Partial Mobilization indicates break down of Russia military in the war against Ukraine

international politics, Politics

Danielle O’Brien, Editor 

BBC
Most recently updated Russia/Ukraine Conflict Map

On Sept. 21, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, announced a partial military mobilization of the country by drafting 300,000 reservists throughout the country to support the war effort against Ukraine. This announcement comes after the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed back in March that the chance for future mobilization to be “nonsense.” It is to be noted, however, that similar statements have been made about the possibility of Russia invading Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Russian President’s calls to mobilize the military has been met with surprisingly more backlash from Russian citizens than the actual war effort itself. The partial mobilization affects those who have previously served in the Russian military and who have experience in combat. Euronews reports that “students or conscripts — young men serving mandatory 12-month terms in the armed forces” (Carbonaro, 2022) will be excluded from this draft for the time being. 

Over 200,000 men have  fled the country since the Kremlin’s announcement of a partial draft. Russian men eligible for possible military service are reported to be fleeing to Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan,  Mongolia, and Turkey. Turkey, a once popular vacation spot for Russians, seems to be standing as a place of sanction for Russian men who are at risk of being drafted. Closer to home, Russian citizens have begun to protest  the partial draft at the risk of their own lives. Russian women have been reported to be out in the streets of Moscow, protesting the partial draft of their brothers, husbands, and fathers. It has been reported by human rights organizations that at least 1,300 arrests of said protestors have been made, young men amongst them being served draft papers while being detained. With severe limitations on the right to free speech in Russia against press and citizens alike, demonstrations against the draft account for the large outrage the population have against said order.

On Friday Sept. 30, President Vladimir Putin announced his plans to annex four regions of Ukraine, the largest illegal annexation of territories since World War II. Putin finds the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya as belonging to Russia. Within said speech made by the Kremlin, the war was once again framed to be of morals between the “Satanic” West and Russia. However, not only 24 hours after such an announcement, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced its retreat of more than 5,000 soldiers from the city of Lyman located in the Donetsk Oblast region, one of the regions Putin claimed to have belonged to Russia. The loss of Lyman may be critical to the future of the Ukrainian-Russian war. After all, winning back the city of Lyman provides Ukraine the opportunity to take back further regions of dispute such as the Donbass region, something of which has been desperately of value to Putin prior to the war. 

Although Ukraine has made advances in reclaiming lost territory from Russia, Putin still threatens to use “any means necessary” to annex desired territories, even if those means are nuclear. Such threats have prompted Ukrainian President Zylysky to petition for fast-track acceptance into NATO, which if accepted would seed responsibility for NATO to support Ukraine in its war against Russia which is something NATO is  wary to initiate. Currently, the West  is replying by  applying more sanctions against Russia, Australia, the United States, and other European Nations included. It is important to note, however, that as to whether sanctions are effective in deterring behaviors is debated amongst political scientists. Aside from sanctions, President Biden pledged Friday to support Ukraine with an additional $1.1 billion in their fight against Russia.

What the death of Queen Elizabeth signifies for the future of the U.K.

international politics, Politics

On Sept. 9, 2022, a monarch of the British family, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away unexpectedly. The Queen’s death marks the end of the longest-serving monarch in British history and the second-longest monarch of a sovereign country. And with such a monumental period coming to an end, a question raised by the British people and countries around the world remains: what is next?

Preparations for the death of the queen, an operation entitled “London Bridge” was put into place years prior to her majesty’s death, outlining the day of the queen’s passing down to the very minute. Yet, the plan does not outline a clear indication as to what is next for the monarch and its international territories. Countries in the Caribbean have already made abundantly clear their wants for complete independence prior to the death of the Queen, especially Jamaica. Jamaica, which has been a part of the British commonwealth since its independence from Britain in 1962, outlined to Prince William and his wife Kate during their visit in March its plans to become a republic. As stated by Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness to Prince Charles, “Jamaica is as you would see a country that is very proud… and we’re moving on. And we intend… to fulfill our true ambition of being an independent, fully developed and prosperous country.” This widespread want for complete independence in the Caribbean as reflected by Jamaica comes after Barbados made a bold deposition of the British queen as a head of state back in November of 2021, officially making the country its own republic.

