BNP shares concern over democracy with diplomats

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first_imgIndian high commissioner to Bangladesh Harsha Bardhan Shringla having some chats with BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir during an iftar programme hosted by the party at a city hotel. Photo: Collected/Prothom AloCountry’s main principle opposition political party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Sunday shared its concern with foreign diplomats that the democratic future of Bangladesh will be at stake if the next general election is not held in a fair and credible manner with the participation of all parties.”If we fail to ensure holding of a free, fair, acceptable and inclusive election, the democratic future of the country will be destroyed,” BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told an Iftar party at Westin hotel in the capital, reports UNB.BNP hosted the iftar party in honour of foreign diplomats working in Bangladesh on the third day of the fasting month of Ramadan.In absence of its chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, Fakhrul chaired the programme. Khaleda used to host iftar for foreign diplomats during Ramadan every year.Ambassadors, high commissioners, mission chiefs, charge d’ affaires and other envoys from about 35 countries attended the iftar.”In today’s globalised world when we share our concern with our foreign friends, we’re also convinced that we’ll have to take forward our struggle of our own,” said Fakhrul.In a brief address prior to iftar, Fakhrul said, “I welcome you with a heavy heart to this Iftar gathering. I’m sure many of you here are missing the presence of Begum Khaleda Zia. She’s been spending a difficult time within the four walls of an abandoned house re-designated as a prison for no fault of hers. As days pass the travesty of justice is getting exposed every day.”Sixteen high commissioners and ambassadors, including dean of diplomatic corps, ambassador of Vatican to Bangladesh archbishop George Kocherry, Chinese ambassador Zhang Zuo, Indian high commissioner Harsha Bardhan Shringla, Canadian high commissioner Benoit Prefontaine, Australian high commissioner Julia Niblett and Netherlands’ ambassador Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, were present.Besides, envoys from the USA, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Norway, Pakistan, Denmark, Sweden, Vietnam, France, the Maldives, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Iran, the EU and some other countries and international organisations attended the programme.last_img

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Chaos Moves From Streets to Sidewalks as Bikes Seek Safe Summer Routes

first_imgRiding to the BeachAlthough the city has made major progress in creating a dedicated bicycle path across the island from north to south on Haven Avenue (including a new user-operated traffic signal that helps bicyclists and pedestrians cross Ninth Street) there’s still no dedicated path to get from west to east for bicyclists pedaling to the beach and boardwalk.The Route 52 (Ninth Street) causeway includes a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists. But “one of the biggest obstacle we’ve encountered is, how do we get people from Ninth Street and Bay Avenue across town to the Boardwalk?” Ang said.“Our infrastructure was built many, many years ago” and Ninth street isn’t wide enough to accommodate a bicycle path all the way to the Boardwalk, he said. “We’re trying to make changes that won’t infringe on the flow of traffic, but will create a safe haven for bicyclists.”Fasy, the local bicycling advocate, said there’s been discussion about using the wide sidewalks on the south side of Fifth Street and the north side of Sixth Street to create a multi-use path connecting Haven Avenue to the Boardwalk. Those sidewalks border a green corridor including the Ocean City Tabernacle, Veterans Memorial Park and Ocean City High School.“Although there are improvements needed, that could be a good connector route between the (existing) bike path and the Boardwalk,” he said.“In the big picture, we’re trying to do this as money allows,” Fasy said. “The city isn’t setting aside large chunks of money to improve bicycle infrastructure. What they’re trying to do, and I think they’ve done a very good bit of it, is implementing (bicycle-related) improvements as road improvements occur and as grant money becomes available.”__________Click here for a guide to New Jersey bicycle and pedestrian laws.__________On a recent weekday afternoon, MaryEllen DeMarco took a break from riding her mountain bike, outside Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor at Eighth Street and Ocean Avenue.She said a dedicated east-to-west path would make getting to the Boardwalk safer and easier for bicyclists.DeMarco, a regular visitor to Ocean City from Woodbury Heights, Gloucester County, said she feels safer riding on the sidewalk, but “if people are walking, I don’t. If nobody’s there, I don’t think it’s a problem. If I see (pedestrians) there, I get off” the sidewalk.