The Tragic Death of Tyre Nichols

Politics

Danielle O’Brien, editor

For those that read headlines concerning the protests for Tyre Nichols, it may be just another black man who fell victim to police brutality which the public is outraged over. But to his grieving mother and son, it was a loved one who would never come home from the hospital, nor be able to see his 30th birthday. Nichols’ fate was served to him unjustly and untimely at the hands of five Memphis Police officers at the start of the 2023 new year, on Jan 7., 2023. What first started as a traffic stop by Memphis police resulted in Nichols landing in the hospital where he lay “unrecognizable” even by family members for three days until his death.

wreg.com

On Saturday, Jan. 7, at 8:24 p.m., Tyre Nichols’s car, was stopped by police of the SCORPION unit for suspicion of reckless driving. At 8:25 p.m., Nichols was forcibly removed from his vehicle by police and pulled to the ground where Nichols is recorded by police body cameras saying, “OK! I am on the ground,” and, “You guys are really doing a lot right now. I’m just trying to go home,”. As police officers try to detain and arrest Tyre, he manages to escape the police and run for about 0.5 miles toward his mother’s home before being grabbed again by police officers. The second interaction was recorded by a street camera. It finds an apprehended Tyre being pepper sprayed to the ground. Once in custody, Tyre is pinned down by two officers while one kicks him in the face twice. It is then that a fourth officer comes along and strikes Tyre with a baton twice. The officer who previously kicked Tyre in the face then proceeds to punch him five times before Tyre slumps to the ground where he is kicked a few more times. Tyre is heard on the camera as desperately and repeatedly crying out for his mom whose house is less than 60 yards away at this point. According to the Washington Post, Tyre’s mom, RowVaughn Wells, remarked “to find out that my son was calling my name, and I was only feet away, and didn’t even hear him — you have no clue how I feel right now… My son loved me to death, and I loved him to death”.

It is important to note that during the entirety of the second altercation, a police officer is repeatedly asking for Tyre’s hands although the street camera footage reveals Tyre’s hands to be held behind his back at this point (20:35:16 in Video 3 of the Vimeo). It is speculated that at this point, the police officer yelling for Tyre’s hands did so on purpose for his body cam audio. Considering his bodycam footage would have likely been indistinguishable as Tyre is against him, the audio when being reviewed would be the police officer attesting that Tyre was not cooperating. What the five police officers failed to notice was that the streetlight camera was recording the entire altercation, including the part where the officer asks for Tyre’s hands although they are behind his ABC, and Tyre is repeatedly getting punched and slapped in the face. At 8:41 when the ambulance arrives, Tyre in handcuffs is propped up against a police car but repeatedly slumps over, and although Tyre voices that he has trouble breathing, he is not treated until 15 minutes later. Three parts of the interaction that were released by the City of Memphis to Vimeo on Jan 27 were police body camera video which has audio (videos 1,3 & 4). The other video provided by the street light in which Tyre was beaten does not have audio (video 2). Nevertheless, the streetlight footage remains important as it corroborates the audio of the police body camera recorded at the same time but often which did not have any visibility. <img width=”624″ height=”360″ src=”https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/ZeYrClZrmDgYZaIdCS_QIy73YMCzm-qJdN-M6UdpO3s0wxvPHQeKcBXdGXD8MW1zQ8cgzbqTR8bdPNDh81EkrnR4aaR4EMY15yMHSeLi2Yqv-D4gBxrnlKeVbls–z-x3dOezn1wHbk0AJHot8VFbW0&#8243; alt=”<p>From left are officers Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean

In regards to how the City of Memphis handled what happened to Tyre, on Jan. 7, the five police officers— Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith — are fired from the Memphis police department as investigation concerning Tyre’s death found said police officers to have “used excessive force and failed in their duties to intervene and render aid”(Kennedy, 2023). This failure by officers to render Tyre aid led to his death in the hospital, 5 days after the beating on Jan 11, 2023. On Jan 24, an autopsy revealed the 29-year-old’s cause of death to be from the extensive bleeding caused by the police officers which was exacerbated by his neglect of care once in custody. On Jan. 26th, all five officers were charged with Nichols’ murder. The five police officers are currently indicted on several charges, including second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, official misconduct, and official misconduct and official oppression. Bond for the five police officers has ranged from $250,000 to $350,000 according to the New York Post. The Memphis Police Department itself has undergone swift action to see justice to the situation. After all, on Jan. 28th issued a statement to the public announcing the permanent disbanding of the SCORPION unit which the five police officers were a part of. Interestingly, while the unit stands for Scorpion unit stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods, it has certainly transpired the opposite. The statement described, “it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION unit”.

