Category Archives: News

End of the American Dream for the family

RIP Saleem Quraishi

We lost our youngest uncle in Texas a month ago – Saleem Quraishi – one of over 500,000 Americans who died to coronavirus and the complete negligence of US government under Donald Trump.
This conclusion has confirmed by a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference which states, the United States squandered both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and it could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy and trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it.

U.S. COVID-19 fatalities could have stayed under 300,000, versus a death toll of 540,000 and rising, if by last May the country had adopted widespread mask, social distancing, and testing protocols while awaiting a vaccine, estimates Atkeson, economics professor at University of California, Los Angeles.

The hospitals tried their best to keep him alive over the past few months even when the power was down in Texas! Extra ordinarily, the abnormal cold weather caused huge blackouts in Texas. 

Normally the power grid can meet the energy demands of consumers. But when the weather got cold, residents blasted their heaters and energy demand in Texas hit a record winter high.  Meanwhile, the energy providers were also struggling with the elements. As the cold weather froze natural gas wells and blocked pipes. It also froze wind turbines and coal piles!

The result of that was the grid not being able to produce as much power at a time when consumers were demanding more of it. In short, the grid couldn’t meet the demand. Now other states can buy power from surrounding states to meet spiking demands. But Texas, has insisted on having its own grid with little connection to the other two grids servicing the whole of the US.  It’s a point of pride for politicians there, who claim the state has energy independence. So much for energy independence when you need it most. 

So this tragic fatality, signifies the end of the America dream for him & his extended family. That’s for sure! 


Lest we forget – family Martyrs of Bangladesh liberation War

Lt Col M. R. Choudhury, Commanding Officer of the 4th East Bengal Regiment with his troops

I write this piece knowing that if my father was still alive he would be bemoaning the killing of his beloved cousins on this 50th anniversary. 

50 years ago on 25 March 1971, Pakistan Armed forces committed heinous atrocities on the civilian Bengalis in the name of ‘Operation Searchlight’ on the soil of Bangladesh following the declaration of independence of Bangladesh by it’s Founding Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the early hours of 26 March 1971. The war crimes continued for the next 9 months until 16 December 1971 when Pakistani Armed forces surrendered to the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces.

During this 9 month of foreign occupation by Pakistani Armed Forces, mass atrocities were committed on millions of Bengalis in which as per Bangladesh Liberation War records, as many as three million people were killed, more than 200,000 women and girls were sexually violated, enslaved and impregnated, hundreds of intellectuals, Hindus and Muslims alike, were blind folded and brutally murdered. 10 million people had to flee the country in fear of their lives and the atrocities to neighbouring India and sheltered themselves as refugees.

My uncles were two of those many victims in the very early days of ‘Operation Searchlight’ in Chittagong. The two uncles – Lt Col M R Choudhury & Shufi Ahmed Choudhury – were both killed in Chittagong and clearly targets of this operation to eliminate the opposition to this tyranny.    

The first Lt Col Mujibur Rahman Choudhury was born in Ronkali, Golapganj, Sylhet and commissioned into the Pakistan army in 1950 at the age of 23.  

In January 1971 Lt Col M R Choudhury was posted as Chief Instructor East Bengal Regimental Center (EBRC), Chittagong Cantonment. He was the key person in organising the revolt of Bengali military personnel in Chittagong. He was killed by the Pakistan army on the night of 25/26 March 1971, while attempting to arm Bengali personnel of EBRC.

My other uncle was Mr. Shafi Ahmed Choudhury, the Chief Planning Officer of East Pakistan Railway, in Chittagong in 1971. 

He lived in a house at Tiger Pass, Chittagong, where much of the planning for the resistance was planned in January and Feburary 1971 along with his close cousin Lt Col M R Choudhury and Major Zia, where he gave logistic advice on troop movements by train. It is because of the above, that the Pakistan army picked up Shafi Ahmed in the 2nd week of April 1971 and killed him brutally.

Now ‘Genocide’ is a legally codified and internationally accepted term under the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Despite the enactment of international rules and norms against genocide, the heinous crime has persisted even after 1948. Some recent examples of genocide include the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian Civil War, the indiscriminate killings of ethnic minority groups in South Sudan since the 2013 civil war, the Yazidis, Shiites and Christians being slaughtered in Syria and Iraq, and close to Bangladesh, Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingyas.

