NATIONAL THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2018 6 A press briefing on success of present government was held at the Rangabali upazila yesterday. Photo : Kamrul Hasan Improving life standard cutting rural poverty: officials NILPHAMARI : Government officials and experts at a workshop here have said life standard of the poor has been improving during the past nine years cutting rural poverty saving them from money lenders. They said the easy-term microcredit and interest-free loans being disbursed by the government and nongovernmental organisations are playing crucial role in cutting poverty of the rural poor improving their livelihoods. They opined this at the workshop organised by RDRS Bangladesh on 'No Lean Season' project activities at its Training Centre on Tuesday, said a press release. The project is being implemented since 2017 aiming at relieving the poor of the district from the clutches of illegal money lenders during the seasonal lean periods. Additional District Magistrate Khondker Md Nahid Hassan attended the event as chief guest with Director (Field Operations) of RDRS Bangladesh Humayun Khaled in the chair. Vice-principal of Nilphamari Government College Professor Mahbubur Rahman Bhuiyan and Deputy Director of the Department of Social Services Imam Hashim addressed as special guests. Senior Programme Manager (Microcredit) of RDRS Bangladesh Golam Mostafa delivered welcome speech in the workshop moderated by Project Manager Mosleh Uddin. Government officials, public representatives and beneficiaries of the project participated. Golam Mostafa said a total of Taka 55.41-lakh was disbursed among 3,694 poor beneficiaries of Nilphamari district under the project in 2017 as interest-free loans returnable after three months. "The beneficiaries utilised the interest-free loans during the seasonal lean periods and timely repaid the same last year without taking any loan from the illegal money lenders," he added. The chief guest said the massive social safety-net, microcredit, easy-term and interestfree loan programmes of the government and non-governmental organisations are assisting the poor bringing them out of the vicious cycle of poverty. Minor girl killed in Pabna over onion harvesting PABNA : A five-year-old girl was killed in an attack over harvesting onions at Ghughudah village in Sathia upazila on Tuesday, reports UNB. The deceased was identified as Sadhona, daughter of Ratan Fakir of the village. Quoting locals, police said an altercation ensued between Ratan and Imam when the former went to his land for harvesting onions in the afternoon. At one stage, Imam and his sons attacked Ratan. Imam also hit Sadhona in the head with a bamboo stick, leaving her dead on the spot, said Hasan Inam, officer-in-charge of Sathia Police Station. On information, police recovered the body and a case was filed over the incident, the OC said, adding that they were trying to arrest the killers. A remembrance meeting and doa mafil was held at the own house (Dhamail village of Gafargaon) of late CBA leader Jamal Uddin Ahmed. Photo : Musfiqur Rahman Two fatally injured students of Magura high school under Nilphamari are under treatment at Rangpur Medical College. Photo : Mohiuddin Sheikh Free health camp in Saghata GAIBANDHA : A day-long free health camp for the poor was held at Gatia village under Bharatkhali union of Saghata upazila in the district on Tuesday. Gatia Miahbari Charitable Dispensary organized the camp as part of its routine healthcare programmes to help the poor of the upazila and its neighboring areas, sources said, reports BSS. A total of 11 physicians including 9 specialists on medicine, heart, lever, kidney, diabetes, TB, eye, ENT, gyne, child and skin of Dhaka BIRDEM Hospital, Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Dhaka, National Institute of Neuroscience (NIN), Dhaka, National Kidney Institute, Dhaka, Rangpur Medical College Hospital, Shaheed Ziaur Raman Medical College, Bogra, Mohammad Ali Hospital, Bogra, and Gaibandha Sadar Hospital provided the healthcare services to the patients. Over 1500 poor patients with chronically affected diseases received free medicare as per prescriptions of the doctors from the health camp. Apart from it, a number of patients were given advices to take treatment from other hospitals including Bogra and Rangpur ones. In the morning, Jatiya Sangsad Deputy Speaker Advocate Fazle Rabbi Miah formally inaugurated the camp on the premises of the dispensary as the chief guest. A large number of people including physicians, political leaders, social workers and the journalists were present on the occasion. Maximum use of surface water stressed RANGPUR : Experts at a post-rally discussion have laid emphasis on creating mass awareness to ensure proper management and maximum use of surface water in a bid to reduce pressure on underground water, reports BSS. The district administration in association with Water Development Board (WDB) organised the discussion at conference room of the Deputy Commissioner in observance of the 'World Water Day- 2018' on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier, Chief Engineer of Northern Zone of WDB Aziz Mohammad Chowdhury and Superintending Engineer of Rangpur Circle of WDB Harun Ar Rashid, along with high officials led a huge rally on the city streets. Later, Deputy Commissioner Enamul Habib attended the post rally discussion as the chief guest with Deputy Director (Local Government) Ruhul Amin Mian in the chair. Executive Engineer of the Department of Public Health and Engineering Yasin Arafat, Agriculture Officer of WDB Sirajul Islam Siraj, Vice-president of city Awami League Shah Md Nabiullah Panna, among others, addressed. Executive Engineer Mehedi Hassan delivered keynote papers narrating the present situation of surface and underground water, water scarcity and existing problems at the local, regional, national and global levels with suggestions for way-out. He put emphasis on strengthening capacity at the national, regional and international levels, technology transfer, mobilising more financial resources and scaling up good practices and lessons for adapting to the water scarcity. Arafat stressed the need for strengthening of the equitybased international cooperation on water and its proper management in the greater interests of all nations. TB eradication depends on collective efforts: experts RAJSHAHI : Speakers at an advocacy meeting have underscored the need for a concerted effort to create awareness among mass people for building a tuberculosis-free society. They said TB is no more a killer disease as its early detection, proper and timely diagnosis, treatment and preventive measures are found effective in fighting the disease. The observation came at an orientation on Tb for health staff of Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) in the city on Tuesday. Challenged TB Bangladesh and RCC jointly organized the orientation in its conference hall in association with 'Zero TB Cities Initiative Project'. City Mayor Mosaddeque Hossain Bulbul addressed the meeting as chief guest with its Chief Executive Officer Shah Momin in the chair. RCC Chief Health Officer Dr AFM Anzuman Ara Begum, Senior Consultant of Chest Disease Hospital Dr Masudur Rahman, Project Coordinator of Damien Foundation Arif Iftekahr Mannan and its Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Toslim Uddin also spoke. Md Kaykuzzaman, Divisional Coordinator of Challenge TB Bangladesh, presented a concept paper on the issue. He told the meeting that some 21,613 new patients suffering from various types of tuberculosis including 12,819 smear positive have been detected in Rajshahi division in 2017 up by 1,820 and 1,379 respectively in comparison with 2016. He, however, said Rajshahi division has attained a significance success in TB control programme during the last couple of years and the recovery rate is 94 percent. Dr Masudur Rahman said the TB is an infectious disease that usually spreads out through breathing of the affected patients. Cough with pain in the chest for more than two weeks is the symptom of the disease. In the event of the contacting the disease, the infected persons are required to be diagnosed immediately, he said. "It is no more a deadly disease and it is fully cured if the affected patients take proper treatment," he said. He said free treatment facilities are available at all the upazila health complexes, district and tertiary hospitals, public and private medical colleges and health centres of various NGOs. TB eradication depends on collective efforts: experts Mayor Bulbul mentioned that with the collective efforts of all the authorities and individuals concerned can reduce morbidity, mortality and transmission of tuberculosis along with making the nation free from the curse of the disease. Emphasis should be given to creating mass awareness to fight tuberculosis, he added. Rajbari Police Super Asma Siddiqua Mili, BPM on Tuesday visited Baliakandi thana. Photo : Mehedi Hasan Banana cultivation changes lot of farmers in Panchagarh PANCHAGARH : Banana cultivation has brought smile on the faces of a large number of farmers at Sonaher and Chilahati villages under Debiganj upazila of the district this year. The farmers of different villages of the district are now getting interest to raise banana orchards instead of cultivating jute and paddy, reports BSS "I have cultivated banana on two acres of land spending Taka 50,000 and encashed Taka 1.4 lakh by selling banana after meeting all expenses," said farmer Amol Kumer of Sonaher village of the upazila. Deputy director, Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) of Panchagarh, Md Samchul Huque told BSS riding on the better yield and high profits with less investment farmers encouraged by us are now interested to cultivate banana . Traders from Dhaka, Khulna and other parts of the country are coming