Monday, December 5, 2022

International

The MET Gala

The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Sania Ambardekar

The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. Unlike other charity events, the Met Gala is invitation only and is typically based on a person’s status, attracting the likes of the A-list celebrities.  This event sets the tone for the rest of the year for the fashion industry and marks the opening of the Costume Institute’s fashion exhibit; it can also be considered the fashion world equivalent of the Oscars. 

Due to Covid-19 last year, the ball was postponed to September 13th this year which makes it all the more enticing. This year’s theme was to celebrate the best of American Fashion and mark the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary. This theme reflects the evolving notions of identity in the country. “In looking at the past through this lens, we can consider the aesthetic and cultural impact of fashion on historical aspects of American life,” said Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French director of the Met. Celebrities are encouraged to dress explicitly outside their comfort zone which catches a lot of awe as well as criticism. The worst outfits are the boring ones: you go big or go home. Naturally, such a glamorous event cannot be complete without its controversies.

        Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of the American Vogue magazine became a co-chair in 1995 and turned the red carpet event into the event of the year. 

From Nicki Minaj’s complaints about the vaccination mandate to Amy Schumer’s nasty remarks about the event, they aren’t alone in disliking the Met Gala, with much of the public voicing disdain for the exclusive event as well.  

In recent years, the Met has made a shift from art to pop culture by inviting reality stars, YouTubers and social media influencers. A change this drastic had to have its criticisms. Steve Soloman, a fashion design student from the 90s called it a “movie star frat house” with celebrities who just want an opportunity to show off their wealth; who couldn’t care less about the museum, exhibit or the Costume Institute. 

The first name that comes to mind while talking about this year’s Met is none other than Kim Kardashian. Her look had no solid inspiration confirmed and brought about a lot of confusion, speculations and memes. Some found it iconic while others compared it to how the burqa is viewed as a sign of oppression whereas Kim’s outfit was seen as empowering, exposing a double standard. These statements were quite extreme and disputed. 

On the other hand, Billie Eilish created quite a stir. It was found that she refused to wear Oscar de la Renta unless they promised to go fur-free. This was a powerful and influential moment for her as well as her fans. Kendall Jenner’s stunning sheer dresses and Katy Perry’s over the top outfit changes could not help but break the internet. 

Celebrities didn’t shy away from political messages this year either with politician Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Cara Delevigne and others, flaunting social messages on their costumes. This was a debatable yet bold way of matching the theme. Apart from the more prominently bold outfits, some celebrities like Rihanna and Nikkie de Jager paid a tribute to Black and transgender icons.

An event of such a scale brings together not only fashion but also music, film and art. Whether it’s the bold or questionable choices or even the crashers, The Met is the night to make a statement, turn heads, cause Twitter moments and make global headlines and let’s be honest, the controversies just add to the hype. If there’s one guarantee it’s that The Met will have us talking long after it’s over. Above all, it is a fundraiser that raises millions of dollars, specifically for the fashion department and helps celebrate the rich history of fashion.

Travel in the UK for Indians.

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Source - https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/visit/row-over-new-uk-covid-travel-rules-as-vaccinated-indians-also-need-to-go-for-10-day-quarantine/videoshow/86391687.cms?from=mdr

by Neel Gupta

Travel is opening in India! British citizens can now travel to India but they will have to undergo quarantine for 7 days at minimum and take COVID-19 tests before exiting quarantine. This rule was published a couple of days after the UK eased travel restrictions for double vaccinated Indian citizens.

Air traffic could possibly reduce in to India after festival ‘Diwali’ as most families, as crowding and gatherings can lead to a potential spike in COVID-19 cases.  There has also been tension between the UK and India over the Indian-made AstraZeneca covid vaccination. The UK used to refuse to recognise the Indian vaccine ‘Covishield’ even though the doses were identical to the ones given to millions of UK citizens.

