Popping the Bubble #14: Russia, Pennsylvania, and the Great Mills shooting

Reena Mathews’ ai???Popping the Bubbleai??? is a series in which she covers some of the biggest news of the past two weeks. This weekai??i??s installment marks the fourteenth chapter of this biweekly series.



Poisoning of former Russian double agent:

Two weeks of ago, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found poisoned on a bench in Salisbury, triggering an uproar from the UK government.

In the nineties, Skripal was working for the Russian military when he was recruited by the UK to pass along confidential information. Russia finally caught him in 2004, sentencing him to 13 years in prison in 2006. He was eventually freed in 2010- along with three other spies- in exchange for Russian “sleepers” and then moved to Salisbury with his daughter in the next year.

Now in 2018, he is reported to still be in critical condition in the hospital, along with his daughter.

A week after the attack, Prime Minister Theresa May announced the identity of the mysterious, possibly fatal, poison: Novichok, the military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union for potential use in the time of the Cold War.

Prime Minister May has made it incessantly clear that they will not back down from their pursuit for truth and justice; she has maintained that Russia must be held accountable, either for a ruthless attack or a gross mishandling of their military-grade poison. Already, May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country. In response, Russia has vowed to expel their British diplomats.

In the UK’s repeated request for answers, Russia continues to claim innocence.

Putin’s Re-election:

Sunday marked the culmination of Russia’s presidential election, when Vladimir Putin claimed victory, rewarding him with another six-year term.

Putin was said to have won the vote of 77% of the 68% voter turnout; however, the legitimacy of his victory remains uncertain, as per Russia’s notorious reputation and videos that later emerged of ballot-stuffing.

Putin is already Russia’s longest-serving ruler since Joseph Stalin. His first presidential term was from 2000 to 2008. His current term began in 2012, and while constitutionally he is barred from running for president in the next election (2024), it is widely believed that he will manipulate the legalities in order to allow for an extended presidency. In fact, many foresee a lifelong presidency for Putin.

Trump’s call with Putin

Putin’s victory has also yielded some controversy on the American front, as Trump reportedly congratulated Putin over phone call. This was after being forcefully directed to not congratulate Putin, as Trump’s briefing material clearly stated in all caps, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”

During this scheduled call, Trump also chose to disregard instructions to condemn the UK poison attack.

Many have expressed vehement anger for Trump’s apparent amiability with Putin, including political figures like Senator John McCain and Senator Marco Rubio, though Rubio also denounced this apparent information leak.

Pennsylvania Special Election

Pennsylvania captured nationwide attention during last week’s special election.

Democrat Connor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone faced off for the 18th district House seat. This district is a historically red region; in the 2016 election, Trump won by 20 points. With this reputation, and the fact that Pennsylvania’s modified congressional map will soon split this district into four, Pennsylvania had the entire country’s eyes watching.

Lamb pulled off a narrow victory by .2 percent. Such a slim lead has prompted a recount, delaying an official declaration of a winner. As of now, recount numbers appear to uphold Lamb’s lead. As such, Lamb is essentially the official victor.

With the new congressional map to soon be enacted, Lamb’s triumph is short-lived. Eventually, he will have to run once more in one of the four new districts. Saccone has already begun petition-gathering to run in the new 14th district.

As midterm elections approach, this unexpected Democratic win serves as a telling sign for the potential outcome and turn in the political makeup of our leaders.

Great Mills shooting

As our nation continues to reel from the massacre of Stoneman Douglas, we find ourselves in the face of senseless violence once more.

Yesterday morning, Great Mills High School was under attack at the hands of yet another school shooter.

The seventeen-year-old shooter reportedly arrived at school with a handgun in tow and opened fire on sixteen-year-old Jaelynn Willey. School resource officer Blaine Gaskill heroically swooped in and fired his own weapon in defense, promptly ending the attack.

The gunfire resulted in the shooter’s death. As for the victims, Willey remains in the hospital in critical condition; another fourteen-year-old male was wounded in the leg, but he is in stable condition.

Authorities believe that motive for the attack could come from the shooter’s previous relationship with the Willey; however, this is not certain. Additionally, it remains unclear how the shooter gained possession of his weapon.

As expected, this has fueled the fiery gun debate that continues to rage in our country. We’ll see how this event affects potential legislation or policy.