Eric e-mailed to note this video on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and to note that he is supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the Democratic Party presidential primary.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Boebert, who is one of several Republican figures who have said they will not support the deal in Wednesday's crucial vote, said that the lack of concessions from Biden's "radical" plans means that the president has come out on top in the negotiations.
[. . .] Boebert said the bill would allow funding for the Inflation Reduction Act, viewed by many across political lines as a revised version of the Green New Deal, which the GOP had strongly opposed. The congresswoman said not enough concessions were made with regard to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to help streamline the approval of projects such as roads and pipelines.
- In December 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis led all listed Republican candidates in a Monmouth University poll.
- At the time, DeSantis had 39% support compared to President Donald Trump's 26%.
- New polling from Monmouth University shows that Trump now leads the governor by 24 percentage points.
Republican Rep. Greg Steube claimed on a podcast that presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to primary members of Congress if they endorsed former President Donald Trump over him.
Steube, who represents Florida's 17th Congressional District, relitigated his apparent feelings of contempt for Florida's governor on Monday on Donald Trump Jr.'s podcast, "Triggered With Don Jr." The congressman, who previously endorsed Trump for president, said in April that DeSantis never responded to Steube's attempts to discuss political issues.
More anti-LGBTQ+ legislation continues to arise within the United States and conservative pressure is starting to dictate what students learn within public education. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, ushered in by Governor Ron DeSantis, has already impacted school curricula within the Sunshine State, prohibiting education surrounding gender and identity, including LGBTQ+ education.
An increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation means a decrease in education around gender, identity, and sexual health resources for LGBTQ+ students. Unfortunately, this could change the downward trend of HIV infection rates for young gay and bisexual men. Research shows that proper sexual education exponentially decreases HIV infection rates. However, if students in public schools lose access to sexual education resources, infection rates could increase, undoing the work implemented by effective public health measures.
According to the CDC, 1.2 million people are living with HIV in this country. And 1 in 8 people aren’t aware that they have the illness and HIV status awareness is low within younger demographics, representing 15% of new infections in 2021. So much progress has been made, but it’s evident that the GOP are nowhere near aware of the massive ramifications, including for queer health, that their legislation could have.
Jared Michael Boyce, a recently arrested member of the white nationalist anti-LGBTQ+ organization Patriot Front, has pleaded guilty to possessing images of child sexual abuse. He had previously accused LGBTQ+ people of “grooming children” and advocated for hanging pedophiles and Jews.
FBI agents reportedly found 22 images of child pornography on Boyce’s phone. The images included “children from toddlers to prepubescents performing sexual acts” and also minors “exposing their genitals,” court documents said.
Boyce admitted that the images belonged to him, the court documents added. He also told investigators that he had had “sexually-themed conversations about children” in an online chatroom, had transferred images of child sex abuse, and had sent an explicit photo of his genitals to a 16-year-old girl.
He pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and a misdemeanor of dealing in harmful material to a minor, KSL-TV reported. Though he faced up to 30 years in prison for the crimes, on Tuesday, a judge sentenced him only to a year in prison and three years probation.
Boyce was one of 31 Patriot Front members arrested last June for plotting a riot at a northern Idaho Pride event. The group had crowded into a U-Haul truck that was pulled over by police. The white supremacists were clad in identical khaki pants, dark blue shirts and masks and carried homemade riot gear. They were charged with misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to riot.
Negotiations on Iraq’s budget bill for 2023 have been deferred after the parliament's deputy speaker suspended the legislature's finance committee over legal irregularities the and bypassing of a joint agreement between the Iraqi federal government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
"Our committee has been suspended as per a document from the deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament, because our committee members are now 24, while according to law the number should not exceed 23," Jamal Kochar, Iraqi lawmaker from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) bloc and member of the Iraqi parliament's finance committee told The New Arab in a phone interview.
"A political agreement is needed before negotiations on Iraq's budget bill for 2023 resumes. The bill has been stuck at the finance committee because the political agreement between the Iraqi government and the KRG has been violated."