Alongside wants for independence in the Caribbean is the want for a redress of the horror that was slavery. This is what Jamaican prime minister Holness references when he says, “there are issues here which as you would know are unresolved.” This sentiment has been shared by the rest of the Caribbean commonwealth countries that have suffered under the stained legacy of slavery at the hands of the British monarchy which they feel they should be compensated. Political scientists have often pointed to slavery as the cause for political, social, and economic stuntment in the Caribbean region while the proprietors of the transatlantic slave trade such as the British Monarchy remained wealthy. As a result, it was announced in 2021 by the longest serving parliamentarian in Jamaican history, lawmaker Mike Henry, that Jamaica plans to petition for an estimated 7.6 billion in reparations to the head of the commonwealth (which was Queen Elizabeth at the time). While it remains unknown if the petition is still being brought forth to the British Government, it is very unlikely that the new head of the British government, Prince Charles, would grant such a petition. On top of the international territories that may be questioning their status after the passing of the queen, more generally, the world stage continues to question the importance of any monarchical system in the 21st century. A Newsweek article reported that according to a 2022 statistic questioning those in favor of abolishing the monarchy in the U.K., young people have become increasingly more supportive of abolishment than in prior years. As stated by the article, “Within the 18- to 24-year-old age range, 40 percent wanted to abolish the monarchy compared to 37 percent who supported continuing with it” (Queen Has ‘Huge Problem’ as Support for Abolishing Monarchy Rises, 2022). Statistics for support of the monarchy by the more general population of the U.K., however, were not any more promising. As stated further in the article, “The research suggested 27 percent wanted to abolish the monarchy compared with 60 percent in favor of keeping it” (2022). The research collected in the Newsweek article may reflect that those commonwealth countries of the U.K. and the wider world, in general, may have had enough of the monarchy of Britain. Especially following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, it remains unclear how the legacy of the royal family will carry on, especially as the crown transitions to a less liked Prince Charles. Such a transition may promote British territories to depose the monarchy as their heads of government now more than ever.

Biden administration rescinds Title 42

international politics, national politics, Politics

This article was written in collaboration with the Foreign Policy Youth Collab (FPYC) , an organization striving to bridge the gap between politicians and teens across the political spectrum.

Header Image: US News

On Friday April 1, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that May 23 will usher in an end of Title 42, this being an arguably nontraditional marker by the CDC of the U.S. emerging from a two-year-long pandemic. Title 42 was enacted for the first time in the nation’s history on March 20, 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by the CDC as ordered by former Vice President Mike Pence. With an end to Title 42 in sight, it would be important to clarify what is to come next in immigration trends, and furthermore, an evaluation of whether Title 42 achieved its intended purpose in the first place.

What is Title 42?

The Title 42 Health and Public Wealthfare Act was originally passed in July of 1944 in response to the influx of soldiers during WWII returning to the United States when they were infected by tuberculosis and influenza. Thus, Title 42 addresses the “regulations providing for the apprehension, detention or conditional release of individuals to prevent the introduction, transmission or spread of such diseases,” according to section 264 b of the act.. Under Title 42, the president and CDC have the right to order a halt, holding or denial of immigrants from entering a country during a period of high risk infection. Some persons can apply for exclusion from the title in extreme circumstances, however, the plaintiff requires a medical screening if the excuse is to be applied. 

Similar practices of health screens had been put in place at ports of immigration even prior to Title 42’s enactment. During the Spanish Influenza in 1918, for example, although immigration rates were already much lower than in previous years, inspections of health were put in place in high concentrated migration ports, such as Ellis Island. However, the National Library of Medicine reports that rejection rates of immigrants on medical grounds in 1918 were estimated to be only 2 percent to 3 percent. The low rejection rates of immigrants, even in the height of a pandemic, in 1918 contrasts what we are witnessing today. In 2020, it was reported by the Migrant Policy Institute that over 1.7 million expulsions (or apprehension of immigrants at the U.S-Mexican border) were carried out. This means that immigrants and asylum seekers alike were expelled back to Mexico, or their countries of origin, by the United States without the opportunity to argue their case. This is the highest record of apprehensions at the U.S-Mexican border recorded in history.

What are Title 42’s consequences?

The most important result to note is that immigration into the United States has not decreased one bit, but instead, it is the manner in which immigrants are entering the U.S. that has changed following Title 42. One way in which entry has changed under Title 42 is that it can occur repeatedly. Under Title 42, immigrants are not deported, but simply returned back to Mexico where they have the opportunity to try to enter several more times, sometimes even on the same day. That is why the highest record of apprehensions of immigrants in one year in the United States was reached under Title 42. In October 2020, 40 percent of all immigrants apprehended had crossed the border repeatedly; while in 2019, this figure stood at just 7 percent. In this way, Title 42’s attempt at preventing border apprehensions had an inverse effect. 

The other way in which immigration has changed is how immigrants get into the country, even under Title 42. Undoubtedly, Title 42 did not discourage “illegal” entries into the United States, as higher concentration and regulations in safe points of entry at U.S. borders only corral immigrants into less regulated points of entry, at times dangerous ones.  

When the title was enacted in March of 2020, the United States and Mexico agreed that adult migrants who were denied entry into the United States would be turned back to Mexico. Shortly after, the Biden Administration took over in 2021, and in February, Mexico announced that they no longer would accept families with children under seven who were set to be expelled from the United States during Title 42’s application. As a result, the Biden administration was either forced to fly these families back to their country of origin aside from Mexico, were permitted asylum in the U.S., or were placed into ICE detention centers for months at a time. This is what resulted in Vice President Kamala Harris announcing to potential immigrants and asylum seekers during her visit in Guatemala to not come in the summer of 2021. 

