judge Kavanaugh, your stated Sexual Assaulter (along with his drunken Buddy-in-Possible-Crime, whose intrusive fall upon you and your stated Accoster, saved Ford’s further physical assault, although not her Lifetime of Psychological Tainting), because the Republican Need to have Kavanaugh on the Court so that the Ragin’ Red Republicans can Control Women’s Bodies and Lives, and Kavanaugh can Pardon King Trumpty when his deeds finally catch-up to him (thanks to the FBI you refuse to use in Mrs. Ford’s case). Hmmm……
Yep. And because the Republicans are afraid of the Optics and Cosmetics of a panel of All White Men bearing down upon Mrs. Ford, they have hired a Trained-to-Prosecute, Female ‘assistant’, Rachel Mitchell, to bear down upon Mrs. Ford instead (sigh, Oh me, Oh my !). But the Republicans claim that they are doing it to save the ‘Feelings, nothing more than Feelings’ of Mrs. Ford. Bless their Little Pea-Pickin’ Hearts !
Yep. It would be difficult for AnyOne who knows the True Restrained Brutal and Cruel Character (which leaks out from time-to-time) of Someone to Watch that Predatory Someone continue to Rise in Power and Stature through the ranks of our Courts of Law and Society, and then head to the Supreme Court in order to make Laws the Laws of the Land.
Yep. Wouldn’t every Self-Respecting Woman want herself to be left in those Lawful Hands ?
So, Thursday is it, because the Republican led Congress says so. He’ll Say and She’ll Say, and then what will our auspicious Congressfolks who are supposed to represent We the People say that We Say ?
I fell for my wife and every night I sang outside her house. Her father threw a bucket full of water to my face, to make me go away, every single night. Last time I decided to go up and take her with me. I put a ladder under her window and climbed, then I heard something cracking and I found myself hanging from the vines and fell down. Her father came out with a Winchester. Next morning I asked her to marry me. All that, more than 50 years ago.
If you ask me now, I don’t have a life. I just exist. I barely breathe. No, it’s not my age, it’s I forgot; how to live. I lived so many years with her, that the only thing I ever knew, is to live with her by my side.
Now that she is not here anymore, I don’t know what to do; how to live alone. Maybe, I don’t want to find out, anyway.
Everything seems new, even the most common things. The morning sunlight, the lunch in the small kitchen, the walks on Sundays. The raindrops on the roof; Sleeping at nights on a bed too big for a single body. Yeah, maybe I am just too old to remember how to live alone again. Or again, maybe I just don’t want to.
The United Nations General Assembly began its yearly session on 17 September under the leadership of Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador. In her opening statement she called for stronger global leadership to ensure more peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies. She said that her priorities were contained in the acronym DARE meaning delivery, accountability, relevance and efficiency. The President of the General Assembly is elected for one year. Thus President Espinosa will provide leadership until September 2019, facing continuing challenges to the world society such as climate change, migration, persistent poverty, and armed conflicts. In addition, she said “I am also prepared to facilitate quick and effective responses of the General Assembly to emergency situations as they arise – unfortunately they will arise.”
In fact, emergency situations arise more quickly than expected. Both deal with the same structural issue – how does the U.N. General Assembly deal with agreements among Member States in which the General Assembly played no role. Nevertheless, the agreements have an impact on States that were not party to the agreement. Now that the agreements are in danger, what is the role of the General Assembly and its President?
The first test starts Monday 24 September and will consider the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) more commonly called the Iran Nuclear Deal. The crux of the compromise agreement was that Iran would restrain its nuclear program – especially aspects that could have military uses in return for the relaxation of economic sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
The US Government, a major player in the agreement, has now withdrawn, seriously weakening the whole agreement. The other U.N. Security Council members and Germany, parties to the agreement, have indicated a willingness to continue the agreement, but all recognize that the application of the agreement is on unsteady ground.
To make matters even more complicated on 5 November, an aspect of the U.S. sanctions policy will come into force: any firm in the world trading with Iran will be unable to use U.S. financial institutions or trade in U.S. dollars. Since a large number of firms deal with the USA and use U.S. financial facilities, the U.S. sanctions policy can have wide application. Already in anticipation of the 5 November start, firms have withdrawn trade agreements with Iran. How the U.N. General Assembly deals with this issue will be a test case for both the General Assembly leadership and for “world public opinion”.
The second test case is the agreement between Russia and Turkey concerning a demilitarized zone near Idlib in Syria close to the Turkish frontier. Both Iran and the Syrian Government led by Bachar Al-Assad are directly impacted by the agreement. The U.N. General Assembly played no direct role in the negotiations of the agreement: Iran, Turkey, Russia being the chief negotiators. The United States and France which have military operations in Syria are concerned as is Israel which is concerned with all that goes on in Syria.
Idlib Governorate has a fairly dense population which has increased considerably with people displaced from other cities and combat zones. In a number of cases, ceasefire agreements had been reached to allow some of the population in these other zones and insurgents to withdraw to Idlib.
There is a wide-spread fear that if there is an attack by Russian and Syrian Government forces within Idlib, there could be a large flow of refugees toward Turkey. To prevent this potential flow toward Turkey, the Turkish government has heavily increased its troops in the frontier zone. Turkey then entered into negotiations with Russia to create a “safe-demilitarized zone” into which the insurgents, having put down their arms, could enter.
However, the different insurgent, opposition movements were not directly involved in the negotiations, and today say that they are not bound by the agreement among governments.
Thus, in a dramatic way, the role of non-governmental armed groups comes to the fore. The United Nations was created to facilitate negotiations and agreement among Member States. A small door was opened through the Charter for a consultative status with ECOSOC for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs had to be accepted by a committee of government representatives. Such consultative status was to be for well-established NGOs and not opposed by the government in which they had their headquarters.
However, since the 1990 end of the Cold War, the role of armed non-governmental forces has grown. U.N. mediators and Special Rapporteurs of the U.N. Council on Human Rights have recognized this fact and have discussed at times with the representatives of armed groups. Nevertheless, the U.N. General Assembly is still government-focused. Syria and Idlib is a crucial example of the new forms of armed conflict. What will be done – or left undone – by the General Assembly needs to be watched closely.
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