BBC News states that “According to a release by the Indian government, earlier guidelines dated 17 February will now be applicable to all travellers arriving in the country from the United Kingdom”.

If you are travelling to the UK with a double dose of the Covishield Vaccine you will no longer need to quarantine in the UK, this rule also applies to other Vaccines approved by the UK such as Pfizer, SpikeVax, and Johnson & Johnson.

Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, Posted from his official Twitter handle, “No quarantine for Indian travellers to UK [who are] fully vaccinated with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine from 11 October. Thanks to Indian government for close cooperation over last month.”

References

Singhal, Ashok. “UK Recognises Indian Vaccine Certificate: No Quarantine for Covishield-Vaccinated Travellers from Oct 11.” India Today, 7 Oct. 2021, www.indiatoday.in/india/story/uk-india-no-quarantine-vaccinated-travellers-covishield-1862145-2021-10-07. 

“Covid: India Withdraws 10-Day Quarantine for UK Nationals.” BBC News, BBC, 14 Oct. 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-58767418. 

Biden Trumps Trump’s Policies

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Source - https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-56865812

by Mihika Kapoor

On the 25th of January, Biden signed a re-appeal on the transgender military ban alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

In the first few days in office, US President Biden has signed documents and policies in favour of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement. The transgender military ban was invoked during Trump’s Presidency along with several other derogatory and discriminatory practices. From casual interviews with American citizens (including members of the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities), it can be deduced that the Americans believe Biden will implement laws to promote equality. One of these presidential rulings was to issue an executive order barring workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Besides this, Biden has relaunched the White House websites, so that the users can choose their own pronouns while signing a contact-form. 

After the nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine (a transgender woman), to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (in the Biden administration) U.S. citizens agree with the following quote from an interview with Dr. Levine, ‘I am proud of the work we have done as an administration to address health equity, and the work I have done personally to raise awareness about LGBTQ equity issues.” Her active participation in Biden’s Administration is presumed to prompt him to sign re-appeals for homophobic and discriminatory practices against the LGBTQ+. Due to Dr Levine’s expertise in the medical field, she is pushing to undo harmful policies of the Trump Administration, such as allowing health care providers to refuse service to transgender people. Besides striving in this aspect, policies regarding equity in the workplace, enforcing the right to access facilities and perhaps make changes to the adoption and foster-care-child system. 

To focus on the holistic development of the country, other LGBTQIA+ community members such as Pete Buttigieg (a gay man) and Karine Jean-Pierre (a lesbian woman) may be appointed as secretaries for important divisions of the Biden Administration (i.e., Transportation and Press.) Even though Biden voted for the Defense of Marriage Act during the Clinton administration and to cut off federal funding to schools teaching acceptance of homosexuality, he is viewed as an evolved man by the American public. He voiced his support for homosexual marriage under the Obama-Administration, and thus far his current policies indicate that legal action will be taken to prevent discriminatory practices against the LGBTQ+ community. 

The Biden Administration serves as a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ community, within national and international settings alike. The re-appeals of homophobic policies and active strides taken towards ensuring an equitable future for all American citizens irrespective of their sex and sexual orientation, harbors respect in the hearts of LGBTQ supports and the community itself. The bold choices of employing openly gay individuals in the administration or the support towards the nomination of a transgender woman, may inspire other countries to follow suit. Thus, through his administrative choices and political decision, Biden paves the way for a non discriminatory-based American and perhaps even international society.

Sources:

“Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” The White House, The United States Government, 21 Jan. 2021, www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-preventing-and-combating-discrimination-on-basis-of-gender-identity-or-sexual-orientation/. 

Pulling the Plug

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https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-war-afghanistan

By Tara Hebbar

With the decision by the U.S. government and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to extract their troops in Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 (the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.) Several nations, governments and citizens are worried for the nation’s security with regard to the Taliban. This will mark the cease of the longest recorded war in U.S. history, which has been on-going for almost 2 decades.

