Fireworks explode around the Eiffel Tower

potd-fireworks_2975030kFireworks explode around the Eiffel Tower during the annual Bastille Day celebrations in Paris


Bangladesh war ‘tribunal’

Karwan Bazar, one of the most important busine...
Karwan Bazar, one of the most important business centres in Dhaka 
ACCORDING to media reports, Bangladesh’s special 1971 war investigation tribunal sentenced to life another Jamaat-i-Islami activist, Ghulam Azam. He is 90 years old and can’t walk.
The Jamaat-i-Islami’s third activist received the sentence after the formation of war investigation tribunal set up by Sheikh Hasina’s government.
Now due to political unrest and continuous strikes, the country’s poor are paying a high price.
Now public protest and strikes are becoming a daily routine in the country. More than half a million people gathered on streets of the capital city of Dhaka and showed their anger against the government.
The use of force by security forces has led to the death of hundreds of protesters. Things have worsened and the agitation is spreading outside Dhaka. Several videos are circulating on social media showing heavily armed police targeting unarmed protestors. Human rights organisations claim that the death toll is much higher because security forces use live ammunition against unarmed protestors.
Opposition parties claim that the government is trying to divert the attention of the people from real issues. Only last month more than 1,000 people lost their lives when a garment factory collapsed during working hours.
In another incident 10 people lost their lives due to fire in another garment factory.
Now the European Union show serious concerns over poor safety standard of Bangladeshi textile industry which is the backbone of the country’s economy.
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Political unrest in Bangladesh


The Bangladesh war crimes tribunal has sentenced to death another Jamaat-e-Islami activist who was just 19 years old at the time of the 1971 war. He is the third Jamaat-e-Islami activist to receive the death sentence since the tribunal was set by the Sheikh Hasina government. Now as a result of political unrest and continuous strikes, the country and its people are paying a high price.

Public protests and strikes are becoming part of the daily routine in the country with more than half a million people gathered on the streets of the capital Dhaka to voice their anger against the government.
Because of the brutal force used by security forces resulting in the death of hundreds of people, the protests are spreading outside the capital and things are going from bad to worse on a daily basis. Several videos clips circulating on social media show heavily armed police deliberately targeting unarmed protestors. Human rights organizations claim that the death toll is high because security forces are using live ammunition against unarmed protestors.

Opposition parties claim that the government is trying to divert the attention of the people from important issues. Only last month more than one thousand people lost their lives when a garment factory collapsed during working hours. In another incident, ten people were killed in a fire in another garment factory.
The European Union has said that it has serious concern over the poor safety standard of the Bangladeshi textile industry which is the backbone of the country’s economy.
Khawaja Umer Farooq, Jeddah
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The Eurozone

English: The European Central Bank. Notice a s...
The eurozone officially called the euro area,[7] is an economic and monetary union (EMU) of 17 European Union (EU) member states that have adopted the euro (€) as their common currency and sole legal tender. The eurozone currently consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. Other EU states (except for the United Kingdom, Denmark and de facto Sweden) are obliged to join once they meet the criteria to do so.[8] No state has left and there are no provisions to do so or to be expelled.[citation needed]
Monetary policy of the zone is the responsibility of the European Central Bank (ECB) which is governed by a president and a board of the heads of national central banks. The principal task of the ECB is to keep inflation under control. Though there is no common representation, governance or fiscal policy for the currency union, some co-operation does take place through the Euro Group, which makes political decisions regarding the eurozone and the euro. The Euro Group is composed of the finance ministers of eurozone states, however in emergencies, national leaders also form the Euro Group.
Since the late-2000s financial crisis, the eurozone has established and used provisions for granting emergency loans to member states in return for the enactment of economic reforms. The eurozone has also enacted some limited fiscal integration, for example in peer review of each other’s national budgets. The issue is highly political and in a state of flux as of 2011 in terms of what further provisions will be agreed for eurozone reform.
Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City have concluded formal agreements with the EU to use the euro as their official currency and issue their own coins.[9][10] Andorra negotiated a similar agreement which will permit them to issue euros as early as 1 July 2013. Others, like Kosovo and Montenegro, have adopted the euro unilaterally.[9] However, these countries do not formally form part of the eurozone and do not have representation in the ECB or the Euro Group.[11]
Non-member usage
The euro is also used in countries outside the EU. Three states – Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City —[9][10] have signed formal agreements with the EU to use the euro and issue their own coins. Nevertheless, they are not considered part of the eurozone by the ECB and do not have a seat in the ECB or Euro Group. Andorra’s monetary agreement with the EU to use the euro came into force in April 2012 and will permit it to issue its own euro coins as early as 1 July 2013, provided that Andorra implements relevant EU legislation.[9][18] They are expected to issue their first coins on 1 January 2014.[19]
Kosovo[g] and Montenegro officially adopted the euro as their sole currency without an agreement and, therefore, have no issuing rights.[9] These states are not considered part of the eurozone by the ECB. However, sometimes the term eurozone is applied to all territories that have adopted the euro as their sole currency.[20][21][22] Further unilateral adoption of the euro (euroisation), by both non-euro EU and non-EU members, is opposed by the ECB and EU.[23]

