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Profile: Who is Sheikh Hasina? | Awami League News

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has won a third consecutive term in office in the just concluded general elections, which was dubbed “farcical” by the leader of the Jatiya Oikya Front – the main opposition alliance.

“We reject the farcical election and want the election commission to hold a fresh election under a non-partisan administration,” said Kamal Hossain, an 82-year-old jurist who wrote the country’s secular constitution.

Hasina’s Awami League (AL) party is on course to get an absolute majority in the 350-seat parliament, called as Jatiya Sangsad. Fifty seats are reserved for women.

Her party has been in power since 2008.

The AL pushed a narrative of development on the back of the rapid economic growth in the last 10 years.

The country of 160 million people has achieved near self-sufficiency in food production and raised average life expectancy to levels higher than its big neighbour India.

Since Hasina, 71, took power in 2008, Bangladesh’s per capita income has seen a threefold increase. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $250bn in 2017, according to the IMF, and it clocked a growth rate of 7.28 percent last year.

Middle-income nation

The AL’s manifesto had promised to make Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated countries, a middle-income nation by 2021 and triple its current per capita income of $1,750 in the next decade.

Her commitment is to improve the quality of lives of people of Bangladesh

Asaduzzaman Noor, Minister of Culture

The garment industry has emerged as one of the main pillars of the economy, providing jobs to 4.5 million people. It makes up 14 percent of the GDP and nearly 80 percent of the country’s exports worth $35bn.

The Bangladeshi leader has led the AL party, founded by her father, since 1981.

Hasina served as prime minister from 1996 to 2001, after defeating her archrival Khaleda Zia, who eventually regained power in 2001.

In 1990, the two female politicians, nicknamed the “battling begums”, forged an unlikely alliance in order to overthrow military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad.

However, their mutual dislike and distrust, played out by supporters in violent street protests, was blamed for the January 2007 crisis that prompted the military to step in, impose military rule and install a caretaker government.

Both women were arrested and jailed by the then army-backed interim government as part of its crackdown on corruption. Hasina and Zia were both eventually released in order to take part in the poll.

Family assassinated

In 1975, most of her family members were killed in a coup, including her mother, three brothers and her father, the then president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the country in its liberation struggle against Pakistan in 1971.

Hasina and her sister were abroad at the time of the 1975 assassinations.

In August 2004, she survived yet another assassination attempt at a political rally. The grenade attack left more than 20 people dead and her car was peppered with bullets as she fled the scene.

Earlier this year, 19 people, including the son of the main opposition leader and her bitter political rival, Zia, were jailed for life over the attack.

Known for her fiery speeches and fierce ambition, Hasina has been reduced to campaigning from behind bullet-proof glass or delivering rally speeches via video link as she faces threats to her life.

Her critics have called her authoritarian and accused her government to be behind a number of extrajudicial killings.

But her supporters say she is fighting for the people.

“She belongs to the people, she belongs to the soil, and she is the daughter of the father of the nation,” said Asaduzzaman Noor, Minister of Culture.

“Her commitment is to improve the quality of lives of people of Bangladesh. To achieve that, she has to fight against many odds, but some people think she is authoritarian, but it’s not. She is fighting for the people, not for the vested interests.”

‘Workaholic’

She has also won praise for the handling of the world’s biggest refugee crisis. Nearly one million Rohingya have taken refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing for their lives in Myanmar.

The Awami League is Bangladesh’s oldest party and was formed in 1948 after the foundation of East Pakistan – as the country was known before gaining independence from Pakistan. The party is widely regarded as being broadly pro-India.

Her supporters say she is committed to improving the lives of Bangladeshis.

“She is workaholic, I do not know how she manages her time. She comes across as well-informed,” said Noor, the culture minister.

“She starts her day very early with morning prayers and then she goes for the official work. She works until midnight and meets party leaders almost daily.”

Hasina recites the Quran daily, said a close aide.

If the victory is officially sanctioned, she will serve as the prime minister for the fourth term – a record for any Bangladeshi leader since it was born in 1971.

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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