Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
State Sen. Shevrin Jones can often be seen at the Florida Capitol greeting staff and colleagues with a smile or laugh, but when he’s alone it’s a different story.
“The outward expression is to show God’s love. That’s what I was taught,” said Jones, a Democrat. But, he said, “I have enough tears in my car to fill a lake.”
For Jones, who is gay, the past two years have been emotionally draining as Florida passed a flurry of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
BeerBoard, which tracks sales data, previously told CNN that the 3,000 locations it tracks poured 6% less Bud Light than rivals — including Miller Lite and Coors Light — from April 2 to April 15, a turnaround from previous weeks. Also, Bud Light sales fell 17% in the week ended April 15 compared to the same week in 2022, according to an analysis of NIQ data compiled by Bump Williams Consulting provided to the Wall Street Journal.
Still, it’s too soon to tell whether the boycott efforts will have long-lasting sales impacts, as customers often don’t commit to them for long. And the stock of Bud Light owner Anheuser-Busch (BUD) has fallen only about 3% in the last month, suggesting Wall Street isn’t too worried. Anheuser-Busch (BUD) reports earnings on May 4.
Randell and his family are bracing for the worst-case scenario.
Over the past few months, the 16-year-old North Texas boy has watched Senate Bill 14 — which would bar transgender youth like himself from receiving puberty blockers and hormone therapy — sail through the Senate and a House committee. The legislation would also ban transition-related surgeries, but they are rarely performed on kids. And on Tuesday, the bill could be up for a key vote in the lower chamber, where the legislation has more than enough support to pass.
“I am a really happy kid, and I have a really positive outlook on life,” said Randell, who is usually quick to laugh. “That would push me past my breaking point.”
That legislative progress means Texas, which has among the country’s biggest trans youth populations, is on the brink of joining over a dozen other states in banning transition-related care for minors — treatment medical groups and LGBTQ advocates say is vital for a portion of the youth population at high risk for depression and suicide.
“The last appointment we went to, the endocrinologist didn’t start with, ‘Hey, how’s your medicine going?’” said Kay, Randell’s mother. “They started with, ‘The government’s probably going to shut down the clinic. Where will you go for your next appointment?’”
It pains me because once a person has been made to feel unwelcome, it's a real uphill battle for them to be welcomed again into a church community. In 2003, a group of sisters, myself included, started an inclusive Catholic group.
The group was birthed out of our frustration with the lack of equality that was happening around us, not just in the Catholic Church, but in the U.S. as a whole. Creating the group was our way of telling people who have felt unwelcome in the church: "You belong."
Over the last two or three years, a group of justice promoters from vowed Catholic religious communities have spoken about LGBTQ+ rights and women in the church, and inclusion.
I've lost track of how many state legislatures have horrendous bills in front of their state houses that are very anti-trans. In the U.S., we know violence against trans women of color especially is skyrocketing.
In early February, ahead of International Transgender Day of Visibility in the U.S., we decided to write a statement of solidarity as Catholics, knowing full well that our church has been a source of much sorrow and pain for the LGBTQ+ community.
We met on March 17, but just a few days after, the United States Catholic Bishops Conference (USCCB) put out a teaching about what Catholic healthcare institutions are allowed to do in terms of offering medical or surgical treatment to the trans community.
So, after our bishop's conference came out with this statement, we felt an even greater urgency to speak up and say: "Wait a minute." There are a whole lot of Catholic persons who welcome members of the LGBTQ+ community, we know that you're whole as you are, and we're going to find a way to reach out to you and to be there with you.
That is what being a Catholic sister is about. Part of our life commitment is to reach out to the people that are pushed aside and to those who are being made to feel like they are less than whole.
[T]he Court’s latest LGBTQ+ rights case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, may deliver a substantial blow to the civil rights and liberties of same-sex couples and the greater LGBTQ+ community.
The case concerns Lorie Smith, a Colorado-based graphic designer and owner of the web design firm 303 Creative, who refuses to create wedding websites for LGBTQ+ couples, citing her deeply held religious beliefs. Smith is seeking an exemption from a Colorado law that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Smith is arguing that being forced to comply with this law would infringe on her First Amendment rights by compelling her to use her art to convey a “message” she finds objectionable. She’s being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled an anti-LGBTQ hate group. (ADF disputes that label.) For nearly three decades, the ADF has been associated with legal efforts to allow businesses to deny goods and services to LGBTQ+ people, among other homophobic policies.