What are the concerns about Title 42 and lifting it?

Lawsuits against the U.S have been taken up on each side of the aisle about receding Title 42, however, for different reasons. In summer of 2021, The American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Civil Rights Project, RAICES, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Oxfam, ACLU of Texas, and ACLU of the District of Columbia​​ filed suit against the United States after the negotiations to end Title 42 with the Biden administration turned sour. In September, the federal court ruled that found that Title 42 expulsions are “likely unlawful” . The Biden administration was quick to appeal that ruling in hopes to continue turning away refugee families from the border. This appeal has reached a D.C circuit court with the case continuing into the first year anniversary of President Biden’s inauguration. Democrats, human rights advocates, and even the CDC itself push for the executive branch of the United States to rescind Title 42 has been a long time coming, bearing in mind all of Title 42’s effects. 

The act faced scrutiny as human rights advocates describe that pushing immigrants out of one disease inflected country into another does not properly address the issue of the migrants safety, nor America’s safety. Rather, it is a short-term solution by politicians to “protect” the citizens of one country at the expense of the safety of the ones trying to enter.  

Furthermore, human rights advocates argue that Title 42 does not address the crisis asylum seekers are fleeing as a result of even amidst a pandemic. Reflecting back on all the major conflicts that occurred even during the two year pandemic such as the earthquake and assasination of the president in Haiti, ongoing violence in Central America, and now the struggle of Ukranians, asylum seekers have not stopped seeking asylum because of the pandemic. It is sighted by human rights advocates that Title 42 in fact is a violation of international law on the part of the United States as it is actively denying the acceptance of asylum seekers which all countries must uphold. Article 33(1) of the 1951 Refugee Convention protects any “refugee” “against refoulement if his or her ‘life or freedom would be threatened because of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’.”

As summarized in the legislation, immigrants are guaranteed the right to have their application for asylum reviewed when they request it at a U.S. port of entry. However, under Title 42, all immigrants, including asylum seekers, have been turned away from U.S. ports of entry without question of their situation except for some special occasions. The Trump and Biden administration alike have argued that Title 42 supersedes the Article 33 provision’s guarantee of rights for asylum seekers. Considering this is the first time in the nation’s history in which Title 42 has been put to work, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the extent and power of the title. A webinar was held in May of 2021 by the Physicians for Human Rights on the issue of Title 42 where a wide range of experts from human rights organizations around the country contributed answers to this question. 

One of those experts was Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. Gelernt commented that even in Title 42’s creation back in 1944, it did not authorize expulsions, especially of asylum seekers. As further stated by Gerlernt, “[Title 42] has never in its history throughout the worst pandemics ever been used to send people back… Even if it could somehow be construed to authorize deportation, it cannot override asylum laws.” Gelernt’s comments reign true as at the time the title was enacted in 1946, Title 42 only addressed the prevention of immigrants posing the risk of infection from entering a country, not what would happen when they are within the United States.

Title 42 has also been criticized by progressives as not addressing the safety concerns for denying immigrants entry into the United States as well as the threats posed when forcibly returning them to their country of origin. It is cited by the Human Rights First organization that of the 1.7 million expulsions occurring under Title 42, of which at least 9,886 cases of kidnappings, tortures, rapes and other violent attacks on people occured as a direct denial of entrance into the U.S. These figures do not even yet take into account the expulsions where an immigrant was deported to a country they fled from for fears of persecution. 

Conservatives feel just as strongly as liberals about rescinding Title 42, however, in a contrasting way. On the other side, conservatives are concerned that rescinding Title 42 would result in an increase in infection rates by permitting COVID-positve illegal immigrants into the country, as Texas Governor Greg Abbott put it. In fact, on Sunday April 4, the state of Louisiana, in conjunction with Arizona and Missouri, filed suit against the Biden administration for rescinding Title 42 for what it claims is “an imminent, man-made, self-inflicted calamity: the abrupt elimination of the only safety valve preventing this administration’s disastrous border policies from devolving into an unmitigated chaos and catastrophe,” as quoted in the filing. What the GOP attorneys write into the filing is a concern echoed throughout the United States. However, what the filing does not address is what should instead be the answer. Eventually the COVID-19 pandemic will formally conclude and the recession of Title 42 would be consequently imminent. Title 42 is not meant to be a permanent solution to migration into the U.S. as it is only a preemptive measure to protect the integrity of health in the U.S. during increased times of infections.

The CDC fought against enacting Title 42 when it was first discussed considering evidence remains unfound that prohibiting immigrants from entering a country has any real effect on the transmission of a virus. Dr.Fauci echoed this message as well as further epidemiologists and health experts. The Columbia University Public Health program found that “the Omicron variant highlights that community transmission within the US, and not introduction of the virus from Mexico, is driving the spread of COVID-19, and that public health authorities need to focus on mitigation measures that are known to work. Title 42 is not among these measures and, if anything, makes matters worse”. Nevertheless, stigmatizations and scapegoating immigrant populations as the contributor to high infection rates is not uncommon in American culture. A poll by Axios was released in the summer of 2021 which observed a trend between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons’ placement of blame for high infection rates of COVID-19. Interestingly, 75 percent of vaccinated Americans blamed unvaccinated Americans for high infection rates, while unvaccinated mostly blamed COVID-19 transmission on foriegn travelers with over 25 percent agreement. Not only are the results of the Axios poll demonstrative of today’s political climate but further telling of attitudes towards immigrants and their role in American public health that can lead to stigmatization.

