Former King Of Spain Carlos Now In Exile

Former King Of Spain Carlos Now In Exile

Amidst investigation for illegal dealings, former King of Spain Juan Carlos recently went into exile. Let us take a look at the monarch who brought several reforms but is now facing corruption charges.

Crux of the Matter

Current Exile
Recently, the former King of Spain Juan Carlos left Spain into exile, leaving amidst several controversies. The step came 6 years after the renunciation of his throne, which was transferred to his son Felipe VI in 2014.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stated that he is unaware about the location of the exile of Carlos, with media speculations claiming that Carlos is currently in the Dominican Republic.

Life Of Juan Carlos

  • Born in 1938.
  • Married Princess Sophia of Greece in 1962.
  • Spain was established as a “representative monarchy” by its dictator General Franco, who chose Juan Carlos as the successor King of Spain.
  • 1975: Carlos became the monarch 2 days after the death of Franco.
  • Notably, Carlos dismantled the old system and implemented changes to ensure Democratic elections in 1977.
  • 1981: Coup to remove Carlos and reinstate dictatorship failed after “swift action” from him.
  • Became the first Spanish King to visit the Americas in 1976.
  • Aided in decriminalizing abortion (under certain circumstances only) in 1985, which was amended later in 2010 after the Spanish Government recognized abortion as a fundamental right.
  • The active participation of Carlos in the political sphere diminished after the election of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in 1982.
  • Afterward, Carlos paid several visits to armies stationed outside, venturing even into war zones at times.
    1997: Visited troops serving in Bosnia.
    2002: Visited troops serving in Kosovo.
    2007: Visited troops serving in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which aimed to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaeda from Afghanistan.


Controversies

  • 2012: Carlos ambarked on a family trip for elephanthunting in Botswana at the time of a major recession in Spain, and received strong criticism for the actions.
  • 2014: Princess Cristina, the daughter of Juan Carlos, was accused of tax fraud, becoming the first Spanish royal to be put on trial. She was later acquitted in 2017, but her husband was sentenced to prison for the crime.
  • 2020: An investigation has been started recently to find Juan Carlos’ involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia after 2014 when he lost his privilege against prosecution due to renunciation of the throne.
  • Spanish firms had agreed on a €6.7bn deal to build a high-speed rail line between Mecca and Medina. However, the prosecutors have accused former King Carlos of corruption and of receiving $100 million from the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. King Felipe, the son of Carlos who took the throne in 2014, removed the $228,000 annual stipend of his father, and also renounced any personal inheritance afterward.


Sovereign Immunity
Spain has “Lèse-majesté” laws, which punish the defamation of the King or any royal by imprisonment of up to 2 years. Spain also provides immunity against prosecution to the presiding Head of State, with the case on Juan Carlos concerning Saudi-railway to include his actions of only after 2014, when he transferred the throne to his son and lost his privilege against prosecution.

The system suffered a major setback in 2018, when the European Court of Human Rights opposed the decision of the Spanish Court to penalize 2 citizens for burning the pictures of the King.

Several nations across the world provide certain immunity to their monarchs or heads of the states. For instance, the UK law cannot initiate “civil and criminal proceedings against the Queen as a person under UK law”, and also forbids arrests in the presence of the monarch or inside the royal palace.

Curiopedia
  • Juan Carlos is the grandson of Alfonso XIII, the last king of Spain before the abolition of the monarchy in 1931. Alfonso XIII was King of Spain for 45 years.
  • The Spanish Republic was the form of government that existed in Spain from 1931 to 1939. The Republic lost the Spanish Civil War on 1 April 1939 to the rebel faction that would establish a military dictatorship.
  • A caudillo is a type of personalist leader wielding military and political power. The term is historically associated with Spain.

History of Electric Vehicles

History of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles have been in existence longer than the General Motors EV1 of the late 1990s and today’s Tesla Inc. Let’s understand how things came to be as they are now.

Crux of the Matter

1830s – 1840s
1832-1839 – Batteries (galvanic cell or voltaic cell) were not yet rechargeable. Scotland’s Robert Anderson built the first motorized carriage between this period.

Then Robert Davidson of Aberdeen, built a prototype electric locomotive (rail transport vehicle) in 1837. William H. Taylor in the US made similar motors from 1838.Both these men worked independently, unknown to each others’ works.