On 25 March 2017, Bangladesh Parliament declared 25 March as “Genocide Remembrance Day” in 2017 and called upon the international community to support Bangladesh in seeking the official recognition of the heinous atrocities committed on the soil of Bangladesh as ‘Genocide.’

Finally I pay tribute to the patriotism, courage and sacrifice of both my uncles – Lt Col M R Choudhury, Shafi Ahmed Choudhury and their families – my aunts and cousins – along with the many other Bengalis who made the ultimate sacrifice for the liberation of the Bengali people. They are due our special honour and respect. Many of them will never get justice but we will never forget them, as we commemorate their patriotism, courage and sacrifice on this 50th anniversary. 


Mr. Shafi Ahmed Choudhury, the Chief Planning Officer of East Pakistan Railway with his young family.










West Central in London has lowest vaccination rates – why ?

The Metro newspaper released last night the latest vaccination rates for the over 60s in parliamentary constituencies across the UK noting that top 10 lowest are all in London. Four of those constituencies are within the West Central GLA constituency, the most central and covering some of the wealthiest parts of London. 

That is the Cities of London & Westminster; Chelsea & Fulham; Kensington and Westminster North, across the London boroughs of Westminster, RBKC and Hammersmith. 

Along with the figures for Camden parliamentary constituencies, it does appear that we have a particular problem in take-up of vaccinations in Central London. 

This appears in shape contrast to the Triangle of Covid19 in London established by the FT last week in East London across three London boroughs Newham, Redbridge & Barking & Dagenham, where only one of the parliamentary constituencies with the lowest take-up of vaccination West Ham falls within it!  

So we still have to get people to vaccinate in Central London to the same levels at least to the rest of the country, 

in the meantime new centres have been laid out. If you live in NW London and were eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine this winter or are the main carer for an older or vulnerable person, there are three ways you can now book your first Covid-19 vaccination:

1. Follow one of the links below to book in at the vaccination centre closest to you

2. Wait for your GP surgery to contact you with an appointment

3. Wait to be notified by the NHS National Booking System

Hammersmith Vaccination Centre

Marble Arch Vaccination Centre

Science Museum, Kensington Vaccination Centre

Best of luck 




Yemenis – what have they done to us?

l agree with your editorial in the Evening Standard (1st of March 2020) “Don’t cut Yemen Aid” but they  neglect to mention the government maintaining its arms sales in the region.  

An almost 50 per cent reduction in Aid monies to Yemen is unforgiveable in the pressing famine conditions emerging in Yemen but more so when our government continues to maintain its arm exports to Saudi Arabia in their war against the Yemeni people. This when our ally the US under Biden has ceased these sales since the beginning of the year.

I ask simply what have the Yemenis done to us to deserve this from us particularly during a global pandemic when calls for a ceasefire on all conflicts by the UN have not been heeded.  

The above letter was published in the Evening Standard on the 5th of March 2021. 

Bus dispute on the Bush


You should have noticed bus routes 70, 72, C1, 24-hour routes 94 and 148 and night route N72, have not been operating in West Central for the last three days. Strike action has been taken because of a dispute at Shepherds Bush Bus garage and other London bus garages in a row over pay and conditions.

More than 2,000 members of the Unite union who are employed by French-owned RATP have taken action since Monday. RATP operates three subsidiaries across the London bus network, London United, London Sovereign and Quality Line.

Unite officer Michelle Braveboy said terms and conditions are being “attacked”, with some drivers facing a pay cut of £2,500 a year. She also acknowledged that the strikes will cause “serious disruption” to service. 

Ms Braveboy added  further “Our members have no option other than to fight back against these attacks, while recognising the disruption caused.They are reluctant to take strike action at a time of national emergency, but feel they have been pushed against the wall.”

So its all very well calling bus drivers key and essential workers and our hero’s during a pandemic who have seen numerous drivers amongst their ranks die of COVID19 during the lockdowns. Yet their terms and condition for employment need improving, giving them and their families a decent standard of living. That is why l joined them yesterday at their protest in front of the Shepherds Bush Bus Garage to show them some solidarity. 






