Saturday, May 15, 2021

International

Partner in Crime – U.S. Involvement in Worldwide Coups

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The Ascent claims no Ownership over this image

By Tara Hebbar

The recent storming and riots at the Capital of the United States of America, opened the eyes of several Americans to what a coup might feel like. This incident enraged citizens across the country and justifiably so. However, this opened up several hidden boxes in the U.S.A, and its perpetration of several worldwide coups for their vested interest and personal gain. Innumerable American citizens considered this the U.S.A’s first exposure to a coup, without the knowledge of their participation is several. There have been several meme’s circulating on social media that state, “due to the travel restrictions, the U.S. had to stage a coup at home, this year.” Several American legislators have stood up to defend the “purity” of democracy. However, is only the United State’s’s democracy sacred? This article will further delve into these past incidents that have shaken up nations, ruined democracies, created directorships and turned countries into places of toruture, all in their self interest. 

We begin in 1953, when the US and British supported a coup against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. In August 2019, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) first admitted to their involvement in the aforementioned. This document contains the plans for the orchestrated attempt led by the incumbent president, Theodore Roosevelts’ grandson, Kermit Roosevelt. Mohammad Mossadegh was popular amongst the Iranian citizens and made several policies including the nationalization of the nation’s oil industry. The British, having been in control of their oil for several years, were not pleased when the Iranian prime minister broke off their control over the nation’s oil industry. The US got involved when the British appealed to them for assistance. It was suspected that Roosevelt lured the Iranian press to publish anti-Mossadegh propaganda through bribes. Two attempts were made at arresting Mossadegh with the first one failing when the Iranian Prime Minister fought back and came out successful. The second attempt, however, was successful and Mossadegh was placed under house arrest with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi returning to power until the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The very next year, in 1954, America orchestrated in another coup to overthrow a democratically elected leader, this time the Guatemalan president,  Jacobo Árbenz. The United Fruit Company (UFCO), an American owned company made large and hefty profits from it’s investments in Guatemala. It’s business revolved around bananas, and the U.S.A took interest in this and began promoting its citizens to consume more fruit. Here the contemptuous term of “Banana republic” was developed, in order to label nations that were dependent on a single cash crop for their revenue, in this case bananas, and were led by corrupt governments. At the time, Guatemala was a dictatorship, under right-winged Jorge Ubico who gave the UFCO control of 42% of Guatemala land and excused them from taxes and duties. Under Ubico, the UFCO monopolised not only Guatemalan exports but also several other industries, such as the telecommunications and railways. In 1944, Guatemala saw its first democratically elected leader, after a revolution saw the overthrow of the dictator. The U.S.A watched with apprehension as the leader Árbenz made several changes, allowing communists to participate in politics and proposed “Decree 900,” a reform to allow redistribution of the land owned by big corporations back to 90% of the population, who were landless farmers. This development, took aback the U.S, who as a work of communism and were intent on removing Árbenz from power. And the incumbent U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower presented this task to the CIA who established a project which they called PBSUCCESS. They infiltrated the Guatemalan press with propaganda, starting small bombing raids and established a group of “freedom fighters,” led by Castillo Armas. This caused the resignation of Árbenz and Armas was established as the president. The U.S termed this as freedom from communism and considered it a success. The Armas government went on to kill communists, and restore the UFCO’s land. After Arma’s assainsinatiosn 1957, Guatemalan politics submerged into coups and counter coups. 

We travel next to 1961, to the coup that assassinated the first democratically elected leader of the Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba was one of the pan-African leaders who drove the movement to end colonialism in Africa. Once elected as the prime minister of the Republic of Congo, Lumumba came up with several progressive-populist proposals and opposed the Katanga secessionist movement. This opposition and his plan to nationalise and take back the power over Congo’s mineral reserves greatly enraged foreign parties, mainly Belgium. When the United Nations refused to assist Congo, it turned to the Soviet Union. This was followed by the assasination of Patrice Lumumba, who was tortured until nothing was left of him but a single tooth. This assisiantion took place as an operation by a coup that was backed by U.S. and Belgium governments who utilised the support of some Congolese accomplices. In Lumumba’s place the US installed the dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, with whom the Republic of Congo saw strife, and declined Congo economically and socially, completing fracturing the Congolese society. 