  Expulsion and secession

While the eurozone is open to all EU member states to join once they meet the criteria, the treaty is silent on the matter of states leaving the eurozone, neither prohibiting nor permitting it. Likewise there is no provision for a state to be expelled from the euro.[24] Some, however, including the Dutch government, favour such a provision being created in the event that a heavily indebted state in the eurozone refuses to comply with an EU economic reform policy.[25]
The benefits of leaving the euro would vary depending on the exact situations. If the replacement currency were expected to devalue, the state would experience a large scale exodus of money, whereas if the currency were expected to appreciate then more money would flow into the economy. Even so a rapidly appreciating currency would be detrimental to the country’s exports.[26]
A problem is that leaving the euro can’t be done so quickly, banknotes must for example be printed. So during preparations, a lot of money would leave the country, and people can be expected to withdraw euro in cash, causing a bank run. The theory on a normal devaluation of a currency says it must be done immediately after it is presented.
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Eurozone unemployment rate hits record high

Unemployment rose to a record high of 12 percent in February in the Eurozone, according to the latest data released by the EU’s official statistics agency.
The Belgium-based Eurostat said on Tuesday that some 19.07 million people in the 17-member currency bloc are looking for jobs, up by 1.01 percent from the same month last year.
“Such unacceptably high levels of unemployment are a tragedy for Europe,”said a spokeswoman for EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor. “The EU has to mobilise all available resources to create jobs…young people in particular need help,” she said.
The figures and a weak manufacturing sector report added to the gloom after data earlier this year had encouraged some hope the European economy might finally have touched bottom.
Analysts suggested Tuesday’s reports pointed instead to worse to come, with the jobless queues likely to grow as the debt crisis continues to sap the economy.

Youth unemployment

The highest unemployment rates in February were found in Spain with 26.3 percent and neighbour Portugal, on 17.5 percent.
Greece was put at it 26.4 percent but this figure is for December, the latest available.
The lowest rates were 4.8 percent in Austria and 5.4 percent in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy.
With youth unemployment a huge cause of concern, Eurostat said that the jobless rate for under-25s ran at 23.9 percent in the Eurozone and 23.5 percent in the EU.
Among the countries with the highest youth jobless levels, Spain was on 55.7 percent, followed by Portugal on 38.2 percent and Italy with 37.8 percent.
Greece was the highest with 58.4 percent but this was also for December.
Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said the figures marked a “dismal landmark” at 12 percent — already very close to the official EU 2013 forecast of 12.2 percent.


Courtesy : AlJazeera English
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Bungladesh Garment Factory Deaths

More than 400 people are now confirmed dead after the collapse of the building housing clothing factories in Bangladesh a week ago. 149 people are still missing.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the capital, Dhaka, in protests to mark International Workers Day. They’re demanding the death penalty for the building’s owners.

The European Union says it could take action to create pressure for improvements and accountability on working conditions in Bangladesh. 