Tyre Nichols Photography

Tyre is remembered as being a vivacious and friendly person all around. Tyre moved from Sacramento during the pandemic to Memphis where he worked with his step-father as a FedEx delivery driver. Tyre was often regarded by his mother as “an honest man, a wonderful son, and kind to everyone”. He loved sunsets, he loved his son, and he loved his mom. But Tyre also had a creative side. Tyre was a wonderful skateboarder and had a large passion for photography. Tyre liked to share his passion for photography with the world during the time he was alive, especially through his website. When opening the website, Tyre addresses a message to his views, saying…

My name is Tyre D. Nichols. I am an aspiring photographer. Well, I mostly do this stuff for fun but I enjoy it very much. Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people. I take different types of photography, anywhere from action sports to rural photos, to bodies of water and my favorite… landscape photography. My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the “norm” and writing it down or speaking it. I hope to one day let people see what I see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work. So on that note enjoy my page and let me know what you think. 

Your friend, 

-Tyre D. Nichols

 It is my hope that Tyre may at least rest in peace knowing that in the end, the world did see what he saw through his eyes. And what people have seen is making them take to the streets for justice.

Tyre Nichols Photography

In reaction across the country, protests have resurfaced demanding justice for Tyre in cities such as Memphis and Philadelphia as well as justice for the countless other lives taken by police brutality. The reaction to Tyre’s death by the American public, while unsurprising, is certainly not as predictable as the reaction by political representatives. Although many political figures agree that what happened to Tyre was wrong, they often stick to just that… Tyre’s situation was an example of where policing can go wrong rather than a signal of something more. Other politicians find that there needs to be more general reform to the policing system to end this repetitive story. Vice President Harris and President Biden released a statement on Jan. 27 on the need for Congress to review the George Floyd Policing Act initially introduced to the Senate in 2021. Ben Crump, the Nichols’ family lawyer, echoed this need. Other political representatives aside from agreeing that what happened to Tyre was a crime, are unable to come to a sound resolution on whether this scenario requires widespread change.

Many will argue in the face of what happened to Tyre and many other victims of police brutality that “they should have cooperated”. But as clearly demonstrated from the street camera footage, even when rendered defenseless, Tyre was treated with unnecessary force simply out of the frustration of police officers. Furthermore, a lack of cooperation without any threat of violence against the officers did not constitute that Tyre should have had to die. Neither should have any other victims of police brutality. The difference between should and will, however, remains up to our elected politicians.

New York House Representative George Santos Under Fire for Drag Queen Drama Amongst Other Lies

