I don't have much to say tonight. I'm tired and sad. My cousin's girlfriend is right that "FIREFLY LANE" is probably the finest series NETFLIX has had. I cried and cried as we watched the last episode tonight.
I won't spoil it for you if you're going slow like me (we've done an episode a night).
But the last episodes really were perfection. So check it out if you haven't already.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Jerri Blank : Are you the grief counselor?
Peggy Callas : Oh, god, it never ends. Have a seat. I should tell you up front, each student gets ten minutes, that last student took fifteen, so you get five.
Jerri Blank : Well, that's not fair!
Peggy Callas : Take it up with Les. He's the one that's frigid.
Jerri Blank : I'm Jerri Blank and my daddy's in a coma.
Peggy Callas: You know what, Jerri? I wish my daddy was in a coma. He's dead, Jerri. He was executed for War Crimes -- but for insurance purposes, we say he was eaten by wolves. Anyway, my point is, Jerri, somebody's always got it worse.
Anyway, my point is, Jerri, somebody's always got it worse. And it's true. Even in Iraq.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) says Nigerian women working as domestic workers in Iraq are being exploited.
Fatima Waziri-Azi, director-general of the agency, raised the alarm in a statement released on Wednesday by Vincent Adekoye, the NAPTIP spokesperson.
Waziri-Azi said most of the women are requesting assistance to return home.
The DG said the women were trafficked to Iraq under the guise of greener pastures, adding that most of them were young.
The NAPTIP also mentioned that awareness by the agency and other partners of the well-known destination countries across the globe had now made traffickers shift their attention to Iraq.
“We are inundated with pleas for rescue and repatriation from female victims trafficked to Iraq, especially to the cities of Baghdad and Basra, where they are distributed to homes by their recruiters to a hard life of domestic servitude,” stated Ms [Fatima] Waziri-Azi.
She added, “Available information shows that many of these victims have been admitted to hospital many times due to long work hours under harsh conditions they are forced to undergo. Most of them have complained of deteriorating health resulting from the weight of work.”
The NAPTIP explained that they “are constantly under threat of being harmed either by their direct employers or the Iraqi agents, each time they complained of unbearable workload.”
In other news, Human Rights Watch posts a piece by Antonia Juhasz:
Ali Hussein Jaloud, an Iraqi man barely in his 20s, died April 21 of leukemia, a disease Ali and his family attributed to the pollution from the oil production and constant gas flares that surround their community in the southern Iraqi town of Rumaila, about 50 kilometers from the port city of Basra.
Many of us around the world felt we knew Ali and suffered his death personally, having followed his story in BBC and Unearthed investigations of the human and environmental toll of fossil fuel operations in Iraq, focusing on the devastation caused by flaring.
Flaring occurs when fossil fuel companies burn off excess methane gas from oil operations rather than capturing the gas in pipelines. When burned, the powerful greenhouse gas – more than 80 times more potent at global warming than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period – is released into the atmosphere. After Russia, Iraq accounts for the most flared gas in the world.
Flaring also releases toxic pollutants known to harm human health, including benzene, a human carcinogen that can cause leukemia. An Iraq Health Ministry report leaked to the BBC attributed pollution from the oil industry, among other sources, as the cause of a 20 percent rise in cancer in Basra between 2015 and 2018, and revealed cancer cases in the region to be three times higher than publicly disclosed figures.
Iraqi government officials have acknowledged a link between the oil pollution from flaring and cancer. Iraq’s former environment minister, Jassem al-Falahi, told the BBC that pollution from oil production is the main reason for increases in cancer rates in Basra. Similarly, Luay Al-Khateeb, Iraq’s former oil minister, told Unearthed that unregulated oil operations in southern Iraq and “poisonous gases being flared in the air” are the link to rising cancer rates.
Flaring is a global crisis with clear solutions. The Iraqi government should start by moving beyond simply acknowledging the problem to enacting and enforcing tight regulations to restrict flaring, providing proper health services to impacted communities, and making polluters compensate those who have suffered, as required by Iraqi law. To address the full harm to local communities and the global climate, the government should transition away from fossil fuels.
Ali’s was a tragic yet predictable death. “I hope in the future that these companies go away,” Ali says in the film. “That the emissions stop, so children can live in peace.”
Iraq will be one of the hardest hit by climate change according to current models. The effects are already being felt. Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) observes:
Climate change, mismanagement and conflict have contributed to the depletion of water resources, affecting agriculture and food security.
One of the most pressing issues is dwindling flows of the two main rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, mainly as a result of upstream dams in Turkey and Iran, as well as poor water management.
The country is experiencing its worst drought in decades, with temperatures exceeding 50°C last summer. Many of Iraq’s lakes have also shrunk — in some cases revealing ancient cities previously thought to have been lost to the water.