Human rights advocates highlight that politicians play into the attitudes exemplified in the poll when naming a disease and or virus after an entire ethnic group or country as witnessed when influential politicians referred to COVID-19 as the “china-virus.” Human rights advocates argue that naming a virus after a country can pose real harm especially to people of that nationality. This was witnessed throughout the pandemic when the FBI found that in 2021, hate-crimes directed at Asian Americans spiked at a rate of 73 percent and the rate of other hate crimes rose by 13 percent that same year. 

What lifting Title 42 in May means

The most encouraging takeaway about the rescission of Title 42 is that the world may be emerging from the tail end of a two-year pandemic which has rattled the lives of billions. One side however, argues that rescinding Title 42 signifies chaos ensuing as immigrants entering the United States will increase COVID-19 infection rates while the other side argues that this is a step in the right direction for human rights. Although there is still no conclusive evidence that the immigrants seeking asylum or entrance into the U.S. will restimulate infection rates of COVID-19 in the U.S., conservatives are not wrong in stating that the application of Title 42 has been leaving a storm of migration building up behind its border wall for two years. The commissioner of ​​Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aired his concerns after the announcement from the Biden Administration that lifting the policy will “likely cause an increase in encounters with illegal immigrants along the southern border”. However, many experts who disavow Title 42 argue that the potential numbers of encounters from rescinding Title 42 could not be more than the record high expulsions that occurred under the title. Furthermore,  it is important to highlight that the mass of people waiting for entrance into the U.S. is not more than to be expected at this time of year as there usually is a yearly trend of an increase in immgration to the U.S witnessed every spring. What remains up in the air is the Biden Administration’s handling of pending suits filed against it that advocate for and against Title 42’s rescission. How the administration seeks to navigate these legal battles will be especially pivotal for the legacy of the Biden administration and furthermore indicative of whether Title 42 can be applied in the future.

Promised Land – a show worth prime time television

Arts & Entertainment

Danielle O’Brien, Staff

“Promised Land” is a drama series created by Matt Lopez that appears on Hulu every Monday and is a great example of the Latino representation and talent in need of your support. The show began in January of 2022, originally appearing on ABC at 10 pm on Tuesday nights, however, from the 6th episode the show was moved to Hulu due to lower viewership on cable. Nevertheless, it received a high score on Rotten Tomatoes and much critical acclaim.  

(SPOILERS AHEAD) The premise of the show follows a well-established mixed family in all definitions of the word. Although Joe Sandoval, his wife Letti (played by Cecilla Suarez), and their kids seem to only have to deal with the first-world problems presented to them while living in the mansion of their California vineyard, it wasn’t always this way. It is important to note that the show is told in the frames of two different points in time: one in which we follow an older Joe (played by John Ortiz) in issues he and his family have to experience after inheriting the vineyard, and the second, a younger Joe (played by Andrez Velez) who was simply working on the vineyard with no concept of what more he wanted to do with his life.

Joe was an immigrant from Mexico who crossed the U.S-Mexico border in the ’80s to reunite with his older brother Billy (played by Rolando Chusan but more like Rolando Chulito, in my opinion) who works at a vineyard in California. On his venture to cross the border, Joe meets another girl trying to cross, Letti and her sister Rosa. Joe learns that Letti aspires to be a teacher and Rosa aspires to be a nurse, while Joe initially doesn’t seem to have many plans outside of working at the vineyard with his brother in the U.S. In the course of traveling across the border, however, Joe, Letti, and Rosa run into many trials and tribulations which bring them closer, such as almost getting trafficked and Letti’s sister even getting kidnapped for blackmail. Over the course of a few episodes the issues are resolved and Joe and Letti are reunited with Joe’s brother in California, Billy, who gets them a job at the vineyard and even forged them government documentation. Joe’s original name was Carlos and Letti’s was Juana, however, these forged documents forced them to take on a completely new identity. While Joe and Letti’s choice to rename themselves symbolizes the plights that many immigrants are forced to do in leaving behind part of their identity to assimilate to this new world, it remains true that even with these new identities in this strange new country, there are more problems that Joe, Letti, and Billy have yet to anticipate. For one, the three witness firsthand how unwanted they are in the vineyard when the vineyard owner’s daughter, Margaret Honeycroft (played by Kerri Medders) befriends Letti. Margaret comes from a completely different world of privilege but nevertheless faces issues of her own. In an attempt to make friends, Margaret strikes up a conversation with Letti, enlisting her help as a personal tutor in Spanish. It’s made very clear, however, from Margaret’s father that befriending the “help” was shameful. Joe and Billy also struggle with the woes of their father who also lives in the United States but is constantly asking his sons for money.

