Sunday, 26 December 2010

Transparency International (TIB)will fight out the defamation suits against it in the courts.

The Berlin-based organisation will ironically have to turn to the courts for defending cases accusing it of maligning the courts in relation to a recent survey, which found the judiciary to be corrupt.

The international corruption watchdog's board chairman M Hafizuddin Khan told that the suits were 'unfortunate'. "The next course of action will be decided in a meeting."

In a reaction to the lawsuits, he said, "It (the TIB report) was not anyone's private opinion. We only released the survey findings."

Until Sunday, three cases have been filed accusing the TIB chairman, executive director Iftekharuzzaman and senior fellow Wahid Alam of maligning the image of judiciary.

Two of the cases were filed in Chittagong and another in Comilla.

The Comilla court issued an arrest warrant against the accused and the two Chittagong courts ordered them to appear before them — on Jan 13 before one and Jan 30 before another.

The corruption watchdog in its report 'Corruption in Service Sectors: National Household Survey 2010' released on Dec 23 said that the High Court was the most corrupt among the judiciary, which it said was most rife with kickbacks.

The survey was conducted on 6,000 households in 64 districts from June 2009-May 2010, TIB said.

The survey followed international standards, Hafizuddin claimed. "The TIB report has only revealed the ongoing corruption in the judiciary, the police and the administration."

"TIB has nothing to do if someone feels hurt," he added.

"Corruption in these sectors is nothing new. All the citizens of the country will say, if asked, how they are being suppressed by these institutions day after day."

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said regarding the arrest warrants, "We believe in the rule of law and will deal with them through legal procedures."

"Some person was hurt and filed a case, which does not mean that we are guilty," he added.

About the arrest warrant, he told that [TIB officials] were sure and unanimous about the report, which was based on mass opinion and experience and was conducted maintaining scientific standards.

Quoting a recent comment of Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) chairman Golam Rahman, Iftekharuzzaman said that corruption had been more acute in reality.

He claimed that the countrymen and mass media had thanked TIB for publishing the report.

Bangladesh Enters Global IT Outsourcing Map: Gartner lists Bangladesh as one of Top 30 Outsourcing Country

GARTNER Inc. (, world’s leading IT research and consulting company, in its most recent ‘Top Outsourcing Country’ list has included Bangladesh.

A Press conference to share the GARTNER research on Bangladesh IT outsourcing was held 26 December, 2010 at Press Club, Dhaka. BASIS (Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services) organized the Press Conference.

It was informed in the Press Conference that this is the first time that Bangladesh has been listed in the top ranking by any leading global research company. Gartner publishes the top list every year. BASIS informed that this recognition is a great achievement for the IT Industry of Bangladesh. The ranking will significantly help with respect to increasing the export of IT services as the confidence of outside clients will be increased on Bangladesh based on this ranking. BASIS thinks that the ranking reflects positive initiatives of both Government and Private sector in last couple of years in the field of Information Technology.

This year, apart from Bangladesh four other countries have made entry in the list including Bulgaria, Colombia, Mauritius and Peru. In Asia, Bangladesh is the eighth country to be included. Other Asian countries are India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

BASIS shared with the journalist that the ranking is based on 10 criteria including cost advantage, labor pool, education system, infrastructure, government support, language etc. In case of Bangladesh, though Bangladesh has got ‘Good’ or ‘Fair’ ranking in ‘Cost’, ‘Labor pool’, ‘Education System’ and ‘Government Support’ , the raking for key criteria ‘Infrastructure’ , ‘Language’ and ‘Intellectual Property and Data Security’ for Bangladesh has been ranked poor by Gartner. BASIS feels that there is a risk of getting out of the list next year if Bangladesh does not improve significantly in those criteria. Particularly, the ‘infrastructure’ issue needs very immediate response from the government side. In this respect BASIS urges the government to immediately move for 2nd sub-marine cable and reducing Internet price drastically. At the same time, BASIS also requested to Government to allocate special budget for setting up multiple Software Technology Park (STP) immediately. At the same time, BASIS requested the government to work with private sector in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for ensuring enough supply of human resource skilled in technology and language.

