It's official : Brexit becomes law after Queen approves


Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has become law after it received royal assent from the Queen, having cleared all its stages in parliament. Tory MPs cheered the deputy speaker Nigel Evans as he confirmed in the House of Commons on Thursday earlier this week, that there was now a European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act.

Crux of the Matter
  • The House of Commons which is the lower, elected chamber once the source of endless Brexit drama, quietly approved the bill on January 9.
  • The House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber, approved the legislation this week with amendments. 
  • With Parliament agreed, the legislation received royal assent on Thursday, allowing the Queen to give formal approval to a British exit.
  • The UK and the EU would now enter an 11-month transition period, during which the UK will continue to follow most EU rules but will not have any decision-making power in the body.
  • Currently, the EU is the UK’s largest trading partner: 45 % of all UK exports go to the EU and more than 50 % of the UK’s imports are from the EU.

Brexit is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). Following a June 2016 referendum, in which 51.9% voted to leave, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017, starting a process that is currently due to conclude with the UK withdrawing no later than 31 January 2020. Withdrawal is advocated by Eurosceptics and opposed by pro-Europeanists, both of whom span the political spectrum. The UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, with continued membership endorsed in a 1975 referendum. In the 1970s and 1980s, withdrawal from the EC was advocated mainly by the political left, e.g. in the Labour Party’s 1983 election manifesto. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty founded the EU but was not put to a referendum. The eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party led a rebellion over ratification of the treaty and, with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the cross-party People’s Pledge campaign, pressured Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to hold a referendum on continued EU membership which was held in June 2016. Cameron, who had campaigned to remain, resigned after the result and was succeeded by Theresa May. More Info

Pakistan lobbies the US to get out of FATF grey list

Pakistan is strongly lobbying with the United States to remove itself from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Pakistan also has urged the US to review its travel advisories for Pakistan and encourage foreign investment. If not removed from the list by April 2020 Pakistan may face a severe economic blacklist.

Crux of the Matter
  • The FATF in 2019 had decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘Grey’ list for failure to curb funding to terror groups LeT, JeM and others.
  • A Pakistani delegation arrived in Beijing for the 3-day face-to-face talks with the FATF Working Group that would start on January 21.
  • The briefing will review whether Pakistan has complied with an earlier agenda presented to it.
  • Pakistan has submitted a 650-page review report to the FATF on January 8
  • This FATF meeting in Bejing is important as it leads to a plenary meeting in Paris in April where the world body will decide whether Pakistan remains on the list or is taken off.
  • Blacklisting by FATF would result in a freeze of capital flowing to Pakistan, slow progress in the refinancing of loans from major bilateral creditors, and increased headwinds from a weaker global economic backdrop.
  • Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and hoped that the US would back their efforts to get out of the grey list.

The Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing. It monitors progress in implementing the FATF Recommendations through “peer reviews’ of member countries. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. More Info

Dissenting End to Decade – II

This is the continuation of the first part of the story. The last year of the decade has seen the sprouting of protests across the globe. From Latin America to Hong Kong, the protests that flared up can be rooted in three major causes, climate change issues, widening economic gap, and political repression. Suppression of protests and protestors in a systemic way was seen to be a common thread. Let us peep into the protests that shook the civilization in 2019.

Crux of the Matter

Opposition in October
Iraq was wrapped in anti-establishment protests in the month of October. Protestors were agitating against corruption, economic divide, poor public infrastructure, nepotism, and authoritarian governance. Authorities were also condemned for using tear gas bombs, rubber bullets, actual bullets, snipers, hot pepper, etc. to disperse protests. Protestors also raised critical issues of Iraq being domesticated by the US, inefficient use of revenue from oil, and Iran’s intervention in Iraq.

In October, Bolivia was engaged in protests after allegations about Electoral Fraud in the 2019 Elections were made. Jeanine Anez took over Evo Morales as the President of Bolivia after Evo resigned. Protests persisted while the entire scene played out. 14 people were killed during the protests as a result of undue force by authorities on protestors.

Spain was also not fared from protests. In the ongoing prosecution against top leaders and people who organized referendum in Catalan, 9 people were charged with sedition and other charges. This led to massive violent protests in Spain. During the violent protests that continued for a week, protestors used force and pelted stones to impose the protests, whereas police charged protestors with baton and resorted to tear gas to disperse the protestors. Nearly 25,000 university students came out on the streets for a peaceful demonstration.

Chilean uproar began in response to the increase in the subway fare of Santiago Metro. The protests also caught more spark against the increased cost of living in the country, economic disparity, and leeching privatization policies of the state. Protestors resorted to vandalism and arson of property. President Sebastian Pinera called a state of emergency and announced a curfew in the protest-hit area. Police resorted to the brutal use of force and in one of the incidents as many as 200 people damaged their eyesight as a result of the police pellets. As many as 2500 people were injured and 20 killed. There have been reported incidents of torture, sexual assault, and sexual abuse on protestors by security forces.

