Bangladesh has fulfilled the eligibility requirements to graduate from ‘Least Developed Country’ to ‘Developing Country’ status. The Committee for Development Policy (CPD) of the United Nations (UN) gave a letter regarding the declaration of fulfilling requirements to the Bangladesh’s permanent representative to UN Masud Bin Momen on Friday. Roland Mollerus, Chief, Secretariat of CPD, handed over the official letter to Masud Bin Momen at a simple event organized at the Bangabandhu Auditorium of Bangladesh Mission. According to the UN declaration, Bangladesh met the requirements in March, 2018. Bangladesh has been on the UN Least Developed Countries (LDC) list since 1975. Graduation depends upon meeting eligibility criteria scores in Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, the Human Assets Index (HAI) and the Economic Vulnerability (EVI) Index and other country-specific information. Mentioning that from the war-ravaged country to today’s graduation has been a bumpy ride, Ambassador Masud said it has been possible due to the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. "Under her leadership, Bangladesh adopted bold and forward-looking development strategies which yielded rapid but inclusive economic growth, structural transformation and remarkable social progress”. Under Secretary-General and High Representative, United Nations Office of the High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa 'Utoikamanu,; Chair of CDP Expert Group, Professor Jose Antonio Ocampo Gaviria, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve; Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu; Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific of UNDP, Haoliang Xu; and Director of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office Dr. Selim Jahan, joined this event and addressed the audience.
Tests on major brands of bottled water have found that nearly all of them contained tiny particles of plastic. In the largest investigation of its kind, 250 bottles bought in nine different countries were examined. Research led by journalism organisation Orb Media discovered an average of 10 plastic particles per litre, each larger than the width of a human hair. Companies whose brands were tested told the BBC that their bottling plants were operated to the highest standards. Sherri Mason, a professor of chemistry at the university, conducted the analysis and told BBC News: "We found [plastic] in bottle after bottle and brand after brand. "It's not about pointing fingers at particular brands; it's really showing that this is everywhere, that plastic has become such a pervasive material in our society, and it’s pervading water - all of these products that we consume at a very basic level." Currently, there is no evidence that ingesting very small pieces of plastic (microplastics) can cause harm, but understanding the potential implications is an active area of science. Commenting on the results, Prof Mason said: "It's not catastrophic, the numbers that we're seeing, but it is concerning." Experts have told the BBC that people in developing countries where tap water may be polluted should continue to drink water from plastic bottles. Contacted to comment on the findings, the companies behind the brands have insisted that their products meet the highest standards for safety and quality. They also point to the absence of any regulations on microplastics and of the lack of standardised methods of testing for them. Last year, Prof Mason found plastic particles in samples of tap water and other researchers have spotted them in seafood, beer, sea salt and even the air. This latest work comes amid growing international attention on plastic, fuelled by the BBC's acclaimed Blue Planet 2 series in which Sir David Attenborough highlighted the threat of plastic waste in our oceans. The research into bottled water involved buying packs from 11 different global and national brands in countries chosen for their large populations or their relatively high consumption of bottled water. To eliminate any risk of contamination, purchases in shops and deliveries to courier companies were recorded on video. Some packs in the US were ordered over the internet. The screening for plastic involved adding a dye called Nile Red to each bottle, a technique recently developed by British scientists for the rapid detection of plastic in seawater. Previous studies have established how the dye sticks to free-floating pieces of plastic and makes them fluoresce under certain wavelengths of light. Prof Mason and her colleagues filtered their dyed samples and then counted every piece larger than 100 microns – roughly the diameter of a human hair. Some of these particles – large enough to be handled individually - were then analysed by infrared spectroscopy, confirmed as plastic and further identified as particular types of polymer. Particles smaller than 100 microns – and down to a size of 6.5 microns – were much more numerous (an average of 314 per litre) and were counted using a technique developed in astronomy for totalling the number of stars in the night sky. The make-up of these particles was not confirmed but Prof Mason said they can "rationally expected to be plastic". This is because although Nile Red dye can bind to substances other than plastic - such as fragments of shell or algae containing lipids - these would be unlikely to be present in bottled water. Since the study has not been through the usual process of peer review and