Politics, state politics

Danielle O’Brien, editor

New York representative George Santos’s credibility has been under a magnifying glass since his appointment to represent New York’s 3rd congressional district back in November 2022. Santos was just one Republican of the many elected to the house across the state of New York, however, he is certainly not as common. After all, George Santos is the first openly gay Republican representative elected to the House of Representatives. However, Santos has made it clear through his political stances that he opposes practically everything about his own identity by supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation such as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” in Florida. For example, in 2020, Santos was remarked as saying in an interview with conservative podcaster John Stubbins, “children who are raised by single parents or gay and lesbian couples tend to grow up ‘troubled,’ … the family unit has been under attack for decades in different ways…the flavor of the decade is same-sex couples. They’re teaching in schools that kids don’t need a mommy and a daddy, you can have two mommies and two daddies. That’s an attack on the family unit.” Santos’s comments are jarring considering Santos himself is gay. Santos has aligned himself with his Republican counterparts who worry about the LGBTQ+ grooming of America’s youth, such as through having “drag queens as teachers.” Interestingly, however, it’s possible that the call is coming from inside the house. Although Santos has admitted to fabricating a large part of his resume, one aspect he has avidly denied is an alleged past career in drag. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, a journalist for MSNBC, Marisa Kabas, tweeted a photo of what looked like George Santos dressed in drag alongside another drag queen. The photo reportedly was from a 2008 drag show. The drag queen Santos allegedly stood beside Eula Roarard and Santos as “Kitara Ravache.” Kabas goes into further detail about the interview she conducted recently with the other drag queen Eula Roarard who confirmed that the same Kitara she stood beside in Brazil was now house representative George Santos after seeing him on the news recently. Eula automatically knew it was her old friend, George, stating that the two of them met when he was a teenager interested in the drag scene in Niterói. At that time, Eula was well known in Niterói, establishing a name for herself in the drag scene. Interestingly, Eula described how when she knew Santos, he was as much of a fabricator then as he is now. Eula stated in the interview, “George always lied about everything. He used to create stories, usually involving money—like that his dad was rich. But then people wondered why his mom was a cleaning lady. There’s nothing wrong with being a cleaning lady, but if his dad was rich, then why?” (Kabas, 2023). Furthermore, Eula explained that he would not have considered Santos as having a drag career because “he didn’t have what it takes.”Santos denies that it was not a drag career. In fact, it wasn’t until Saturday Jan. 21 did Santos acknowledge he dressed up as a woman before. Walking through the LaGuardia airport Saturday being confronted by reports, Santos finally acknowledged that he had dressed up as a woman before, stating, “No, I was not a drag queen in Brazil, guys. I was young, and I had fun at a festival. Sue me for having a life,”. However, just days prior on Twitter Santos described the allegations of him having a drag career to be “categorically false.”

Nevertheless, this is not the only aspect of Santos’s political career thus far that is drawing people’s attention. Santos has been alleged as lying about everything from the source of his campaign funds, his resume, and his heritage, to his mother dying in 9/11. Santos’s long list of lies can begin with possibly the most disturbing. In July 2021 Santos published a tweet describing how 9/11 claimed his mother’s life. It is described in further detail on Santos’s campaign website that his mother was “at her desk” in the south tower on 9/11 and was able to miraculously escape only to die a few years later from cancer. In reality, Santos’s mother, Fatima Alzira Caruso Horta Devolder, who died in 2016, was not in the United States from 1999 to 2003 according to green card records produced by the New York Times. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, in a now-retracted quote from his campaign website, Santos alleged to be the grandson of immigrants who fled Nazi persecution to Ukraine, who then migrated to Belgium, and then to Brazil, and then once more to the U.S. In February of 2022 he told Fox News Digital “that his ancestral name is Zabrovsky, but that he now uses his mother’s maiden name of Devolder, which is Dutch in origin”. It was later revealed by a genealogist hired by CNN that Santos has “no sign of Jewish and/or Ukrainian heritage and no indication of name changes along the way”. This comes after Santos described that his mother migrated directly from Belgium whereas CNN demonstrated his mother and grandparents to be natives of Brazil. Santos has been lying about several other elements of his identity, some of which he has admitted to, such as his “embellished” resume. In Santos’ resume released by the New York Times, he reports receiving a 3.89 from Baruch College in New York as well as New York University, both of which deny him ever attending. Furthermore, he claims to have worked at Goldman Sachs before entering a career in politics, a position which Goldman Sachs also denies him ever having. Santos admitted in an interview in December of 2022 that he did not in fact work for Goldman Sachs directly, but rather through his own personal company he did work for the financial firm. Santos claims his resume to have a “poor choice of words.” Although politicians such as Santos being caught in their lies is not criminal, some of Santos’s lies could be. In fact, Santos is under fire for being a serial liar in some ways that may require federal investigation. Especially his shady explanations of how he was able to fund his 2022 campaign. On Monday, Jan. 14, a watchdog organization, The Campaign Legal Center, filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for suspicions around a $750,000 loan Santos received to fund his campaign that he defends as being profits from his company the Devolder Organization. However, the watchdog organization speculates that this large investment was actually from a different corporation or furthermore a foreign national, which would violate the FEC. Additionally, the watchdog organization speculates Santos has been using campaign funds to finance himself personally using up to an estimated $40,000 on flights and rent. The personal use of campaign funds also counts as a violation of FEC standards. Violations of the FEC can result in civil penalties from $6,523 to $76,280 according to the FEC. In Brazil furthermore, Santos was under investigation for fraud after he allegedly used a stolen check to buy $700 worth of clothes in a clothing store. In 2009, Santos admitted to the act, writing on a social media website to the shop owner in Brazil, “I know I screwed up, but I want to pay.” However, in 2023 Santos additionally denied having acted criminally in the U.S as well as Brazil. The Rio De Janeiro prosecutor’s office has presented its interest in reopening the case to try Mr. Santos which would be presented to the United States Department of Justice to inform Santos of the case. If Mr. Santos fails to present a defense to these claims in Brazil, it is possible he could face up to five years in prison and furthermore a fine.