            However, the main course of chisme (drama) in the show is the love “square” as you could put it between Joe, Letti, his brother Billy, and Margaret which carries on into their adulthood. It’s clear from the beginning of the series that Joe is in love with Letti, however, Letti doesn’t seem to reciprocate the feelings of Joe. This is likely due in part to her meeting Joe’s brother, Billy (who could blame her?). The two spark a fiery romance that they try to hide from Joe who eventually finds out anyway. Nevertheless, Joe doesn’t take long to “get over it” as he turns to pursue Margeret who has always had an interest in him, however, Joe had some frustration upon first meeting her. Interestingly, however, Letti seems to disapprove of  the two’s relationship although she should be preoccupied in her own relationship.

Billy, Letti, and Joe

Nevertheless, it’s clear the love square turns into a circle as the show pans to the other perspective of when the characters are older. Margaret and Joe got married and had four kids, Letti and Billy shared one, and once both couples divorced, Joe and Letti also shared one kid after remarrying one another. However, the chisme never seems to end between the four as the older Billy returns after deserting Letti and their child to reinstate those familiar sparks between himself and his ex-wife who is currently taken by his brother. On top of the drama ongoing between the parents of the mixed family, their children’s issues adds further drama to the story which makes it even more worth the watch.

Besides the show being presented from two different points in time, what makes it interesting is how beautifully the show balances the addictive chisme reminiscent of a telenovela, but better, while also having a serious undertone concerning the American dream and the state of immigration within the U.S today. There are several references to the struggles undocumented persons in the United States experience in the process of immigrating, such as the risk of being trafficked by coyotes “helping”  those cross the border. Furthermore, even if undocumented persons safely arrive in the United States, these same immigrants face further horrors in this new country such as racism and the constant presence of ICE threatening their livelihood. These themes all play a role in developing the plot of the show. I would also like to make a point that the show includes representation of real Latinos of all colors. While it is one feat to have a lead cast of Latinos on prime time television, it is another thing for there to be a range of diversity in said Latino representation, from gueras/gueros to morenas/morenos in an industry where when there is a Latino character, they are often cherry picked to look a certain way.

With all these factors in hand as to why “Promised Land” is worth the watch, it is upsetting that the show was removed from premiering live on ABC on Tuesday nights to being moved to Hulu. However, with a persistently large following, “Promised Land” could at the very least secure a second season to premiere sometime in the future, which it is very much deserving of. The show and it’s actors deserve the opportunity at a second season for the diversity it brings in representing the Latino community in a way no show on prime time television has before. Not to mention, it’s become one of my favorite shows and I’m begging whoever is reading this to give the show a watch so I can finally decide which brother I like more.

Former President Trump refers to Putin as a “genius” for his invasion of Ukraine

Politics

Danielle O’Brien, Editor

On Feb. 2022, former President Trump made remarks on the “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, commending it by referring to Putin as a “genius.” The remarks made set forth a disturbing precedent for political scientists to analyze whether these encouraging comments can have a welcoming effect on Russia’s dream of reforming the USSR.

Former President Trump states in the show, “I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine, of Ukraine, Putin declares it as an independent. Oh, that’s wonderful… So Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force,” It’s important to point out that besides referring to Vladimir Putin as a “genius” for his moves in Ukraine, Trump also refers to Russia’s presence in Ukraine and more specifically Vladamir Putin as a “peacekeeper.” It’s possible that the people of the United States could give former President Trump the benefit of doubt as the United States government has a habit of invading countries unwarranted and referring to it as “peacekeeping.” 

Although these comments could have been intended in a joking manner, these potential jokes were certainly not sarcastic, considering Trump goes on to declare that the “savviness” of Putin for his invasion of an independent country is the same savviness the U.S. needs to take up towards its southern border. Trump states, “We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen… Here’s a guy who’s very savvy… I know him very well. Very, very well.” What President Trump alludes to in his comments about the southern border, whether he is stating that invading our neighbors south of the border and claiming them as our own is a “savvy” idea, remains unclear. 

 Dr. Mark Thomas from the political science department weighed in on how comments like these may be encouraging Putin’s actions in Ukraine. Thomas stated, “Trump’s praise of Putin as a ‘genius’ has only as much credence and bearing on the global stage as his remaining sycophants in the U.S. give to it. He hardly speaks for the U.S. and even many of his most ardent supporters in the U.S. are viewing him as increasingly irrelevant and more as a roadblock to the future success of the Republican Party.” 

“That said, to those foreign leaders and people, who share Putin’s perspective that peoples divided by the post-World War I and II borders can be altered by force, his words can justify their actions, the same way the Jan. 6 protestors listened to his calls for action against former Vice President Pence and Congress in certifying the 2020 election results. The borders drawn in the post-war era are not logically based on geographical or ethnic lines; they are the equivalent of gerrymandering peoples to achieve the political goals of those drawing the lines. Needless to say, the Soviet Union (Russia), the U.S. and the U.K. drew those maps together,” continued Thomas.

