He's so disgusting. If you want to learn how to be a bigot, go to George Washington University where you can learn from the bigot Jonathan Turley.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released its 2023 Annual Report documenting developments during 2022, including significant regression in countries such as Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, and Russia. USCIRF’s 2023 Annual Report provides recommendations to enhance the U.S. government’s promotion of freedom of religion or belief abroad.
USCIRF’s independence and bipartisanship enables it to unflinchingly identify threats to religious freedom abroad. In its 2023 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends 17 countries to the State Department for designation as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) because their governments engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations” of the right to freedom of religion or belief. These include 12 that the State Department designated as CPCs in November 2022: Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five additional recommendations: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Syria, and Vietnam. For the first time ever, the State Department designated Cuba and Nicaragua as CPCs in 2022.
“USCIRF is disheartened by the deteriorating conditions for freedom of religion or belief in some countries— especially in Iran, where authorities harassed, arrested, tortured, and sexually assaulted people peacefully protesting against mandatory hijab laws, alongside their brutal continuing repression of religious minority communities.” USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel said. “We strongly urge the Biden administration to implement USCIRF’s recommendations—in particular, to designate the countries recommended as CPCs, and for the Special Watch List, or SWL, and to review U.S. policy toward the four CPC-designated countries for which waivers were issued on taking any action. We also stress the importance of Congress acting to prohibit any person from receiving compensation for lobbying on behalf of foreign adversaries, including those engaging in particularly severe violations of the right to freedom of religion of belief.”
The 2023 Annual Report also recommends 11 countries for placement on the State Department’s SWL based on their governments’ perpetration or toleration of severe religious freedom violations. These include two that the State Department placed on that list in November 2022: Algeria and Central African Republic (CAR)—as well as nine additional recommendations: Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. USCIRF is recommending the State Department add Sri Lanka to the SWL for the first time due to its deteriorating religious freedom conditions in 2022.
Iraq’s population is approximately 95–98 percent Muslim, with 61–64
percent Shi’a and 29–34 percent Sunni. Christians—consisting of
Catholic, Orthodox and Assyrian Church of the East, Protestant Evan-
gelical, and others—comprise approximately one percent, although
accurate figures are obscured by frequent displacement both within
and beyond Iraq’s borders.
Iraq is unique as a Shi’a-majority Arab state. It has ties to both
the Sunni-majority Arabic-speaking world and Iran, a non-Arab Shi’a
country. Iraq is also home to numerous ethnic and religious minorities
such as Kurds, Yazidis, Sabean Mandaeans, Kaka’is, Shabaks, and
Turkmen as well as members of Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Armenian,
and other Christian churches. In 2022, at least 2,763 Yazidi women and
girls kidnapped from Sinjar by ISIS were still missing, many potentially
hidden within northeast Syrian camps detaining ISIS fighters and
their families. Yazidi Iraqis welcomed the international community’s
additional steps toward accountability and justice, such as a German
court’s judgment in July convicting a repatriated German ISIS member
Article 2 of the federal constitution establishes Islam as the offi-
cial religion and affirms “the full religious rights of freedom of belief
and religious practice to all individuals such as Christians, Yazidis and
Mandean Sabaeans.” However, the penal code contains blasphemy
statutes, and since 2016, the Law of United National Identity requires
non-Muslim minors to convert to Islam if one of their parents becomes
Muslim, as in the ongoing legal case of an Assyrian child.
In the years since the 2003 collapse of Saddam Hussein’s
regime, sectarianism has flourished, with political power in the IFG
distributed along religious lines among dominant Shi’a political
Arab Sunni president of Parliament.
Other Religious Freedom Issues in the IFG and KRG
Within weeks of the new administration’s emergence in October,
IFG agencies issued eviction notices to Christians in a displacement
settlement in Baghdad’s Zayouna district, leaving the families—many
of whom ISIS had displaced from their Nineveh homelands in 2014—
facing homelessness during winter. The evictions were completed in
Community members from other religious minorities, including
Sabaean Mandaeans, Shabaks, and Kaka’is, have communicated their
intentions to lobby international bodies for minority protections and
the new IFG administration for constitutional and other legal safe-
guards for religious and ethnic minorities. These activists note that,
for example, Article 125 of the federal constitution sets forth “admin-
istrative, political, cultural, and educational rights” for minorities but
lacks mechanisms of enforcement.