“When I’m a pedestrian, I would at least hope people would show me the same courtesy. But they don’t always.” A bicyclist rides on the sidewalk on Ninth Street between Asbury and Central avenues on Aug. 11, 2014.   Credit: Tim Zatzariny Jr.By Tim Zatzariny Jr.For OCNJ DailyA risky game of chicken plays out frequently on the sidewalks of Ocean City.Bicyclists come face-to-face with pedestrians, and often neither is sure who should back down first. This can force bicyclists and pedestrians to veer into the street and into the path of oncoming traffic.It’s an especially big issue in the summer, when the 11-square-mile island’s population swells to more than 150,000 people on weekends and streets are narrowed by endless lines of parked cars.Although city police say there are only a handful of collisions each year between pedestrians and bicyclists, concerns for the safety of both is growing as more and more riders pedal the streets.“Ocean City is a bicycling friendly community,” said Drew Fasy, a member of the local bicycling advocacy group Bike OCNJ. “We’re just trying to make it better and safer, and it’s a process.”Bicyclists enter the intersection at 11th Street and Wesley Avenue on Aug. 11, 2014. Credit: Tim Zatzariny Jr.There’s no state law that prohibits riding bicycles on public sidewalks, so whether it’s illegal is up to individual municipalities.An Ocean City ordinance specifically prohibits bicycle riding on Eighth Street’s sidewalks from Atlantic Avenue to the Boardwalk, and on Asbury Avenue between Sixth and 12th streets  in the city’s downtown. Violators face a fine of $30.Even in areas of the city where it isn’t illegal, bicycling on sidewalks is strongly discouraged.“There’s two side to that coin,” said Fasy, who was involved in the city’s efforts to create a bike route on Haven Avenue between Ninth and 34th streets. “People ride on the sidewalk because they don’t feel the streets are safe, thereby creating an unsafe condition on the sidewalk. The answer is we need to make our streets safe, so people feel safe riding on the streets.”Ocean City Police Capt. Steve Ang said it’s understandable why some bicyclists choose the sidewalk over the street.“In the common-sense world, if I have two small children, where would I rather be? Riding with my children in the street, or on the sidewalk?” Ang said.Bicyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as motorists in New Jersey.Ocean City will give verbal warnings to bicyclists who commit infractions such as failing to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk, but they don’t frequently issue tickets for those violations, Ang said.“The last thing we want to do is be out there writing tickets (to bicyclists),” Ang said, since many of them are vacationers.“Our purpose is to make sure everybody is safe, and goes home with a memorable experience.”An informational brochure about bicycling in Ocean City, including safety tips, is headed for a second printing after more than 25,000 copies of the first run were distributed over the past two years, Fasy said.“They’ll go into the vacation bag renters get when they check in,” he said.The hope is to educate bicyclists on the proper places to ride in the city.Bicycling on downtown sidewalks can be especially hazardous, Ang said.“As you’re walking out a store, you don’t want to encounter a bicycle coming down the Avenue.”This presents a quandary for merchants, who encourage shoppers to pedal downtown, although there’s no designated place for bicyclists to ride.“The sidewalks aren’t wide enough to accommodate both bicycles and the shoppers,” said Paul Cunningham, co-chair of the Ocean City Downtown Merchants Association. “It’s a double-edged sword, because then (bicyclists) ride on Asbury and (the street’s) not wide enough for bicycles. It’s a problem that’s hard to address. We certainly want to encourage people to ride their bikes downtown, but we also want them to be safe.”Members of the Merchants Association continue to discuss solutions to the lack of bicycling options downtown, said Cunningham, the owner of P. Francis, an upscale gift store on Asbury Avenue.One partial solution, he said, is to keep adding bicycle racks near downtown intersections.“It still encourages bicyclists to come downtown, but it gives them a place to park their bikes and walk,” he said.The city is offering anyone who’s interested the opportunity to buy bike racks with memorial plaques at popular locations or businesses. A $600 donation includes four lines, with 20 characters per line. (Call Wendy Moyle at 609-525-9301 for more information.)last_img

Vulfpeck Debuts Beatles Cover In Guest-Filled NYC Variety Show [Review/Videos]