“As to whether Putin is a genius is definitely doubtful. He is, at best, a judo expert who waits for his adversary to make a move to which he can leverage their own force against him so Putin can gain the advantage. His threats to use nuclear weapons are that type of move. It is what we used to refer to as ‘crazy Ivan,’ acting so unpredictably and apparently insanely to provoke fear, either to intimidate the opponent into appeasement or to push him into a position to justify another crazy act. Putin has been doing this since 2008 and he told us so in his 2014 Russian Security Strategy. He has been doing the unthinkable, be it information operations to undermine political stability in the U.S. and other Western countries, annexing Crimea and de facto annexing eastern Ukraine, assassinating dissidents abroad, cyber-attacks (ransomware are the publically known ones) on the industry. He has been softening us up for his move on Ukraine and his ultimate objective of creating a polycentric order where nobody discounts Russian military might again. Putin sadly underestimates his Eastern flank and that China is ‘playing the U.S. card’ to gain an advantage over Russia’s economy,” Thomas Concluded

Dr. Thomas’s comments seem to indicate that positive remarks surrounding Putin’s character, such as the ones made by former President Trump, may act as an endorsement for countries to declare others theirs to conquer. This is the opposite of the values of American democracy, something which it is willing to go to war over. 

Review: “Abbott Elementary”

Arts & Entertainment

Danielle O’Brien, editor

“Abbott Elementary” is a show airing on Tuesday nights at 9 on ABC. It captures the struggle of teachers in today’s American education system displayed in a nevertheless fun and comical twist. Not to mention, it is based on the Philadelphia area and school district, which is why it is especially deserving of your attention.

The premise of the show revolves around the staff of a public elementary school set in Philadelphia. One of the main characters of the show is a once-Temple attendee, Quinta Brunson, who plays Janine Teagues in the show. Quinta dropped out of Temple to pursue a career in Hollywood working for the poultry news and entertainment outlet, Buzzfeed. You may remember Brunson Janine from her “Girl who’s never been on a nice date” video (if you don’t know what I’m talking about from the title, look it up and you’ll remember instantly). Quinta has been one of the most successful women emerging from the Philadelphia area, being featured in Forbes “30 under 30” list in 2017, a list of people under 30 years of age recognized from 600 different small businesses and industries in which 30 are selected in twenty industries each. 

Quinta plays an optimistic young teacher fresh to the field of education who struggles to balance her personal wants and goals with the limited resources handed to her in the school. On top of being forced to navigate how to give a quality education to her school kids in an underprivileged school system, Janine and her fellow younger coworkers, Jacob Hill (Chris Perfetti) and Gregory Eddie (Tyler James WIlliams)struggle to gain respect from teachers who have worked in the school system for much longer and are uninspired by the changes Janine and her generation seek from the world, approaching her with the attitude of  “these are just the way things are.”

ABC

For example, in the first episode, Janine struggles to get something as simple as rugs for her class to sit on. At the beginning of the episode, her older colleagues become frustrated at her constant need to ask for more. They try to persuade her that this is the type of thing she’ll have to get used to, working in a school district such as this one. and that you just end up disappointed when you ask for things you’ll never receive. Nevertheless, the two groups find out they have more in common when their common enemy for the episode, Principal Coleman (played by Janeele James) uses a large amount of money awarded to the school for rugs on a new hairdo for herself and a new sign for the school. Together, the teachers work to get Janine the rugs she needed for her classroom on their own merit thanks in big part to South Philly don, Melissa Schemmenti (played by Lisa Ann Walter), and her under-the-table Italian connections. 

Janine reveals that she was so persistent about the rug situation because some students, in particular, find it a safe space to rest as they have personal issues going on at home, which sets the deeper tone of the serious, highlighting how our educators work through the financial obstacles thrown at them in America’s education system because they so love the children they teach, sometimes even having to resort to their own means. On a more positive note, however, the rug that they do end up getting for Janine is an eagles rug! On two of the issues Janine is facing in her career, she also has a SoundCloud rapper boyfriend who doesn’t seem to contribute much to their relationship but headaches. Interestingly, it seems as though Tyler James Williams (“Everybody Hates Chris”) who plays substitute teacher Gregory Eddie is interested in Janine in a romantic type of way.

ABC

“Abbot Elementary” is a must-watch for everyone in the Philadelphia area, as there are constant references to Philadelphia culture. But besides the “The Office’s” style direction and overall laughs the show has to offer, “Abbot Elementary” is worth watching, as it is doing something not many other shows on prime time TV can brag about. For one, having a predominantly black cast sheds light on the very real issues facing Philadelphia and the U.S education system at large in a nevertheless very light-hearted way. The show has employed real Philadelphians who look the part to represent one of the most diverse and unique cities on the east coast. From its references to Philly slang to north, south, east, and west Philly culture, Abbott elementary is a must watch aside. At a time in which Philadelphia is experiencing one of its highest peaks in crime and violence as displayed on the news daily, by just flipping over the channel we are reminded about the identity of Philadelphians which makes us the City of Brotherly Love. Make sure to watch “Abbot Elementary” on ABC, Tuesday nights at 9, and it is available to stream on Hulu. 