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Catherine Ashton

English: Baroness Ashton of Upholland, British...
English: Baroness Ashton of Upholland, British politician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catherine Ashton, Baroness Ashton of UphollandPC (born 20 March 1956) is a British Labour politician who in 2009 became the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, this post is combined with the post of Vice-President of the European Commission.
Her political career began in 1999 when she was created a Life Peer (Baroness Ashton of Upholland) by the Labour Government. Under this government she became the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills in 2001 and subsequently in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice in 2004. She became a Privy Councillor (PC) in May 2006.
Catherine Ashton was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen’s Privy Council in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet in June 2007. As well as Leader of the Lords, she held responsibility in the House of Lords for equalities issues, and she was instrumental in steering the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon through the UK’s upper chamber. In 2008, she succeeded Peter Mandelson as Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission.
In December 2009, she became the first person to take on the role of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that was created by the Treaty of Lisbon. As High Representative, Baroness Ashton serves as the EU’s foreign policy chief. [1]

Early life

Catherine Ashton was born in UphollandLancashire on 20 March 1956.[2][3] She comes from a working class family, with a background in coal mining going back generations.[4][5] She attended Upholland Grammar School in Billinge Higher End, Lancashire, then Wigan Mining and Technical College in Wigan.[6] Ashton graduated with a BSc in Sociology in 1977 from Bedford College, London (now part of Royal Holloway, University of London). She was the first person in her family to attend University.[4][5][7][8][9]

Early career in the United Kingdom

Between 1977 and 1983 Ashton worked for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) as an administrator and in 1982 was elected as its national treasurer and subsequently as one of its vice-chairs. From 1979 to 1981 she was Business Manager of The Coverdale Organisation, a management consultancy.[10][11] As of 1983 she worked for the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work.[12] From 1983 to 1989 she was Director of Business in the Community working with business to tackle inequality, and established the Employers’ Forum on Disability, Opportunity Now, and the Windsor Fellowship.[citation needed] For most of the 1990s, she worked as a freelance policy adviser.[8][13] She chaired the Health Authority inHertfordshire from 1998 to 2001, and her children’s school governing body, and became a Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families.
She was made a Labour life peer as Baroness Ashton of Upholland in 1999, under Prime Minister Tony Blair. In June 2001 she was appointedParliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills. In 2002 she was appointed minister for Sure Start in the same department. In September 2004, she was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, with responsibilities including the National Archives and the Public Guardianship Office. Ashton was sworn of the Privy Council in 2006, and became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the new Ministry of Justice in May 2007.
In 2005 she was voted “Minister of the Year” by The House Magazine and “Peer of the Year” by Channel 4. In 2006 she won the “Politician of the Year” award at the annual Stonewall Awards, awarded to those that have made a positive impact on the lives of British LGBT people.[14]
On 28 June 2007 the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, appointed her to the Cabinet as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council.[15] As Leader of the House, she was responsible for passing the Lisbon Treaty through the House of Lords.[16]

EU Trade Commissioner

On 3 October 2008, she was nominated to replace Peter Mandelson as the UK’s European Commissioner in Brussels. European Commissioners may not engage in any other occupation during their term of office, whether gainful or not[17] so, in order to take up her position, she used the procedural device previously used in 1984 by Lord Cockfield[18] and took a leave of absence from the House of Lords on 14 October 2008,[19] retaining her peerage but not her seat.[20]
Her appointment as Trade Commissioner was scrutinised by the European Parliament. She was criticised by Daniel Hannan, a British Conservative MEP, saying that she had “no background in trade issues at a time when the EU is engaged in critical negotiations with Canada, Korea and the WTO”.[21] However, following her public confirmation hearing by the Trade Committee of theEuropean Parliament, Ashton was approved by the Parliament on 22 October 2008 with 538 to 40 votes, and 63 abstentions.[22] She has since finished negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement with Korea and initialled it in October 2009.[23]

Responsibilities as High Representative

As High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a post that was combined with Vice-President of the European Commission, Ashton was elected by the Heads of State and Government of the 27 European Union countries at a summit in Brussels.
Besides representing the EU at international forums and coordinating the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy, the High Representative also:
During her term in office she and her team have given priority to a number of European and global issues. These include:
  • Participation in the Quartet negotiations on the Middle East Peace Process
  • Leading European negotiations with Iran over its controversial Nuclear programme
  • Responding to the Arab Spring with a new European Neighbourhood Policy (May 2011), to provide funding and market access to North Africa
  • Supporting democratic forces in Libya by opening an EU office in Benghazi in May 2011 and supporting the National Transitional Council
  • Building a European consensus to establish sanctions against the Assad regime in Syria
  • Strengthening relations with the EU’s Strategic Partners such as the US, Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa
  • In the Balkans, forging renewed talks between Serbs and Kosovars (“Belgrade-Pristina” dialogue)
  • Negotiating an upgraded status for the EU at the UN as foreseen under the Lisbon Treaty
  • Establishing the European External Action Service (1 December 2010), which merged the external relations departments of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, and will have diplomats seconded from national foreign services.