The Trump administration had conditionally decided to extract troops by the 1st of May, and Biden doesn’t seem to have any conditions. Currently, there are approximately 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan along with under 8,000 NATO troops. They are expected to conduct a synchronised widrawal of each and every one of these troops. Many bodies and countries have expressed their concern about the Taliban resurfacing in the nation and causing havoc, like they once did. In the 1990’s, when the Taliban possessed control over the nation, Afghanistan was a welcome state for every militant and terrorist to recruit and fundraise from. Some of these militants were responsible for the 2001 parliament attack in India. This extraction of troops, leaves no incentive for the Taliban to make peace with the Afghan government and could lead to dire consequences for the nation and all its citizens. In this article, we will broadly glance over the possible impacts of this decision made by the President of the U.S.A, Joe Biden on the women of Afghanistan?

One of the biggest concerns is felt by the women of Afghanistan, who under the Afghan rule were oppressed and marginalized, and kept from basic rights such as making them prisoners in their own houses and having an education. With the intervention of U.S. troops, these women have been able to join the military, attend school, compete in the olympics and slowly inch towards normalcy. With the Taliban now poised to gain more power, they are likely to begin reversing and deprogessing, leaving the Afghan women terrified of their future. Whether through force or agreement with the government, the group is bound to gain more power, with this they will look to shut schooling for girls, and will promote violence towards them. A member of Afghanistan’s parliament, Raihana Azad says, “All the time, women are the victims of men’s wars, but they will be the victims of their peace, too.” Leaving their faces uncovered earns a woman a thorough flogging and beating up from the Taliban officials. Over the past years, the U.S. has spent more than 780 million dollars on women’s rights in Afghanistan. Women now make up 40% of students and a recognisable portion of society. Mr. Karimi, chancellor of the Faryab University, sheds more light on the topic, “Female students who live in Taliban areas have been threatened several times, but their families send them secretly. If foreign forces leave early, the situation will get worse.” Although Biden has promised to continue to keep women’s rights a priority, many Afghans are upset at the U.S “pulling the plug” on them, fearing that they have left them vulnerable and helpless. Shahida Husain, an activist says, “I remember when Americans came and they said that they will not leave us alone, and that Afghanistan will be free of oppression, and will be free of war and women’s rights will be protected, wow it looks like it was just slogans.” In the areas controlled by the Taliban, the situation continues to be bad, and now, with the extraction of the troops, these areas could just be what the entirety of the country might resemble.

“With the withdrawal of foreign forces in the next few months, these women that are the breadwinners for their family will be unemployed,” Lina Shirzad, a radio station director says, expressing her concern. She is not alone. Most Afghan women await in apprehension and angst for the day which will change their future, for the seeming worse. Although the U.S government and NATO, will have the reason for this extraction, the constant question is, where will this leave the women of Afghanistan?

Regardless of whether Biden promised to continue to keep women’s rights a priority, who knows what will happen behind the scenes? Although we do have an idea, based on the past, no-one knows what the future will hold for these women.

Greatest Moments of 2020 F1 Season

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Source - https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/articles/e-sports/f1-2020-game-first-look

by Arav Barmecha

The 2020, Formula One (F1) season had its ups and downs, like every other year. This season started with the pre – season testing in Barcelona, Spain. Pre – season testing is the first time it can be seen if what has been designing all winter works on the track. It lasts 3 days and that is the only time the driver has, to get to grips with the car. Sometimes the car works perfectly but that only rarely happens. In pre – season testing there were a number of problems for teams like Ferrari, Mercedes, HAAS, and even Williams. 

On the second day of testing we discovered that there was something unusual going on inside the Mercedes Silver Bullet. Later realising it was the DAS, (Dual Axis Steering). This allows you to change the toe or the angle of the wheels when the driver pushes or pulls the wheel. This is a very clever way to give Mercedes extra speed on the straight roads and to bring temperature to the tires. This allows you to increase your grip and have accurate braking. The DAS is a very controversial topic, which is why Red Bull, a team from F1 went to the FIA(Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile). To this instance they replied, “This isn’t news to the FIA, it’s something we’ve been talking to them for some time. The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements.”  