The finance committee on Saturday announced some amendments to the budget bill, including a condition that the Kurdish region must first deliver 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the federal authorities, along with non-oil revenues, before it can receive a share of nearly 12 per cent from the federal budget.
The Kurdistan Region’s finance minister on Sunday said that the finance
committee in the Iraqi parliament does not have the right to add or
remove articles from bills, adding that the new amendments to the draft
budget law aim to ruin Baghdad-Erbil ties.
The Iraqi parliament’s finance committee on Thursday amended two articles of the bill that relate to the Kurdistan Region, prompting the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG| to slam the amendments as “unconstitutional,” labeling them a violation of the previous agreements between Erbil and Baghdad.
“The Federal Supreme Court decision No. 35 prevents the parliament from changing the texts in the budget bills sent by the government,” KRG Finance Minister Awat Sheikh Janab said.
According to Janab, the federal court decision specifies that the finance committee maintains the right to change the numbers in the bill or transfer them between articles and paragraphs, but the committee cannot add or remove any paragraph from the bill.
“Those who truly want Kurds to remain in Baghdad, and those who value the brotherhood between Kurds and Arabs, are worried. This does not seek to help the closeness between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad, but to ruin the relations between the Region and Baghdad,” Janab said.
The budget. It was a big deal May 18th when the United Nations Security Council heard testimony on Iraq (see the May 19th snapshot).
UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: Madam President, the resources needed to turn certain Government goals into realities, such as adequate public service delivery, should be unlocked with the passage of a federal budget. This is yet to happen and, these days, all eyes are on Iraq’s Council of Representatives. Needless to say: agreement on a functioning budget, sooner rather than later, is critical. Including for the timely organization of the long-awaited Provincial Council Elections, now announced for no later than 20 December this year.
The United Kingdom's Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley: The UK remains committed to supporting the Iraqi Government and the implementation of its ambitious reform agenda. In particular, passing a budget will be a crucial step in delivering the Government’s priorities including on economic reform and energy diversification.
Khanim Latif, founder and director of Asuda for Combating Violence against Women: Finally, we call on the Iraqi Government to allocate a budget for and fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law adopted in March 2021.
The only one not speaking of the budget that day to the Security Council? US Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis.
Every one else thought it was a necessary and worth noting. Eleven days later and the budget it yet again put on hold. It's supposed to be passed before the year starts. That means the budget is 151 days late.
Iraq's too late -- the whole world is -- to address climate change. They're using a fix though, for farming, that's actually going to do even more damage. Timour Azhari and Ahmed Saeed (REUTERS) report:
Watered by sprinklers fitted to wells dug more than 100 meters under the sun-bleached earth, his land now produces double what it did compared to when he relied on ancient methods that flood fields with river water, he said.
“It’s a golden year, a golden season,” said Salah, wearing a traditional white robe and reflective sunglasses as he walked his field and noted the benefits: less money and water spent, as well as a bigger and quality harvest.
Iraq’s government says this officially supported shift has allowed the country to double areas cultivated with wheat this year to some 8.5 million dunams (850,000 hectares) compared to roughly 4 million (400,000 hectares) last year.
Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Al-Khuzai said that has translated into a harvest of around 4 million tons of wheat — the largest in years and 80 percent of the needs of a country with a 43 million population who eat bread at almost every meal. The shift in methods is driven by necessity: Iraq’s two main rivers, along which civilization emerged thousands of years ago, have lost more than half of their flow due to reduced rainfall, overuse and upstream dams.
Drilling the desert for water could provide immediate relief in a country that the UN says is among the five nations most vulnerable to climate change in the world, and where climate-induced migration has already begun. However, heavy use of the wells could bleed desert aquifers dry, agricultural experts and environmentalists warn. Some farmers have already noted a drop in the water table.
Depleting the aquifers is not an answer, nor is it sustainable. It will leave Iraq in a much worse situation than it currently is. And let's remember that currently, Iraq -- if you'd stop the government corruption -- has more than enough money to import wheat. If climate models do encourage others to finally address climate change, oil revenues will drop for Iraq. So five, ten years from now, Iraq could find itself with depleted aquifers and with low oil revenues. This is not sustainable and it is not an answer.