publication in a scientific journal, the BBC has asked experts in the field to comment. Dr Andrew Mayes, of the University of East Anglia and one of the pioneers of the Nile Red technique, told us it was "very high quality analytical chemistry" and that the results were "quite conservative". Michael Walker, a consultant to the Office of the UK Government Chemist and founder board member of the Food Standards Agency, said the work was "well conducted" and that the use of Nile Red has "a very good pedigree". Both of them emphasised that the particles below 100 microns had not been identified as plastic but said that since the alternatives would not be expected in bottled water, they could be described as "probably plastic". One obvious question is where this plastic may be coming from. Given the amount of polypropylene, which is used in bottle caps, one theory is that the act of opening a bottle may shed particles inside. [i]Source: BBC[/i]
Saudi Arabia has warned that it will develop its own nuclear weapon if regional rival Iran acquires one. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told US network CBS News his country did not want to acquire nuclear weapons. "But without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we would follow suit as soon as possible," he added. Iran limited its nuclear programme under a 2015 deal with several world powers - but US President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from it. Saudi Arabia and Iran have long been rivals in the Middle East. Each is dominated by different branches of Islam - Sunni for Saudi Arabia, Shia for Iran - and they have historically supported opposing powers in regional conflicts. In recent years, tensions have escalated over the wars in Syria and Yemen. Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is heir to the throne and also the Saudi defence minister, made the statement in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes programme. He also explained why, in November, he called Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "the new Hitler of the Middle East". "He wants to create his own project in the Middle East, very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time," the crown prince said. "Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realise how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don't want to see the same events happening in the Middle East." Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, has been a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since 1988. It is not known to have attempted to develop nuclear arms on its own but has reportedly invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects. In 2013, Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring." Iran also signed the non-proliferation treaty, and has long insisted its nuclear programmes are for peaceful purposes only. However in 2015, it signed onto an international agreement that saw crippling economic sanctions lifted in return for limitations on the programmes, which world powers feared Iran would use to create a nuclear weapon. [i]Source: Agencies[/i]
At least four people are dead and 10 others are injured after a bridge collapsed near Florida International University in Miami, officials say. Rescue teams were still searching the rubble on Thursday night for victims trapped beneath the buckled footbridge. The structure toppled over an eight-lane motorway on Thursday afternoon, crushing at least eight vehicles, according to police. It is still unclear how many people were under the bridge at the time. Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey said on Thursday night he could confirm at least four people were killed. "This is going to be a long incident. We are going to have rescuers here through the night, if not longer," Chief Downey said. At least 10 people were treated for injuries at theKendall Regional Medical Center, including two who were in "extremely critical condition", according to Dr Mark McKenney, director of general surgery. The 950-ton (862-tonne), 174-foot (53m) bridge was erected on Saturday in just six hours over the highway, according to a story posted on the college website. Witnesses told local media vehicles were stopped at a traffic light when the structure collapsed at around 1330 local time (1730 GMT). "We're working our way into the pile trying to create holes that we can actually physically see," Miami-Dade Fire Department Division Chief Paul Estopian told reporters. [i]Source: Agencies[/i]
Bangladesh and Singapore on Monday signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on cooperation in the areas of air services and private public partnership. The instruments were signed following an official meeting between prime ministers of the two countries at Istana here today. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Singapore counterpart Lee Hsein Loong led their respective sides in the talks. Secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism of Bangladesh SM Ghulam Farooque and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Transport of Singapore Loh Ngai Seng signed a MoU on cooperation in the areas of air services. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Private Public Partnership Authority (PPPA) of Bangladesh Syed Afsor H Uddin and Assistant CEO of International Enterprise of Singapore Tan Soon Kim singed another MoU on cooperation in Public Private Partnership on behalf of their respective sides.
