Explosive Allegations On Trump By Bolton

John Bolton, an official who served under President Trump, would be releasing a book making explosive claims on Trump’s dealings.

Crux of the Matter

Who Is Bolton?
John Bolton served as the US National Security Adviser (NSA) from 2018 to 2019. On June 23rd, the release of his new book The Room Where It Happened is expected. In the book, Bolton has made serious allegations against President Trump, especially concerning his international dealings.

Trump sought judiciary aid to ban the release of the book. However, the DC District Court rejected his appeal.

Claims In The Book
Several copies of the book have been provided to news firms which have revealed the major claims made by Bolton

  • Trump has sought help from Chinese President Xi Jinping to win the elections of November 2020.
  • Trump told Xi that he wanted to amend US constitution to change the limit of two 4-year tenures for Presidents.
  • Trump did not know if Finland is a part of Russia
  • Trump state how it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela.


Trump Impeachment
President Trump was put on a trial after impeachment, occurring only the 3rd time in US history. He was accused of colluding with Ukraine to enhance his chances of re-election in November 2020, and of obstructing the working of the US Congress.

In the process of Impeachment, Bolton rejected the request of the Democrats to testify in the court and threatened legal action if subpoenaed. Later, he accused them of “impeachment malpractice”.

Bolton has received criticism for staying silent in the Impeachment process while releasing a book on it, with some critics accusing him of placing monetary gains over legal duties.

Past And Future
Bolton’s book adds to the long list of books and memos criticizing Trump. James Comey, who served as the director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017, released his “memos” of working with the President. In the text, Comey alleged strong links between Trump and Russia and accused him of interfering in the investigation of Michael Flynn, who was the Chief of Staff of the President in 2017. Comey even released a book called A Higher Loyalty on Trump. Another famous tell-all book on the Trump Presidency is Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man is an upcoming book written by Mary Trump, the niece of President Trump.

The book, which would be released on 28 July, explains the background of her uncle who “threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric”. However, Donald Trump claims that Mary signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement in 2001 which prohibits her from publishing the book.

Curiopedia
  • Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men, One Message is a 2006 non-fiction book about personal finance, co-authored by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki. Kiyosaki is the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, one of the most famous pieces of literature on the importance of financial literacy.
  • HSBC Holdings PLC is a British multinational investment bank and financial services holding company. It was the 7th largest bank in the world by 2018, and the largest in Europe, with total assets of $2.558 trillion (as of December 2018). James Comey served on the board of directors of HSBC Holdings until July 2013.
  • In May 2002, Bolton gave a speech entitled “Beyond the Axis of Evil” in response to President Bush’s State of the Union Address (where Bush characterized Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as part of an “Axis of Evil”). Bolton added three more nations to be grouped with the aforementioned rogue states: Cuba, Libya, and Syria.

A-Sad Decade For Syria

Civil war in Syria

US imposed severe sanctions on Syria for its human rights violation, which will impact its international standing and economy.

Crux of the Matter

Caesar Act Passed
US President Trump recently imposed Caesar law on Syria which was reported as a measure to stop “brutal acts against the Syrian people by the Assad regime”. The law targets 39 entities/people, which include President Bashar-al-Assad, his wife Asma and several prominent people.

Sequence Of Events
The law is named after photographer Caesar, who delivered 50,000+ pictures of torture occurring inside Syrian prisons. The law reinforces the freezing of assets of Assad and Asma in US. There would be sanctions on outsiders who attempt to support the Syrian govt financially or in technology, and on outsiders who engage in construction deals for areas under Syrian govt.

However, several critics have pointed to further aggravation of the economy ravaged by civil war as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Further Family Conflict
Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of Bashar-al-Assad, was recently sentenced to 4 years imprisonment by the Paris Court of France. He was found guilty of acquiring property worth $113 million in France and €29 million in England using Syrian state’s funds, consequently being ordered to pay €30,000 to anti-corruption agencies. Rifaat has been in exile in France since the 1980s after he attempted to replace Hafez al-Assad, father of Bashar, who was the then Syrian President.