Russia Retreats from Kherson

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

Another retreat by the Russian military, this time from Kherson. This past week Russian troops were ordered to evacuate from Kherson. Kherson is a port city located where the Dnipro River meets the Black Sea, and it was a central focus in Russia’s attempt to control the southern coast of Ukraine.

When Russia initially assaulted and captured Kherson it tried to assimilate the people into its sphere. But the Ukrainians of Kherson fought back and would not accept Russia’s efforts to strip the city and region of Ukrainian language, currency, and education. When Russia claimed to “annex” parts of Ukraine including Kherson, after a sham election, the citizens of Kherson stood defiant. This past week as Russian troops evacuated and Ukrainian soldiers entered the city the people of Kherson celebrated their return to Ukrainian control. One townsman reported to a New York Times reporter on scene, “people walk on the streets and congratulate each other, it’s just a holiday!”

There are a few schools of thought forming over Russia’s retreat. Some believe that Russia is moving to regroup and reposition its soldiers before the incoming winter, and in doing so avoid personnel and equipment losses from Ukrainian attacks and its own inability to adequately sustain forces over an extended battlefield. By moving its troops to the eastern side of the Dnipro River which borders Kherson, Russia is attempting to improve the survival odds for its troops using the river as a defensive barrier. 

President Biden spoke about the Russian retreat during a Press conference on Nov. 9 when he also answered questions about the midterm elections. Biden seemed to insinuate that the timing of the Russian retreat was linked to the US midterm elections. He pointed out that he thought it was interesting that Russia waited until after the US congressional election was complete to announce the retreat. Biden said, “it’s evidence of the fact that they have some real problems with the Russian military. 

In addition to this retreat, Russia is having problems on the home front. Hundreds of thousands of men have fled the country to avoid the draft. As of Nov. 4 the Kremlin reported over 700,000 men had left in approximately two weeks. Many believe Russian President Putin’s announcements that new military conscripts will not be sent to the vicinity of Kherson and that college students would be exempt from the military mobilization are an effort to deflect some criticism of the Russian military’s ongoing failures. Despite the tensions in Russia Putin has still managed to fill his military personnel quota to sustain his so called “special military operation” in Ukraine. Putin spoke to the media in early November saying that “mobilization is complete.” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also claimed that Putin’s goal of calling up 300,000 reservists had been achieved. However, as Ukraine continues to push back, a portion of the Russian public and military are not happy. 

To show his support for ongoing Ukrainian military advances and to celebrate the liberation of Kherson, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Kherson on Monday, Nov.14. Zelenskyy commented that he believes this (i.e., the liberation of Kherson) is the “Beginning of the end of the war.” Zelenskyy continued, “Ukraine was ready for peace, but peace for all of our country, all of our territory.…That is why we’re fighting against Russian aggression.” Now that the Ukrainian flag once again flies over Kherson and Zelenskyy has visited to celebrate the Russian retreat, morale is high in southern Ukraine. Zelenskyy’s presence continues to be motivating to Ukrainian citizens. He is a symbol of the resilience and courage of Ukraine as demonstrated in Kherson when Russia was firing missiles at entrenched troops less than a mile away.  

North and South Korea Exchange Missiles Over Naval Dispute

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

         On Monday, Oct. 23, missiles were fired by North and South Korea. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said that they fired in response to North Korea’s recent and continual missile testing. South Korea also reported a North Korean merchant ship entered South Korean waters on Monday.  Concurrently North Korea fired ten rounds of artillery shells as a warning to South Korea, because North Korea claims a South Korean Navy ship entered into North Korean waters on Monday.

         Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out about the ongoing missile firing by North Korea and expressed the U.S.’s support for South Korea. Harris said, “I talked with the President about it, and it is clearly a provocation, and it is meant, we believe, to destabilize the region and we are taking it seriously, and everyone should.” She continued, “It is destabilizing the region and that is one of the reasons why the visit that I have made to Korea, to the Republic of Korea, is important because it is a statement about the strength of our alliance and our dedication, The United States’ dedication to the alliance in terms of security, prosperity, stability.”

         This conflict arose over the Yellow Sea to the west coast of the Korean peninsula. Since the Korean partition in 1945 there have been many disputes in and around the area. Technically, North and South Korea are still at war and tensions remain strong. In 2010 there were two attacks on Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea and 50 South Koreans were killed.

         The U.S. has military personnel stationed all over the world, including in South Korea. South Korea and the U.S. conduct regular military training exercises and do missile testing to deter North Korea. North Korea states that it does not see joint South Korean and American military cooperation and exercises as a drill. North Korea believes that the two counties are working together to practice a potential invasion of North Korea.

For its part North Korea does very little to dissuade the US and South Korea from continuing their close cooperation. CBS News reported that, as of Oct.23, North Korea had conducted 24 missile tests in 2022. These tests continue to concern South Korea, the US, and other countries in Asia, most notably Japan.

         Isaac Stone Fish, the CEO of Strategy Risk, which is a program that helps corporations and non-profit organizations minimize their risk of exposure to China, talked about how concerned the U.S. citizens should be with the rising tensions between North and South Korea. Fish said, “I don’t think we need to be that concerned. As always for North Korea, the most costs go to the North Korean people. For Americans, the biggest risk is mostly to the 28,00 American troops stationed in South Korea, the troops in Japan and the possibility of an attack on either South Korea or Japan.” Fish speculates that North Korea could be trying to draw attention to themselves knowing that the U.S. has midterm elections coming up.

Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea speculated that North Korea knows that the US has a complicated relationship with Russia and China which would make it difficult for the U.S. to work with those two regional powers to find a potential solution for the issues with North Korea. Seong-Chang said, “The South Korean military needs to make thorough preparations to prevent fresh skirmishes from happening on the West Sea and prevent them from causing the worst-case scenario like the North Korean military’s artillery bombardments on the South Korean Border.”         While there is currently no direct threat to the continental U.S. posed by North Korea, US citizens should still be aware of the rising tensions in Korea as South Korea and Japan are valued US allies, and potentially a miscalculation in missile trajectory could cause a North Korean missile to impact on South Korean or Japanese territory. Such a mistake, whether an error or purposeful by North Korea could cause the US and its allies to enact additional economic sanctions or military retaliation against North Korea, igniting a conflict which could potentially injure or kill hundreds of thousands of people

North Korea Tests Missiles that can “hit and wipe out” Enemies

international politics, Politics

 By Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

         On Sunday, Oct. 9, North Korea continued its missile testing by launching two short-range ballistic missiles toward the east. In response, South Korea has boosted its surveillance of North Korea. South Korea reported that the two missiles were launched between 1:48 AM and 1:58 AM from the city of Munchon. These launches are only two in an ongoing military demonstration by North Korea.

         The tensions between North and South Korea began at the end of World War II when Korea was divided. The Soviet Union supported the North, and the United States supported the South. A consensus could not be reached on what form of government should rule, so both the North and South created two new governments with the supervision of the Soviet Union and the U.S. The new governments are divided at the 38th parallel. The North became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, aligned with the Soviet Union and the South became the Republic of Korea, aligned with the U.S. and other Western countries.

         In 1952 at the end of the Korean War, the 38th parallel was replaced by a buffer zone named the Korean Demilitarized Zone. This line divides the country in half. Tensions continue today as North Korea continues to expand economically and wishes to demonstrate its power to the rest of the world.

         You may be thinking, what is the problem with missile testing? This question is answered by Kim Dong-yub, a professor who teaches North Korean studies in Seoul, South Korea. Dong-yub stated that because the missile traveled an estimated 370 miles, he believes a potential target of that distance could be the South Korean southeastern port city of Busan. Another missile launched over Japan was a new intermediate-range weapon that can travel up to 2,800 miles. Dong-yub speculates this missile is designed to hit targets as far away as Alaska or Hawaii.