When Racing Point, another F1 team showed their car , there were very noticeable similarities between their car and a previous Mercedes car. Some people called it a carbon copy of the Mercedes W11 car just painted in pink. Racing Point did not argue with this because they used Mercedes gearboxes, engine, and even the same suspension. The Racing point team was put under scrutiny because Renult, another F1 team asked the FIA to take a look at Racing Point’s car design and listed parts to see if the origin of the parts were from the team itself. In the end there was a problem with the brake ducts of the car and Racing Point was deducted 15 points and fined $470,00 but they were allowed to keep using it. Renault were not happy with this but they had to settle with it. 

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop F1.The race continued in Melbourne. However, nobody was wearing a mask and nobody was socially distancing.  Later, we found out that 2 mechanics in Mclaren, a F1 team, had symptoms of the virus and 1 of them tested positive. A joint statement from the FIA and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation said, “There will be no racing in Melbourne, Australia due to COVID 19”. All the fans were forced to go back and the crowd started jeering at the announcer. After that they did not have a race for 217 days,The longest time F1 had gone without a race. 

Christian Horner said, “Nobody could have predicted the damage this virus could have and has done in the past 10 weeks.” The next time the drivers got to drive a car was in Spielberg, Austria. During the qualifying rounds, Valteri Bottas, a Mercedes F1 driver, was forced onto the gravel that resulted in a yellow flag which means an incident is up ahead, and to slow down. Lewis Hamilton, another Mercedes F1 driver was on a very fast lap when he neared the flag indicator. He crossed it without slowing down but instead accelerating. He said that he could not see it in the dust and that is why he did not slow down. This resulted in a 3 place penalty for Lewis Hamilton in the race. 

Another memorable incident during the race was Lando Norris, a McLaren driver winning his first podium. This was possible because of Alex Albon and Lewis Hamilton. Alex Albon was trying to overtake Lewis Hamilton for first place. However in the heat of the moment, Hamilton’s front tire collided with Albon’s back tire and he spun onto the gravel. This act was classified as Hamilton’s fault and he got a 5 second penalty that would add on at the end. Later in the race Hamilton was third and Lando Norris was fourth and 6.5 second behind Hamilton. If Lando Norris could earn 1.5 second in two laps he would earn his very first podium!

Norris drove like his life depended on it and the gap to Lewis was now 4.8 seconds. Given that Lewis had a 5 second penalty and in the last lap of the race Lando Norris won a DHL fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:07.475. Not only did he earn a podium but he got the fastest lap of the entire race.

In conclusion, this season of F1 was rounded off despite all of the penalties, Lewis Hamilton followed by Valtteri Bottas. In the constructors championship Mercedes came first followed by Red bull. These were the greatest moments in 2020 formula one.

Human Library #2 – Anand Desai

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This article is part of the Human Library Series

By Siya Aggarwal

The second speaker as part of the Human Library was Anand Desai who, other than sharing his journey with us, touched upon the topics of Property Law, Succession, and the importance of adapting with technological advancements.

Anand Desai has been Managing Partner at DSK Legal since it was founded in April, 2001. Recognized as a leading practitioner in India, Anand has over 35 years of extensive domestic and international experience being a trusted counsel to several large multinational and Indian corporates and high net worth individuals, including many business leaders and celebrities. He has been featured in the book titled “100 Legal Luminaries of India,” published by LexisNexis, and in the Top 100 A-List published by India Business Law Journal. He is also listed as one of the leading lawyers in India in Whos Who Legal, Chambers Global, IFLR, Asia-Pacific Legal 500, and Asialaw Profiles.

