Please PRAY for Peace....
Where is Bangladesh heading?
If this violent political impasse continues, the future looks increasingly unstable
- Porimol Palma, Dhaka
- February 12, 2015
- It’s more than a month since the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the country’s second largest political party, and its allies began a nationwide transport blockade. Already, it is the longest such political program in the history of the South Asian nation since her independence from Pakistan in 1971.
The blockade started after the ruling Awami League government put barricades in front of BNP Chairwoman Khaleda Zia’s office in Dhaka to prevent her from holding a rally on January 5.
The rally was to commemorate what the BNP termed “democracy killing day”. The day marked the one-year anniversary of the January 5, 2014 elections, which the BNP boycotted after the Awami League government refused to hold the polls under a neutral caretaker government. Amid the boycott, the Awami League won a landslide victory in which more than 50 percent of the 300 parliamentary seats were won without any contest.
Facing mounting criticism, the government removed barricades from Zia’s office on January 11. But the BNP, in turn, launched its own blockade, which is meant to cut off all transportation between Dhaka and other districts.
Apart from the blockade, the BNP-led 20 party alliance is also enforcing hartals (strikes) aimed at halting transportation within Dhaka.
However, peoples’ lives cannot halt. Many continue to make their way across Dhaka for work, school, business, and health care — only to become victims of mounting arson attacks.
Nearly 70 people thus far have died from firebombing, and over 400 have sustained burn injuries. Most schools have been shut down, and nearly 50 million students across the country face a huge setback in their education.
Farmers in villages are failing to supply and sell their produce, while garment manufacturers are facing immense problems in transporting products for shipment to international buyers. Wage earners and the poor are facing a particularly hard time given the chaotic situation. In all, the country is losing an estimated US$150 million each day, according to former economics professor Reza Kibria of Dhaka University.
Against this backdrop, civil society members have called for dialogue between the government and BNP to end the political crisis. Nagorik Shamaj, a citizens’ platform, wrote a letter to President Abdul Hamid, requesting him to initiate the dialogue.
BNP leaders have welcomed the move, but the Awami League government rejected it, saying they cannot hold a dialogue with a party that is burning and killing people and destroying the economy.
But while the government rejects dialogue, it also cannot manage the economy under such violence. Transport owners and drivers are reluctant to ply roads with buses and trucks. The government is now arranging police guards on highways, but that has failed to guarantee protection from firebombs.
Police arrested a number of BNP leaders and some 6,000 people allegedly linked to violence, but the firebomb menace shows no signs of abating.
Such a situation is almost beyond imagination in Bangladesh, which has been doing quite well despite its political problems. Its GDP growth was 4.75 percent throughout the 1990s, but in the last two decades it has been over six percent. Primary school enrolment is 98 percent and the gender gap is zero. Average life expectancy is nearly 70. These social indicators are better than its South Asian neighbors.
Though it is a Muslim-majority country, it is well known for its religious harmony and has no major record of religious or sectarian tension. All this is because the country was created based on secularism and democracy in 1971 through an armed conflict against what was then West Pakistan, which was separated from India on the basis of religion.
After the father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was killed in an army coup in 1975, military rule continued until 1990. During the military regimes, Islamist forces had spread their wings. But after the restoration of democracy in 1991 through mass movements, the country has progressed remarkably well.
But the prolonged instability this time is more intense than ever with the government and BNP digging in. Security analysts believe the hardline elements will take advantage of this conflict between the center-left Awami League and center-right BNP and strengthen their ground if immediate democratic solutions are not sought through dialogue.
Democracy, secular values, freedom of expression and human rights will then suffer in the long run.
Porimol Palma is a senior correspondent of the Daily Star, Bangladesh’s leading English daily.
Shared from UCAN/Special to CNW by Porimol Palma
Image Shared from IndiaToday
Image Shared from IndiaToday
Pope Francis prays "for our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian..." Homily
The Mass was attended by the Pope’s personal secretary, Abuna Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, who is Coptic Catholic. As he prepared to begin Mass in the Santa Marta Chapel, the Pope invited the congregation to join him in prayer for ‘our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian, that the Lord welcome them as martyrs, for their families, for my brother Tawadros, who is suffering greatly’.
He then prayed: “Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me. For you are my rock, my stronghold! Lead me; guide me, for the sake of your name”. Monday evening the Pope had made a personal phone call to Patriarch Tawadros, who is the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, to express his sorrow at the brutal murder. During his homily the Pope spoke of man’s capability for evil and destruction and condemned what he termed ‘merchants of death’, business people who sell arms to those at war, furthering a cycle of hate, fratricide and violence.
Pope Francis was reflecting on the passage from Genesis that speaks of God’s wrath at man’s wickedness that is a prelude to the great flood. The Pope noted with regret that man, "seems to be more powerful than God", because he is capable of destroying the good things that God has made.>Man is capable of destroying fraternity
During Lent, we pray not to be misled by temptations
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 71Then the LORD said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. 2Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; 3and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth. 4For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground." 5And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him. 10And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.
Responsorial Psalm Psalms 29:1-4, 3, 9-10
1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy array. 3The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, upon many waters. 4The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 9The voice of the LORD makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forests bare; and in his temple all cry, "Glory!" 10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king for ever.
Holy Gospel according to; "" Mark 8:14-21 "
" The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” < The Word of the Lord > “God showered his blessing, always on you and you’re beautiful family; Amen †”
Between the years 1225 and 1227 seven young Florentines joined the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin—popularly known as the 'Laudesi' or Praisers. It was a period when the prosperous city of Florence was being rent by political factions and distracted by the heresy of the Cathari: it was also a time of general relaxation of morals even where devotional practices were retained. These young men were members of the most prominent families of the city. Whether they were all friends before they joined the Laudesi is not clear, but in that confraternity they became closely allied.