- BP returned to Iraq in 2009 after a 35-year absence and was awarded a significant interest in the country’s largest oil field near British-occupied Basra
- BP has pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil since 2011
- Sir John Sawers, the UK’s first special representative to Iraq after invasion, has banked £1.1m since joining BP’s board in 2015
- Other UK oil “supermajor” Shell also won Iraq contract in 2009 as lead operator developing “super-giant” Majnoon oil field
BP has pumped oil worth £15.4bn in Iraq since 2011 when it began production in the country for the first time in nearly four decades, new analysis shows.
The new information comes on the 20-year anniversary of the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, which was judged to be illegal by the UN. However, neither US president George W Bush nor British prime minister Tony Blair, the leaders who prosecuted the war, have been subjects of a criminal investigation.
The invasion began in March 2003 and unleashed a catastrophic humanitarian disaster with an estimated 655,000 Iraqis killed in the first three years of conflict, or 2.5% of the population.
It was widely denounced as a war for oil on the part of the US and UK: Iraq holds the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves. Iraq had no connection to the September 11th terrorist attacks which had taken place 18 months before and initiated the so-called “War on Terror”.
The data on BP’s post-invasion production in Iraq comes from the company’s annual reports and was calculated using the average annual price for a barrel of oil for each year of production.
From 2011-22, BP pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil.
Alan Greenspan, the consummate Washington insider and long-time head of the US central bank, has backed the position taken by many anti-war critics - that the invasion of Iraq was motivated by oil.
His claim comes in his newly published autobiography, The Age of Turbulence, in which he also castigates George Bush's administration for making "grave mistakes" in economic policy.
Sounding more like an activist than a lifelong Republican who worked alongside six US presidents, Mr Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview with the Guardian that the invasion of Iraq was aimed at protecting Middle East oil reserves: "I thought the issue of weapons of mass destruction as the excuse was utterly beside the point."
Mr Greenspan said it was clear to him that Saddam Hussein had wanted to control the Straits of Hormuz and so control Middle East oil shipments through the vital route out of the Gulf. He said that had Saddam been able to do that it would have been "devastating to the west" as the former Iraqi president could have just shut off 5m barrels a day and brought "the industrial world to its knees".
In the book Mr Greenspan writes: "Whatever their publicised angst over Saddam Hussain's 'weapons of mass destruction', American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in the area that harbours a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
Asked to explain his remark, he said: "From a rational point of view, I cannot understand why we don't name what is evident and indeed a wholly defensible pre-emptive position."
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I’m just wondering if it troubles Mr. Greenspan at all that wars over resources in other countries are actually illegal. Mr. Greenspan has praised the rule of law, the importance of the rule of law, in his book. But in his statements about the reasons why this has not been publicly discussed, he has said that it’s not politically expedient at this moment. But it’s not just that it’s not politically expedient, Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?
ALAN GREENSPAN: No. What I was saying is that the issue which, as you know, most people who were pressing for the war were concerned with were weapons of mass destruction. I personally believed that Saddam was behaving in a way that he probably very well had, almost certainly had, weapons of mass destruction. I was surprised, as most, that he didn’t. But what I was saying is that my reason for being pleased to see Saddam out of office had nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction. It had to do with the potential threat that he could create to the rest of the world.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yes, I realize that, but he was not simply deposed. The U.S. invaded Iraq, occupied it and took control over its resources. And under international law, that it is illegal to wage wars to gain access to other countries’, sovereign countries’, natural resources.
ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. No, I’m fully aware of the fact that that is a highly, terribly important issue. And as I said in other commentaries, I have always thought the issue of what essentially amounts to what is often called preemptive, preventive action on the part of some countries to secure resources or something else like that, it’s an issue that goes back to the Cold War, when we had the very difficult moral dilemma of what do you do when you think a missile is coming in our direction and you’re not sure whether it’s an accident or not an accident. And that is a problem which I think is a deep moral problem in civilized society. And the issue is one which I don’t think we’re going to resolve very easily. And as you point out, yes, I am a believer in the rule of law, and I think it is a critical issue, not only for domestic economies, but for the world economy as a whole.