Syrian Civil War – Timeline

  • 2011: Protests start in Syria to remove Al-Assad and install democracy. Eventually, they become violent and civil war ensues
  • 2012: Official condemnation of civil war by UN fails as China and Russia voted against the move
  • 2012: Israel fires shots on Syria in November as mortar shells damaged Israeli army post
  • 2014: US and allies attack ISIS targets there
  • 2016: Russia starts the withdrawal of troops
  • 2019: Turkey launches an attack on it after Trump announces withdrawal from Turkey-Syria border   

US Interventions
US supported the rebel groups against Al-Assad. The major rebel alliance was the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprising mainly of the Kurdish people. In 2014, it launched a major attack with its allies on the ISIS groups in Syria. It provided $1 billion to train and equip the rebels. However, President Trump cancelled the deal after annihilation caused by Russian forces.

In 2017, US upped its depredation by attacking the government airfields of Syria. In 2018, Trump partially reversed his decision to withdraw troops. In 2019, Trump withdrew forces from the Turkey-Syria border area while stating that Kurds are “not angels”, which was immediately attacked by Turkey through airstrikes.

Curiopedia
  • Bashar Hafez al-Assad is a Syrian politician who has been the President of Syria since 17 July 2000. In addition, he is the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and Regional Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party’s branch in Syria.
  • Bassel al-Assad was a Syrian engineer, colonel, and politician who was the eldest son of Hafez al-Assad and the older brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It was widely expected that he would succeed his father as President of Syria until he died in a car accident in 1994.
  • The current coat of arms of Syria consists of the Hawk of Quraish supporting a shield bearing the national flag of Syria (in vertical form), and a scroll of the words “Syrian Arab Republic” in Arabic. Since the start of the ongoing Syrian Civil War in March 2011, alternative coats of arms have been created by the Syrian opposition and the Federation of Northern Syria.

History of Space Faring Nations – US & Russia

History of Space

Even as the number of countries with space programs has increased rapidly, US & Russia remain the space frontiers. With their hot and cold relations on earth, how far have they come in this race and how long do they go back?

Crux of the Matter

The First Race
The official space competition started between the US and USSR (Soviet Union) during the cold war period (1947 -1991) when the technological advantage was seen as necessary for national security. Mixed with the patriotism, efforts began from both sides to achieve spaceflight milestones

My rockets work perfectly, except for landing on the wrong planet.

Wernher von Braun, German Scientist

Reports suggest that Wernher von Braun, the student of the rocketing pioneer Hermann Oberth, was the public face and chief architect of the American space program, helping launch their first space satellite Explorer 1. This detached him from the consequences of his earlier work on the V-2 missile for Hitler and his continued interest in space travel. Till date his liquid-fueled engines are used as the basis for modern space travel via LOX (Liquid Oxygen).

The Vostok 1 Capsule that toured Yuri with one full orbit of Earth

During the International Geophysical Year that marked the scientific exchange between East and West, Soviet Union achieved a successful launch of the first artificial satellite in the world, with the orbiting of Sputnik 1 in 1957.

Followed by cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first man and woman in space. Not wanting to be left behind in the race, the US made Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon with Apollo 11. Thus the US chose the moon’s orbit to excel in while the Soviet concentrated on Earth orbitals.

The Apollo 11 marked the lunar success of NASA’s Apollo program

Efforts To Collaborate With Apollo – Soyuz
In 1962, a period of détente, which is easing of strained relations, started when POTUS John F. Kennedy and Soviet Union’s Premier Nikita Khrushchev exchanged letters about working together on simple space matters like weather satellites. The US and Russia agreed that an international space project would be a political win-win. According to historians, this idea got further highlighted with the release of Marooned, the film in which Soviet cosmonauts rescue stranded American astronauts.

