Committee to Protect Journalists: Journalist Arrested for Reporting Death of Goat

“Bangladeshi journalist arrested for reporting death of goat” is the actual, accurate headline of a Committee to Protect Journalists alert. According to the CPJ,

Bangladeshi authorities should drop all charges against Abdul Latif Morol and should release him without delay. . .

. . .

Minister of State for Fisheries and Livestock Narayan Chandra Chanda on July 30 donated livestock to poor farmers, according to The Daily Star newspaper, the news website Prothom Alo, and Agence France-Presse. After local newspapers reported that one of the donated goats died, Morol wrote a Facebook post that roughly translated to “Goat given by state minister in the morning dies in the evening,” according to AFP.

Police arrested Morol, the Dumaria correspondent for the Daily Probaha, after Subroto Faujdar, the Dumaria correspondent for the Daily Spandan, filed a criminal complaint against him claiming that Morol had defamed Chanda in a “derogatory post” on Facebook, Dumaria police chief Sukumar Biswas told AFP. Faujdar told Prothom Alo that he filed the complaint against his colleague because he supported the minister.


Newsweek Lied and People Died


Newsweek magazine said on Sunday it erred in a May 9 report that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article.

Editor Mark Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Muslim holy book down the toilet.

The report sparked angry and violent protests across the Muslim world from
Afghanistan, where 16 were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan to Indonesia to Gaza. In the past week it was condemned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and by the Arab League.

On Sunday, Afghan Muslim clerics threatened to call for a holy war against the United States.


Newsweek says Koran desecration report is wrong. David Morgan, Reuters, May 15, 2005.

Effigies of Taslima Nasreen Burned in India

In January, Muslim protesters burned effigies of writer Taslima Nasreen who has been in the sites of Islamic extremists since the early 1990s.

In 1994, Nasreen received death threats and was forced to flee her native Bangladesh over her novel, Shame. That book, and both of Nasreen’s subsequent novels, have both been banned in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal for their allaged anti-Islam content (Shame is about a Hindu family mistreated by Muslims).

Nasreen’s major offense has been to declare herself an atheist and protest that the Koran is inimical to women’s rights. Like a Muslim version of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who made similar arguments about Christianity in the U.S., though without the fatwas). She has called for Bangladesh to drop its Islamic sharia law. In return, a number of Islamic groups put out fatwas offering rewards for her death.

Since 1994, Nasreen has lived in self-imposed exile in Europe and the United States.


Effigies of writer burned. The BBC, January 21, 2004.

South Asian Nations Sign Free Trade Pact

In January, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka signed a free trade zone agreement that will start to bring trade barriers between those countries down beginning in 2006.

The agreement calls on the most developed of these countries — Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka — to virtually eliminate tariffs with the other countries by 2013, but gives the other countries until 2016 to lower their tariffs. There is, however, a provision that allows countries to maintain a list of “sensitive” products on which tariffs can be maintained.

Beyond advancing the cause of free trade, the real importance of this pat is the shot in the arm it could give to trade between Pakistan and India. Currently, trade between the two rivals is estimated at about $1.5 billion. That could double under the free trade regimen. And, of course, the more the two countries become economically intertwined, the higher the cost (and hence, the lower the risk) of war between them.

According to the BBC, there are now more than 200 regional free trade agreements.


South Asia ‘agrees to free trade’. The BBC, January 2, 2004.

South Asia signs free trade pact. Reuters, January 6, 2004.

Sari Cloth Can Filter Cholera

In a test conducted by the US National Science Foundation, folded up sari cloth was found to be just as effective as more expensive materials in filtering out cholera from water in Bangladesh.

According to the BBC, the cholera bacteria lives in a symbiotic relationship with plankton. The theory was that by filtering the plankton out of the water, the amount of cholera bacteria would be decreased as well.

This was put to the test in a Bangladesh village where a filter made of simply taking sari cloth and folding it four times was compared with more expensive nylon filters. The result — in villages where training in using the sari cloth was given, incidence of cholera was cut in half. The nylon filters had slightly poorer results.

The main advantage of the sari cloth is that it is cheap and widely available. Dr. Rita Colwell, who headed up the research, told the BBC that, “The method can save thousands of lives during massive [cholera] epidemics, particularly those of children under the age of five.”


Cloth filter could cut cholera deaths. The BBC, January 14, 2003.

Low Cost Water Filter Could Save Millions of Lives

A Bangladeshi professor has developed a cheap water filter that could save the lives of millions of people in the developing world who currently drink water filled with dangerously high levels of arsenic.

Arsenic occurs naturally in groundwater in many parts of the world, with the World Health Organization estimating that as many as 80 million people could be affected by arsenic poisoning. But water filtering systems used in the developed world are often out of reach of developing country’s budgets and expertise.

Enter Prof. Fakhrul Islam who invented a water filter that costs only $3 and can effectively filter arsenic out of water. The filter is a mixture of crushed bricks and ferrous sulphate that are heated. In tests by the United Nations, the filter led to a 20-fold decrease in the amount of arsenic in water.

The United Nations plans to give away the filter in villages across Bangladesh, and it could find applications in other countries with groundwater arsenic problems.


Water filter set to save lives. Alistair Lawson, The BBC, July 14, 2002.

New water filter to combat arsenic and lead poisoning. Navakal.Com, July 14, 2002.

Life saving water filter good news for millions of Bangladeshi. Scientic News, August 2002.