The next story takes us to 1964, with the deposement of democratically elected leader of Brazil,  João Goulart. When dictatorship flew into Brazil, Goulart and any hope of progress flew out. When Goulart announced his radical reform to nationalize refineries of petroleum and to allow the illiterate to vote. Since these reforms were geared towards assisting the poor, the upper and middle class citizens were unhappy, the army were more than happy to use this as a platform to express their own unhappiness. The army was unhappy with Goulart because of his failure to support the higher ranks over the lower ranked officers when the lower ranked officers revolted in ‘64. Thus began the military coup, supported by the United States. After some attempt of fighting back, Goulart retired unsuccessful and was exiled to Uruguay. A military junta was established in his place. The US phrased this as another success story against communism and CIA agents went on to train several Brazilian military personnel in torture techniques. Some document results show that these techniques were tested on the children who were homeless. Through their operation condor, the US backed eight such military dictatorships in South America that led to the torturement and deaths of many who condemned their beliefs. 

Still in the 60’s, we now travel halfway across the world to Indonesia. The US had long been trying to overthrow the first democratically elected president of Indonesia, Sukarno. They made several attempts to undermine and discredit him as an attempt to keep him from occupying the seat, even backing regional rebel groups but eventually called it off when an American pilot was caught orchestrating bomb operations that killed several Indonesians. For multiple years, the US trained the Indonesian Army and backed the coup that eventually deposed Sukarno. In his place, miliatry leader Suharto was placed, who had prior expressed anti-communist views. The US encouraged and even assisted Suaharto in circulating untrue reports prior to his reign. The US supported Suharno and his army in killing, torturing and detaining inumberal citizens of Indonesia for either being allegedly pro-communism or leftist. 

Last but not least, we enter the 70’s. In 1973, Chile was victim to another US backed coup, the infamous assasintation of their democratically elected leader Salvadore Allende. When Allende threatened to nationalize industries in Chile that were US owned, the incumbent president, Nixon ordered the CIA director to stop Allende from occupying the seat, even authorizing a 10 million operation to achieve the same. The CIA first tried several ways of  persuading the military to deny Allende the seat. When this failed, they looked to pay a right winged general to assassinate the chief of the Chilean armed forces. When he denied he was murdered by a gang who was paid by the CIA, who claimed several years later that they only wished him to be kidnapped. In his three presidential years, the Allendian government was aware of constant destabilization attempts by the CIA, with funding of opposition parties, anti-government propaganda, military contact and economic strikes. In ‘71, Allende started nationalising businesses including the U.S.A owned copper mines, and this outraged the president of the US, Nixon. He ordered a task force to sink the world price of copper; Chiles’ main source of revenue. The World Bank and the Export-Import Bank abandoned the country as other investments stopped. By the year of 1973, the country and its economy was in a devastating position, leaving the middle and upper classes citizens unhappy. In the same year, Chile’s three armed forces came together, and launched an attack against the government and ordered them to surrender, which Allende did not do. He took to the radio to make a speech to his citizens before two fighter jets set the palace ablaze. Allende survived this, but allegedly killed himself using a rifle. In his place was  dictator, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Following this, the US offered immediate assistance to Chile and labeled Augusto Pinochet the “savior of democracy.” Pinochet, with US support went on to kill and torture innumberal Allende supporters.

These are just a few examples of the several times the US has denied other countries their democracy as now they fight for their own. This article is not written with the intention of discrediting the US in any way, however,  only to bring to light serious incidents which are often ignored or hushed up. It is important that not only do others understand, but the U.S. itself, and the far reaching implications of its actions. While people in several countries, including my own, view the U.S. as a utopia and the definition of a place that does no wrong, do these examples say otherwise? All these examples display one overarching commonality, that of vested and personal interest. Behind deposed leaders or assassination, the U.S. had a reason that benefited them. Whether it was the control of resources or their advancement in the cold war, it is fair to say that the U.S. had ulterior motives while playing parts in these coups. To conclude, I would just like to reinstate that these actions by the US do not stay in the past as their implications are still seen in the affected nations today and will continue to show on the faces of the nations in the future. Although it is unfair to antagonise the United States completely, it is also unfair to leave these histories in the shadows, and therefore I bring them out in this article. 