Apollo-Soyuz was the first international mission, carried out jointly by the Americans and Russians in July 1975. As US Apollo module docked with a Soviet Soyuz capsule, millions of people worldwide watched on T.V, the test project wherein two nations worked together with their own spacecrafts.

Mir for Russia and Skylab for USA
Skylab
was the first space station operated by the United States from 1973-1979. It spent six years orbiting Earth until its decaying orbit caused it to re-enter the atmosphere. The station had a workshop, a solar observatory, a multiple docking adapter, and systems to allow three crews to spend up to 84 days in space comfortably. It’s major operations included acting as an orbital workshop, a solar observatory, and Earth observational arena.

NASA’s Skylab

The Space Station Mir served as a microgravity research laboratory in which crews conducted experiments in biology, human biology, physics, and astronomy. It endured 15 years in orbit from 1986 to 2001, three times its planned lifetime. It outlasted the Soviet Union and was later handled by Russia.

US got concerned that with the fall of the Union, funds might get short for the Russian Space Program, and thus the Shuttle-Mir program was started. It flew several American astronauts to Mir between 1995 and 1998 and laid the groundwork for the ISS collaboration.

ROSCOSMOS’s Mir

Formation Of Global Space Station – ISS
After an MoU between the US and Russia, the modular space station ISS was formed in 1998 with an intent to proceed with worldwide cooperation for space exploration. It was divided into two sections : Russian Orbital Segment (ROS), operated by Russian ROSCOSMOS and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), shared by NASA (US) and other nations including JAXA(Japan), CSA(Canada) and ESA (Europe).

ISS Space-environment research laboratory

Good-bye Shuttle, Hello Again Soyuz & Dragon
NASA’s Space Shuttle program was launched in 1972 with the vision of a reusable space shuttle system. True to its mission, the Shuttle became the only winged reusable shuttle to achieve orbit and landing with a crew that made multiple flights into an orbit. Russian shuttle Buran was similar in design and capabilities but it could make only one uncrewed space flight before it got scrapped.

The Space Shuttle Program, composed of an orbiter with two reusable solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank

However after spiralling costs to manage the shuttle beyond it’s envisioned 15 year span, and arising safety issues due to criticism faced for the two major disasters – Challenger and the Columbia vehicles, US retired its Space Shuttle fleet after 135 missions in 2011.

The Soyuz spacecraft was launched on a Soyuz rocket, still known for being one of the most reliable launch vehicles in space

This made Russian Soyuz rockets the only way to shuttle crew and cargo to and from the ISS, which in turn led to NASA paying ROSCOSMOS $2.5 billion+ for its space services ever since. Though in 2014, the condemnatory international reaction of the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, made the US rethink about their space cooperation with them. Later in a meeting, NASA reaffirmed its commitment to extend the station use from 2020 to at least 2024.

Finally Elon Musk’s SpaceX became a game changer for NASA in May this year, as astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley travelled to the ISS in their Dragon 2 crew spacecraft, making it the first public-corporate space collaboration to launch humans into orbit. Under this Commercial Crew Program, a NASA audit found out that the cost per seat for each astronaut was significantly lower than Soyuz, Apollo and other space programs in 60 years.

What Next?
Currently, the two nations’ have a differing role in space, where the US is helping private companies like SpaceX and Boeing to fuel the next generation of space exploration with flashy new technologies, Russia is investing in stable provision of decades-old yet reliable designs and equipment, busy finding replacements for the Soyuz program. Hopefully, the next goal for both would be Mission Mars!