The Press Conference were attended by Architect Yeafesh Osman, State Minister, Ministry of Science & ICT, Mahboob Zaman, President, BASIS; Mr. Fahim Mashroor, Sr. Vice President, BASIS; Farhana A Rahman, Vice President, BASIS; Forkan Bin Quasem, Secretary General, BASIS; Tamzid Siddiq Spondon,Joint Secretary General, BASIS; AK Sabbir Mahbub, Director other members of the BASIS Executive Council.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Razzak's Drama and comfortable win of Bangladesh

Mid-way through an overcast morning, Bangladesh were in a familiar predicament: the top-order had failed and Shakib Al Hasan, the reluctant captain, was saddled with the responsibility of achieving a target his spinners could defend on a pitch that assisted turn. Having had ample practice at this challenge, Shakib went about it manfully, but he also had an able ally. His risk-free batting was at odds with Mushfiqur Rahim's impish stroke play but their 116-run stand was the bedrock of the highest total of the series. It proved more than enough.

Shakib waited only three overs before entrusting the defence of 246 to a spinner. He had to wait only three balls to see that decision yield results. Abdur Razzak continued his torment of Zimbabwe in this series: his quick strikes decapitated the chase, his economy brought it to a standstill and Bangladesh were assured of a 2-1 lead by the time the mandatory Powerplay was over.

The heart of the victory lay in the way Bangladesh, for the second time in succession, batted satisfactorily. They didn't begin in that manner, though, and were 71 for 4 in the 20th over, when Shakib and Mushfiqur began their alliance. The Zimbabwe spinners had tightened the tourniquet on the run-flow and Shakib had been watchful - a back-foot cut through point would be his only boundary for 54 balls. Little Mushfiqur, in contrast, was anything but watchful at the start of his innings, slicing Prosper Utseya just wide of the fielder at point before dispatching the next ball to the midwicket boundary with a dismissive swat.

The partnership would not have reached the proportions it did, had Tatenda Taibu stumped Mushfiqur on 14, when the batsman advanced and missed an on-drive. Mushfiqur, undeterred, attempted a flamboyant cut next ball and edged over the short third man. Thereafter, he too reduced the risk.

Utseya made so many bowling changes during the middle overs that it was hard to keep count, but Shakib and Mushfiqur played them all adeptly. When Shakib reached his fifty in the 38th over, Bangladesh were in control. Mushfiqur's cutting was the highlight of his innings and one off the stumps against Ray Price brought up his half-century. Shortly after, Mushfiqur swung Graeme Cremer over midwicket for the innings' only six in the 42nd over.

Bangladesh kept the batting Powerplay for the last five overs, the intention being for Shakib and Mushfiqur to surge. Those plans were undone by Utseya, standing in as captain for the injured Elton Chigumbura. He had Mushfiqur caught at deep backward square just before the Powerplay, and trapped Shakib lbw while attempting a reverse-scoop soon after. Bangladesh's set batsmen were gone, but wayward bowling yielded 30 runs from the final two overs of the innings.

Three overs into the chase, Shakib had seen enough of seam from both ends and gave Razzak the ball. Moments later, Chamu Chibhabha went back into his crease to play a ball. Mistake. Razzak skidded the arm ball through and it would have hit leg stump had the pad not been in the way

Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza made an effort to play Razzak off the front foot. Masakadza took the ploy too far, though. His charge and heave against the spin connected with nothing, and Mushfiqur stumped him. At the other end, Taylor continued pressing forward and nearly survived the mandatory Powerplay. To its final ball, he was unsure whether to move forward or not. Razzak got the ball to turn, kick, and take the edge towards first slip. Zimbabwe were 29 for 3.