Canadian Prime Minister revokes emergency powers enacted to shut down freedom convoy

international politics, Politics

Danielle O’Brien, Editor

On Feb. 14, 2022, in a 185 to 151 vote, the Emergencies Act was approved in the Canadian Parliament marking the first time in Canadian history in which these powers were invoked. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked these emergency powers for the first time due in part to the demonstrations taking place along the northern board outside of Canada’s capital of Ottawa which blocked an estimated $500 million a day of cross-border trading. The “freedom convoy” was a group of truckers protesting against Canada’s national vaccine mandate. The emergency powers allotted the Canadian government the power to arrest protestors of the convoy. What has made the enactment of these emergency powers (the likes of which have since been revoked) so controversial was that it broke up demonstrations which is the right of Canadian citizens to perform. Nevertheless, Trudeau asserted in his enactment of the emergency powers that these demonstrations were “no longer a lawful protest at a disagreement over government policy” but rather “an illegal occupation” as public protests such as blockades and or occupations constitute illegality in Canada. The blockade did have a surprising effect on the automotive industry for the time that it was in place.

 One of the key points connecting the North American and Canadian border, the Ambassador Bridge, was also choked by the convoy. As a result, essential automotive parts which were being sent from Detroit to Ontario through the bridge were inaccessible due to the convoy. Trudeau enacted a two-day state of emergency in Canada on Feb 15. escalated the tensions of wrapping up the demonstrations as protestors who refused to disperse after the enactment of the emergency powers were threatened with vehicle seizures, fines of around $80,000 USD, imprisonment of up to a year, and suspension of commercial licenses. 

The emergency powers allotted the Canadian government the power to cut off the group’s finances which worked more efficiently to strangle the protests. Trudeau’s finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, announced at the present conference on Feb. 14. Under the Emergencies Act, crowdfunding platforms that have been upholding these protests must be registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC). This aspect of the emergency powers came as the convoy had large financial support through a GoFundme page of more than $8 million, the profits and accessibility of which were thus halted by GoFundme under the powers. The freedom Convoy also tried to access financial support through bitcoin, however, an estimated $3.8 million in virtual currency was also frozen under the emergency powers. 

As of Feb. 23, with Canadian police reporting that the state of emergency powers allowed them to arrest over 200 demonstrators with 400 criminal charges being issued in total, Prime Minister Trudeau rescinded the emergency powers, concluding that “the federal government will be ending the use of the Emergencies Act. We are confident that existing laws and bylaws are now sufficient to keep people safe.” Americans especially livid about the vaccine mandate claim that the application of these types of powers towards protests was an abuse of Canadian emergency powers on the prime minister’s end.

Interestingly, over 90 percent of Canada’s truckers are fully vaccinated. The nation’s transport minister, Omar Alghabra, has said that Canada’s main trucking association denounced the protests. Nevertheless, Canada’s enactment of its emergency powers for the first time in its history to address a protest over vaccine mandates may serve as a comment on today’s political atmosphere.

Local school district ordered by judge to continue their mask mandate

local politics, Politics, state politics

Jada Urbaez, Staff

Since school districts have reopened, many parents and students have demonstrated and spoken out because they believe masks should not be worn in schools. More recently, COVID-19 cases have declined locally, and some people are becoming tired of taking precautions. Hence why Perkiomen Valley School District, located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, wanted to halt the mask mandate for their district. 

The school board voted at the beginning of 2022 to no longer require students to wear face coverings. Parents took this decision to court, arguing stopping the mandate would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instated in 1990, this Act prohibits discrimination of the disabled and provides equal opportunity in public settings. Fighting to continue Perkiomen Valley’s mask mandate would ensure the disabled would be able to safely attend classes without complications or life-threatening risks. The plaintiffs, who were represented by Attorney Carmen De Gisi, claimed not wearing masks would put students who are immunocompromised or disabled at an unnecessary risk, which ultimately defies the 1990 Act. 

The opposing side argued that masks cause discomfort and difficulty for the children to learn the material taught in school. In addition, parents argue that some students have anxiety, and wearing masks exacerbates their anxious feelings. All in all, the parents who wish to cease the mask mandate argue they make students uncomfortable, cause an inconvenience and do more harm than good. The federal judge disagreed and ruled that the Perkiomen Valley School District must continue the mask mandate for students, faculty, and staff until further notice.