What Winning The Senate Means For The Democrats

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The Ascent Claims no ownership over this image

By Lakshya Agarwal

During the American Presidential Elections, I thought it was quite evident that  Joe Biden was going to take on the role of president, however, at the time nobody knew the power he would wield till the election in Georgia. The election in Georgia would determine who would fill the last two seats of the Senate. Winning the Senate has the power to control what laws the president passes during their term. 

In 2009, when President Barack Obama said that the HealthCare bill will not wait, he wasn’t kidding. That year the democrats won the House of Representatives and the Senate. Although no Republican voted for the Healthcare bill, it was still passed the next year. The year after that Republicans won control of the Senate and Obama didn’t pass any major piece of legislation for the remainder of his term. When Donald Trump came into power, the Republicans controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This meant that Trump could pass whatever laws he saw fit.The tax cuts were quickly passed by the Republicans even though no Democrats voted for it. However, then Democrats again gained control of the House and Trump was not able to go ahead on other laws like building a wall on the United States-Mexico border. This year with Biden to become President, the Democrats have control of the House of Representatives. The last two seats of the Senate were yet to be decided. Republicans held 50 seats while the Democrats 48. An election had been held for the senate in Georgia before, but no candidate had a 50% majority. Another free spot had opened up in the Senate due to the retirement of a member. Even this election was taking place in Georgia. In the election of the second seat also no candidate had got 50% of the votes. So there was a runoff election taking place on the 21st of January for both the seats in Georgia and the top two candidates competing for them. If the Republicans won even one of the seats, they would have a majority and would control the Senate. If the Democrats won both seats, they would be a 50-50 tie. When there is a tie in the Senate, the tie-breaker vote is made by the Vice President who is Democrat. Luckily for the Democrats, they won both the seats and have full control of the Senate, and the House of Representatives. This means that President Joe Biden can get his agenda, moving quickly. Like creating a large stimulus check for people financially suffering due to the effects of Covid-19 and making taxes higher for the rich. 

In conclusion, just becoming president, cannot enable a party to do whatever it wants. The House and the Senate determine the true extent of the president’s power.

The Evolution Of Companies

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Source - https://www.wrcbtv.com/story/35505527/what-the-tech-netflix-vs-amazon

by Aahana Khemani

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin said. Like various aspects of life, companies have growth and downfalls too. In this article, we will be analysing the changes and evolution of three massive companies that started out as mere ideas. Netflix, Amazon, and Google.

It’s clear that Netflix has evolved since it started. In April 1998, Netflix started letting people rent out DVDs via physical mail. However, a year later they changed their rent and use plan into a subscribe and use plan. Around 10 years later, they changed their plan to a streaming service. Netflix is quite clearly a dominant streaming platform, as it generated $11.7 billion, and served 125 million customers in 2017! Therefore, what was Netflix’s initial business model? During the time software engineers Reed Hastings and Marc Rudolph founded Netflix in 1997, video rental stores monopolized the home entertainment market. Reed Hastings was exasperated by the fact that the market was not customer-friendly. The market would charge users extra for late returns. However, they saw an opportunity to run Netflix differently. Ofcourse, it came with its hardships. However, that’s when Netflix started renting our DVDs through mail. This was a huge game changer, in this market! Netflix shows us what the power of determination and passion can do! 

As unbelievable as this may sound, Amazon was initially launched in Jeff Bezos garage! Jeff Bezos and his first couple of employees, would pack up books and take it to the post office. Many claimed that Amazon would fail and go bankrupt due to competitors. However, it definitely did not fail.      Let’s take a look at Amazon’s timeline. Jeff Bezos had initially started Amazon with $10,000 on 5th July, 1994. On 11th June, 1998 Bezos expanded Amazon from a book retailer to selling CDs and DVDs. Just one year later, Amazon took a step towards going digital! After which, in upcoming years, Amazon launched its own products! Such as the Kindle, and Echo. Finally, in 2018, Amazon reached a $1 trillion market cap! Going straight from a garage business to having a $1 trillion market cap is absolutely wonderful! Despite the ups and downs that Amazon has had, it has only reached where it is because of its perseverance. 