Curiopedia
  • Before humans went into space in the 1960s, several other animals were launched into space, including numerous other primates, so that scientists could investigate the biological effects of space travel. The first primate astronaut was Albert, a rhesus macaque, who on June 11, 1948, rode to over 63 km on a V-2 rocket. Albert died of suffocation during the flight.
  • The Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex (OPSEK) was a 2009–2017 Russian proposed third-generation modular space station for Low Earth orbit. In early plans, the station was to consist initially of several modules from the Russian Orbital Segment of the International Space Station (ISS). However, in September 2017, the head of Roscosmos Igor Komarov said that the technical feasibility of separating the station to form OPSEK had been studied and there were now “no plans to separate the Russian segment from the ISS”.
  • Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller film starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as American astronauts who are stranded in space after the mid-orbit destruction of their Space Shuttle and attempt to return to Earth. Upon its release, Gravity was met with widespread critical acclaim, including its direction and visuals. Visual effects company Framestore spent more than three years creating most of the film’s visual effects, which make up over 80 of its 91 minutes.

History of Racism In The United States of America

History of racism in USA

In the days following George Floyd’s death, the US has witnessed a rise in a number of protests against racism against blacks amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic. Understanding how things went out of control in the city of Minneapolis requires knowing the major chapters of the history of a nation once known for being a land of immigrants. In terms of racial geography, are a citizen’s genetic endowment and cultural inheritance enough for them to be alienated? 

Crux of the Matter

Racism Towards Different Communities In The States

Attempts to pass removal laws for Native Americans
In a study conducted by Health Services Research, one in five Native Americans (23 percent) reported experiencing discrimination in clinical encounters.

Going back in time, the bias started in 1830, with the Indian Removal Bill being pushed hard by then-President Andrew Jackson in the Congress. More than three dozen eastern tribes from the indigenous groups of North America stood in the way of what he saw as the settlers’ divinely ordained rights to clear the wilderness, build homes and grow cotton and other crops. The irony is that he is still honored in the US for being the face of their twenty-dollar bill

Judenhass: “Jew Hatred” 
FBI data reports how Jews were one of the most prominent groups to be targeted for religiously-motivated hate crimes every year since 1991 due to holocaust denial and stereotypes that construe them as socially, religiously, and economically unacceptable to American life. Judenhass depicts the expressions of hatred against individual Jews and their communities by organizing anti-semitic attacks on them via mob, police violence, and even military attacks

Hostility towards Italians
Italians started migrating to the United States in large numbers in the 1880s from the impoverished city of Sicily. In 1891 one of the worst mass lynchings in US history occurred, in downtown New Orleans. Italian men were hung or shot to death by a mob seeking ‘justice’ for a murdered policeman. Incidentally, the word ‘Mafia’ became popular thereafter, with the migrants being thrown out of schools, theatres, and labor unions. Finally, a law was passed to restrict further immigration in 1921.

Anti-Asian sentiment
Prejudice against the Japanese and the Chinese has existed since the late 19th century, with the start of Yellow Peril that discriminated against them purely on the basis of their color. The hatred for Japan peaked after the deadly Pearl Harbor Attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the US naval base, during the Second World War, resulting in the former’s incarceration in American concentration camps.

Meanwhile, sinophobia targeting Chinese minorities surfaced in the 1860s, when they helped build the First Transcontinental Railroad. Seeing China’s rise as a prospective world power with its budding economy resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, shutting down both immigration and naturalization of Chinese immigrants. 

Hatred for Mexicans
After the defeat of Mexico in the war between the two nations, the anti-Mexican attitude originated. This only alleviated after the Zimmermann Telegram incident between the Mexican government during the Mexican Revolution and the German Empire during World War I, which proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico. Then during the Great Depression, the US government-sponsored a Mexican Repatriation Program, in order to pressure the immigrants to return back to their native country. 

Moreover ‘Make America Great Again’ was proclaimed by Donald Trump in his presidential campaign along with opposition against acts like DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the US when they were children from deportation. All efforts were made to attract the white citizens into having a vision of employment getting back to white Americans, without people of any other color competing for their jobs. 

Post 9/11 discrimination against Sikhs, Muslims and Middle Easterners 
Islamophobia increased rapidly after the US’s worst nightmare – September 11, 2001 World Trade Centre attack by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda. This ultimately resulted in the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from their regular social, political, and civic life. As a result Sikhs with turbans and middle easterners with long beards often fall prey to characteristics mistakenly identifying them as Muslims.

