US witnessed surge in hate-crimes specifically against black people in recent. The incident of Minneapolis has brought the whole country out on streets to protest against police brutality and hatred towards the black race. The protests have evoked various reactions across the world.
Crux of the Matter
Minneapolis Mayhem On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man was killed by police, which was called on Floyd after he was accused of using fake currency. Derek Chauvin, a white policeman, choked Floyd by placing his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The incident occurred in daylight, with several bystanders recording while requesting Chauvin to spare the unarmed man. Floyd repeatedly requested mercy, even pleading “I can’t breathe” before succumbing to death.
Georgia Grieving On 23 February 2020, a 25-year-old black man was killed in a similar hate crime. Ahmaud Arbery, the victim, was jogging when he was spotted by Gregory McMichaels and his son Travis McMichael. The father-son pair perceived him as a burglar and chased after him in their truck, and ended up shooting Arbery dead. While the incident occurred in February, the arrests were made in May after mass protests began
Hate-Crimes In US Hate crimes are attacks against people or property motivated by prejudices concerning gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, etc. In US, while the total number of hate crimes has remained steady, the number of hate crimes specifically against the black race and different ethnicities reached its 16-year high in 2018.
Timeline Of Racial Riots In US While slavery was abolished in 1865, hatred based on race and colour has continued in US. Following is the timeline of major racial riots:
1865: Slavery is abolished
1992: Los Angeles riots after 4 white policemen beat a black bike rider
1996: Florida riots after an unarmed black man shot dead by several white police officers
2001: Cincinnati riots after an unarmed black civilian killed by police
2014: Missouri riots after a black teenage boy killed by a white police officer, who fired 12 times while claiming self-defense
2020: Minneapolis riots after George Floyd’s death
Reactions Massive protests have ensued across the country, with several celebrities supporting the movement from US and the world. President Trump used the line “when the looting starts, the shooting stars” to express disapproval of violence in protests. The line was used by Walter Headley in 1967, Miami’s police chief, to show strictness against protesters demanding racial equality.
China has expressed solidarity with the protesters amidst continuous attacks by US for its dealings with Hong Kong and Taiwan. In a statement, China urged US to focus on internal issues before interfering in foreign affairs.
Racial Discrimination In Every-day Life
According to a 2017 report, black people constitute 12% of total US adult population.
33% of prisoners were black, signifying imbalance of arrests.
Poverty rate is the highest for African Americans, standing at 27.4% as compared to 9.9% for Whites.
Ratio of unarmed black people killed by police with that of unarmed white people is 17:12.
Number of black people killed by police per million is 6.6.
Number of white people killed by police per million is 2.5.
Hence, a black person is thrice more likely to be killed by a cop than a white person.
Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film written and directed by Ryan Coogler. The film is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, an African-American man who was fatally shot in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. The film received critical acclaim and Ryan Coogler later directed Black Panther, highest-grossing black cast film worldwide.
“I Have a Dream” is a public speech that was delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. The speech was a defining moment of the civil rights movement and among the most iconic speeches in American history.
Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa and Southwest Africa (now Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterized by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap (or white supremacy), which ensured that South Africa was dominated politically, socially, and economically by the nation’s minority white population. Nelson Mandela was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election when the Apartheid legislation was repealed on 17 June 1991.
USA and China recently displayed international aggression as well as animosity at mutual level. The developments come in the light of new laws and treaties, all amidst the time of heavy loss due to the lockdown imposed to curb Coronavirus’s spread.
Crux of the Matter
China And Hostilities In HK China recently proposed the ‘New Security’ Law for Hong-Kong (HK), which is tied to China in ‘1 country, 2 systems’ manner. The law enables strict action against “treason, secession, sedition & subversion” directed towards Chinese Govt in HK, and would enable the Chinese Govt to eliminate any type of protest swiftly. The law was first introduced in 2003, but it was never drafted properly after mass protests from HK civilians fearing for their loss of freedom of speech.
Hong Kong’s History
1997: Britain gives up its colony Hong Kong to China and integration occurs by ‘1 Country, 2 Systems‘ provision. China grants significant liberty in business and freedom of speech otherwise not provided in China.
2003: More than 500,000 citizens protest against the introduction of ‘Security Law’, which is being reintroduced in 2020.
2010s: Demand for Independent Hong Kong increases.
2019: Mass-protests in HK to oppose Extradition law, which would allow China to have particular criminals from HK on trial in ChineseCourts.