Google is quite the monopoly in its field. Nonetheless, what is the story behind Google? Google was launched by two Stanford students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin during the year 1998. Similar to  Amazon, Google was founded in a rented garage. After a couple of years, in 2004, Google went public with shares priced at $85. Meanwhile, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion! It’s safe to say that Google has launched a bunch of products such as Maps, Gmail, Chrome Internet Browser, and much more! Google’s ambition to expand has really come in handy! 

In conclusion, all successful companies and businesses are bound to have a couple of downfalls, but it’s these virtues (determination, passion, perseverance, ambition, etc.) that help grow!

New Strain of the Virus!

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The Ascent Claims no Ownership over this Image

By Tara Hebbar and Aahana Khemani

Coronavirus has almost taken over the world, quite literally, and just when it seemed to be reaching the end, the virus was found to be mutating. It is a scientific fact that any virus will always be mutating. However, the variations may differ. Recently, there have been many individuals who have been infected with a new variation of COVID 19. Though the symptoms and general causes are the same, this new virus has been said to spread faster.

Just like it’s predecessor, the variation virus has already begun it’s infiltration into the world. Discovered in the UK, it was responsible for a 3rd nationwide lockdown, and even though flights were cancelled by several countries from and to the UK, the variant now finds itself in 45 different countries

One of the differences between the CoV-2 and COVID-19 is that it contains a genetic mutation “spike” protein which the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID 19) uses to infect human cells. On 23rd December, the UK’s Centre for Mathematical Modelling for Infectious Diseases primarily estimated transmission of the new strain would be 56%-70% higher. “This new variant is showing 17 changes in the genome, this is a very large change.” Founder-director of ICMR Epidemiology department in Chennai, Gupte said. Gupte adds on saying that this is why the transmission rate is reported to be higher. Another worrying fact is that this strain is affecting people in the age group of 30-60 years which is fairly young. Preliminary data from the UK shows the virus is spreading quickly in parts of southern England, displacing other variants that have been circulating for months.

A question that a lot of people have is, will vaccines that are underway work? Dr. Gupte says, “But knowing this virus, as we have been looking at this virus since last December, it is very stable. So, the new variant of this virus will also be controlled by the same vaccines which are under development.” Director-Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai, Dr Pandit informs that vaccines target multiple parts of the protein itself. “We don’t need to be worried about them. We should be doing more of genetic surveillance. In fact, I feel people should vaccinate themselves. While there is a section of people encouraging others to not take the vaccine shots, I urge people to not be overwhelmed by this. The lobby, as it raises doubt about the vaccine, will only make the vaccine developers more GMP compliant and will ensure that we get efficacious vaccines.”

The “older” version of the virus was already spreading fast enough to take a journey around the world and infect large populations of large countries. Hence, the fear is that this virus that spread “even faster” could double the damage. During COVID 19, many countries have issued quarantine/lockdown measures. Speaking economically, this has led to offices, businesses, shops, markets, airlines, railways, and much more closing down. Each organization shutting down leads to a descending economy, speaking in general terms. Nevertheless, the sanitation and mask industry’s profit has also needless to say boosted. In the first quarter of 2020 itself, the Dettol and Lysol company’s “revenue for UK based consumer-goods group rose 12.3%.” This making $4 billion! Therefore, one can only predict what will happen to the economy with the new strain. 

While there are still several unanswered questions about this new strain of COVID 19, what we can do is be careful and hope for the best. This new strain should just serve as a reminder of the fact that though we all would want this tiresome and deadly pandemic to end, the virus has no plans of finishing soon. So, it is essential to avoid going out, and if you are, wear a mask and wash your hands regularly. 

The Disappearance of Jack Ma

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Source - https://fortune.com/2021/01/27/in-jack-ma-vs-the-chinese-government-china-wins/

by Arjun Mehrotra

Jack Ma, or Ma Yun, a Chinese business tycoon best known for co-founding Alibaba, is missing. The billionaire was last seen in October, when he made comments criticizing the communist party in China. He has been absent from social media and the public after that speech. He also did not appear as a judge for his show “Africa’s Business Heroes” where African entrepreneurs compete for 1.5 million USD. 