An astute litigator and negotiator, Mr. Desai has developed a strong track record of successfully representing many high profile clients in criminal and civil litigation including in the areas of real estate, commercial disputes, intellectual property, antitrust and information technology, as also getting several large commercial deals concluded.  

Question: What is the impact of technology and the new age’s integration into it on law? 

“In India a lot of people have not thought through the value of intangibles, social media, intellectual property, and many other aspects of our lives today which are not new anywhere near  what they used to be. To give you a sense of how the world has evolved, companies with most monetary value are primarily the technology companies around the world. More and more it’s being said that data is the new oil, not data is the new gold or data is the new land but data is the new oil. So oil has taken over our lives to a large extent for its sheer value and now that same trend is being seen with data. Technology and data become so important that data protection is something that we are going to have a law about in India. I don’t know what shape and form it will finally present itself but it is an important part of the new age.”

Question: Could you talk a little bit about property law in India?

“Talking a little bit about property law and succession; As we all read in the newspaper it seems to be an ever-changing matter in this country. I’ll touch upon the aspects and then come to what I believe the future is going to look like. Many of you must have read the rights of the daughter in a Hindu family in matters related to property – it’s known as joint family and now finally recognized. there is the judgement that supposedly said that the nomination in the society may take precedence over a will. there are many differences between succession and the Hindu law, muslim law et cetera. My understanding which may not be commonly accepted by everyone is that in terms of the nomination, the ‘will’ ultimately takes effect and societal nominees are temporary. In terms of succession laws historically perception has been that Hindu parents give the girl child in marriage and that is a commonly accepted notion. From the idea that the family she goes into is where she belongs and not the family she comes from. It’s interesting to look at how history has unfolded and how to change from where we are today. There has been development towards equality in law as The Supreme Court has said that The Hindu girl child from a joint family has equal right over property law and so do her children. There have been multiple judgements which I won’t be going into but this was just a touch about succession.”

Question: What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers?

“I come from a family of lawyers which I believe makes some difference initially, thereafter I don’t think it really makes a difference. One thing I learned along the way on my journey to get what I am now, is really trying to ask clients to have clarity of thought and I believe that sometimes itself adds a lot towards what the client hopes to achieve. Very often I find that clients come with a certain objective that may not be their own objective, but comes from a variety of interactions with other people who have told them what they should do, rather than what they themselves want to achieve. I genuinely believe I have remained as privileged as working with many senior counsels and senior partners of law firms, and there’s one quality that comes really evidently distinguishing them from others with the clarity of thought that comes from them and that they bring to the table.”

In conclusion, Mr. Desai proved to us with his illuminating and informative session that law is more than what meets the eye. He was effectively able to convey interesting and advisory knowledge while simultaneously adding a personal element. His journey has been one filled with achievement, accomplishment but also with many learnings whose he eloquently imparted to us all.

Geneocide or Genocide?

Source - https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/kathleen-folbigg-new-evidence-suggests-wrongly-convicted-killing/10910200

by Tara Hebbar

Sentenced to 40 years in prison was Kathleen Folbigg, for smothering her 4 children before any of them reached the age of 2. She was deemed the “worst female serial killer” by the Australian Tabloids and convicted by the Australian Judicial System in 2003 . All through the past 18 years, she has pleaded innocence, claiming all children passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a death of an infant in their sleep, who was seemingly healthy. Now, in 2021, over 90 scientists have come to her defence, and “proved” her claims and petitioned for her release, claiming it a “miscarrige of justice.” This group of scientists include 2 Nobel laureates. This is a story of medicine, versus a system that very rarely overturns convictions and a competition of diary entries and genetic mutations. What really is the story of Kathleen Folbigg and the mysterious deaths of her children?