to the area and getting supply of adequate banana from Banana orchard here. Rangpur Cantonment Gherao Day observed RANGPUR : The Bengalee irrespective of caste, creed and religion showed unparallel heroism by sacrificing 600 lives on March 28, 1971 while laying siege to Rangpur cantonment, reports BSS. Speakers said this yesterday at separate post-procession discussions held on the Bangabandhu Square and Nishbetganj Government Primary School ground marking the Rangpur Cantonment Gherao Day. The 'March 28 Cantonment Attack Smriti Sangrakhshan Parisahd', 'Bir Muktijoddha Tayebur Rahman High School', City Corporation, Awami League (AL), other organisations and institutions observed the day with various programmes. The observance began with placing of wreaths at Smriti Soudha "Rakta Gaurab" by officials of the district administration to pay due respect to the heroic Bangalee who embraced martyrdom while surrounding Rangpur Cantonment on that day. Later, Sadar Upazila Muktijoddha Sangshad, AL, its associate bodies, teachers and students of 'Bir Muktijoddha Tayebur Rahman High School', Jamison Nesa High School, Nisbetganj Government Primary School and other institutions placed wreaths. Led by Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Home Affairs Tipu Munshi MP, a huge procession participated by political leaders, freedom fighters, students and ethnic community people was brought out in the district town. Later, participants of the procession gathered at the Bangabandhu Square, placed wreaths at the mural of Bangabandhu and attended the main discussion held there. With President of city AL Shafiur Rahman Shafi in the chair, Member of the Parliament from reserved constituency Advocate Hosne Ara Lutfa Dalia addressed the main discussion as the chief guest. Acting President of district AL Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed, General Secretary of city AL Tushar Kanti Mandal, Founding Chairman of 'Bir Muktijoddha Tayebur Rahman High School' and City Councilor Tauhidul Islam, addressed the event. Later, 'Bir Muktijoddha Tayebur Rahman High School' brought out a massive procession on the streets before gathering at another discussion held on the Smriti Soudha "Rakta Gaurab" premises in the city. The chief guest said the Bengalese at the call of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tried to surround the Cantonment only three days after March 25 crackdowns and sacrificed 600 lives showing unique national heroism.
INTERNATIONAL THURSdAy, MARCH 29, 2018 7 Wickremesinghe: stripped of several responsibilities as a power struggle worsens. Photo: Internet Sri Lanka president cuts PM’s duties in power struggle Ghana lifeguards train before holidays A young woman hangs limp in the arms of men bringing her from the ocean to the sand as part of their lifeguard training in Accra, the capital of Ghana. While restaurants and hotels are bracing for the wave of Easter weekend tourists coming to the white sandy beaches along the Atlantic ocean, about 50 volunteers participated in the Ghana National Aquatic Rescue Unit (GNARU) training. Set up in 2016, the unit prepares for responding to drownings and heart attacks. Without official statistics, it's difficult to know how many people die each year from drowning in Ghana. But the waters of the Gulf of Guinea are strong, the currents deadly-and many people don't know how to swim. A former lifeguard in Britain, Felix Uzor decided to create GNARU after witnessing the fatal drowning of a three-yearold girl on Labadi beach, one of the most popular beaches in Accra. "The country doesn't provide a state rescue system," Uzor explains. "Most swimming areas... record high levels of drowning, especially during holidays." Today the unit is mostly comprised of employees from Ghana's national disaster management organisation, soldiers from the navy and firefighters. "Although there is no salary for this job, I'm motivated," said Danso Oteng Prince, a volunteer whose day job is with the navy. "Because if I can swim and others can't, then it's good to help save lives." Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday reduced the responsibilities of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as a power struggle worsened within their uneasy coalition. Sirisena took away the central bank, the policy-making National Operations Room and several other institutions from the control of Wickremesinghe, who had held them since coming to power in January 2015. The changes were published in a government gazette notice issued Wednesday which transferred the responsibilities to Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera. There was no official explanation for why the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had been taken away from the prime minister's control. In 2015 a central bank governor appointed by Wickremesinghe, Arjuna Mahendran, was accused of insider trading. Sirisena appointed a special inquiry which cleared