After his speech calling out the communist bankers “pawnshop mentality”, the chinese government launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba and suspended Ant groups $37 Billion IPO. The investigation has cost shares of Alibaba and wiped over $10 billion in stocks. The Asia Times quoted the Communist party saying that Jack Ma is “embracing supervision” which could mean anything from house arrest to jail. 

Ma started out as an English teacher and was part of the communist party. After co-founding Alibaba with 17 friends however, he started to travel the world and meet with American entrepreneurs. As a billionaire nypost.com says “He acted more like an American billionaire than Jeff Bezos” As he dressed up as musicians and cracked jokes in front of thousands of employees. 

Many sites say that Xi Jinping is putting him under surveillance to “teach him a lesson”. Who knows when we shall see Jack Ma again?

IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE:

As of editing this article, Jack Ma has resurfaced and is doing well. 

Further References

News 18

MSN

Economic times

Business today

Xenophobia and Double Standards During the Pandemic

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Source - https://time.com/4583809/xenophobia-word-of-the-year-2016/

by Pritha Nag

As we enter 2021, we are greeted with a new Covid-19 strain. The now infamous virus has taken the entire world by storm, putting most of us in lockdown since March. The virus originated from a seafood market in Wuhan, China from where it spread worldwide. For many Asians, however, it wasn’t just a matter of trying to stay safe, they faced several xenophobic remarks about the “Chinese Virus”.  Discrimination and xenophobia have always existed along with double standards, and a global health crisis and pandemics aren’t an exception. It seemed that with the rise in the virus there was also a rise in the xenophobia and double standards. 

Many Asians were at the receiving end of xenophobic and hateful remarks when just leaving their houses. It went as far as the White House Officials calling the virus the “Kung Flu”. Furthermore on June 20, 2020, during a rally in Tulsa, Trump said

It’s a disease that without question [that]has more names than any disease in history. I can name Kung Flu, I can name nineteen different versions.”

A reference and clever play on words to the Chinese Martial Art Kung Fu. According to an Ipsos survey done in late April, it had said that more than 30% of Americans had seen someone blaming Asians for the virus. Using terms such as “Kung Flu” or “Chinese Virus” alienates a minority, and distracts all from the real problem at hand. 

These xenophobic and discrimnatory remarks weren’t just done in the United States. Many other countries, with thousands and millions of Covid-19 cases, have reported acts of racism. The United States with their own president using discriminatory phrases, and with many hate crimes against Asians.  Many of the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and Germany political parties have also gone along with xenophobic consipracty theories. Places including Africa, the Middle East, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, India and Sri Lanka have also spotted scape goating asians, such as hate crimes, violence, racist remarks and more. 

When Donald Trump was confronted about the White House’s xenophobia it he said– No, not at all,” Trump said. “I think they’d probably agree with it 100%. It comes from China. There’s nothing not to agree on.” Trump went on to say he didn’t think that his comments shouldn’t affect Asians since there was nothing to argue about it, it came from China, so we can call it the “Chinese Virus”. 

Coming back to the new Covid-19 strain, or also known as B.1.1.7 was founded in the UK in late 2020. This new strain is said to be more deadly and spread much faster. Already, more than 29 people in India have already had this virus (as of 6/1/21). The new strain is more transmittable, rapidly replacing other versions of the virus. The mutations of the virus are more probable to affect important parts of the virus. 

With Covid-19 many Asians faced discrimination, but why is it that no one is calling the new variant the “British Virus”? The new variant has occurred in the UK, is more deadly, more rapidly spreading but no-one seems to be blaming the British. No one is blaming the UK for being the originating place for the mutation, and spreading it to over 30 countries (as of 6/1/21). It is clear that countries and groups of people should not face discrimination or hate due to the virus originating in their country, but why did we see hate toward Asians but not toward the British? Why is no one coming up with clever puns about the new strain? Why is the finger not pointed at them? 

All pandemics are considered natural hazards according to the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Therefore the current pandemic is as much of a natural disaster as a tsunami and hurricanes. But what we can contain is how we decide to prevent the disease from spreading, not by pointing the finger at a certain nationality/country. 