Political representation remained an important concern for reli-
gious minorities, with communities pointing out flaws in both the IFG's.
religious backgrounds. Some minority advocates suggested both
the IFG and KRG amend their existing quotas to ensure minority
representation is effective and meaningful rather than symbolic and
vulnerable to dominant religious groups’ political appropriation
of minorities’ seats. In February, the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court
further limited the political representation of Yazidis, Shabaks, and
Feyli Kurds, forcing those minorities to campaign within the already
severely circumscribed Christian and Mandaean components. In
March, archaeologists criticized both IFG and KRG leaders’ ongoing
sectarianizing of cultural heritage sites, finding it amounts to cultural
heritage predation. In the IFG, confessional political and religious
groups leveraged the ethnic and religious political quota system, the
Iraqi Constitution of 2005, and a collection of later laws, including
religion-specific endowments, to misappropriate and alter the char-
acter of religious heritage sites. Meanwhile, the KRG’s “land grabs”
of indigenous Christians’ villages and sites constituted a form of
targeted demographic change, prompting continued displacement
In May, the Iraqi Parliament passed a Sadr-proposed law criminal-
izing Iraqis’ and foreigners’ ostensible attempts to normalize relations
with Israel. The law did not address Judaism and set forth exceptions
for Iraqis’ “religious visits” to Israel as preapproved by the Ministry
of the Interior. However, it not only potentially “promot[ed] an envi-
ronment of antisemitism” but also reflected Iraq’s rampant political
sectarianism, with Shi’a parliamentary blocs advancing the legislation
in part to distance themselves from Sunni Kurds’ and Arabs’ perceived
Key U.S. Policy
The administration of President Joseph R. Biden continued to prior-
itize Iraq’s stabilization and economic development in U.S. relations
with both the IFG and KRG.
In July, the United States condemned an attack on a resort in
Duhok that killed at least eight civilians. The IFG attributed the strike
to Turkey, which frequently carries out airstrikes in northern Iraq in
ostensible pursuit of members of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan
Workers’ Party (PKK). The strikes have contributed to the abandon-
ment of nearby Christian villages, threatened already traumatized
Yazidis in Duhok’s displacement camps, and inhibited Yazidis’ return
to Sinjar. The United States maintained its “strong support for Iraq’s
sovereignty and its security, stability, and prosperity, including that
of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.”
The United States Agency for International Development
asserted its commitment to providing financial assistance to help
enable the approximately 1.67 million displaced Iraqis’ return to their
homes. In November, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Alina L. Romanowski
redeclared a disaster in Iraq for fiscal year 2023 “due to the ongoing
■ Include Iraq on the Special Watch List for
engaging in or tolerating severe violations
of religious freedom pursuant to the Inter-
national Religious Freedom Act (IRFA);
■ Use diplomatic channels and multilateral
engagement to encourage the IFG and the
KRG to expedite processing the return of
kidnapped and displaced Yazidi genocide
survivors and assist them in reintegrating
into Iraqi society; to resolve conflicts over
disputed areas per Article 140 of the Iraqi
constitution, while including all religious
and ethnic minorities in the process; and
Agreement with full inclusion of the Yazidi
community in particular;
■ Impose targeted sanctions on additional
PMF leaders responsible for severe vio-
lations of religious freedom by freezing
those individuals’ assets and/or barring
their entry into the United States under
human rights related financial and visa
authorities, citing specific religious free-
dom violations; and
■ Continue to assist Iraqi religious and eth-
nic minorities in rebuilding communities
their own interests, including opening a
broad discussion on holding fair and free
elections to select their own local leaders as
well as representatives to the IFG and KRG.
The U.S. Congress should:
■ Incorporate religious freedom concerns
into its larger oversight of the U.S.-Iraq
bilateral relationship through hearings, let-
ters, and congressional delegations and by
appropriating funding for development pro-
gramming to strengthen religious freedom.
21-year-old Ali Julood, a native of Rumaila, Iraq, was scheduled to speak a the BP annual meeting on April 27, but he couldn’t. Ali died on April 21, a victim of leukemia likely caused by flaring near his home. His father, Hussein Julood, spoke for his son instead via a webcam.
Through an interpreter, he told the meeting, “From my door, you can see the black smoke from gas flaring 24 hours a day, and you can smell the toxic chemicals from these flares. Sometimes it’s so bad, breathing is difficult, and oil rains from the sky. Cancer is so common here, it’s like the flu.” Hussein told the BP meeting that Ali “loved nature — his favorite place in the world was his garden. And he wished that children could enjoy playing and breathing freely outside.”
Ali was one of several people interviewed by the BBC last year for a documentary entitled “Under Poisoned Skies” that examines the activities of the oil and gas industry in Iraq. The BBC found that areas near gas flaring sites contained high levels of chemicals and pollutants, with rates of leukemia and other cancers among the local population notably higher than in other parts of the country.