first_imgLast night, fans in Central Park were given a night of true funk and soul, as Vulfpeck made their SummerStage debut, with Eric Krasno Band and Lawrence taking the opening slots. It was an incredible triple-bill that inspired tons of great playing, guest appearances, unexpected covers, and an epic throw-down from the Vulf as they kicked off their four-night NYC run.Funky upstarts Lawrence kicked off the night, and their soulful brand of music was the perfect way to start the evening. Featuring material from their debut album, Breakfast (produced by Eric Krasno), the band played through songs like “Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me?” and “Oh No”, working the early arriving audience to full affect. The band included their awesome covers of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child and “Get Busy” by Sean Paul, and they invited Kraz out to jam with them towards the end of the set. Lawrence are on the up-and-up, so keep an eye out for them as they continue to grow as a band.Krasno returned to the stage shortly after Lawrence ended, bringing his new solo band to SummerStage for a set of music from his new album Blood from a Stone. He performed the album’s lead single, “Jezebel”, as well as several other tracks from the new record, showcasing Krasno’s songwriting and lyrical guitar playing greatly. The band was tight as they worked through their limited catalog, with Kraz often taking a back seat to feature the other members of his tight band. Guitarist Danny Mayer in particular stood out, connecting with Kraz early and often to help push the band’s improvisational sections. Clyde and Gracie Lawrence came out towards the end of the set for a guest spot, and they each took turns belting it out as the band brought its set to an impressive conclusion.It was around 8:30pm when Vulfpeck graced the stage. Fans of the band immediately noticed some extra musicians stepping forward as well. The band was augmented by Cory Wong on guitar and Richie Rodriguez on percussion, and the two musicians would join the band for the duration of the show. Vulf kicked things off with “Welcome To Vulf Records”, and three more guests would come on stage to add to the band’s sound: frequent Vulf collaborator Joey Dosik on saxophone, Mark Dover on clarinet, and a special appearance by Eddie Barbash, saxophonist from Jon Batiste and Stay Human. It was a great way to start off the set, getting the crowd extremely hyped as the makeshift horn section blew their way through the song’s sultry outro.The band then kept Dosik on stage for a few songs, and he led the band with gusto as he sat at the keyboards and sang passionately on his brief feature. Wong was then featured on a track that Jack revealed as “the final track on our new album”. The track is called “Cory Wong”, and heavily showcases the guitar player’s funky chicken picking. The song actually dates back to 2013, but will be released as a studio recording for the first time on Vulfpeck’s new album, The Beautiful Game.Then, Vulfpeck invited their idol, Bernard Purdie, to join them for a moment on the drums. Jack Stratton seemed truly in awe of Purdie, delivering a hilarious bit of banter about listening to Purdie’s records in his parents basement as a child. Stratton begged Purdie to play his famous “Purdie Shuffle” for the crowd, before calling out “OK, now you’re gonna start up Kid Charlemagne, 1, 2, 3, uggghhhhhh”. The band performed the song in note-perfect fashion, with Theo Katzman doing an admirable job imitating Donald Fagen. Katzman and Wong harmonized perfectly to re-create Larry Carlton’s famous guitar solo, and the band were all smiles playing the music that inspired them with one of the musicians who created it.The band then counted off “Beastly”, a true launchpad for bassist Joe Dart to show off his Fender Jazz Bass skills, as he and Purdie locked in for a truly memorable version. Purdie brought his section of the show to a close as the band performed an absolutely beautiful cover of “Something” by The Beatles, which also saw Eric Krasno return to the stage to perform a duel guitar solo with a giddy Katzman. Katzman has not hidden his admiration for Krasno since first playing with him back at Fool’s Paradise in April, and watching the Vulfpeck man smile excitedly as he locked horns with Krasno was a true sight to behold. Purdie also sat in with the band on their hit single “Back Pocket”, which Katzman used as an opportunity to create some crowd participation.As Purdie walked off stage, Stratton excitedly took the mic again to introduce Antwuan Stanley. Stanley has seen himself turn into a sort of superstar in his own right this summer, and he walked on stage with his pressed white shirt and sunglasses on in full rock star mode. The band started “1612”, while Stanley had the audience in the palm of his hands. The crowd seemed to know every lyric and every