Maybe it isn’t a matter of where the virus originated but discrimination and xenophobia, because if you’re going to blame one nationality for a virus, why aren’t you blaming another for an even more deadly mutation of that same virus? We’ve seen that discriminating, scapegoating, double standards and alienating occurs everywhere all around the world, but we need to focus on the real problem here! Covid-19 doesn’t care who we are and where we live, it comes for everyone! So, maybe the real question here is– is it a matter of where the virus originated or discrimination and xenophobia? 

#MakeAmazonPay Protests

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by Tara Hebbar

This Black Friday saw several social and environmental justice activists and Amazon warehouse workers take to the streets to protest in order to demand the right for workers to participate in union activity, cease the bypassing of tax laws, increased pay and for the company to make further efforts in increasing environmental standards. Employees of 15 different countries including Luxembourg, the United States of America and Germany have been witness to these protests. This collective effort has been labelled as #MakeAmazonPay. They had chosen the particular day to cause the most harm, it being Black Friday, the day of sales and several purchases, causing the Warehouse staff to be vital to the sales of the day. The injuries and work for the warehouse staff skyrocketed during this day. 

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon became a trillion dollar corporation, with Bezos becoming the first person in history to amass $200 billion in personal wealth. Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse workers risked their lives as essential workers, and only briefly received an increase in pay,” was a statement made by the movement. It continues to say, “Like all major corporations, Amazon’s success would be impossible without the public institutions that citizens built together over generations, but instead of giving back to the societies that helped it grow, the corporation starves them of tax revenue through its world beating efforts at tax dodging.” The fact that they allegedly haven’t received bonuses in a hazardous time is what has incited and ignited these protests.

The workers voiced their demands for increased pay, especially during the hazardous period of Covid-19, and for Amazon to submit to zero emission by the year 2030. Additionally, the demand includes, re-hiring those fired because of voicing health and safety concerns in the workplace. In response to this, an email representative of Amazon  responds, “This is a series of misleading assertions by misinformed or self-interested groups who are using Amazon’s profile to further their individual causes. Amazon has a strong track record of supporting our people, our customers, and our communities, including providing safe working conditions, a $15 minimum wage and great benefits, leading on climate change with the Climate Pledge commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, and paying more than $5 billion in taxes in 2019.” 

Additionally, Amazon has made huge profits as online commerce has been popular during the lockdown. It is reported that to cope with this surge in demand, Amazon has increased and installed rigorous safety measures and hired several new employees. The company has disclosed that 20,000 of it’s American employees have contracted the virus, a statistic used by the protesters to showcase lack of safety measures to protect them from the fast spreading virus. This is again a justified cause, but of course, we can’t make complete judgements due to lack of the opposing side of the story.

Though a protest might not be the best way, especially in times like this, I do understand and sympathize with the issue being raised.Every Amazon package that is delivered to my residence is covered in several layers of cardboard, thermocol and taped by default. All this material is terrible for our environment! Analysing the state of our earth and its environment right now, it’s absolutely devastating and companies such as Amazon which are mass distributors of goods shouldn’t be increasing the jeopardy that the environment is facing. Although I understand that the packaging has to be strong and durable, the default setting shouldn’t be set to environmentally unfriendly. There are multiple solutions to this problem without compromising on durability and quality. Though it might prove to be a more expensive alternative, there isn’t much more abuse the environment can handle. When it provides us with so many riches, I don’t think it can hurt to give it back a little, even if that means a little more expenditure from the companies pockets. Our priority should be to revive and replenish the beauty and health of our planet because as soon as it gives in to this infection we’ve given it, we will automatically succumb too.

Capitol Violence Takes America by Storm

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Pro-Trump protesters scale a wall as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building, during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

by Pritha Nag

Today, January 7th 2021, thousands of Trump supporters stormed their way into the Capitol, as the Congress planned to confirm Joe Biden as the President-elect of the United States. It has been confirmed that one woman has been shot dead and that the security in the Capitol was not nearly good enough, to prevent the many pro-Trump supporters stormed their way in. Storming in with armed weapons, tear gas and wreaking much havoc, looted famous paintings, punctured tires, vandalism and attempted bombing. 