1 Country, 2 Systems China is engaged with Macau and Hong Kong in ‘1 Country, 2 Systems’ provision, and has tried to bind Taiwan with the same. Recent times have seen an increase of demand for Independence from China, particularly in the latter 2. Re-election of Tsai-Ing-wen as Taiwanese President saw open rejection of the policy amidst calls for inclusion of Taiwan in UN and WHO.
In 2005, China passed the ‘Anti-Secession’ law which enables it to take “non-peaceful” measures against Taiwan if it declares independence from China. Analysts are apprehending the same fate for HK which might turn into reality if unchecked.
USA Out Of The ‘Open Skies’ Trump recently announced the decision to withdraw from the ‘Open Skies Treaty’. The treaty allows member nations to fly unarmed aircraft over other member nations to observe their military forces’ development. The treaty came into effect from January 2002, and had 34 members including the USA, Russia, Germany, Belgium, etc. Trump pointed to Russia’s violation of the pact as a reason to withdraw. However, he has kept options open for reconciliation in the future.
Trump’s Major Withdrawals
May 2018: Pulls out of the ‘Iran Nuclear Agreement’ which restricted Iran’s nuclear development.
August 2019: Withdraws from the ‘Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’ with Russia in which the 2 countries agreed to dismantle their stock of intermediate range land missiles.
May 2020: Withdrawal from ‘Open Skies Treaty’, making it the 3rd major pull-out by Trump during his tenure.
USA and China at Loggerheads USA and China are the world’s largest and second-largest economies respectively. However, they saw a loss of 4.8% and 6.8% in GDP respectively due to Coronavirus. The USA is one of the worst-hit countries due to Coronavirus, while China is facing the wrath of nations for opaqueness in sharing information on Covid-19. USA openly accuses China of hiding information regarding the virus, which China has denied.
The tensions increased with Tsai-Ing-wen’s victory as Taiwan’s President. In reaction to China flying fighter planes in the Taiwanese border, US sailed armed ships in the China-Taiwan strait. The USA also backed Hong Kong in the latest development, warning China of “strong reaction” if the security law is passed.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for sedition. The Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, under the British Raj. Throughout the Raj, this section was used to suppress activists in favor of national independence, including Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi, both of whom were found guilty and imprisoned.
For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers, and diplomats secret. The company, Crypto AG flush with cash, became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades and sold its equipment to more than 120 countries. On 11 February 2020, The Washington Post, ZDF (German Broadcaster) and SRF (Swiss Broadcaster) revealed that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence.
Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease in 1898. The whole territory was returned to China in 1997, although Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under a principle of “one country, two systems”.
The USA has declared a bounty of $55 million for information on connections of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and his associates in drug trafficking and narco-terrorism.
Crux of the Matter
Maduro has had topsy-turvy relations with the US since his re-election in the 2018 elections. The US accused Maduro of occupying the Presidential post unconstitutionally in the country. But Maduro, backed by Russia and China, continued serving as the President.
The US declared charges against Maduro after an investigation by US Federal services. The US said that strict steps are necessary to remove deeply rooted corruption in Venezuela that has resulted in the crippling of its democracy and democratic values. Allegations on Maduro are that he helped the Colombian revolutionary group, the FARC for drug trafficking and flooding the United States with Cocaine. He is also accused of facilitating drug trafficking routes through air and water via Venezuela along with running a drug cartel even though he is occupying a government office.
Thus amid escalating tension, US and US allies evacuated their embassies from Venezuela. Besides Maduro, the US has filed charges against more than a dozen others that include Venezuelan government and intelligence officials and members of the Colombian rebel group FARC.
Maduro defended himself by saying that Donald Trump is politically motivated to remove him from the office. He added that before the US Presidential election, such a move might give Donald Trump fame, and thus he is trying hard to make it more political. He further said that by hook or crook the US wants him to vacate his post.
Nicolás Maduro Moros is a Venezuelan politician serving as president of Venezuela since 2013. His presidency has been disputed by Juan Guaidó since January 2019. Beginning his working life as a bus driver, Maduro rose to become a trade union leader before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions under President Hugo Chávez and was described in 2012 by the Wall Street Journal as the “most capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner circle”. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and as vice president of Venezuela from 2012 to 2013 under Chávez. After Chávez’s death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the presidency.