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Helmut Kohl

Helmut Kohl - Chancellor of Germany (1982–1998...
Helmut Kohl – Chancellor of Germany (1982–1998) and architect of German Reunification 
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛlmuːt ˈkoːl]; born 3 April 1930) is a German conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 (of West Germany between 1982 and 1990 and of the reunited Germany between 1990 and 1998) and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1973 to 1998. His 16-year tenure was the longest of any German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck and oversaw the end of the Cold War and the German reunification. Kohl is widely regarded as the main architect of the German reunification and, together with French president François Mitterrand, the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union.[1]
Kohl and Mitterrand were the joint recipients of the Charlemagne Prize in 1988.[2] In 1998, Kohl was named Honorary Citizen of Europe by the European heads of state or government for his extraordinary work for European integration and cooperation, an honour previously only bestowed on Jean Monnet.[3] In 1996, he won the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award in International Cooperation.[4]
Kohl has been described as “the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century” by former U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush[5] and Bill Clinton.[6]
Kohl was born in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (at the time part of Bavaria, now in Rhineland-Palatinate) Germany, the third child of Cäcilie (née Schnur; 1890–1979) and her husband Hans Kohl (1887–1975), a civil servant. His family was conservative and Roman Catholic, and remained loyal to the Catholic Centre Party before and after 1933. His older brother died in the Second World War as a teenage soldier. In the last weeks of the war, Kohl was also drafted, but he was not involved in any combat.
Kohl attended the Ruprecht elementary school, and continued at the Max-Planck-Gymnasium. In 1946, he joined the recently founded CDU. In 1947, he was one of the co-founders of the Junge Union-branch in Ludwigshafen. After graduating in 1950, he began to study law in Frankfurt am Main. In 1951, he switched to the University of Heidelberg where he majored in History and Political Science. In 1953, he joined the board of the Rhineland-Palatinate branch of the CDU. In 1954, he became vice-chair of the Junge Union in Rhineland-Palatinate. In 1955, he returned to the board of the Rhineland-Palatinate branch of the CDU.

  Life before politics

After graduating in 1956 he became fellow at the Alfred Weber Institute of the University of Heidelberg where he was an active member of the student society AIESEC. In 1958, he received his doctorate degree for his thesis “The Political Developments in the Palatinate and the Reconstruction of Political Parties after 1945”. After that, he entered business, first as an assistant to the director of a foundry in Ludwigshafen and, in 1959, as a manager for the Industrial Union for Chemistry in Ludwigshafen. In this year, he also became chair of the Ludwigshafen branch of the CDU. In the following year, he married Hannelore Renner, whom he had known since 1948, and they had two sons.

 Early political career

In 1960, he was elected into the municipal council of Ludwigshafen where he served as leader of the CDU party until 1969. In 1963, he was also elected into the Landtag and served as leader of the CDU party in that legislature. From 1966 until 1973, he served as the chair of the CDU’s state branch, and he was also a member of the Federal CDU board. After his election as party-chair, he was named as the successor to Peter Altmeier, who was minister-president of Rhineland-Palatinate at the time. However, after the Landtag-election which followed, Altmeier remained minister-president.
The 1976 Bundestag election
In the 1976 federal election, Kohl was the CDU/CSU’s candidate for chancellor. The CDU/CSU coalition performed very well, winning 48.6% of the vote. However they were kept out of government by the centre-left cabinet formed by the Social Democratic Party of Germany and Free Democratic Party (Germany), led by Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt. Kohl then retired as minister-president of Rhineland-Palatinate to become the leader of the CDU/CSU in the Bundestag. He was succeeded by Bernhard Vogel.

  Leader of the opposition

In the 1980 federal elections, Kohl had to play second fiddle, when CSU-leader Franz Josef Strauß became the CDU/CSU’s candidate for chancellor. Strauß was also unable to defeat the SPD/FDP alliance. Unlike Kohl, Strauß did not want to continue as the leader of the CDU/CSU and remained Minister-President of Bavaria. Kohl remained as leader of the opposition, under the third Schmidt cabinet (1980–82).
On 17 September 1982, a conflict of economic policy occurred between the governing SPD/FDP coalition partners. The FDP wanted to radically liberalise the labour market, while the SPD preferred to guarantee the employment of those who already had jobs. The FDP began talks with the CDU/CSU to form a new government.