The eldest was Buonfiglio Monaldo, who became their leader. The others were Alexis Falconieri, Benedict dell' Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Ricovero Uguccione, Gerardino Sostegni, and John Buonagiunta. They had as their spiritual director James of Poggibonsi, who was chaplain of the Laudesi, a man of great holiness and spiritual insight. All of them came to realize the call to a life of renunciation, and they determined to have recourse to our Lady in their perplexity. On the feast of the Assumption, as they were absorbed in prayer, they saw her in a vision, and were inspired by her to withdraw from the world into a solitary place and to live for God alone. There were difficulties, because, though three of them were celibates, four had been married and had ties, although two had become widowers. Suitable provision for their dependents was arranged, and with the approval of the bishop they withdrew from the world and betook themselves to a house called La Carmarzia, outside the gates of Florence, twenty-three days after they had received their call. Before long they found themselves so much disturbed by constant visitors from Florence that they decided to withdraw to the wild and deserted slopes of Monte Senario, where they built a simple church and hermitage and lived a life of almost incredible austerity.
In spite of difficulties, visitors sometimes found their way to the hermits and many wished to join them, but they refused to accept recruits. So they continued to live for several years,—until they were visited by their bishop, Ardingo, and Cardinal Castiglione, who had heard about their sanctity. He was greatly edified, but made one adverse criticism: 'You treat yourselves in a manner bordering on barbarity: and you seem more desirous of dying to time than of living for eternity. Take heed: the enemy of souls often hides himself under the appearance of an angel of light . . . Hearken to the counsels of your superiors.'
Again the solitaries gave themselves up to prayer for light, and again they had a vision of our Lady, who bore in her hand a black habit while an angel held a scroll inscribed with the title of Servants of Mary. She told them she—had chosen them to be her servants, that she wished them to wear the black habit, and to follow the Rule of St. Augustine. From that date, April 13, 1240, they were known as the Servants of Mary, or Servites.
They were clothed by the bishop himself, Buonfiglio being elected their superior. According to custom they selected names by which they should thenceforth be known, and became Brothers Bonfilius, Alexis, Amadeus, Hugh, Sostenes, Manettus and Buonagiunta. By the wish of the bishop, all except St. Alexis, who in his humility begged to be excused, prepared to receive holy orders, and in due time they were fully professed and ordained priests. The new order, which took a form more like that of the mendicant friars than that of the monastic orders, increased amazingly, and it soon became necessary to form fresh houses. Siena, Pistoia and Arezzo were the first places chosen, and afterwards the houses at Carfaggio, the convent and church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence, and the convent at Lucca were established. Meanwhile, although the Servites had the approval of their immediate superiors, they had not been recognized by the Holy See. It was only in 1259 that the order was practically recognized by Alexander IV, and not until 1304 over sixty years after its foundation-that it received the explicit and formal approbation of Bd. Benedict XI. St. Bonfilius had remained as prior general until 1256, when he begged to be relieved owing to old age. He died on new year's night, 1261.St. Buonagiunta, the youngest of the seven, was the second prior general, but not long after his election he breathed his last in chapel while the gospel of the Passion was being read. St. Amadeus ruled over the important convent of Carfaggio, but returned to Monte Senario to end his days. St. Manettus became fourth prior general and sent missionaries to Asia, but he retired to make way for St. Philip Benizi, upon whose breast he died. St. Hugh and St. Sostenes went abroad—Sostenes to Paris and Hugh to found convents in Germany. They were recalled in 1276, and, being attacked by illness, they passed away side by side the same night. St. Alexis, the humble lay-brother outlived them all, and he was the only one who survived to see the order fully and finally recognized. He is reported to have died at the age one hundred and ten.
"Mardi Gras" is french for fat tuesday. This refers to the day before Ash Wednesday when the 40 days of Lent officially begins. "Mardi Gras", "Carnival" and "Shrove Tuesday" all involve celebrations of eating, drinking, dancing, etc. before the fasting of Lent. Some celebrate the "Carnival" by joining in parades with elaborate costumes, festive music, dancing, and other activities. February 17, 2015 is Shrove Tues.
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There are many cities world-wide that have historic and magnificent celebrations on this day. The most famous include cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Trinidad and Tobago, New Orleans (Louisiana), Quebec City (Canada).
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The Jews also celebrate the re-dedication of the Temple with Hanukkah. When the re-dedication occurred there was a lighting of the lamps with pure oil that lasted for 8 days. To commemorate this the Jews eat latkes (potato pancakes), made with lots of oil.
IRISH SHROVE TUESDAY PANCAKE RECIPE
8oz all purpose/plain flour
2½ cups milk
2 tsp melted butter plus melted butter for cooking
Makes 12 pancakes
Sieve the flour into a large baking bowl, add the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs and beat well until smooth and lump free.
Add half the milk and the 2 tsp of butter, beat well. Add the remaining milk and stir.
Leave the batter to rest for 15 minutes.
Lightly grease a pancake pan or frying pan with a little melted butter, heat until very hot and add a ladle of batter to evenly and thinly coat the base of the pan. Cook until set and lightly golden. Flip over (if you are really brave try tossing the pancake in the air, great fun) and cook on the other side for approx 30 seconds.
Remove the pancake from the pan, place on a sheet of kitchen paper and keep warm. Continue as above until all the batter is used up.
(RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.irishcentral.com/
Some traditions over the centuries have led to excessive indulgences during this day. Let us keep sober and remember the roots of the Lenten fast when Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. In the Gospels we find the story which is the reason for the fast; when Jesus "was in the desert forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by Satan; and he was with beasts, and the angels ministered to him." (Mark 1:13)