Wickremesinghe of any wrongdoing. But Mahendran was held responsible for passing sensitive information to his bond-dealer son-in-law Arjun Aloysius to make $75 million in undue profits. Sirisena joined hands with Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) to oust strongman president Mahinda Rajapakse in January 2015 after a decade in power. But since then their alliance has fractured, with Sirisena clashing with free-market champion Wickremesinghe over economic policy. Relations worsened further after their coalition did badly in local government elections last month. The president blamed the premier for their electoral setbacks. Earlier this year, Sirisena publicly lambasted Wickremesinghe and his UNP, saying they had mismanaged the economy. Sirisena said the current government was also more corrupt than the former regime they toppled together. A section within Sirisena's party supports a no-confidence move against Wickremesinghe slated for April 4. However, the UNP is the largest single party in the 225-member assembly and commands a comfortable majority with the help of allies. The premier could be brought down only if Sirisena can unite his own fractured Sri Lanka Freedom Party and engineer defections from Wickremesinghe's UNP. Tensions between the coalition partners have also escalated over Sirisena's attempts to extend his presidential term by one more year till 2021, a move that was rejected by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The UNP has suggested that it may go it alone at the next general election in 2020. Presidential powers to sack the government and call early elections were removed through a constitutional amendment introduced in the early days of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition. Pakistan’s first transgender news anchor makes headlines A Pakistani TV channel has put the country's first transgender news anchor on the air, a watershed cultural moment for the marginalised community in the deeply conservative country. Marvia Malik, a former model who appeared on the Lahore-based private broadcaster Kohenoor for the first time last Friday, told AFP she has received "unprecedented love and support" since landing the job. "My family never accepted or owned me," she said, adding that the rift drove her to seek a better future in Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital. "Here I received unprecedented love and support from everyone that I never got from my own family," she said, adding that the positive response only escalated once she went on air for the daily broadcast. Transgenders-also known in Pakistan as "khawajasiras", an umbrella term denoting a third sex that includes transsexuals, transvestites and eunuchs-have long fought for their rights in the patriarchal Islamic country. In 2009 Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise a third sex. Last year the first transgender passport was issued, while several have also run in elections. But they live daily as pariahs, often reduced to begging and prostitution, subjected to extortion and discrimination or targeted for violence. Malik, who declined to confirm her age to AFP but is reportedly around 21, said she hoped to use her platform to urge people to treat one another as human beings first, without discrimination. A journalism graduate from Punjab University, she said she hopes eventually to enter politics herself or form a non-governmental organisation aimed at promoting gender rights. If she becomes "financially sound", she added, she may even seek to establish her own TV channel. Many transgenders in Pakistan earn their living as dancers at weddings or parties and, sometimes, in more clandestine ways. Her employers at Kohenoor admitted that Malik had stunned them while interviewing for the job by turning a question around on them. "She asked, 'Would you want to see me a beggar, a sex worker or dancing at the cultural festivals, or give me a respectable job in your channel?'" news director Bilal Ashraf told AFP. "Her question stunned us really, and we had no reply." It forced them to "devise a policy to welcome, accept and own everyone in our channel without any discrimination," he said, adding: "We don't bother with where our channel will stand in the ratings by doing this." A Pakistani TV channel has put the country's first transgender news anchor Marvia Malik on the air, a watershed cultural moment for the marginalised community in the deeply conservative country. Photo: Internet Egypt votes for third day with eyes on turnout Egyptians were voting on Wednesday in the third day of a presidential election guaranteed to give a second term to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, leaving turnout as the only contest. Voters trickled into polling stations as authorities encouraged them to show up in high numbers. The country's election authority warned it would implement a law fining people who do not vote 500 pounds (about $30), saying that not voting "serves the interests of people who hate the country," state television reported. Sisi won his first term in 2014, a year after the former army chief ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against him. He won that election with 96.9 percent of the vote, against a left-wing candidate. This time, his serious rivals withdrew citing restrictions, were sidelined or arrested. His sole rival is the little-known Moussa Mostafa Moussa, himself a Sisi supporter. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail urged voters to participate, saying on Tuesday it "is a national duty for all citizens." State television showed voters at different polling stations and played patriotic music. Some 60 million people in Egypt, the most populated Arab country, were registered to vote on March 26, 27, and 28. Official results are expected on April 2. In the 2014 election, turnout reached 37 percent after the polling, initially planned for two days, was extended by a day. Opposition urged boycott - The election authority denied polling would be extended for a fourth day in this election. Opposition groups had called for a boycott of the election which they labelled a facade. There were no presidential debates and Sisi himself did not appear in any official campaign events, although he spoke at a number of ceremonies. Russia holds first funerals for victims of shopping mall blaze Russia on Wednesday held a national day of mourning and buried the first victims of a fire that ravaged a busy shopping centre and killed 64 people, most of them children. Flags were lowered and entertainment events cancelled three days after Sunday's devastating blaze in the western Siberian city of Kemerovo. On Tuesday thousands of people had gathered in Moscow and other cities to mourn the victims and vent their anger at the authorities after children were trapped in a locked cinema as the inferno spread through the mall. The youngest victim was a two-year-old boy, while at least 19 of the 64 people who perished were under 10, said a list published by regional authorities. In total 41 children died in the fire. A criminal investigation has been opened and five people have been detained over the incident. President Vladimir Putin-who was this month re-elected for a fourth term-on Wednesday asked ministers to observe a minute's silence and called for safety checks at similar shopping centres. "We need to look at leisure and shopping centres of this kind and this should not be done just on the spur of the moment-it is absolutely evident that safety must be ensured," Putin said. He visited Kemerovo on Tuesday after a huge outpouring of public grief and criticism and upbraided officials at a televised meeting. Russian prosecutors have already ordered checks into fire safety at all shopping centres with leisure facilities. Putin did not call for legislative changes, saying current laws should be sufficient to ensure public safety. But many observers said the Kremlin's reaction was insufficient and belated. "The authorities were late in announcing mourning," political analyst Abbas Gallyamov told Vedomosti business daily. "Possibly they didn't want to spoil the positive mood after the elections and there was hope that the tragedy would not turn out to be so large-scale." Officials have said that multiple safety rules were violated, the fire alarm system was not working and staff did not follow correct emergency procedures. Witnesses reported that one cinema had been locked from the outside. Regional authorities have come in for particular criticism, since the veteran regional governor Aman Tuleyev-who lost a young relative in the fire-has not visited the scene nor met angry residents. On Tuesday, Kemerovo residents packed the main square in a rare protest, some holding placards and shouted slogans calling for the sacking of Tuleyev and Putin. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment Wednesday on the regional authorities' actions, saying that "Putin has said that it is hardly appropriate to issue hasty judgements". While Putin was at the scene in Kemerovo, he did not come onto the square to meet the protesters, but talked to a group of locals separately. Teacher tried to save others - In the Kemerovo region, relatives held the first funerals for victims as regional emergencies minister Alexander Mamontov said 27 bodies have been identified. Several hundred people attended the funeral of 57-year-old Nadezhda Agarkova and her two grandchildren Konstantin, 8, and Maria, 10, who died in one of the mall's cinemas. "These are our children, our pupils," the children's teacher Svetlana Sazheva told NTV television outside the church, saying the children who died were "top students and well brought up." Dozens of pupils of Tatiana Darsaliya, an English teacher who died, attended a memorial service in a city cathedral, RIA Novosti reported. She had saved her daughter from the burning cinema but died