Shakib gave Razzak a break after that and brought back Shafiul Islam, who induced an edge from Craig Ervine that went to the third-man boundary in the 12th over - only the second four of the innings. In his next over, Shafiul drew another edge from Ervine, this time to Mushfiqur.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Russia, Qatar take World Cup 2018 and 2022

FIFA gave its ultimate recognition to emerging markets on Thursday by awarding the 2018 and 2022 editions of the prestigious and lucrative World Cup soccer finals to Russia and Qatar, both new hosts. Russia won the right to put on the 2018 World Cup, the first time it will have been staged in Eastern Europe after 10 editions in the western half of the continent.

Qatar, which has never qualified for the World Cup finals, will stage the 2022 tournament, a first both for the Middle East and for an Arab country. It will also be the smallest nation ever to host the World Cup.
Both new hosts are major energy producers and both had planned larger and costlier investment in infrastructure and new stadiums than all their respective rivals. FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who announced the winners after a vote of his executive committee in the Swiss financial capital, said: "We go to new lands.

"Never has the World Cup been in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world have been waiting for a long time so I'm a happy president when we talk about the development of football."

Russia's prime minister Vladimir Putin flew in to Zurich immediately after the winning vote and held a news conference before going on to meet and thank Blatter and FIFA. "We are honoured to win in this tough and fair fight," he told reporters. "Thank you for supporting Russia. Together let us make sure football supports fair play, tolerance, honour."

Putin said he had made the right decision to stay away from Zurich for Russia's final presentation so FIFA executives could make their choice in peace after corruption allegations against some executive committee members in the British media.
"I did this out of respect," he said. "There was unacceptable campaigning that was deployed for the World Cup in 2018. People were accused of corruption. They were accused without any grounds, without any reasons, no justifications."

Russia won on the second round of voting in which an absolute majority was required. England, motherland of soccer, was humiliated, going out in the first round with just two votes despite three days of lobbying in Zurich by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Observers said they may have suffered from an adverse reaction by FIFA to the corruption allegations and to Wednesday's serious outbreak of soccer hooliganism at a cup match in Birmingham. The Russians, leading with nine votes on the first ballot, obtained 13 votes on the second round, ahead of Spain/Portugal on seven and Netherlands/Belgium with just two.

Qatar led in the 2022 ballot on each of the four rounds, obtaining 14 votes against eight to the U.S. in the final round.
"I think it was the wrong decision," U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters.

Australia made a first round exit with just one vote and Japan and South Korea fell out in turn on the next two rounds.

WikiLeaks founder says guards against death threats

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday he and colleagues were taking steps to protect themselves after death threats following the publication of leaked US diplomatic cables on their website.

One of Assange's lawyers said he would also fight any attempt to extradite his client to face questions over alleged sexual misconduct, adding that he believed foreign powers were influencing Sweden in the matter.

Washington is furious about the leak of hundreds of confidential diplomatic cables that have given unvarnished and sometimes embarrassing insights into the foreign policy of the United States and its allies.

Answering questions online from an undisclosed location, the 39-year-old Australian said anyone making threats against his life should be charged with incitement to murder.

"The threats against our lives are a matter of public record, however, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a superpower," Assange was quoted as saying on the Guardian website.

Britain's Guardian is one of a number of newspapers around the world with early access to diplomatic cables seen by WikiLeaks.

Assange, who is reported to be somewhere in southern England, has his own legal woes.

Swedish authorities said information missing from a European arrest warrant they had issued against Assange for alleged sex crimes had been handed to British authorities.

"We sent it. They asked for complementary information and now they have it," Swedish Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Karin Rosander said.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Russian media ignore WikiLeaks revelations

    Vladimir Putin
    Putin recording an interview with Larry King, who asked him about the WikiLeaks cables.
    Photograph: Alexei Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

    Russia's leadership and supine television channels were deafeningly silent this morning over revelations that US diplomats view Russia as a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy.

