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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Mathieu

Weekly News Blast | Nov 26 - Dec 3

Russia's Supreme Court recently labeled the LGBTQ community as extremist, inciting widespread, international pushback (Avaaz, Flickr)

Raids of LGBTQ Bars after New Supreme Court Decision in Russia

On November 30, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that “the international LGBTQ public movement and its subdivisions” should be designated as “extremists.” During the last decade, under President Vladimir Putin, there has been a consistent reliance on “traditional family values,” which has led to many LGBTQ rights being taken away. With no details given in the decisions, it can be construed to target any individuals or organizations somehow related to LGBTQ people. Many public figures direct attention to the current war between Russia and Ukraine as an incentive for these new policies. With more frustration towards the government becoming clear, LGBTQ individuals have become a sort of scapegoat.

Following this ruling, police carried out raids on gay nightclubs, bars, and saunas around Moscow. Called routine drug raids by the police, in at least three entertainment spaces around the city, all people within the vicinity had their passports and other documents checked and were photographed. Managers had been able to warn eventgoers before police arrived, but few were able to leave in time.

Many people within these venues have since described the fear from that night, specifically worries of prison time or worse. Many NGOs, including the transgender rights group “Center T,” are planning to publish safety guidelines for members of the LGBTQ community in Russia. Some locations known for congregations of LGBTQ people have closed in fear of retaliation from the government. Now, many organizations are urging LGBTQ individuals to leave Russia if they have the chance before the country observes the full impact of this decision.

North and South Korea Spy Satellites

On November 21, North Korea finally launched its first military reconnaissance satellite, named Malligyong-1, after two prior attempts. The U.S., South Korea, and Japan believe the space program, allegedly started with Russian aid, is a test for future ballistic missile technology that is currently banned. So far, according to North Korea, the satellite has photographed the White House, the Pentagon, and Rome.

After the launch, North Korea warned the United States and other governments that interference with the satellite would be considered a declaration of war. A defense ministry spokesperson declared that to do so would violate North Korean legitimacy and would be both illegal and unjust. In addition, a spokesperson said that if the U.S. military views the satellite as a military threat, North Korea would plan to attack U.S. satellites in retaliation.

Two weeks later on December 1, South Korea launched its first military space satellite. Released from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, the first of five satellites was sent into space using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Before the launch, South Korea had no military reconnaissance satellites and resorted to using those run by the U.S. to monitor North Korea. The new satellites will allow South Korea to improve its missile strike capability.

As part of announcing the satellite’s success, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol suspended the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), which had established no-fly zones and prohibited a wide range of other military activity near the Korean border. The CMA was viewed by the world community as the only thing stopping the neighboring countries from descending into war once again. With the military advancements from both countries, it is unclear how much more damage the tentative peace between the new nations can take.

George Santos Expelled from the House of Representatives

On December 1, New York Republican George Santos was removed from the House of Representatives, making him the sixth lawmaker to be removed in a bipartisan move. It takes two-thirds of the chamber to remove a sitting member of the House. With the addition of 105 Republicans to almost all of the Democrats, 331 members voted to remove Santos.

The motivation for Santos’ removal is found in the 23 federal charges he has pleaded not guilty to. Santos has been accused of stealing donor money to spend on personal purchases, using donor credit cards without permission, and lying about his background, including that his grandparents fled the Holocaust, his niece was kidnapped by Chinese communists, and his mother died as a result of 9/11.

While previous attempts to remove Santos were made, the release of a report from the House Ethics Committee detailing how he exploited his government position for personal gain was the final impetus for his removal. Right before the vote was complete, Santos ran out of the House, only to be surrounded by reporters just outside. After warning of the precedent set by his removal and saying “to hell with this place,” he ran to his waiting car and left the property.

Moving forward, the expulsion of George Santos means a tighter majority for the Republican party. Additionally, worries that a new precedent surrounding removal has been set are coupled with the knowledge that votes on a possible government shutdown and funding for Ukraine and Israel are upcoming. Neither party is sure what the removal of George Santos means for the future of the House.


Sources & Further Reading

Raids of LGBTQ Bars after New Supreme Court Decision in Russia

North and South Korea Spy Satellites

George Santos Expelled from the House of Representatives


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