  Chancellor of West Germany

  Rise to power

On 1 October 1982, the CDU proposed a constructive vote of no confidence which was supported by the FDP. The motion carried, and, on 4 October, the Bundestag voted in a new CDU/CSU-FDP coalition cabinet, with Kohl as the chancellor. Many of the important details of the new coalition had been hammered out on 20 September, though minor details were reportedly still being hammered out as the vote took place.
Though Kohl’s election was done according to the Basic Law, some voices criticized the move as the FDP had fought its 1980 campaign on the side of the SPD and even placed Chancellor Schmidt on some of their campaign posters. Some voices went as far as denying that the new government had the support of a majority of the people. To answer this question, the new government aimed at new elections at the earliest possible date.
Since the Basic Law is restrictive on the dissolution of parliament, Kohl had to take another controversial move: he called for a confidence vote only a month after being sworn in, in which members of his coalition abstained. The ostensibly negative result for Kohl then allowed President Karl Carstens to dissolve the Bundestag in January 1983.
The move was controversial as the coalition parties denied their votes to the same man they had elected Chancellor a month before and whom they wanted to re-elect after the parliamentary election. However, this step was condoned by the German Federal Constitutional Court as a legal instrument and was again applied (by SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his Green allies) in 2005.

 The second cabinet

In the federal elections of March 1983, Kohl won a resounding victory. The CDU/CSU won 48.8%, while the FDP won 7.0%. Some opposition members of the Bundestag asked the Federal constitutional court to declare the whole proceedings unconstitutional. It denied their claim.
The second Kohl cabinet pushed through several controversial plans, including the stationing of NATO midrange missiles, against major opposition from the peace movement.
On 24 January 1984, Kohl spoke before the Israeli Knesset, as the first Chancellor of the post-war generation. In his speech, he used liberal journalist Günter Gaus’ famous sentence that he had “the mercy of a late birth” (“Gnade der späten Geburt”).
On 22 September 1984 Kohl met the French president François Mitterrand at Verdun, where the Battle of Verdun between France and Germany had taken place during World War I. Together, they commemorated the deaths of both World Wars. The photograph, which depicted their minutes long handshake became an important symbol of French-German reconciliation. Kohl and Mitterrand developed a close political relationship, forming an important motor for European integration. Together, they laid the foundations for European projects, like Eurocorps and Arte. This French-German cooperation also was vital for important European projects, like the Treaty of Maastricht and the Euro.
In 1985, Kohl and US President Ronald Reagan, as part of a plan to observe the 40th anniversary of V-E Day, saw an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the friendship that existed between Germany and its former foe. During a November 1984 visit to the White House, Kohl appealed to Reagan to join him in symbolizing the reconciliation of their two countries at a German military cemetery. As Reagan visited Germany as part of the G6 conference in Bonn, the pair visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 5 May, and more controversially the German military cemetery in Bitburg, discovered to hold 49 members of the Waffen-SS buried there.
In 1986, more controversy was caused by an essay published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 25 April 1986 entitled “Land Without A History” written by one of Kohl’s advisors, the historian Michael Stürmer, in which Stürmer argued that West Germany lacked a history to be proud of, and called for effort on the part of the government, historians and the media to build national pride in German history. Though Stürmer insisted that he was writing on behalf of himself and not in an official capacity as the Chancellor’s advisor, many left-wing intellectuals claimed that Stürmer’s essay also expressed Kohl’s views.
Political views
In international politics Kohl was committed to European integration, maintaining close relations with the French president Mitterrand. Parallel to this he was committed to German reunification. Although he continued the Ostpolitik of his social-democratic predecessor, Kohl also supported Reagan’s more aggressive policies in order to weaken the USSR.

  Public perception

Kohl faced stiff opposition from the West German political left and was as well mocked upon for his provincial background, physical stature and simple language. Similar to historical French cartoons of Louis-Philippe of France, Hans Traxler depicted Kohl as a pear in the left leaning satirical journal Titanic.[16] The German expression Birne (“pear”) became a widespread nickname and symbol for the Chancellor.[17] Kohl became one of the most popular politicians in some regions of Eastern Germany and a greatly respected European statesman.[citation needed]


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