1841
Davidson’s advanced version called Galvani was launched. It could go 1.5 miles at 4 mph towing 6 tons of heavy goods. The railway workers saw this as a threat to their jobs tending steam engines and so they destroyed it.

1859
Rechargeable batteries came into existence, with the invention of the lead–acid battery by French physicist Gaston Planté.

1884
Thomas Parker helped in the deployment of electric-powered trams (a rail vehicle that runs on tracks in public streets) and subsequently built prototype electric cars in England.

1890
Scottish chemist, William Morrison, applied for a patent on the electric carriage he’d built and then it appeared in a city parade in 1888. It had 24 battery cells that needed recharging every 50 miles, with front-wheel drive, 4 horsepower & a top speed of 20 mph. Later on, it gathered interest in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

1900s
Electric battery cars became popular for taxi services during this period, after Walter Bersey had introduced them in London. There was General Motors’ EV1 launched in 1996 and in 1997, the first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle Toyota Prius was launched in Japan.This was followed by the Honda Insight in 1999 US, Japan and thereafter Europe, North America and worldwide in 2000.

However, in the early 1900s, battery-powered vehicles had an edge over their gas counterparts. They did produce a high level of noise, vibration, and emanate smell associated with gasoline. Plus these battery cars were preferred as they did not require a manual effort to start or gear changes.

Things changed with the invention of the electric starter by Charles Kettering in 1912, making gas cars to travel faster and longer than their electric versions. Plus added discoveries of large petroleum reserves worldwide, led to the wide availability of cheaper gas. Again gas prices soared between 1960s-1990s, creating interest in electric vehicles once more.

Gas Giants Overpowering Electric Aspirants
Throughout the EV emergence, there has been a constant pressure exerted by the oil industry, who was always afraid of losing its monopoly on transportation fuel over the coming decades.

There were reported figures of low consumer demand and hyped advertisements about the success of gas driven cars in the US. Then due to lack of infrastructure and finances, EV models were later destroyed or donated to museums and educational institutions.

In fact even now, for an undisclosed sum, oil giant Shell bought German home energy-storage startup Sonnen in 2019, in order to utilise their assets to Compete against Tesla and it’s batteries.

2000s – Present
The emergence of MOS (metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology and lithium ion battery led to the development of modern age electric road vehicles with less power losses.

The likes of Japanese Nissan Leaf, American Tesla Model X, German BMW i3 and South Korean Hyundai Ioniq Electric became popular electric cars, with more attempts at installing their respective charging stations. Additionally, Chinese and Taiwanese firms became manufacturing in e-bikes like the Gogoro series and Okinawa iPraise.

Curiopedia
  • Bertha Benz was a German automotive pioneer. She was the business partner and wife of automobile inventor Karl Benz. She was the first person to drive an automobile over a long distance in 1888.
  • Hummer is a brand of trucks and SUVs, first marketed in 1992. After closing the brand, it was revived earlier this year by General Motors. It was announced that a new electric pickup Hummer will soon be released.
  • Rivian is an American automaker and automotive technology company. Founded in 2009, the company develops vehicles, products and services related to sustainable transportation. In 2017, Rivian announced it was building an electric SUV.
  • In 1907, the tram car commenced in Mumbai, formerly Bombay and was run by the Electric Supply and Tramway Company till 1964. They later introduced double-decker trains to streamline traffic and increased routes.
  • The second oldest electric tramway in India after the Chennai tram service, was started by WBTC and CTC in 1902. To date it’s the only tram network operating in the nation.

Nuclear Plant In Arab World & Contentions

The first nuclear power plant in the Arab region was initiated recently in the UAE, with mixed reactions coming amidst the recent tension in the Middle East.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Nuclear Initiation
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently announced the operation of the first nuclear power plant in the Arabian nations by initiating the first 4 reactors of the Barakah nuclear power station. Located in the Al Dhafrah region of Abu Dhabi, the plant was first announced in 2009 and was expected to open in 2017. The delay occurred by several natural as well as ‘human’ reasons.

UAE Going Green
The Barakah plant is expected to provide “up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity needs once it is fully operational”. The UAE has also increased dependency on solar and wind energy in recent years, with the recent nuclear development aiming to further reduce the country’s dependency on oil for energy.