    Damning cables sent to Washington by successive ambassadors in Moscow were disclosed by WikiLeaks today and published in the Guardian.

    The blunt reports – which conclude that Russia is a criminal state dominated by venal and bribe-hungry officials – appeared to throw a spanner in the works of "resetting" US-Russia relations, a key foreign policy objective for both countries.

    Yet, while details of the cables spread quickly through websites and the blogosphere, television – from which an estimated 70% of Russians get their news – ignored the reports. State-controlled Rossiya made no mention of the allegations in its mid-morning news broadcast. Instead, it reported on the Moscow river freezing over, on two Russian tourists being attacked by sharks in Egypt, and on government-employed truck drivers in the United States who got drunk while transporting nuclear weapons.

    Rossiya did give over a large segment to Larry King's interview with the prime minister, Vladimir Putin, shown last night on CNN.

    Asked by King for his response to the assessment of the US defence secretary, Robert Gates – revealed earlier by WikiLeaks — that "Russian democracy has disappeared and that the government is being run by the security services," Putin replied acidly: "I am personally acquainted with Mr Gates, I have met him on several occasions. I think he is a very nice man and not a bad specialist. But Mr Gates, of course, was one of the leaders of the US Central Intelligence Agency and today he is defence secretary. If he also happens to be America's leading expert on democracy, I congratulate you."

    Also in the televised section, King asked the premier about the 10 Russian "sleeper agents" caught in the US in June and later deported to Moscow.

    Putin claimed the agents had not harmed American interests, and used the question to take another sideswipe at the CIA. "The methods employed by our special services differ in a good way from those used by US special services," he said. "Thank God, neither the agents in question or any other Russian intelligence officers are known to have been involved in creating secret prisons, kidnappings, or torture."

    The prime minister also warned that Moscow must agree partnership with Washington over a joint missile defence shield. If not, he said, "Russia will just have to protect itself using various means, including the deployment of new missile systems to counter the new threats to our borders, and the development of new nuclear-missile technology." Putin added: "We don't want this. It's not a threat. We are simply talking about what to expect if we can't agree to work together."

    The Kommersant newspaper said this morning that Putin's comments showed "Russo-American relations are returning to the rhetoric of the cold war."

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

WikiLeaks says Israel torn on U.S. arming Arabs against Iran

WikiLeaks disclosures from July 2009 document Israeli and U.S. defense delegates debating the merits of arming Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states given doubts over whether Iran can be denied the means for developing nuclear weaponry.

Hearing the Israelis' objections to the planned sale of F-15 fighters and missiles to the Saudis, State Department official Andrew Shapiro argues for "a commonality of interests with the Gulf States, which also view Iran as the preeminent threat."

"We should take advantage of this commonality," he says.

Shapiro's line appears supported elsewhere in the Wikileaks trove, which includes an account of Saudi Arabia urging the United States to attack Iran preemptively.

One Arab leader echoes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by likening Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Another voices empathy for Israel in considering offensive military options against its arch-foe.

Yet Netanyahu is quoted as warning that should Iran get the bomb despite U.S.-led efforts to curb its uranium enrichment, Arab powers could shift loyalties from Washington to Tehran.

This spells a quandary for the Israeli envoys who have long handled negotiations on both securing Israel's "Qualitative Military Edge" with the most advanced U.S.-supplied arms, and ensuring that the Arabs -- some of them old foes -- get less.

According to the U.S. embassy cable from July 2009, "Israel understands U.S. policy intentions to arm moderate Arab states in the region to counter the Iranian threat, and prefers such sales originate from the United States instead of other countries like Russia or China."

But Pinchas Buchris, a top Israeli defense official at the time, is described as having "stated bluntly that it was not clear to him where U.S. policy was heading with regard to Iran."

Senior Israeli diplomat Alon Bar adds: "A perceived closure in the capability gap between Israel and Arab states, coupled with a nuclear-armed Iran, could compel moderate Arab states to reassess the notion that Israel was a fixture in the region."