Apart from protests in Bolivia, Spain, and Chile in the month of October, Lebanon also fell into a revolutionary frenzy. Civil Protests in Lebanon were a culmination of the proposed tax on gas, tobacco, and online phone calls. Gradually the protests turned into an uproar against corruption, unemployment, economic situation, and inflexible government. The protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Not So Good November
Outcry in Italy is a political movement against Matteo Salvini. The protests came to be known as Sardines Movement – crowd protesting on streets like sardines packed in a shoal. Partly because of the Anti-Immigration Policies and of the rising amount of Hate Speech in Politics caused the agitators to raise their voice against, as opposition in Italy claims, ‘authoritarian and undemocratic‘ leader Salvini.

Iran, a nation that has been getting eyeballs because of the escalating tension between it and US, saw protesters emerging on the streets to protest against the rising fuel costs and cost of living, which some experts believe are rising because of the US sanctions. Peaceful demonstrations turned violent, in which protestors burned down state-owned banks and Islamic centres, and criticized Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Iranian government used brute force to shun down civilians. Nearly, 1,500 people were killed. Iran blocked internet access for nearly a week. The protests that have taken the shape of anti-establishment protests are the most severe in 5 decades in Iran.

Malta was rocked in protests after its government was accused of participating in the assassination of journalist Daphne Galizia. Protestors took the issues of corruption, poor governance, and judicial hollowness on the streets. Protestors demanded resignation from Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Dissenting December for India
India engulfed into protests after the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 was passed in the parliament. Protests erupted against the constitutionality of the Act and the speculative fear of filtering the Muslim population. The protests turned meta after the police violence at Delhi’s Jamia Milia University. Protestors then took to streets against police brutality and the right to protest. Indian government also resorted to internet shutdown to curb violent protests. Students and women participated in large numbers. Violence took lives of many and injured many. Call for peace is being persistently made.

Not only there have been overlapping reasons for the protests across the globe, but there also have been similar combat techniques by the government. Some protests resulted in the ousting of the incumbent, whereas others have out forth that demand. Protests proved to be helping Sudan in revamping its government structure. The rising voice of students across the globe, use of violence by mob, government’s use of internet blackout, and police authorities using force were seen almost everywhere.

The fashion in which protests have erupted throughout the world gives a sense of nostalgia for the Arab Spring and the Arab Winter that followed. Although the protests are rising against governments and economic gap, it would not be an understatement to anticipate a serious cyclic lap like Arab Winter.


The Arab Winter is a term for the resurgence of authoritarianism, absolute monarchies and Islamic extremism evolving in the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests in Arab countries. Events referred to as the Arab Winter include those in Egypt that led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi and the seizure of power by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in an anti-Muslim Brotherhood campaign. According to scholars of the University of Warsaw, the Arab Spring fully devolved into the Arab Winter four years after its onset, in 2014. The Arab Winter is characterized by the emergence of multiple regional civil wars, mounting regional instability, economic and demographic decline of Arab countries, and ethnoreligious sectarian strife. According to a study by the American University of Beirut, by the summer of 2014, the Arab Winter had resulted in nearly a quarter of a million deaths and millions of refugees. Perhaps the most significant event in the Arab Winter was the rise of the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which controlled large swathes of land in the region from 2014 to 2017. More Info

Ocean temperatures sweltering high, compared to Hiroshima bombings


After Earth’s oceans hit record high temperatures last year due to global warming, a new study published in the journal “Advances in Atmospheric Sciences” has come out with shocking findings: The amount of heat pumped into the ocean by climate change is equivalent to five Hiroshima explosions per second. An international team of climate buffs analyzed sea temperature data from the 1950s through to 2019 and our oceans turned out to be 0.075C hotter than the 1981-2010 average.

Crux of the Matter
  • To ignite up, Earth’s oceans required a staggering amount of heat equivalent to 228 sextillions (that’s 238 followed by 21 zeros) Joules’ worth of energy. 
  • Dr Lijing Cheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences attempted to quantify this by comparing it to the energy released by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. In that ill-fated period of time, the bombings had generated energy of about 63 trillion Joules.
  • The readings were taken from a network of more than 3,800 buoys spread across the planet and they stated that ocean warming was equivalent to about five Hiroshima bombs of heat, every second, day and night, 365 days a year.
  • According to some estimates, melting ice in the polar regions could lead to rises of up to 11ft by 2100 if oceans heat up by 4C. This could render hundreds of millions homeless and create a “climate refugeeemergency.
  • Researchers blamed global warming for rising sea temperatures, which threaten to cause catastrophic sea-level rises over the next century and warned that the rate would continue to increase if there is no action to slow or reverse the warming.

Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and NagasakiThe United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, with the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict. In the final year of World War II, the Allies prepared for a very costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign which devastated 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe had concluded when Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 8, 1945, and the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific theatre. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, the alternative being “prompt and utter destruction”. Japan ignored the ultimatum and the war continued. More Info

Dissenting End to Decade – I

The last year of the decade has seen the sprouting of protests across the globe. From Latin America to Hong Kong, the protests that flared up can be rooted in three major causes, climate change issues, widening economic gap, and political repression. Suppression of protests and protestors in a systemic way was seen to be a common thread. Let us peep into the protests that shook the civilization in 2019.

Crux of the Matter

Beginning of 2019
Towards the end of 2018, France had engulfed in ‘Yellow Vest‘ Protests. The protests began as an upheaval against the rising fuel cost, and cost of living in France as for French people living in rural areas or out of urban regions, a car is a necessity. The protest that began as an online petition, became widespread by the beginning of 2019 and gradually morphed into anti-establishment protests. Towards the end of 2019, the Yellow Vest protests sparked up again, but this time to agitate against pension reforms. The movement is ongoing. Protestors had resorted to road-blocks and other methods to show their dissent, whereas police did their duty of dispersing the crowd, sometimes a little too harshly that injured protestors.

February 2019
Kazakhstan was the next nation to face anti-establishment dissent. 5 children died due to house fire in Nur Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Citizens’ discontentment was fueled by citing numerous lapses of the government and the rapidly growing economic gap. While the protests were ongoing, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over. The new President called for snap elections, which he won with thumping majority. However, protests persisted – some seeking economic reforms, some asking the government to not bend to China – and the government many times arrested protestors.

Algeriens ‘March’ Forth
In March 2019, protestors flocked to streets in Algeria. Protestors, mostly Millenials, saw unrealized freedom and liberal laws. They demanded the then Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had been incumbent for 3 decades, to withdraw his candidacy. Majorly a government reformation protest was underway to diminish the monopolistic environment. Some protestors vandalized property and resorted to violent means. Algerians Police had said that “the majority of the people arrested were under the influence of psychotropic or hallucinogenic substances.” Bouteflika had to resign.

Hong Kong Protests, Trendsetters
Protests in Hong Kong flared up after the controversial Extradition Bill. The Bill might have exposed HK to regulations of Mainland China, and fear of this brought thousands of protestors, mostly young, to the streets. Violence erupted after Carry Lam proceeded with the Bill and the police resorted to tear gas bombing and firing rubber bullets on protestors. Soon after the protests took a meta form and police atrocity was another brick in the high wall of protests. Police and Student protestors had clashed at Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Protestors used gasoline bombs and fired arrows at the police and seized universities to use them as a fort to develop weapons and strategize protests. While the police were criticized for using undue force on protestors. Protestors put forth 5 demands:
1. Withdrawal of the Extradition Bill (This demand has been met)
2. For the protests not to be characterized as “riot”
3. Amnesty for arrested protesters
4. An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
5. Implementation of complete universal suffrage

Pro-Democracy cried continued from Hong Kong. Hong Kong Protests could be seen as one in which highest number of people flocked the streets to protests against government action in the recent past. Repercussions of the Hong Kong Protests were seen in the economy of the country and in the traction it received from world nations. Social Media played an integral role in strategizing protests in Hong Kong, with a lot of people resorting to talking in encryption like using Bruce Lee‘s famous “Be Water” phrase. Hong Kong protests might have acted as a catalyst for the global wave of protests in 2019.

Mid Year Blues
Russia‘s Moscow witnessed unrest from the month of July. During the 2019 Moscow City Duma Elections, many independent candidates filed cases against violation by authorities as those candidates were not allowed to participate in the elections. Several people joined the protests to More than 1000 protestors were detained.

In September, protests broke out in Egpyt as citizens wanted to oust President Sisi and his authoritarian government. Pro-Sisi and Anti-Sisi clashes saw protestors coming out in the streets. Nearly 4000 arbitrary arrests were made by the Egyptian authorities. International Communities condemned the arrests. The government resorted to internet shutdown to curb the protests.

Protests paced up exponentially in the second half of the year. All the protests, more or less, revolved around raising voice against the government. Protests that began as dissent against price hike or political actions took the shape of anti-establishment protests. The tide of protest that also engulfed other world nations appears to be an exponential version of the Arab Spring.


The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Islamic world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, starting with protests in Tunisia. The wave of initial revolutions and protests faded by mid-2012, as many Arab Spring demonstrations were met with violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias, counter-demonstrators and militaries. These attacks were answered with violence from protestors in some cases. Large-scale conflicts resulted: the Syrian Civil War; the Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war; the Egyptian Crisis, coup, and subsequent unrest and insurgency; the Libyan Civil War; and the Yemeni Crisis and following civil war. Regimes that lacked major oil wealth and hereditary succession arrangements were more likely to undergo regime change. More Info