The recent nuclear development came 2 weeks after the UAE launched its first Mars mission named “Hope Probe”.

Conflict In The Region
Israel and Iran in the Middle East region are already in the possession of nuclear power. Israel, which operates a nuclear reactor, has an undisclosed nuclear arsenal, while Iran claims that it has only a “uranium enrichment program” for civil development. Several attempts have been made to thwart the nuclear progress of the UAE, with the most recent coming in 2017 when the Houthi rebel group of Yemen fired missiles at the Barakah plant.

Israel-UAE Relations
The UAE does not recognize Israel as a state and has banned the entry of Israeli citizens in the country. The relations between the two have been improving since the 2019 AFC Asian Cup hosted in Dubai, which was telecasted officially in Israel for the first time. Israel was also invited to the Dubai Expo 2020 fair.

Iran-UAE Relations
The UAE does not recognize Israel as a state and supports Palestine in the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, both sides are reportedly on the same side against Iran, with the UAE claiming that Iran supports Shi’ites rebels in the region.

  • Iran’s control over the Lesser Tunb and the Greater Tunb islands in the Persian Gulf has been disputed by the UAE, with the conflict arising due to British control in the region and the transfer of power after independence.
  • The 2 sides have also been engaged in conflict over Abu Musa island in the Persian Gulf, with the island being under the control of Iran till 1908 before annexation by Britain. In the 1960s, Britain transferred the control of Abu Musa to the Sharjah sheikhdom, one of the 7 sheikhdoms to coalesce into the UAE. In 1971, Iran and the UAE signed an MoU for the joint administration of the island. However, the pact has been reportedly violated by Iran in its attempts to take over the islands since the 1990s, with the Oil-richness of the islands being a major source of conflict.
  • The UAE allowed France to open its first permanent base in the Persian Gulf region in 2009, which drew strong criticism from Iran.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran have been engaged in conflict over Sunni and Shi’ite branches of Islam.
  • After the execution of Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia in 2016, the Saudi embassy in Iran was attacked by civilians. Consequently, both the countries withdrew embassies and have no formal relations since. The UAE reportedly backs Saudi Arabia in its conflict with Iran, marking a decisive step in its relation with Iran.
Curiopedia
  • Emirates is the state-owned airline and flag carrier of the UAE. It was conceived in March 1985 with backing from Dubai’s royal family.
  • Expo 2020 is a World Expo to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The whole event is postponed by a year and will be held in October of 2021 now. This is the first time that the World Exposition has been postponed.
  • The 2016 attack on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran was a mob action on 2 January 2016 by protesters against the execution of a prominent Saudi Arabian Shi’a cleric. Mobs stormed the embassy in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in Mashhad and ransacked them. The embassy building was set on fire with Molotov cocktails and petrol bombs. The attacks were later condemned by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei.

New Law in Turkey Gives Added Social Media Power To Govt

New Law in Turkey Gives Added Social Media Power To Govt

A law was been passed by the Turkey government recently that lets the government store user data found in their social media accounts. What’s the motive behind this move? What do the critics have to say?

Crux of the Matter

What Happened?
The Turkish lawmakers passed legislation on 29th July that gives them the authority to regulate social media content. This has raised concerns about the country falling under greater governmental control, as social media was one of the few places for free public debate in Turkey. Starting from Oct. 1, it requires social media companies to store user data in the nation’s internal servers itself.

What Does The Bill State?
It orders popular social giants like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to open offices in Turkey and impose strict rules.

These offices would be responsible for meeting the demands of both the individuals and government. They can block content hosted on their platforms that is deemed inappropriate.

What If They Don’t Obey?
The dire consequences of disobeying the law would be slowing the bandwidth of the sites and making them mostly inaccessible. Moreover, the company offices would have 48 hours to comply and the fine for being late would be $700,000+.

Experts’ Take On Why It Was Passed
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and governing A.K.P. party behind the legislation cited that this move was needed to “protect citizens from cybercrime.”

Critics say that things took a personal turn when the president’s family was being targeted in social media criticism. Many reporters have been jailed to date, and many have left the country in fear.

As it is offline, conventional media houses are under the scanner of the Turkish government, with 90% of them being controlled by businesses close to the government. Now, this law would be the start of an online censorship regime.

