Current Affairs Current Events

Powder Keg

Nothing is improbable anymore. 

A commercial plane flying from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania is intercepted by a Belarus military jet and “recommended” to land in Minsk, Belarus despite the fact that the plane is closer to Vilnius. The Belarus Air Traffic control informs the pilot that there is a bomb threat on board. 

The plane lands in Minsk. Everyone’s luggage is off boarded on the tarmac and bomb sniffing dogs get to work. They don’t find anything. Meanwhile, a single passenger is isolated and taken separately by security agents. When the plane was asked to land in Minsk, he instantly knew what was afoot and declared to his fellow passengers that the death penalty awaited him there.

This passenger, Roman Protasevich, was a Belarus dissident living in exile in Poland since 2009. He was instrumental in organizing protests from abroad in 2019 against the autocratic Lukashenko regime that refused to accept the results of the election and bow out.

Lukashenko is ably supported by Russia which sees Belarus as the last stop against NATO expansion. So, now we have a Russia vs EU/West situation riddled with tension.

How did World War I start? Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian. What was seen as an insignificant killing quickly escalated into a full blown war amongst various nations in Europe. However, there was a backdrop of tension for decades before 1914 in Europe.

Does this incident have that potential? Tensions are already high between Russia and the USA and EU. Russia has continued to support Lukashenko and is promising to send him aid. Russia is brazenly attacking the US using cyber hacking as a war tool. 

Where can this go from here? Belarus will be sanctioned and isolated. Russia could start administering it by proxy. Belarus could see a period of unrest and Lukashenko could be deposed. With Belarus being a neighbor of Ukraine, one could start seeing war like moves in that region. 

It’s an interesting geo political situation that demands closer attention as I believe it has the potential to escalate.

Let’s see in 6 months. 

Business Current Affairs

Ever Given

The famous Suez Canal has been blocked to container traffic for about a week now. A huge container ship apparently lost power, drifted sideways in a sandstorm and got wedged on the sand banks of the canal. The container ship “Ever Given” is as long as the Suez is wide that we now have a wedge situation.

It has given rise to hundreds of memes on the internet, including a petition to remove it. The Onion has still not weighed in.

Someone suggested blowing it up.

Someone suggested unloading all the containers and building a container pyramid to memorialize the incident. 

A small excavator stands next to Ever Given like a Lilliput in Gulliver’s Travels. 

Experts are sprouting and spouting on TV about how many billions of dollars have been lost to the traffic jam. 

Is this peak Globalization? I sure hope so.

I think the world should take a break on movement of unnecessary crap across the planet. 24x7x365.

So what, if I live in the Pacific Northwest and can’t get my Chilean grown fruits during the Winter? I won’t die. Just send me a fresh GIF of the Chilean orchard daily on my WhatsApp and with the good mornings I get from across the globe, I will enjoy it virtually too.

Are there not enough places and people for Nike to set up a few sneaker factories in America?

I think capitalism and the free trade party needs to be reined in a lot so we don’t end up screwing up the planet more than it already is. 

At least, let’s start with not needing these giant container ships, ok. Screw efficiency.

Current Affairs Politics

Jan 20 2021

While the excitement of our Wedding Anniversary was in the air, the Inauguration of Joe Biden totally occupied our mental bandwidth today. Between watching Biden speak, Gaga and JLo sing and Amanda Gorman figuratively levitate with words, we managed to wish ourselves more happy anniversaries.

The relief is palpable. Relief that this Wednesday in January went off without a hitch. Relief that we won’t be whiplashed everyday with inflammatory pronouncements from a deranged person sitting in the most powerful house in the country. Relief that despite the persistent divisive challenges that this society faces, the person leading the nation now is the best man for the job and has an excellent team surrounding him.

The virtual cross country and cross space evening entertainment was brilliant. It suggested the smell of fresh earth after a downpour. We hope today marks the beginning of happier times for our nation and the world.

Over the last few days National Guard troops protected the magnificent Capitol and surrounding areas. They slept on stone floors at night and walked about all day. We owe them our gratitude for securing the fabric of society.

All the best to us and the Biden Administration.

Current Affairs Regulation

Online Rumble

Last Friday, Twitter permanently banned DJT due to further risk of incitement of violence until Inauguration Day. A few days before that, Facebook did a temporary suspension that would last for 20-30 days or so.

FWIW, I fully support that move by both the companies.

Apple, Google and Amazon effectively decapitated the right leaning app Parler by cutting off it’s distribution and hosting. I am ambivalent on that one as I believe its not in their scope to do so.

A lot of angst is being expressed that this violates First Amendment (freedom of speech and assembly) rights guaranteed by the US constitution.

Perhaps, it’s a violation. However, these companies do not represent the government and technically don’t have to guarantee free speech and can be governed by their Terms of Service.

Biden should appoint a highly capable FCC commissioner, whose mission for 2021 would be to craft a series of regulations governing speech online. And it could be done in collaboration with the United Nations so it can be applied across the globe. Why? There is so much whataboutism. What about this other leader, they ask, who said this and he/she is still on the platform. How come?

Until that happens, we will have a series of ad hoc situations and no one will be happy.

Probably a good time to be a lawyer in D.C.