North Korea's decision to meet US President Donald Trump proves the US strategy of isolating North Korea is working, US Vice-President Mike Pence says. The US has made "zero concessions", he said, and would maintain pressure until denuclearisation was achieved. The agreement to hold an unprecedented summit stunned observers. But the White House later said North Korea would have to take "concrete steps" before any meeting. Only months ago, Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were hurling insults at each other. But now Trump has agreed to the summit following an invitation delivered by South Korea. No sitting US president has ever met a North Korean leader. Earlier he has hailed the move as "great progress", but he said sanctions would remain in place until a denuclearisation deal was reached. The North has halted missile and nuclear tests during previous talks, only to resume them when it lost patience or felt it was not getting what it demanded, analysts say. Some expressed concern the Trump regime could "fall into the North Korean trap" of granting concessions with nothing tangible in return. Later, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the president would demand "concrete steps and concrete actions" from North Korea before any meeting took place. She did not specify what those steps were, nor repeat previous assertions that the meeting would take place by May. There has been no mention of the developments as yet on North Korean state media. In Sweden, meanwhile, local diplomatic sources were quoted as saying the North's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho would be visiting his Swedish counterpart soon. The Swedish embassy in Pyongyang represents US, Canadian and Australian diplomatic interests there. [i]Source: BBC[/i]
[b] [/b]A former client at the Veterans Home of California and three women he held hostage during an apparent hourslong standoff on Friday have been found dead, authorities said. Hostage negotiators spent hours trying to contact the gunman at the facility in Yountville until shortly before 6 p.m. they found him and three women dead, said Chris Childs, assistant chief of the California Highway Patrol's Golden Gate Division. The suspect was identified as 36-year-old Albert Wong of Sacramento, the Napa County Sheriff-Coroner's Office said. Wong was a client of The Pathway Home, a counseling program for veterans who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is on the property. He left the program two weeks ago, according to State Senator Bill Dodd. The victims were identified by the coroner's office as Christine Loeber, 48; Jennifer Golick, 42; and Jennifer Gonzales, 29. Loeber was the executive director of The Pathway Home and Golick worked there as a staff psychologist. Gonzales was a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. "These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation's veterans, working closely with those in the greatest need of attention after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan," a spokesperson with The Pathway Home said in a statement. It's unclear if the women were chosen at random or had a connection with the gunman. Investigators are working to determine when during the standoff the deaths occurred. he Yountville facility is the largest veterans' home in the country, according to the California Department of Veterans. California Governor Jerry Brown said the shooting "tragically took the lives of three people dedicated to serving our veterans." "Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones and the entire community of Yountville," Brown said in a statement. The governor has ordered flags in the state's capitol to fly at half staff in tribute to the victims and their families. Source: Agencies
The United States Holocaust Museum has revoked a human rights award given to Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of Myanmar, over her failure to use her “moral authority” to halt a brutal military campaign. The museum announced on Wednesday that it had withdrawn the Elie Wiesel award, presented to Aung San Suu Kyi in 2012. Officials cited her refusal to condemn or stop the mass killings of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Aung San Suu Kyi had earned comparisons to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela after spending 15 years under house arrest for opposing the country’s military dictatorship. She became an international lodestar and won the Nobel peace prize in 1991. Her party won a landslide victory in 2015 and she became state counsellor. In response, Barack Obama relaxed sanctions, gave financial assistance and became the first sitting US president to visit Myanmar. But Aung San Suu Kyi’s international reputation has collapsed over the Rohingya massacres and she has been criticised as an apologist for the purges. She has not even spoken the word Rohingya in public. Sara Bloomfield, director of the Holocaust Museum, explained its reasoning in an open letter to the Myanmar embassy in Washington that was published on the museum’s website. “Based on inspiration that you created for millions around the world, with your long resistance to military dictatorship, and your advocacy for freedom and human rights for all the people of Myanmar, we were honored to present you with the first Elie Wiesel Award in 2012,” Bloomfield wrote. “It is with great regret that we are now rescinding that award. We did not take this decision lightly.” The