This morning, Tim Stickings (THE NATIONAL) reports:
Berlin is to invest €62 million ($68.5 million) to shield water supplies in Iraq’s southern Muthanna province from the effects of climate change, Germany said after two of its senior officials visited the country.
It comes after a climate summit in Berlin heard calls to help the developing world tackle global warming.
A lack of clean water compounded by climate change is threatening livelihoods, public hygiene and food security in Iraq and other countries across the Middle East, as The National found in a special report.
Let's move over to the US and remember the Sarah Jessica Parker line about how someone's always got it worse. I didn't think it could get much worse, however, QUEERTY reports:
Yesterday evening the state’s House approved SB 1580/HB 1403. The Senate approved the legislation last week. It allows healthcare providers and insurers the right to refuse patients in line with their conscience. It’s officially called the “Protections of Medical Conscience” Act.
The legislation includes clarification stating healthcare providers cannot turn anyone away based on their “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
Notice what’s missing from that list?
Yes, there’s nothing about sexual orientation or gender identity. Democratic lawmakers pushed for amendments to include LGBTQ+ protections but they were all rejected in the Republican-majority House and Senate.
During a heated debate on the issue, Democrat Anna Eskamani offered up potential ramifications.
“A nurse could refuse to provide a doctor’s prescription for fertility drugs to a single woman or someone who identifies as a lesbian,” she said. “Nursing homes could refuse to provide elderly, transgender residents for their ongoing hormone treatment.”
Out pop star Hayley Kiyoko says she was told by police that bringing drag performers onstage at her show in Nashville, Tennessee could result in legal action. She brought the queens onstage anyway.
In a long Instagram post, Kiyoko explained that after attending a drag show at Nashville gay club Play ahead of her May 1 tour stop in the city, she decided to invite some of the performers to appear onstage with her the following night at Marathon Music Works. But, she writes, “At soundcheck the day of, I was advised by local law enforcement that having a drag performance at my all ages show could result in legal action. They warned us to not bring any drag performers on stage.”
Our Declaration of Independence holds that the inalienable rights of, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” are endowed to ALL humans by their creator at birth. In 2015, marriage equality became the law of the land, yet there is still no federal law explicitly protecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities from discrimination. These communities, therefore, do not enjoy the full breadth of freedoms that this country espouses to guarantee to each and every citizen.
This is in direct violation of our founding principles.
Generation after generation, people have fought to rid our country of the “except for’s.” “Except for blacks,” “except for women,” and so forth. Today, we are challenged by the ongoing prejudice that seeks to repudiate the fundamental American dedication to freedom and equality for all. The idea that there should be God-given life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, “except for them,” is a stain on our national character.
The ability to pursue a livelihood free from discrimination is a right denied, every day, to members of the LGBTQIA+ communities. It is estimated that roughly 7% of the US Population identifies as LGBTQIA+. But this large percentage of our population still does not have full legal rights and due process rights in many aspects of their life.
Unfortunately, the problem is now even worse than that. Certain parts of the LGBTQIA+ population, particularly transgender women of color, are at higher risk for marginalization and even violence. This makes them a population that needs not only equal rights but the specific status of special protection. Under a Williamson administration, they would have that.
The Lack of LGBTQIA+ Protections Today
Currently, LGBTQIA+ citizens are not included in the non-discrimination protections provided by the federal Civil Rights Act, and in 30 states, there are no state laws that protect LGBTQIA+ Americans from discrimination.
A report from the Center for American Progress found that more than half of LGBTQIA+ individuals have experienced discrimination at work, and 68.5% of respondents said that anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination has impacted their mental health.
Hypothetically, you can legally enter into a same-sex marriage on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, you can be refused service at your local restaurant, denied partnership rights at your local hospital, fired by your employer for your orientation, and evicted from your home by your landlord – with little or no legal protections or recourse available.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, today, more than 320 bills described as “anti-LGBTQIA+” were introduced across 35 states, including adoption laws and so-called bathroom bills. A frightening percentage of these types of bills have become law over the last few years.
Every American deserves to live free from fear of discrimination, regardless of who they are and whom they love.
There have been ongoing efforts for over 60 years to change these “except for” legal loopholes. There has been meaningful, bipartisan legislation in the US House ever since 1974, and one version of this reform legislation has been introduced in every Congress since 1994.
Unfortunately, through the 118th Congress, all these reforms remain unpassed.
Additionally, violence against gay and transgender populations internationally should be of specific concern to the United States. Special asylum status should be granted based on patterns of violence against those now seeking refuge in this country. Unfortunately, there have been reports of violence against transgender persons in American custody, including ICE facilities. Such behavior would not be tolerated in a Williamson administration, and all perpetrators would be held accountable to the full extent of the law.