Celebrating London’s linguistic diversity – 21st February

I agree with the sentiment of Melanie McDonagh that “Languages mustn’t become the preserve of the rich” (4th Feb 2021) in the Evening Standard recently but the reality is many more are spoken in the homes and schools of London, then is readily acknowledged.  

In 2000, Baker & Eversley’s survey of 896,000 children in London, reported over 300 home languages spoken. Since then you can clearly add many modern European languages as well like Polish etc. With the 2021 Census, just around the corner we will no doubt get an update on this front.

Whatever the count, it is time we celebrated this linguistic diversity of Londoners on the forthcoming 21st of February, UNESCO International Mother Language Day and promote multilingualism. A skill we will need more so in the new world, outside of the EU as we evolve to Global Britain.      


Myanmar coup an existential threat to the Rohingya’s

Will the Myanmar army make for the final push of the Rohingya’s?

While we all support the return of democracy in Myanmar, condemn the military coup on the 1st of February and stand with those resisting the military action on the streets, let us not forget the threat to the Rohingya and other minority ethnic groups in the country. As the Myanmar military poses a particular existential threat to the Rohingya’s. 

Having been active in the previous partially successful attempts to push them out of the country,
who is to say they will not try again with the remaining 700,000 Rohingya’s in Rakhine state. This
needs to be of paramount concern now for all those concerned for the future of Myanmar and its
many peoples. Indeed the man now in charge of Myanmar, General Min Aung Hlaing, is the very
commander who led the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya’s in 2017.

It was Burma’s first military coup in 1962, led by General Ne Win, that laid the foundation of the
religious and cultural persecution of minorities that have persisted for more than five decades.
Under Ne Win, the Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship and subject to human rights
abuses under the military’s “Operation Dragon King” in the late 1970’s aiming to expel them from

We also have the need for The National League of Democracy to tackle the ingrained Burman racism
behind many of the country’s many internal conflicts. So while naturally we are all supportive of the National league for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar after their election victory last November, it was an election that excluded many minority groups like Chins, Kachin and Rohingya. We trust they see fit to now include these minority groups who have all been under sustained military attacks in their various regions within Myanmar for many years like there are now on the streets of Rangoon and cities.

They need to craft a progressive agenda across ethnic lines, centred on inequality and the development as well as peace and justice. They will need to reshape society as well as restructure the state. Myanmars young people have inherited such terrible legacies. Hopefully they will reject them now as the future is in their hands.

How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr – Book Review

This is a book l have been meaning to read since it was published last March in hardback and is now available in paperback. And after reading the 22 brisk chapters over the extended break, Its confirms to me that its a must read for anyone of us who has struggled with the the many histories of American expansionism as it exceeds them all with its own brilliant analysis. 

He says quite clearly that “The history of the US is the history of Empire” while giving empire his own additional definition which is not subjective in the manner accustom amongst the left. He suggests the shape of the empire is critical with its outposts and colonies and in the case of the United States it is all to often forgotten even by its own citizens.  A case in point is Puerto Rico which many Americans do not consider part of the mainland even though their are American citizens! 

The book itself is divided in two parts, the Colonial Empire and the Pointillist Empire. The first part takes you through the history of the United States on the mainland and territories it acquired via the expansion westwards and of course the gains made via the American-Spanish wars. For those who may well have no background of American history, these 200 pages give a quick and ready knowledge of what you need to known for the normal definition of empire and many interesting insights to America history which you may not get anywhere else. For example how the history of the name of the state of Oklahoma explains well how native Americans were treated in the formative state and the struggles of the Filipinos, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and others for their freedom in America’s conquered territories.  Much of which l heard about for the first time in this book!  

The second half is when the book takes on its shape and argument with the Pointillist Empire redefining empire today based how the US acquired its base network which often raise the same issues of direct colonialism. There are sovereignty concerns in places like Okinawa and the exclusion of locals from ancestral lands in the Chagos Islands to name a few. Unfortunately these modern-day America’s territorial holdings face a lot less public scrutiny by US democracy and along with other advantages including English language, standardisation of production along US standards have made sure that the US reigns supreme today. 

This a important book if ever America is going to change its view of itself as a republic, not an empire and thus acknowledge their own past. As a result its is a must read for all.