Now 53 years of age, Kathleen Folbigg has maintained a plea for innocence, 30 years since the death of her firstborn. However, Kathleen Folbigg’s story begins at the age of her being 18 months old. At this age, in 1968, Kathleen’s mother was stabbed on a public footpath by her father who was in a drunken rage over her mothers walking out over a financial dispute. In her diary 28 years later, she entered, “Obviously, I am my father’s daughter.” At this time, she was married and settled. Caleb, her first child died at 19 days of age, and was classified death due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Her second born, Patrick, born blind, died at 8 months of age, in accordance to his death certificate due to a fit of epilepsy and choking. Her third, Sarah, met the same fate at 10 months of age, also due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Her last child, Laura,  passed away at 18 months of age, the cause being “undetermined” at the time of her death. These subsequent deaths, of similar causes were sure to raise questions.

At first glance, this all seemed to be a coincidental tragedy, however, subsequent to reading a diary entry by Kathleen, that said, “Sarah had left with a bit of help,”  Kathleen Folbigg was turned into the police by her husband. In her defence, Mrs. Folbigg claimed that the “help” referred to her hope that God had taken Sarah away from the world. At her court case, the same doctor who let Laura’s cause of death as undetermined, was an expert witness, when he said that flying pigs were more likely than 4 young babies dying in the same family in a span of 10 years. This however, was not backed with any proof or evidence at the time. When she was accused and covicted of the murder of her 4 children, she collapsed into tears. 

Several years later, science is coming to her rescue, with more than 90 scientists claiming that what  Kathleen Folbigg was saying many years ago, was indeed true. Even when convicted, there was no evidence of smothering, and this was mentioned in the petition of the scientists. They additionally claimed that none of the children were in the pink of health prior to their death. Laura, the 4th child, had respiratory difficulties and was found to have an inflamed heart in the autopsy following her death. Kathleen Folbigg’s lawyers consulted several scientists and asked them to investigate a mutation that might have resulted in the events that took place. Two scientists, by the names of Carola Vinuesa and Dr. Todor Arsov, agreed to sequence Kathleen Folbigg’s genome, with her consent. What they both found was that Kathleen Folbigg had a rare genetic mutation in the CALM2 gene. Any defect in any 3 of the CALM genes can lead to Sudden Deaths in infant and cardiac arrests. The mutation is observed in only 75 people, worldwide. This includes some parents, who don’t exhibit any symptoms, their children, however, died in most cases, most commonly of heart attacks. This is enhanced with the presence of a drug called pseudoephedrine, a drug for colds and coughs, one which Laura was taking. 

Using blood samples, taken following their death, it was found that both Laura and Sarah shared their mothers mutation. A formal inquiry was scheduled, but the new found evidence was not being taken in seriousness. Professor Vinuesa then reached out to Prof. Peter Schwartz, who knew of an American family who shared  Kathleen Folbigg’s problem. Even with this evidence, the judge reached a conclusion considering her diary entry more valid than the scientific evidence. This further encouraged the science network to bring “justice” for Kathleen Folbigg. More intricate studies into both Mr. and Mrs. Folbiggs genomes, revealed that they both had different rare mutations, which in mice had been linked to early lethal epileptic seizures. Culminating all the evidence, over 90 eminent scientists have agreed on Kathleen Folbigg’s innocence. Professor Vinuesa said, “We would feel exhilarated for Kathleen if she is pardoned, It would send a very strong message that science needs to be taken seriously by the legal system.”

This case brings on the important moral question of priority in evidence. Even with scientific evidence, should courts be allowed to say otherwise? Additionally, it gives importance to science in the legal system and the strong evidence it could procure, to either punish the wrong or save the innocent. Being a staunch believer in the power of science, I do believe that it deserves a larger seat in the legal system, however, not blind acceptance. The Kathleen Folbigg case is just the stepping stone for science to make its way into the law game. A diary entry is far more ambiguous than scientific proof that has been validated by several eminent scientists. This only brings to the question of whether it should be easier to reverse convictions if facts allow it.  However, the question of Kathleen Folbigg still remains unanswered, was it genes or really genocide?

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!

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