Shortages in Venezuela and decreased living standards led to protests beginning in 2014 that escalated into daily marches nationwide, repression of dissent and a decline in Maduro’s popularity. According to The New York Times, Maduro’s administration was held “responsible for grossly mismanaging the economy and plunging the country into a deep humanitarian crisis” and attempting to “crush the opposition by jailing or exiling critics, and using lethal force against anti-government protesters”. An opposition-led National Assembly was elected in 2015 and a movement toward recalling Maduro began in 2016. Maduro called for a rewrite of the constitution, and the Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was elected in 2017, under what many—including Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega and Smartmatic, the company that ran the voting machines—considered irregular voting conditions; the majority of its members were pro-Maduro. On 20 May 2018, presidential elections were called prematurely, opposition leaders had been jailed, exiled or forbidden to run, there was no international observation, and tactics to suggest voters could lose their jobs or social welfare if they did not vote for Maduro were used. Multiple nations did not recognize the Constituent Assembly election or the validity of Maduro’s 2018 reelection;the Canadian, Panamanian, and the United States governments sanctioned Maduro. More Info
The American nonprofit organization ProPublica and US tabloid Daily Beast have reported that members of Congress sold equities after receiving briefings on the Dow Jones (DJIA) stock market dangers of COVID-19, much before the Trump administration announced it publicly. Two Senators, Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler that came in the red limelight of insider trading, have conveniently denied the allegations.
Crux of the Matter
Public Servants by Day, Perpetrators by Night? Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee downplayed the financial threat to the American citizens while he was hastily unloading between $628,000 and $1.72m of personal holdings. Next in the row, Senator Kelly Loeffler, wife of New York Stock Exchange’s chairman, sold a substantial amount of stock while buying shares in the teleworking company Citrix.
Public Servants’ ‘Insider Edge’ Insider trading/dealing occurs when someone who has a fiduciary duty to another person, or to an institution, corporation, partnership, firm, or entity, makes a trade of stock based on information that’s not available to the general public. This can directly lead to the former’s unfair gain and the latter’s unfortunate loss. Just like in the aforementioned cases wherein Members of Congress are legally barred from buying and selling based on the information they get in classified briefings.
This practice wasn’t considered illegal at the beginning of the 20th century and a Supreme Court ruling once referred to it as a “perk” of being an executive. A whistleblower, while in conversation with a popular US Daily, once claimed that members of Congress and higher-ups in government jobs were not only trading on inside information they gleaned from their regular assignments, but were also being fed tips from agencies like the Internal Revenue Service on corporate takeovers.
Nonetheless, after feeling the negative shift in public opinion regarding the decade-old deleveraging, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) became involved and the Securities Exchange Act was passed in 1934. Section 16 of this act requires that when an “insider“, defined as all officers, directors, and 10% owners, buys the corporation’s stock and sells it within six months, all of the profits must go to the company. Additionally, they ought to disclose the changes in the ownership of their positions, including all purchases and dispositions of shares. This aims to remove major trading activities when it’s impossible for insiders to personally gain from small moves.
STOCK v/s Private Moonlighting The STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act is a law that was passed during the Obama era, in 2012 and it clearly states that members of Congress and other government employees are not allowed to engage in insider trading based on information they learn through their jobs. Even the President, the Vice President, executive branch employees and judges were included in this law, making it a far stricter enforcement from the previous two trading laws.
However in 2013, it did get rid of a provision that the financial disclosures required by the law be posted online on official websites. Burr, who had opposed the bill passed for STOCK, said in his defence to this ongoing pandemic stock market wrongdoings that he relied solely on public news reports. He tried to offer alternate explanations for choosing to make money at a time when he should have been offering Americans the truth.
Can They ever be Tamed? SEC to the Rescue?
Make blind trusts mandatory for Members of Congress to end Congressional Insider Trading once and for all.
– Peter Schweizer, author of Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite.
The first thing that pops in the mind now is that can these people be trusted to make laws neutrally, if they are financially invested in only the outcome of those laws? Is this simply an invitation for more corruption? After all, unethical behavior becomes especially more unacceptable in the midst of a deadly pandemic like COVID-19 that has infectedmore than 450,000 and killedmore than 20,000 to date.
SEC has officially announced the provision of conditional regulatory relief for certain publicly traded companies. The order, in an effort to address potential compliance issues, gives public companies an additional 45 days to file certain disclosure reports that would otherwise have been due between March 1 and April 30, 2020. Among other conditions, companies must provide a summary of why the relief is needed in their particular circumstances.
Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin, co-directors of the SEC’s division of enforcement, have urged public companies to be mindful of their disclosure controls and procedures, insider-trading prohibitions, codes of ethics and Regulation FD. This step has been rightfully taken to prevent improper dissemination and use of material non-public information.
Additionally, whistleblowers, including those who reside outside of the United States, can qualify for financial awards under the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower provisions. In case they qualify SEC’s confidential filing procedures, they can file potential fraud violations to the Commission anonymously via the TCR (“tip, complaint, and referral”) form. They are even eligible for a reward once the SEC issues sanctions based on the whistleblower’s information of $1 million or more. The office says it has paid over $300 million to the anonymous tippers in the past.
Stock market refers to the collection of markets and exchanges where regular activities of buying, selling, and issuance of shares of publicly-held companies take place. Such financial activities are conducted through institutionalized formal exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) marketplaces which operate under a defined set of regulations. There can be multiple stock trading venues in a country or a region which allow transactions in stocks and other forms of securities. The leading stock exchanges in the U.S. include the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Nasdaq, and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). These leading national exchanges, along with several other exchanges operating in the country, form the stock market of the U.S. More Info
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), is a stock market index that measures the stock performance of 30 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. The value of the index is the sum of the price of one share of stock for each component company divided by a factor which changes whenever one of the component stocks has a stock split or stock dividend, so as to generate a consistent value for the index. Investing in the DJIA is possible via index funds as well as via derivatives such as option contracts and futures contracts. More Info
The number of Coronavirus cases in the US has been rising exponentially over the last few days. There are already more than 50,000 infected people in the US and it seems that it might overtake Italy if the virus is not stemmed. Despite a low number of deaths in the US (less than 1000) the World Health Organization (WHO) thinks that the US might become another hotspot for the pandemic. Complete Coverage: Coronavirus
Crux of the Matter
No One Wants to Rank Higher in This Game In a span of two weeks, US has seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. The situation, that very much feels like Italy, could make the US the next epicenter of the pandemic, says WHO. US’s most densely populated city New York has seen a massive surge in the number of cases. With more than 26,000 cases, it constitutes nearly 45% of cases in US.
As of 25th March 2020, the US has more than 55,000 cases as compared to 1,301 cases on 11th March 2020 – a 4200% rise in two weeks! Italy is nearing 70,000 cases and has the highest fatality rate from COVID-19 of nearly 10%. As per WHO, Coronavirus epicentre shifted first from China to Europe, specifically Italy, and now it is shifting to the US.
Complacent US Government US government was among the first nations to announce interest rate cuts and fiscal stimulus package to combat the impact of Coronavirus. However, the rising number of cases in New York has required hospital beds three times more than what is available. Meanwhile, Prez Trump was seen making an announcement that he wants targeted lockdowns only and does not want to hurt businesses unnecessarily. Trump said he would open the country by mid-April around Easter.
If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it’s no contest. No American is going to say accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.
– Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor
In 2009, Swine Flu had emerged from the US, and during Week 16 it was much less spread and fatal than COVID-19. The doubling rate of Coronavirus is higher than that of Swine Flu. Therefore, before the complacent behavior of the US takes many lives of its citizens, strong measures to contain the virus would be necessary.
Coronavirus in Italy An ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 was first confirmed to have spread to Italy on 31 January 2020, when two Chinese tourists in Rome tested positive for the virus. One week later an Italian man repatriated back to Italy from the city of Wuhan, China, was hospitalised and confirmed as the third case in Italy. A cluster of cases was later detected, starting with 16 confirmed cases in Lombardy on 21 February, and 60 additional cases and first deaths on 22 February. By the beginning of March, the virus had spread to all regions of Italy.
On 22 February, the government established a lockdown for eleven municipalities in Lombardy and Veneto. On 7 March, the government prepared to extend until 3 April the restricted zone to all of Lombardy, plus fourteen other provinces. The lockdown affects over 16 million people, roughly a quarter of Italy’s total population, and prevents people from entering or leaving the zone, except “for proven occupational needs or situations of need or for health reasons”, under threat of fines. The pandemic provoked large economic damage to the Italian economy. The sectors of tourism, accommodation and food services were among the hardest hit by foreign countries’ limitations to travel to Italy, and by the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government on 8 March. Multiple factories, like Fiat Chrysler, halted production in some of their plants. On 12 March, the Italian stock market was among the worst hit during Black Thursday, when the FTSE MIB index lost 17% of its value in one day. More Info