         October 10th was the 77th Anniversary of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, and profound statements were released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA said that the missiles launched from North Korea were in response to naval drills between the U.S. and South Korea because it involved the aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, which is a nuclear-powered ship. It has not been used for five years. KCNA stated that “Through seven times of launching drills of tactical nuclear operation units, the actual capabilities…of the nuclear combat forces read to hit and wipe out the set objects at any location and any time was displayed to the full.” This indicates a direct threat against Reagan and its support fleet. Many Westerners are worried about the deliberate use of the words “hit and wipe out” as some of the missiles being tested have such a long range.

         Kim Jong-un, spoke out making his intentions crystal clear. He states that the recent missile tests were “an obvious warning” to South Korea and the U.S. He also stated that his military would maintain “their strongest nuclear response posture and further strengthen it in every way.”

         This year North Korea has launched over 40 missiles. Many believe North Korea will continue to “send messages” until the U.S. formally recognizes North Korea as a Nuclear State which would mean many UN sanctions would be lifted from North Korea. The school of thought that is beginning to gain attention is that the war between Russia and Ukraine is causing a distraction that North Korea is using to its advantage.

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.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus Islands 

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

Wikivoyage

Today when you hear about a conflict between Greece and Turkey you might be confused thinking the conflict ended in the 1970s. That was true until this week.  

On Oct. 1st Cyprus celebrates its annual Independence Day. In 1960, Cypriot freedom was formally recognized by the governments of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (UK) in what is called the London and Zürich Agreement. The agreement was the result of a series of meetings that started in February 1959, when representatives from Greece, Turkey, and the UK met to draft an agreement that would cement Cyprus as an independent state. At the meeting, a constitution was also drafted which was designed to share power between the Greek majority (77%) and the Turkish minority (18%) on the island. Officially, on Aug. 16, 1960, Cyprus was recognized as an independent state. But soon after, in 1963, the agreement fell apart.  

In Dec. 1963, Cyprus was beset by violent clashes between Greek and Turkish factions, the United Nations sent in a peacekeeping force to geographically separate the opposing factions. Hostilities simmered until 1974 when Turkey sent their military in to claim almost 50% of the island in the North. Turkey self-claimed the land as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey was the only one to recognize this area. Directly to the south of Turkey’s claimed land is what is called the UN Buffer Zone, and many refer to it as “the green line” which is still occupied by UN peacekeeping forces. The UN Buffer Zone stretches from the west coast of Cyprus horizontally to the east coast across a total of 112 miles. The Buffer Zone, which was established in 1964, was enhanced in 1974 when Turkey invaded. In response to this Turkey built up its own border defenses on the Northern side of the Buffer Zone. Turkey’s line is known as the Attila line which was named after the code name for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus labeled “Operation Attila.” Turkey’s barrier is lined with concrete walls and barbed wire, and it has ditches meant to deter tanks and minefields spread throughout. The UN Buffer Zone and Turkish barricade run right through the middle of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, Nicosia remains the last capital to be physically divided in Europe. In addition to the Cypriot land that the UN and Turkey occupy there are two areas on the southern coast that are British sovereign base areas. Most of southern Cyprus comprises the Republic of Cyprus and is populated by ethnic Greeks. 

Allegedly this past weekend there was a deployment by Greece of dozens of U.S. made armored vehicles to the Aegean islands of Samos and Lesbos. Turkey summoned the Greek ambassador and protested. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the island be demilitarized. Erdogan warned that Turkey would not hold back on defending its interests against NATO allies, including Greece. Erdogan is now calling for formal recognition of Turkey’s self-claimed land in Northern Cyprus.  

At the Cyprus Independence Day parade, on Oct. 1, Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said that Turkey’s “revisionist and destabilizing behavior” is undermining security in the east Mediterranean region. Panagiotopoulos disregarded Erdogan’s demands to demilitarize the islands saying, “as if they are not being threatened and as if we don’t have the right to take all defensive measures for them.” 

These demands from Turkey increase tensions between Turkey and Greece while leaving Cyprus, in the middle. Greece has stated they can defend the islands despite Turkey’s threats.  

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said that even though Cyprus is being supplied with more military equipment the action is not designed to provoke Turkey, nor should it provide Turkey a basis for bolstering the 40,000 troops it has stationed in the North.  