In Rumaila, where Julood lives, flaring occurs less than 2 km from the family home, despite Iraqi law requiring a minimum distance of 10 km from residential areas. Ali’s phsician told the BBC that his leukemia was likely caused as a result of his proximity to those chemicals and pollutants. A report leaked to the BBC showed rates of the cancer in the area, which is located south of the city of Basra, have increased by 20% in the past five years.
The BBC investigators found evidence that millions of tons of emissions from gas flaring had failed to be declared by major Western oil and gas companies working in Iraq. In its report, it named BP, Eni, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell as companies that are contributing to the egregious level of pollution in the area.
Farmer Saadoon Abdul-Sahib Jabr has been in the agriculture business for decades.
In that time, he has seen it all, from droughts and heavy rains to failed crops and deteriorating soil quality.
But these past few months, he said, have been particularly challenging.
Mr Jabr, 58, inherited 1,000 dunams — or 247 acres — of land from his father in the town of Al Maimouna, in Maysan province south of Baghdad. He planted 80 dunams with wheat and barley.
This year’s season for winter grains, beginning around October and ending as late as May, got off to a very rough start for farmers, with little rain and dwindling water levels in the rivers.
“The situation was very tough,” said Mr Jabr. “The drought this year was the most severe one.”
Known in ancient times as Mesopotamia or the Land Between the Two Rivers, Iraq is said to have been the site of the biblical Garden of Eden.
Today, the UN classifies the oil-rich nation as the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. Its severe water crisis has been gradually worsening for decades, negatively affected by climate change, mismanagement and pollution.
Iraq’s two main sources of water, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which account for more than 90 per cent of the country’s freshwater reserves, have significantly declined over the years. Construction of dams and diversion of water upstream in Turkey and Iran has exacerbated the situation, leaving downstream nations like Iraq with less water.
Of the 17 most water-stressed countries in the world, 11 are in the Middle East and North Africa, making it one of the most affected regions in the world.
Over the years, a lack of fresh water resources has been compounded by climate change, population growth, poor management and — in some places — conflict. It has reached a stage where it affects the daily lives and health of millions.
As the climate crisis accelerates, water scarcity in the region home to 360 million people is expected to worsen and disrupt economic growth. A report from the World Bank found that climate-related water scarcity may lead to economic losses of up to 14 per cent of the region’s total GDP over the next 30 years.
[. . .]
The UN has identified Iraq as the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to climate change.
One of the most affected sectors by water scarcity in Iraq is agriculture, which makes up less than 4 per cent of the country's annual GDP of 208 billion (as of 2021) but is the main source of income for at least a third — or 14 million — of the nation's 44 million population.
Iraq’s two main sources of water, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which account for more than 90 per cent of the country’s freshwater reserves, have significantly declined over the years. The construction of dams and the diversion of water upstream in Turkey and Iran have exacerbated the situation, leaving downstream nations like Iraq with less water.
Mismanagement and pollution have also contributed to the crisis.
Some farmers have begun turning away from centuries-old irrigation techniques to more modern systems that reduce water use by almost half.
The government provides some support but farmers say not nearly enough to cover their needs.
Turkish airforce has bombarded several villages in Metin Mountain located in Dohuk Province in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, media sources reported on Wednesday.
An eyewitness said that Turkey has been bombarding the region for the past week, stirring panic among the local people in the region.
From time to time, the Turkish military carries out air strikes on alleged PKK positions, which is listed as a terrorist group by the EU, US and Turkey.
For a second week, Montana Republicans have blocked Democratic transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr from participating in a debate over proposed restrictions on transgender youth.
Zephyr, a first-term Democrat from Missoula and the first openly transgender woman elected to the Montana legislature, hasn't been allowed to speak on the state house floor since last Tuesday, when she told Republican colleagues they would have "blood on their hands" if they banned gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.
On Monday, her supporters brought the House session to a halt, chanting, "Let her speak!" from the gallery before being escorted out. Seven were arrested for criminal trespass. Republican leaders describe the disruption as an "insurrection."
[. . .]
It's tempting to dismiss all this as just another outcropping of crazy right-wing bigotry.
And it's tempting to be appalled at such blatant prejudice but believe there must be more important issues to worry about. According to the Pew Research Center, only 1.6% of U.S. adults are transgender or nonbinary (that is, their gender differs from the sex they were assigned at birth).
Yet let me remind you: Bigotry against minority groups based on sexual orientation or gender Identity, such as the trans community, is a way fascism takes root.
As the world tragically witnessed in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, the politics of sexual anxiety gains traction when traditional male gender roles of family provider and protector are hit by economic insecurity.
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