History Of Its “Online Mess”

  • In 2016 before an attempted coup, Turkey had seen an online battle of the government loyals and the general public.
  • In 2017 Wikipedia was banned there, till it was lifted this year.
  • In 2019, streaming services like Netflix were targeted, with entertainment programs being rigorously censored. The series “If Only” was even cancelled as a result, because it was based on a gay character.

Curiopedia
  • A Black and White photo challenge is a recent social media trend which has started from Turkey, where the campaign is associated with raising awareness about femicide in the country. It is so because, b&w photos of murdered women are shown in the country’s media.
  • The Justice and Development Party, abbreviated officially AK Parti in Turkish, is a conservative political party in Turkey. The current party leader is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the incumbent President of Turkey.
  • Yeşilçam is the sobriquet that refers to Turkish film art and industry. The first Turkish-made film was a documentary entitled Ayastefanos’taki Rus Abidesinin Yıkılışı (Demolition of the Russian Monument at San Stefano), directed by Fuat Uzkınay and completed in 1914.

Tech Giants In Legal Trouble Over Competition

Tech Giants In Legal Trouble Over Competition

CEOs of tech giants Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon were summoned over allegations of unfair practices for obliterating competition in the market.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Case
CEOs of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon recently appeared before the congressional committee of the US for a “high profile anti-trust” hearing. The Democrat congressional committee accused the tech giants of wielding “their power in destructive, harmful ways in order to expand”, and accused them of abusing power to suppress competition or buying it entirely.

On the other hand, the Republicans accused these tech giants of “suppressing” conservative views on their platforms.

Amazon
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appeared before Congress for the first time. In the hearing, he was accused of conflict of interest as Amazon “both hosts sellers and competes against them by offering similar products”. The company was also accused of using third-party seller data to enhance Amazon’s own versions of those products.

While Bezos stated that his employees are not allowed to use third-party sales data, he admitted that the policy “might have been violated”.

Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned over the takeover of Instagram and other “competitors”. The Judiciary committee accessed his internal mails sent before the acquisition of Instagram in 2012 and found that Zuckerberg had claimed in one email that Instagram could be “very disruptive” to his company. The committee accused him of neutralizing Instagram by buying it in 2012, which the committee considered a threat. In his reply, Zuckerberg “respectfully” denied the claims of pressurizing competition.

Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook received a complaint about Apple’s App Store. Besides facing criticism over the fee of 15-30% levied on developers, the company also faced accusations of “cutting off” the app developers. Besides the US Congress, Apple also received an anti-trust complaint from Europe, filed by Telegram and Spotify. The complaint was filed over concerns on the 30% fee levied on these apps, Apple’s censorship, and its violation of user privacy.

Summachar Coverage: On Apple’s Tax Case & Tax Havens Of The World

Google
Google was accused of “stealing content” from small firms like Yelp, and was also accused of thwarting companies from its ‘search’ which might divert traffic from its own.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai claimed that the firm prioritized user experience.

Antitrust Laws
Antitrust laws are defined as laws to protect consumers and small businesses from unfair practices of large businesses, with an aim to prevent unfair monopoly in the market. There are some key differences in antitrust laws applied in Europe and the US.

  • The European Commission (EC) penalizes companies with fines, while the US applies criminal law, and imposes both financial and custodial penalties against offenders.
  • Comparatively, more centralized control of mergers does occur in the European Union (EU) by the EC than the US.
  • Differing stance on cartels (collusion of firms to divide the market).
    The EU treats cartels as financial offence, while the US laws treat it as “property crime”.
  • The EC also has power to block or review mergers, while the Federal agencies in the US require permission from the Courts to do so.
Curiopedia
  • Ian Madrigal is an activist and was in news in 2018 for dressing up as the Monopoly Man and sitting behind Sundar Pichai during his testimony before the US Congress. It was a metaphor for the corporate consolidation by wealthy technology monopolies by literally turning up as Mr Monopoly.
  • The Social Network is a 2010 American biographical drama film and portrays the founding of social networking website Facebook and the resulting lawsuits. It was named one of the best films of the year by 78 critics, and named the best by 22 critics, the most of any film that year.
  • PageRank is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results. PageRank was named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google.