after going back in to save others, pupils said. Television broadcasts carried a black ribbon on the screen or a message "Kemerovowe mourn." Russia on Wednesday held a national day of mourning and buried the first victims of a fire that ravaged a busy shopping centre and killed 64 people, most of them children. Photo: Internet Poland buys US Patriot antimissile system for $4.8 bn Poland signed on Wednesday a $4.75 billion (3.8-billion-euro) contract to purchase a US-made Patriot anti-missile system, a move that is likely to irk Russia as East-West tensions rise. The weapons deal is the largest-ever by NATO-member Poland. The first deliveries are expected in 2022 with the system due to become operational a year later. The Patriot is a mobile air-defence system made by US defence firm Raytheon with elements from aerospace firms Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. It is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, lowflying cruise missiles and aircraft. Moscow has complained about the prospect of the deployment of Patriot systems in Poland and Romania, which it says violates a 1987 arms treaty and could be tailored to shoot missiles at Russia. Tensions with Moscow have been high since the Ukraine crisis and Kremlin's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the current diplomatic spat over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain has done nothing to calm matters. NATO ally Romania approved the purchase of a Patriot system worth nearly four billion dollars last November. Warsaw insists the system's deployment as part of its mediumrange "Wisla" programme is purely defensive in nature. "We are signing today a contract to deliver a modern system that has proven itself in numerous countries and thanks to which we are joining an elite group of states which have an efficient weapon that guarantees security," Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told reporters at the signing ceremony at a radar production facility in the Polish capital Warsaw. In February, Poland's neighbour and NATO ally Lithuania accused Russia of permanently deploying nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles to its Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic that also shares border with Poland. Poland's President Andrzej Duda dubbed the missile deal "historic" and told reporters at the signing ceremony in Warsaw that US President Donald Trump said Poland could expect "good terms" during his visit to Poland in July of last year. Last week Poland signed a 10-year offset deal ahead of the final agreement on the Patriot system under which US investment in Poland will help compensate for the cost of the big-ticket purchase. Offset deals with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Global are worth a respective 53 million and 172 million euros. US Ambassador to Poland Paul W. Jones on Wednesday called the Patriot deal a "milestone for Poland and NATO", adding that the NATO ally was "joining 15 countries" equipped with Patriot anti-missile systems that are "the foundation of US missile defence and compatible with NATO". Jones added that "in April we'll begin negotiations on phase two, and in phase two, Poland will get the most modern 360- degree radar, but also more missiles and batteries." The first phase of the deployment under the contract signed Wednesday provides for the delivery of two batteries with the IBCS system. These include four AN / MPQ-65 radars, four ECS engagement control stations, six EOC engagement operation centres and sixteen M903 launch systems as well as 208PAC-3MSE missiles and 12 IBCS radio lines. US Vice President Mike Pence in July raised the possibility of deploying Patriots in nearby Estonia. Baltic NATO members bordering Russia hope the alliance will agree on additional air defence capabilities for the region during a Brussels summit in July. Last year, NATO deployed four multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism, while the US military sent a Patriot battery to Lithuania for drills. UK billboards call for 'People's Vote' on Brexit deal Anti-Brexit group Best for Britain on Wednesday unveiled a nationwide billboard campaign as part of a bid to force another public vote on leaving the European Union.The campaign will also include posters, social media and other digital advertisements aimed at both Leave and Remain voters. Billboards will this week appear at London hubs Leicester Square, Westfield Stratford and Canary Wharf as well as in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. The campaign comes as Britain begins a one-year countdown from Thursday to its scheduled departure date from the bloc. Advertisements calling for a "People's Vote" on the final Brexit deal will also appear in the Evening Standard and The Guardian newspapers. "The campaign is aimed at involving the public into the campaign calling for a public vote on the Brexit deal," Best for Britain said in a statement.