COVID-19 cases reached their all-time peak in Pennsylvania just a month ago, but have decreased expeditiously since then. On Jan. 8, 2022, Pennsylvania reported 33,650 new cases, which bumped the state’s seven-day average to 25,848. However, just about a month later, 2,794 new cases were reported on Feb. 6, which brought the weekly average to 6,207. This decrease in positive cases may cause other school boards to do what Perkiomen Valley did, but they also may get declined by a judge for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.Editor’s Note: Help stop the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, boosted, and tested.

Why neither party is supporting a candidate for the 2022 PA senate race

Politics, state politics

Aidan Tyksinski, staff

Header Image: Generals International

Why neither party is supporting a candidate for the 2022 PA senate race

While the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate race is one of the most discussed midterm races in the nation, it seems that two major players in the race are willing to stay uninvolved for the time being. Both the Pennsylvania Republicans and Democrats are unwilling at this point to throw their support behind any candidate fighting for soon-to-be-former Senator Pat Toomey’s seat. While both parties have a good reason not to do so at the moment, some candidates need these nominations more than others. 

For the Democratic party, there are a couple of reasons that no candidate has support, the biggest being that the pool of candidates is currently too big. For any Democratic candidate to get a nomination, they need at least two-thirds support from the committee. When the committee held this vote over a week ago, there were four frontrunners: John Fetterman, Val Arkoosh, Connor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta. The number of frontrunners recently shrunk by one due to Arkoosh dropping out of the race late last week. 

Out of the three leading candidates, it seems that most of the Democratic Committee is torn between Fetterman and Lamb. Fetterman, the more progressive of the two, has gotten more donations than any other candidate in the party. However, it seems that many members of the committee feel that Fetterman’s message might not create a lot of turnouts in the very purple state, and view Lamb as a moderate whose message could swing the seat back under Democrats’ control. During the voting for the nomination, 159 members endorsed Lamb, 64 members endorsed Fetterman and Kenyatta got 49. A candidate must get 176 votes for the nomination.

For the Republicans, the reason for not picking a nomination is much simpler: there is currently no clear front-runner in the race. The two current front-runners, Dr. Mehmet Öz and David McCormick, both joined the race very recently and have no experience running a political campaign. With this seat as valuable as it is, the Pennsylvania Republican Committee seems to be playing it safe until after the primary, when there will be a clear candidate for the November election.As it stands, either McCormick or Öz could win the primary in May. Using their deep pockets, both candidates have created attack ads against each other and the Democratic party. Both have also accused each other of having ties to foreign countries, with McCormick also throwing around the idea that Öz’s ties in Hollywood will not make a good senator for Pennsylvania. The party is not the only main player staying silent on the race. Former President Trump, whose advisors say is paying close attention to the open seat, has been silent on the race ever since the candidate he supported, Sean Parnell, dropped out in November of last year. In the coming weeks and months, it will be interesting to see if more candidates fall out of the race, and which party will back a candidate first.

Russia and NATO aerial interaction

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

While Russia has recently gathered a global audience by deploying troops to Ukraine’s border, they have also gathered the attention of the United Kingdom while attempting to fly near U.K.  airspace unannounced. 

            On Feb. 2, 2022, Russia attempted to fly four military-strategic bomber aircraft near U.K. airspace. When the British Royal Air Force determined the Russian planes had a projected course of flying over U.K. airspace, the air force quickly had jets take off from the nearest military base in Lossiemouth located in northeast Scotland. Because they were unsure if this situation would be hostile, the jets launched were Typhoon jets. A Typhoon FGR.Mk 4 is a combat jet that is agile and can do a wide range of air operations including high-intensity conflict. At the same time, Oxfordshire, England launched a Voyager air-to-refueling tanker which can use pods located under the wings to quickly refuel jets. The report from the U.K. states that the bombers were “intercepted and escorted [out of the airway].” 

            This group has been called to intercept other aircraft that approach the U.K.’s controlled airspace. It is called the “U.K. area of interest” and is international airspace policed by the U.K. This time and during a similar Russian near incursion in November 2021, the Russian bombers did not enter U.K. airspace. The U.K. believes that when the “U. K. area of interest” airspace is entered without an invitation there are two potential issues. First, the Russian jets navigate without communication with the U.K.’s air traffic control system, thus endangering civilian aircraft in the area. Secondly, entering these airspaces unannounced could be a national security threat to the U.K. and its citizens. 

            Russia’s actions of unpredictable and potentially provocative air routes could provoke the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to take action. A report produced by NATO in December of 2021 states that 290 NATO missions were flown in 2021 due to Russian aircraft posing potential threats. A school of thought is emerging globally that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, may be using provocative military aircraft flights to gauge NATO responsiveness to potential military threats. Putin, according to some observers, also highlights to his domestic audience that NATO’s responses to the Russian flights are an indication that NATO does not respect Russia’s right to free access to the international airspace. After all, an interception by NATO aircraft has often taken place over international waters. As the situation on the Ukrainian border continues to stress the international community concerned with a potential Russian attack into Ukraine, aerial interactions elsewhere in Europe highlight the contentious relationship between Russia and NATO and the potential for miscalculation in an atmosphere of increasing distrust.