According to several legal experts Teen Vogue spoke to, the arguments against Smith’s case are entirely reasonable. The state is not forcing her to sell a particular service or create a particular message that goes against her beliefs. Colorado’s public accommodations law only requires businesses to provide the same goods or services to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
“There's a range of all sorts of reasons that a business can refuse to serve a customer, but not based on discriminatory reasons that are prohibited by the statute,” said Jennifer Pizer, chief legal officer for the LGBTQ+ civil rights firm Lambda Legal. “She's engaged in conduct very well calculated to communicate to the entire country that she opposes marriage for same-sex couples, but if she wants to sell a particular service that she has chosen to sell, then she should be required to do that consistently to the state law.”
The oddest part about this case is that it’s based entirely on something that has not yet occurred: Smith’s company does not currently offer wedding website designs, nor has she turned away any same-sex couples seeking this service. Unlike most Supreme Court cases dealing with nondiscrimination protections, there are no specific aggrieved individuals in this case. Instead, lawyers at the ADF have preemptively filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado on Smith’s behalf in order to directly challenge and undermine this law.
“It is a plaintiff in search of a problem in order to create a constitutional rule, which would, I think, at the end of the day, potentially subjugate same-sex couples who are in the public square,” Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant professor of law at Georgia State University’s College of Law, told Teen Vogue. “Not only has this case been manufactured, which is unusual in terms of the way litigation develops, but it has been done so for the express purpose to harm same-sex couples, and that has been the ADF's mission for many, many years now.”
Exactly. As we've long noted here -- in response to Jonathan Turley's cheering the case on -- the hateful Lori has no standing. She has not damaged. This is hypothetical and normally the Supreme Court would wait for a plaintiff to have standing -- to be able to show some way that the law is impacting her actual business.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei decried the presence of the US military in Iraq during a meeting with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid in Tehran on Saturday.
“The presence of even one American in Iraq is too much,” Khamenei said, Iranian state media outlet IRNA reported.
“Americans are not friends with anyone and are not even loyal to their European allies,” Khamenei said, as he called for Iran and Iraq to expand “bilateral cooperation.”
reports."The US has been on the outside of recent major diplomatic developments in the Middle East - a restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia and Saudi-led moves to welcome Syria back into the Arab League. Washington was 'blindsided' by the developments, according to
PM Sudani conducted a visit to the Baghdad airport on Saturday to evaluate its services and facilities. A video emerged on social media soon after showing Sudani angrily shouting at Hussein Qasim Khafi, the airport’s director, during his visit to the airport.
“What is this mess?... How long have you have you been working here?” Sudani is seen telling Khafi in the video, before shrugging off the director’s attempt at a response by yelling “Enough!”
On 16 March, a member of Iraq’s parliament, Hussein Mones, filed an accusation against Kadhimi at the Public Prosecution Office for “gross negligence” and “failing to provide necessary security information to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to take appropriate measures that would prevent endangering the safety of civil aviation at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.”
Mones’ official accusation also highlights “intentional damages to public property,” which include the vehicles that were transporting Soleimani and Muhandis when the illegal US strike happened.
The accusations pertain to Kadhimi’s tenure as the head of the country’s National Intelligence Service – a role he occupied before his becoming prime minister in May 2020.
Central to the effort was a series of highly publicized night raids in late 2020 on the homes of public figures accused of corruption, conducted under the authority of the Permanent Committee to Investigate Corruption and Significant Crimes, better known as Committee 29. The architect of the raids was Lt. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim, or Abu Ragheef, who became known in Iraq as the “night visitor.”
But what happened to the men behind closed doors was far darker: a return to the ugly old tactics of a security establishment whose abuses Kadhimi had vowed to address. In more than two dozen interviews — including five men detained by the committee, nine family members who had relatives imprisoned, and 11 Iraqi and Western officials who tracked the committee’s work — a picture emerges of a process marked by abuse and humiliation, more focused on obtaining signatures for pre-written confessions than on accountability for corrupt acts.
Those interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters or, in the case of detainees and their families, to protect their safety.
“It was every kind of torture,” one former detainee recalled. “Electricity, choking me with plastic bags, hanging me from the ceiling by my hands. They stripped us naked and grabbed at the parts of our body underneath.”
In at least one case, a former senior official, Qassim Hamoud Mansour, died in the hospital after being arrested by the committee. Photographs provided to The Post by his family appear to show that a number of teeth had been knocked out, and there were signs of blunt trauma on his forehead.
Allegations that the process was riddled with abuse became an open secret among diplomats in Baghdad last year. But the international community did little to follow up on the claims and the prime minister’s office downplayed the allegations, according to officials with knowledge of the issue. Although a parliamentary committee first revealed the torture allegations in 2021 and Iraqi media have raised the issue sporadically, this is the fullest attempt yet to investigate the claims and document the scale of the abuse.