museum has been “closely monitoring” the Myanmar military’s campaign against the Rohingya and Aung San Suu Kyi’s response to it, Bloomfield continued, making “numerous visits” to Myanmar and Bangladesh to obtain firsthand evidence. The museum has also published findings that include “mounting evidence of genocide”. The Burmese military, allied with armed Buddhist civilians, has killed thousands of Rohingya in the western state of Rakhine since last August. About 700,000 more have fled to Bangladesh. The US has described Myanmar’s denials of ethnic cleansing as “preposterous” and called on the UN security council to pressure Aung San Suu Kyi “to acknowledge these horrific acts that are taking place in her country”. The museum had hoped that Aung San Suu Kyi would speak out and try to end the brutal campaign, the letter added. “The National League for Democracy, under your leadership, has instead refused to cooperate with United Nations investigators, promulgated hateful rhetoric against the Rohingya community, and denied access to and cracked down on journalists trying to uncover the scope of the crimes in Rakhine State.” The Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, investigating the deaths of 10 Rohingya men and their burial in a mass grave, were arrested and face 14 years in prison. Authorities in Myanmar accuse them of possessing state secrets. Bloomfield acknowledged: “We understand the difficult situation you must face in confronting decades of military misrule and violence in your country and that institution’s still powerful constitutional role. However, the military’s orchestration of the crimes against Rohingya and the severity of the atrocities in recent months demand that you use your moral authority to address this situation.” [i]Source: Agencies[/i]
Kirshna Kumari Kolhi from Pakistan's Sindh province has become the first-ever Hindu Dalit woman Senator in the Muslim-majority country, the Pakistan People's Party has said. Kolhi, 39, from Thar is a member of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari-led Pakistan People's Party (PPP). She was elected Senator on a minority seat from Sindh. The PPP awarded her the Senate ticket, it said. Her election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in Pakistan. Earlier, PPP had elected first Hindu woman named Ratna Bhagwandas Chawla as a senator. Kolhi belongs to a remote village in Nagarparkar district of Thar in Sindh province. Born to a poor peasant, Jugno Kolhi, in February 1979, Kolhi and her family members spent nearly three years in a private jail owned by the landlord of Kunri of Umerkot district. She was a grade 3 student at the time when held captive. She was married to Lalchand at the age of 16, when she was studying in 9th grade. However, she pursued her studies and in 2013 she did masters in sociology from the Sindh University. She had joined the PPP as a social activist along with her brother, who was later elected as Chairman of Union Council Berano. Kolhi also actively participated and worked for the rights of downtrodden people of marginalised communities living in Thar and other areas. She is from the family of the valiant freedom fighter Rooplo Kolhi, who had waged a war against the invading British colonialist forces when they had attacked Sindh from Nagarparkar side in 1857. Subsequently, he was arrested and hanged by the Britishers on August 22, 1858. Pakistan's ruling PML-N of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday won 15 seats in Senate and became the largest party in the upper house of Parliament, according to the provisional results. Provincial and federal lawmakers voted to elect 52 Senators in the Senate elections, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Twelve seats each from Punjab and Sindh, 11 each from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, four from tribal region and two from federal capital territory were up for grab due to retirement of 52 senators this month. More than 130 candidates, including those nominated by political parties and independent candidates were in the contest. [i]Source: Times of India[/i]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is hosting a dinner for two South Korean delegates, the first time officials from Seoul have met the young leader since he took office in 2011. The South Korean president's office confirmed the meeting shortly after the delegates' arrival on Monday. The delegation is in Pyongyang for rare talks partly aimed at restarting dialogue between the North and the US. Relations between the Koreas have warmed following the Olympics. In an unprecedented move the delegation includes two ministerial-level envoys - intelligence chief Suh Hoon and National Security adviser Chung Eui-yong. North Korean state radio said the delegation was met by Ri Son-gwon, North Korea's reunification chief, who led talks in the weeks before the Winter Olympics. During the two-day visit, the South Korean group will focus on establishing conditions for talks aimed at getting rid of the North's nuclear weapons as well as dialogue between the US and Pyongyang. Mr Chung had earlier told a press briefing he would deliver President Moon Jae-in's "resolution to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North... [and] to denuclearize the Korean peninsula". "I plan to hold in-depth discussions on various ways to continue talks between not only the South and the North, but also the North and the United States," he added.