ad-lib, essentially every nook and cranny of the song, as Stanley owned the audience with his impressive and energetic performance.Jack Stratton then introduced his mother, who taught the crowd the dance to go alone with “Funky Duck” that won the band’s Internet-based competition some months ago. After teaching the dance to the crowd, Mama Stratton then put on a pair of sunglasses and said “I think I see a Funky Duck…”, after which Vulfpeck launched into the fun lead track from their last album, Thrill Of The Arts. She stayed on stage, performing the official “Funky Duck” dance all the while.The band followed that up with a delicate tune, as Stanley led the band through “Wait for the Moment”, which once again showcased the audience’s vocal prowess, singing every single note back to Stanley as he passionately performed the ballad that is quickly becoming his calling card. Before Stanley ended his set, Katzman introduced the crowd to Steve Watkins, a keyboardist in the Allen Stone Band who had been guesting with the band at various points of the evening. Watkins is a master of the vocoder, and he, Katzman, and Stanley then led the band through Rufus‘ classic “Tell Me Something Good”.Vulfpeck crushed SummerStage last night, and they continue their ascension in today’s funk and soul scene. They are a unique band, and their live show seems to only be getting better. Seeing them perform with so many of their idols alongside many of the artists they have hand-picked to feature in their videos, on their albums, and in their live shows, one could say that last night’s Vulfpeck show was the most complete show of their career. With material spanning five albums, covers of The Beatles and Steely Dan, and standout guest spots throughout the night, this was the Vulfpeck variety show.See below for a few videos from the night in Central Park. Vulfpeck returns to Brooklyn Bowl tonight to kick off a three-night stand at the beloved venue.Watch “Welcome to Vulf Records”, courtesy of YouTube user vulfscapeWatch “Beastly”, courtesy of YouTube user linusjWatch “Back Pocket”, courtesy of YouTube user linusjWatch “Something”, courtesy of YouTube user vulfscapeWatch “Tell Me Something Good”, courtesy of YouTube user linusj Load remaining imageslast_img

Turning Harvard virtual

first_imgDuring the last week of February, as it was becoming clear that a novel coronavirus was spreading quickly around the world, University officials started preparing a contingency plan for the remainder of the semester that involved evacuation and turning Harvard into a virtual campus, one that could run without students, faculty, and staff on University grounds.The whole scenario was unprecedented. There was no playbook for how to move approximately 5,000 classes online and keep the University’s operations running remotely without interruption. Anne Margulies, University chief information officer and head of the Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT), would be facing one of most complex, difficult challenges of her career.After the University’s decision on March 10 to send students home for the remainder of the semester and later to close down the rest of campus, HUIT staff worked feverishly to execute the plan’s key steps. It was no small feat.“We were planning with a lot of things changing rapidly and without knowing exactly what our target was,” said Margulies of the first few days in the process. “Rapid planning amid so much uncertainty was one of the hardest things I had to do.”As difficult as it was, that the University had experience with online learning helped. The Extension School had been offering online courses since 1997, and the free online learning initiative HarvardX launched the first of its Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in 2012. In addition, recent IT investments within the University, from improving information security to moving some systems to the cloud to implementing the learning management system Canvas at every School, played a major role in the shift.Still, the task was daunting. Harvard has more than 36,000 undergrads, graduate students, and fellows, along with 18,000 employees, including faculty and staff. “The first week that Harvard went online went as smoothly as we could have hoped for. We felt genuinely relieved.” — Anne Margulies Harvard’s Waldo says the public flight to remote work will stress-test the internet — and some parts will need repair Bits of the socially distanced lives of staff and faculty, from a LEGO model of the Music Building to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as Henry V to cereal for dinner — in the shower Though they vary in their missions, they report few serious problems and some pleasant surprises in the move to online learning Related HUIT’s strategy consisted of three steps: increase the University’s IT infrastructure; prepare training resources; and set up contingency