Maida Vale Tube exit not opening during COVID pandemic

During the second lockdown l renewed calls for Transport for London (TfL) to re-open a long-closed exit at Maida Vale Tube in order to allow for increased social distancing at the station.

The station was designed with a dedicated entrance and exit, both with their own dedicated staircases from the ticket hall.  As some local residents approached about this, l wrote to Andy Lord, Managing Director of London Underground for an update on whether TfL were now considering taking action to open up the second entrance.

I asked TfL to further explore how it can increase social distancing at the station by measures like opening the exit again. But TfL say it remains too costly under the current financial challenges due to the fall in customer numbers caused by the pandemic. 

This is disappointing to hear, as we have been told that we need social distancing on public transport like the Tube. Maida Vale tube station had been built to keep separate the traveling public going into and out of the tube station over 100 years ago, and now would be an opportune time to reintroduce the second exit.  It is now likely never to be opened again, which is a real shame.








A bridge too far…..

Hammersmith bridge in all its glory

The Hammersmith bridge saga, makes you wonder who owns and runs all the bridges in London. Well there are 25 Thames bridges crossings that are the responsibility of TfL and London’s boroughs. The ownership and responsibilities for these bridges are set out below.

Bridges owned and maintained by TfL are as follows; 

  • Westminster Bridge • Lambeth Bridge • Vauxhall Bridge • Battersea Bridge • Chiswick Bridge • Kew Bridge • Twickenham Bridge

Bridges owned by the London Boroughs where the bridges structure is maintained by the Bridges House Estates and TfL is responsible for maintaining the carriageway, footway and street furniture;

  • Tower Bridge • London Bridge • Blackfriars Bridge

And finally bridges owned and maintained by London Boroughs include the following: 

  • Golden Jubilee Bridge (Downstream) • Golden Jubilee Bridge (Upstream) • Southwark Bridge • Millennium Bridge • Waterloo Bridge • Chelsea Bridge • Albert Bridge • Wandsworth Bridge • Putney Bridge • Hammersmith Bridge • Richmond Bridge • Kingston Bridge • Teddington Footbridges • Hampton Court Bridge • Lockcut Footbridge

At the end of Ken Livingstone’s time at City Hall, we had the proposed Thames Gateway Bridge linking Beckton in East London with the remote area of Thamesmead, putting them on the map for the first time. But this half a billion project immediately died a death with Boris Johnson new administration even though it had all the approvals to let the contract and would have been operational in 2013.

I dare say that if this bridge had been built, we would also have had no need for Silvertown Tunnel proposal that TfL are now building. As drivers would have got used to going over the bridge and it would have been infinitely better than crossing via a tunnel. 

Little was then heard of bridge proposals in the rest of Boris Johnson time till the Garden Bridge came up towards the end of his second term at City Hall. With a concerted media campaign and influential backers like the Chancellor of Exchequer of the day George Osborne it suddenly drew a lot of attention not dissimilar to other projects like the Emirate cable cars and Arcelormittal Orbit slide which caught the eye of the Mayor.  

In recent correspondence with TfL it has been established that between 2010/11 and 2020/21, TfL invested a total of £42.9m in Thames bridge crossings. It is important to note that these figures do not represent the full cost of works on Thames bridges in the last 10 years because London boroughs may have undertaken works on their Thames bridges beyond the strengthening costs that TfL fund via their Local Implementation Plan (LIP) allocations that TfL make for bridges to local authorities.  

In comparison the failed plan to build a Garden bridge covered with trees and flowers over the River Thames in central London cost a total of £53m, which around £43m came from the public pocket. Incredibly that is more than a decades worth of investment into London bridges from TfL in the previous decade. You can only imagine what could have been done to strengthen bridges like Hammersmith or even start replacing it before it was closed down completely to any traffic!  

What is clear to me is that we need to transfer all the bridges into the ownership of one authority with sole ownership and maintenance in London and begin to see these decision like the Garden Bridge in a lot more strategic perspective then has been done so far since the beginning of this century. 
Interestingly this recommendation is not that different to that of one the main jobs for the Metropolitan Board of Works (1855-1889) was to buy up all the London Bridges, free them of tolls, and take charge of maintenance. It is yet another example of history repeating itself.