President Donald Trump’s national security team is looking at options to counter the threat of China spying on U.S. phone calls that include the government building a super-fast 5G wireless network, a senior administration official said on Sunday. The official, confirming the gist of a report from, said the option was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the president himself. The 5G network concept is aimed at addressing what officials see as China’s threat to U.S. cyber security and economic security. The Trump administration has taken a harder line on policies initiated by predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. strategic industries. This month AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers handsets built by China’s Huawei after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters. In 2012, Huawei and ZTE Corp were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure. Some members of the House intelligence committee remain troubled by security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE, according to a congressional aide. Issues raised in a 2012 committee report about the Chinese firms have “never subsided,” the aide said, adding that there was newer classified intelligence that recently resurfaced those concerns. “We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls,” the senior official told Reuters. “We have to have a secure network that doesn’t allow bad actors to get in. We also have to ensure the Chinese don’t take over the market and put every non-5G network out of business.” In Beijing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China prohibited all forms of hacking, but did not specifically address the 5G network security issue. “We believe that the international community should, on the basis of mutual respect and trust, strengthen dialogue and cooperation and join hands in addressing the threat of cyber attacks,” Hua told a regular news briefing. Major wireless carriers have spent billions of dollars buying spectrum to launch 5G networks, and it is unclear if the U.S. government would have enough spectrum to build its own 5G network. Furthermore, Accenture has estimated that wireless operators will invest as much as $275 billion in the United States over seven years as they build out 5G. Last year, T-Mobile US Inc spent $8 billion and Dish Network Corp $6.2 billion to win the bulk of broadcast airwaves spectrum for sale in a government auction. An AT&T spokesman said they could not comment on something they have not seen, and added, “Thanks to multi-billion dollar investments made by American companies, the work to launch 5G service in the United States is already well down the road.” Later this year, AT&T is set to be the first to launch mobile 5G service in 12 U.S. locations, the spokesman said. A Verizon spokesman declined to comment. Representatives for Sprint and T-Mobile did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Another option includes having a 5G network built by a consortium of wireless carriers, the U.S. official said. “We want to build a secure 5G network and we have to work with industry to figure out the best way to do it,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Axios published documents it said were from a presentation from a National Security Council official. If the government built the network, it would rent access to carriers, Axios said. A looming concern laid out in the presentation was China’s growing presence in the manufacture and operation of wireless networks. A concerted government push could help the U.S. compete on that front, according to the presentation. A 5G network is expected to offer significantly faster speeds, more capacity and shorter response times, which could be utilized for new technologies ranging from self-driving cars to remote surgeries. Telecom companies and their suppliers consider it to be a multibillion-dollar revenue opportunity. [i]Source: Reuters online[/i]
The US government partial shutdown is ending after Republicans and Democrats voted for a temporary funding bill. The Democratic leadership agreed to back the bill after accepting promises from Republicans for a debate later on the future of young illegal immigrants. President Donald Trump, who signed the bill on Monday evening, took a swipe at Democrats. It is the fourth temporary measure since October because Capitol Hill cannot agree a longer-term budget. The spending bill passed the Senate by 81-18 and the House of Representatives by 266-150 earlier on Monday. The so-called continuing resolution keeps the government funded until 8 February in the hope that Congress can reach a longer-term budget agreement in the meantime. Thousands of federal employees who had been placed on temporary, unpaid leave since Saturday breathed a sigh of relief. "It was essentially a lunch break," Tom Chapel, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, said. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said his party had "come to an arrangement" to negotiate on the Democrats' calls for an immigration deal. Democrats want protections from deportation for so-called Dreamers, more than 700,000 young immigrants brought to the US as children. But Republicans had insisted no agreement was possible while federal government services were closed. President Trump, a Republican, said in a statement: "I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses. [i]Source: BBC[/i]