Reverse racism lies ahead?
There exists a major difference between stereotyping and discriminating. Say, being given a decent grade to a good student of color may seem as ‘discrimination’ to the parent of the white student who did not perform well because of an assumption that the teacher of color was ‘biased’ towards one of the students.

Racial prejudice refers to a derogatory attitude towards a section of the society based on preconceived notions about their race and/or skin colour. So even if racial prejudice can be directed at white people, it cannot be considered racism because the reins of power still lie in their hands in social, economic, and political spheres. Backed with this dominant authoritarian support, it results in acts of discrimination that can be harmful for the mental and physical survival of the ones being constantly oppressed, which in this case are people of color.

In the future, discrimination may start with the members of a dominant or majority group , in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group. This process would redress the social inequalities like preferential policies for college admissions and workplace bias in promotions faced by the latter.

Curiopedia
  • Rosa Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.
  • The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African-American road-trippers. It was originated and published by an African-American, Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966 when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against African Americans especially and other non-whites was widespread. The 2018 drama film Green Book centers a professional tour of a black musician and his chauffeur, who use the book to find lodgings and eateries where they can do business.
  • H&M came under fire in 2018 for an ad that featured a black child donning a sweatshirt with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” etched on the front. The scandal drew public accusations of racism all over social media, including from the Weeknd and G-Eazy, who both cut ties with the company.  The company later issued a public apology that was featured at the top of its website.

India Looking To Park Oil In US

India may park oil in US

India is taking benefits of cheap crude oil by stockpiling its emergency reserves, oil tankers offshore and asking other nations to store oil for India. Historically, India has been buying from OPEC+ nations, but seems to be diversifying by buying oil from US, and even asking it to park oil in its reserves.

Crux of the Matter

India’s Crude Oil Stockpile
Strategic crude oil reserves help a country survive short-term supply disruptions in case of any emergency. Currently India has stored oil amounting to 20% of its annual need. As of now India imports nearly 80% of the annual crude oil need. India majorly depends on the gulf countries for oil.

However, as the price of crude oil has fallen due to less demand due to the Coronavirus lockdown, India seems to be taking advantage of it, just like China, by stockpiling 5.33 million tonnes (MT) in strategic storage. Strategic storage facilities in India are located at Visakhapatnam, Mangalore, and Padur (Karnataka). Looking at the increasing annual demand for fuel post lockdown, India is mulling to expand strategic storage to 6.5 MT. Moreover India has also stored around 8.5-9 MT oil on ships across the world.


Strategy to buy US’ Crude
US WTI crude oil futures stock traded in negative in April before expiring. Thereafter, it has seen a rise, albeit a slow one due to prolonged lockdown and uncertainty. At a time when WTI oil is cheap, India is planning to park oil from America in its own local facilities as India’s storage facilities are full. Recently Australia has also stockpiled oil in the US.

We are exploring some possibility if we can store some of our investment in a different country … we are exploring the possibility in the USA if we can store some of the low priced oil.

Dharmendra Pradhan, Indian Oil Minister
Curiopedia
  • Morgan Downey is an Irish-born New York-based American commodities trader and acknowledged authority on the financial aspects of the oil industry. Downey has been cited in the press as an expert in oil markets and his 2009 book ‘Oil 101’ was called a “must-read” by a Financial Times blogger.
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation, doing business as ExxonMobil, is an American multinational oil and gas corporation headquartered in Irving, Texas. One of the world’s largest companies by revenue, ExxonMobil from 1996 to 2017 varied from the first to sixth-largest publicly traded company by market capitalization.
  • Fossil fuel phase-out is the gradual reduction of the use of fossil fuels to zero use. Current efforts in fossil fuel phase-out involve replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy sources in sectors such as transport, heating, and industry.