President Donald Trump has been igniting this flame with retweeting and tweeting out many tweets claiming that the election has been rigged. What lit the candle was Trump retweeting a video about a march on January 6th in Washington DC on January 4th, encouraging his supporters to go and march for him, sayingI will be there. Historic day!” 

What happened next no one suspected. 

Trump supporters then stormed the US capitol as the Congress were inside, as Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers ran. The large mob consisting of thousands was not suspected, as the police had set low barriers and officers were mostly in police street uniforms rather than riot gear. It was said that the police were extremely lax, an image was even posted on social media of a police officer taking a selfie with an intruder. One video also showed police opening the gate a little so that Trump supporters could come through. One of the protesters spray painted on the windshield of a car “PELOSI IS SATAN,” talking about the speaker of the United States House of Representatives. 

One woman was shot after not complying with the police, but no more information has been disclosed. The FBI had found two suspected explosive devices, and the Capitol only announced safety four hours after the attack. 

Donald Trump tweeted out pleading his supporters to “Support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement.” And “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence!” 

Trump’s Twitter has been locked for 12 hours after he has continued to push baseless claims, and encourage the riots that broke out in the Capitol. Twitter warned him if he didn’t want a permanent ban, he would have to stop tweeting out baseless and unreliable content. “As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, DC, we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.” Twitter stated. Facebook and Instagram have also locked Trumps pages for 24 hours, according to the BBC. 

As of today (7/1/21), 52 people have been arrested. Of the 52, 47 were arrested on grounds of or not complying with curfew guidelines. The Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Browser had announced a citywide curfew from Wednesday 6pm till Thursday 6am. Trump supporters stormed the Capitol around 11am, late Wednesday, breaking curfew guidelines. 

Despite this disruption Congress has announced Joe Biden as the next President-elect of the United States. 

Even members of the GOP (Grand Old Party) have questioned Donald Trump, including the Vice President Mike Pence who in a letter to congress stated– “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” Trump has released a statement 20 minutes after Pence’s, via Dan Scavino Twitter (as his Twitter has banned Trump’s twitter) stating– “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of this election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.” This was around early morning -3:40 AM, 7/1/21. 

What happened today was a historical event. Vandalism, breaking and entering, breaking curfew guidelines, vandalism have not been seen in recent American history and we can hope no one witnesses again. What is typically a respectable and peaceful ceremony has turned into much more than a simple protest as these so-called protesters storm the Capitol.

Can the United States democracy get through this? 

UK Is First To Approve COVID 19 Vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech

Source - https://www.dw.com/en/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-95-effective-in-final-trial/a-55652093

by Aahana Khemani

COVID-19 is definitely going to make history, considering all the “edits” it has made to our world and each inhabitants lifestyle. After spending more than a year with this tiresome virus, needless to say, a lot of people are getting agitated by the effects and constant talk of COVID-19. Countries as a whole, are willing to overlook the precautions needed to completely make a vaccine, in order for this pandemic to be over and for their people to be safe. The United Kingdom is the first country to approve the COVID-19 vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech!

Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies, and BioNTech, a biotechnology company came together to create a vaccine to fight against the COVID 19 pandemic. On December 2nd, 2020 the UK became the first country to approve this vaccine. Forbes says they have set the vaccine’s initial price at around 19.50 USD a dose, making it available to some, and out of reach for others. This can be converted to around £14.54 per dose in the UK. 

Considering that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine came out much prior to the average vaccine manufacture period (which on average takes 1-3 years), there definitely are many uncertainties that are coming up. One of the biggest being, is it effective? Clinical studies show that it is 95% effective, therefore we can only hope that it works to the best interest of each and every one of us. However, 95% is not the same as being 100% sure. 

In conclusion, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine seems quite promising, however, we don’t know for sure how promising it will be in the upcoming days. It did start it’s distribution in the UK, but hopefully (seeing it’s hopeful effectiveness results) it spreads around the globe fast! 

Turning Trash To Ash!