NATO and the European Union want to assist in defusing the current escalation in tensions, but a permanent solution for the ethnic hostilities in Cyprus has not been reached for almost 50 years. 

United Nations General Assembly Aims to Defuse Tensions

international politics, Politics

By: Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

Tuesday, Sept. 13th kicked off The United Nations (UN) 77th Annual General Assembly. Tuesday September 20th marked the beginning of formal discussions. The General Assembly was created in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations. The General Assembly is a valuable tool of the international community because it brings together the leaders of the countries who signed the UN Charter, and it acts as an open conversation between countries where policies can be discussed and/or developed.

The theme of this year’s Assembly is “a watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.” This year’s discussion topics include the COVID-19 pandemic and its lasting effects, the War in Ukraine, climate change, and various humanitarian challenges.

On Sept.r 21 President Biden addressed the Assembly. He commented on key topics that will be discussed in the Assembly. He spoke about the war in Ukraine saying that he hoped all 141 nations in the UN General Assembly would condemn Russia’s actions. Biden said, “the United States is also working closely with our allies and partners to impose costs on Russia, to deter attacks against NATO territory, to hold Russia accountable for the atrocities and war crimes.” He said, “I reject the use of violence and war to conquer nations or expand borders through bloodshed.” President Biden emphasized his vision for a world “that is grounded in the values of democracy.”

President Biden included comments about China in the portion of his speech concerning democracy. Biden explained, “We do not seek conflict. We do not seek a Cold War. We do not ask any nation to choose between the United States or any partner. But the United States will be unabashed in promoting our vision of a free, open, secure, and prosperous world…”

At the Assembly, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi said that China wishes to keep peace in the international community. Yi said, “turbulence and war can only open Pandora’s box, and he who instigates a proxy war can easily get himself burned.” U.S. and Chinese comments sound promising for diplomatic solutions to on-going disputes, but the U.S. and China still have two significant sources of tension: the status of Taiwan and Chinese claims to territorial authority over the South China Sea. China believes that Taiwan is officially part of the Republic of China, and the U.S. has practiced “strategic ambiguity” by saying there is one China but recognizing Taiwan as an autonomous state. As far as the South China Sea, China claims the sea as part of its sphere of influence, while the U.S. is adamant that the waterway through which more than 22% of global commerce passes is international water that can be freely traversed by the international community.

Tensions between the U.S. and China increased when the U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2, 2022. When Pelosi visited, China’s military announced air and sea drills near Taiwan with “potential” testing and launching of conventional missiles. Pelosi said, “We cannot stand by as the Chinese Communist Party proceeds to threaten Taiwan – and democracy itself.” China did not approve of Pelosi’s visit and said that it damaged peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. During Pelosi’s visit tensions were high in the U.S. yet no harm came to Pelosi or her motorcade during the visit despite the disagreement between countries.

In President Biden’s Speech to the General Assembly, he mentioned Taiwan by saying, “We seek to uphold peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. We remain committed to our One China policy, which has helped prevent conflict for four decades and we continue to oppose unilateral changes in the status quo by either side” Chinese Minster Yi also mentioned Taiwan during the Assembly by stating that Taiwan has been “an inseparable part of China’s territory since ancient times.” Yi says the One China policy is an accepted norm in the international community. He then went on to say that “Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history.”

In both President Biden and Minister Yi’s speeches any reader or viewer of the Assembly can see that the two leaders have a disagreement over the “ownership” of Taiwan. But, with both countries emphasizing a desire for peace there may be a potential for future diplomacy between the US and China about Taiwan’s place in the international community.

Discussions about the war in Ukraine and climate change are promised as the Assembly continues over the next week.

Ukraine Advances Against Russia

international politics, Politics

Elizabeth Boyle, Staff 

Time

         The war in Ukraine ever since Russia invaded in February 2022. Ukraine has asked for and received help from much of the Western world while trying to defend its territory. In the month of September, we have watched Ukraine start to change the tide of the war. President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Ukraine has recaptured 6,000 square kilometers since the start of September. 

This past weekend, as part of a broad counter-offensive, Ukraine took back the Kharkiv region from the Russians near the Russian-Ukrainian border. Ukrainian forces took control of the town of Velykyi Burluk, located 65 miles east of the city of Kharkiv, and within 15km of the international border. The US think tank, the Institute of the Study of War (ISW) has stated, “Ukrainian forces have inflicted a major operational defeat on Russia, recapturing almost all Kharkiv oblast in a rapid counter offensive.” 