plans — and all of it had to be executed within two weeks. To ensure that the business of the University would proceed seamlessly, HUIT staff quadrupled the virtual private network (VPN), rolled out the instant-messaging platform Slack to give faculty, staff, and students an additional way to communicate with each other in real time, and secured with vendors the continuity of services. To sustain thousands of classes and meetings, the University scaled up its capacity on the online-meeting service Zoom, as well its service desk systems. To help the community make the online shift, HUIT trained 600 people in Zoom, and, with the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, created online training resources for students, faculty, and staff and posted them on the site Teach Remotely. The Extension School also helped produce training material.Bharat Anand, vice provost for advances in learning, said the work has been a collective effort: Each School set up its own command-and-control center, but they leaned on each other for ideas and shared best practices on technology and pedagogical resources.“It’s been Harvard — indeed, One Harvard — at its best, not just in terms of communication and coordination, but also in the level of skill, resourcefulness, and generosity,” said Anand, who is also the Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.“Faculty are leaning into the technology rather than simply living with it. The learning curve around Zoom has been steep. Student attendance rates and engagement are high, and perhaps most interesting, faculty members are discovering and sharing new pedagogical approaches that leverage technology.”A key aspect of the process was to integrate Zoom into Canvas to ensure that all classes could move online, said Margulies. Students and professors were already using Canvas to post things like calendars, grade books, assignments, and course materials, and to even host chats and discussions. March 23, the first day of online learning, was called Super Bowl Day, and HUIT staff were at the ready to offer real-time support, but they were unsure of what might happen.“Harvard wasn’t the only school that was going fully online.” said Margulies. “There were many major employers and universities making the same shift at the same time Harvard was. People were understandably concerned that the whole internet was going to break up or that the Zoom platform couldn’t possibly support the load. There were big unknowns.”,On the first day, calls to HUIT’s help desk numbered 1,200, only about 20 percent more than a typical day. HUIT officials had been ready to deal with a 400 percent increase. By Wednesday, calls were down to normal, and that day, the University held a record number of 8,000 meetings/classes via Zoom, with more than 90,000 participants. During the first week, more than 30,000 meetings and classes were held online without much trouble, said Margulies.“The first week that Harvard went online went as smoothly as we could have hoped for,” she said. “We felt genuinely relieved.”Over the two first weeks of remote learning, there were more than 73,000 Zoom-based classes and meetings with a cumulative number of participants that surpassed 630,000. The biggest problem has been one that’s out of HUIT’s control: local network limitations that affect 7 to 10 percent of students who live in low-bandwidth areas. HUIT has offered tips on how to test and increase network strength.To prevent “Zoombombing,” in which unwanted intruders disrupt a meeting by sharing inappropriate content, HUIT has activated enhanced security features on all Harvard Zoom accounts. All meetings have password protection, and only meeting hosts control screen-sharing permissions. So far, only two cases of unauthorized access have taken place. HUIT assistant director for communications Tim Bailey is reminding community members to avoid sharing or posting meeting invitations in publicly accessible locations.center_img ‘There will be cascading failures that get fixed on the fly’ Notes from the new normal Zooming through the grad Schools Overall there have been more highlights than stumbles, said Margulies. Her office has received positive feedback from students, who said they enjoy being able to see fellow classmates’ faces rather than the backs of their heads, and getting a glimpse into their classmates’ lives. Faculty also report students’ high engagement and participation and reaching a level of intimacy uncommon in large lecture classes.In the third week of Harvard online, HUIT continues to be vigilant. “I hope we can continue to support Harvard online without any major disruptions in technology,” said Margulies. “We continue to closely monitor the situation so that if anything falters, we can quickly take action. But I just hope it continues to be as stable as it has been.”last_img

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