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Source - http://www.ft.lk/Opinion-and-Issues/Integrated-thinking-Solid-waste-management-in-Singapore/14-672327

by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

India, a country filled with diversity and even more people. Our country’s waste is majorly dumped in landfills. On the brink of urbanization and other projects in planning, there is hardly enough space for landfills. In India, 94% of the waste is dumped in landfills while only 5% is composted and recycled. This margin compared to other countries in the world is very minimal.  One of the mains reasons for this is because 70% of all plastic is discarded. With so much trash and such little space to store it, this system is not effective. Reducing waste has not worked as year after year the waste in this country is only increasing. More than 20% of India’s methane emissions is only due to its landfills. 

On the other hand, we have Singapore, whose waste management system allows most of the country’s wastage to be externally eradicated or converted into reusable energy. The system works this way – all the waste is first sent to the Waste – To – Energy  plants based in the country. Here the waste is incinerated in bulk, reducing it’s volume by approximately 90%. The heat released during this process is used in the country’s sophisticated central heating systems. To avoid odours from escaping, the plant’s air is kept below atmospheric pressure. An effective cleaning system with electrostatic precipitators, dosing of lime powder and catalytic bag filter eliminates the pollutants and dust from the gas before it is released into the air via chimneys. Hence, the air released is cleaner than normal air. This first step on it’s own eliminates the need for major and industrial landfills and allows for clean and pure air and extermination of bulk trash. A byproduct of the first step, is ash left over. This ash and non-incinerable waste is brought to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station, a facility that allows the waste to be transported to the Semakau Landfill. The transport vehicles are weighed to determine the weight of trash. The measures taken during the construction process of the landfill ensures that the wildlife and coral reefs along the shore remain intact and healthy. This entire process is an extremely conscious and comprehensive one that allows Singapore to be as environmentally friendly and clean as it is. The compact and conscious population of this country makes this process easy and successful. To know more about the process you could watch a video by Nas Daily.

For India to adopt a system like Singapore’s is going to be beneficial. Like an expert at the Center of Science and Environment said, “Instead of constructing new landfill sites, the government should be really looking into innovative methods to dispose and recycle its waste.” This idea seems plausible in India since these factories could be built where the current landfills are resided, these factories could first work on reducing the large heaps of garbage in the landfill and then move on to everyday garbage disposal. These factories could work in metropolitan cities since those are where most of the countries waste comes from. There is minimal labour needed in this process and does not allow the emission of harmful gases which is why it is a safe option. If India does manage to implement this idea, it will make its compost and recycling waste percentage increase as well as make the villages next to landfills better to live in. The four bin system and segregating waste in this country hardly works due to only around 77% of India is literate. With that system gone, one of the only ways India can have a more efficient trash disposal system is to burn it, in a safe manner.

Although can’t be deemed impossible, India may be posed with some serious problems when trying to implement Singapore’s waste management techniques. Some of them could possibly be, the fact that most of the citizens are not conscious enough. Having a supportive and environmentally conscious citizens base is essential for the success of the implementation of such techniques. In India, where large populations are poverty stricken, the environment is not the biggest of issues, though it may be the most important and dire. Most people are not aware of the necessity of composting, reusing and segregating their waste, without which this system will fail miserably. Secondly, we have such a large population, large amounts of extra waste therefore we would need several more and larger plants and facilities to implement the same system. The government neither has the money nor the initiative to fund such a large, demanding and expensive system that might not even work as desired. Thirdly, most Indian households do not house central heating systems and neither do our public places. Is India a country that requires this the most? Yes, of course. However, the real question is, is it feasible for our country to invest in such a system?

To conclude, in a country as small as Singapore and with a public as conscious as theirs, they are able to dispose of their trash very effectively and reduce it by 90%. However, in India where people aren’t that mindful of their trash and segregation, this system will not be successful. In Singapore since they have a lesser amount of people and much less waste, it is easier for them to pull off a system like this. However, in a country as big as India and with the level of wastage so high, there are going to be much more challenges. It is vital for the citizens to be conscious and aware not only about the system installed by also what they can contribute to its success. This could possibly include the segregation of waste and not throwing waste on the road. All in all, maybe changing the system minimally and educating people about the importance of segregating waste and reducing it could be one step in the right direction to a much more efficient trash disposal system.

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