Under the Ukrainian onslaught Russian forces have abandoned their defensive positions and retreated in an undisciplined manner. The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, said, “[the] enemy hastily abandons its positions and flees deep into the previously occupied territories” and that “in some areas of the front, our defenders reached the state border.” Ukrainian Military Intelligence said that the Russians who are retreating have engaged in, “mass looting, loading generators, telephones, and computers taken from Ukrainians on to their cars.” There are reports that schools have robbed and sports equipment stolen from gyms, the GUR (Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center) said. 

         The Russian response to the Ukrainian territorial gain has included missiles aimed at the nationwide power grid. This has resulted in the Ukrainian people going without power, gas and running water. President Zelensky responded by rhetorically asking the Russians, “Do you still think you can intimidate, break us, force us to make concessions?” he said, “Cold hunger, darkness and thirst for us are not as scary and deadly as your friendship and brotherhood. We will be with gas, lights, water, and food and without you.” 

         The Allegation of Russia war crimes in Ukraine has persisted since the inception of the Russian invasion. After Ukraine took back Kharkiv, a Ukrainian member of parliament said that on Monday four “corpses with signs of torture” were found in the liberated city.   

       The US has been closely following tactical developments and consistently sending money and weaponry to support Ukraine since the initiation of hostilities. Last week, the US announced that it would be supplying an additional $2.8 billion in military assistance, e.g., weapons, information system, reconnaissance platforms and ammunition to Ukraine. US leadership is expressing concern about Russians war tactics involving energy. On Sept. 8, President Biden held a meeting with other Western leaders over a video chat. His main message was to stay unified in punishing Russia for trying to weaponize energy. US officials currently believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to wear down the Ukrainian economy and demoralize Western Europe. By turning off the Russian pipeline that runs into Europe, Russia seeks to keep fuel prices rising until Europe waivers in its military and financial support for Ukraine and encourages Ukraine to accept peace on unfavorable terms. One US official stated that Putin’s attempt to strangle the European economy has had the opposite effect on morale by saying, “if anything, we believe Russia’s actions have actually only increased unity among Europeans,” the message that Russia is sending every European is that it is not reliable. So the European animosity towards Russia is just increasing”

Lindsey Graham Abortion Bill

national politics, Politics

Ceara Grady, Staff

Newsweek

On Sept. 13, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would impose a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Such a bill would allow laws in conservative states that ban abortion earlier to remain in effect but would impose restrictions on liberal states that do not currently restrict abortion. Abortion is an incredibly polarizing issue in the United States today, particularly since the overturning of Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June. With the Senate’s current 50-50 split and elections in November with the potential to shift the majority one way or the other, including in Pennsylvania, debates around abortion draw more attention than ever before.  Considering that banning abortion is unpopular nationally and that, since Roe was decided, Republicans have argued that aboriton should be an issue left to the discretion of the states, there is very little support in the Senate for Senator Graham’s bill. Many Republican Senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have come out and said that Senator Graham’s proposed bill does not speak for the Senate GOP conference and that it is unlikely to garner much support. This distancing from Senator Graham’s bill without commenting on its content signals the Republican recognition that abortion is an issue on which they are in the national minority and one that will lose them important votes in their upcoming races.

Upon introduction of this bill, many Pennsylvanians turned their attention to their Senate candidates for the upcoming November election: Democratic nominee Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz. Fetterman did not hesitate to unequivocally denounce Senator Graham’s bill. He confirmed his position that he rejects any effort by the government to impose restrictions on abortion and that he, as a Senator, would support legislation to codify the right to choose. Dr. Oz has been more hesitant and less clear about his views on Senator Graham’s bill. A spokesperson for his campaign made the following statement: “Dr. Oz is pro-life with three exceptions: life of the mother, rape, and incest. And as a senator, he would want to make sure that the federal government is not involved in interfering with the state’s decisions on the topic.” Fetterman’s team was quick to highlight Oz’s roundabout answer to a question important to many voters. Pennsylvania voters can expect to see this topic, among many others, debated by Fetterman and Oz on Oct. 25.