We had a new doctor at my clinic today. I was called up to the front by one of our reps that checks patients in. Dr. Gayle had arrived and was in the lobby treating patients.
"Who hasn't seen a doctor yet?"
She was asking that when I walked up. She looked at a young woman for a bit before informing her that she'd need to have her heart checked out. She immediately went to the man sitting next to this woman and told him that we were busy so he'd need to go ahead and go home but, when he got there, he needed to cut off his leg. She was already moving to the next patient when she saw me and asked if I were a doctor.
"No, ma'am," I replied, "I'm a nurse."
Good, she said, she could use some help. And who was she?
"Dr. Gayle!" she said looking at me like I was crazy.
She was the cutest, little four year old girl. She was there with her grandmother (who was the patient for the clinic) and I think she made everybody's morning better. When a doctor finished with her grandmother and they were walking through the clinic hall to go back to the front and check out, a male patient came running out of the room having heard "Dr. Gayle" talking as she walked down the hall and said, "Wait! Wait! I forgot to give you my co-pay doctor." He gave her two dollars.
She was so cute. She was the best part of my day.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:
Julian Assange remains imprisoned and remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden who, as vice president, once called him "a high tech terrorist." Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian. WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs. And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own. For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs. Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:
A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat
The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.
The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.
But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.
Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.
Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.
The article reported that the previous week Andrew O’Hagan, a British journalist, had been contacted by the FBI, who asked to interview him about Assange. In 2011, O’Hagan had been contracted to ghost write Assange’s autobiography.
Like many representatives of the affluent and complacent British upper middle-class, he subsequently became an embittered opponent of WikiLeaks, writing a tedious and mean-spirited account of his relationship with Assange for the London Review of Books.
O’Hagan has indicated that he refused to speak to the FBI. He said he would rather go to prison than cooperate with an FBI operation targeting journalists. That is a principled stand.
The apparent probe, however, is disturbing and highly unusual. It has been years since the US government issued an indictment against Assange for exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The WikiLeaks founder has been detained in Britain’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison for more than four years on the basis of the successive indictments and an extradition request.
The probe could point to an attempt by the US government to concoct new charges against Assange or even other WikiLeaks representatives. Far more likely, it indicates that after all these years, the American state has no conceivable case against Assange and is continuing to fish for more lies and falsifications to attack him in the current extradition process.
This morning, WikiLeaks issued a statement, taking issue with the manner in which the FBI probe had been reported by the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age. Both publications had stated that the O’Hagan request indicated that the FBI had “reopened” an investigation into the WikiLeaks founder.
WikiLeaks, however, noted: “Since the current process was initiated in 2017 under the Trump Administration after pressure from CIA head Michael Pompeo, the investigation has never been closed. It is therefore nonsensical to suggest it has been re-opened.”
The data leaks for which three presidential administrations have now pursued Assange took place in 2010, and while his treatment has been routinely denounced by press advocates worldwide, the media have yet to address a fundamental question, one that they are uniquely qualified to answer: What did the leaks actually do? Did the material that Assange’s anti-secrecy organization, WikiLeaks, made public do damage to U.S. national interests commensurate with the fury they provoked?
One thing these new laws do not take into account is that the 12 federally recognized tribes in Montana have historically recognized multiple gender identities, including transgender identities. Most Indigenous peoples recognize multiple gender identities that are believed to be the result of supernatural intervention.
In this regard, Montana state Rep. Donavon Hawk, a Democrat from Butte who is Crow and Lakota, said, “It surprises me that this country is only a couple hundred years old, and we are not able to function with LGBTQ people in our communities.” Indigenous communities have incorporated LGBTQ+ peoples within their societies for centuries.
As an Indigenous scholar who studies the history and religion of Indigenous peoples, I am troubled by how these new anti-transgender laws might affect religious expression and the rights of Indigenous communities, not just in Montana but across the nation.
Indigenous ideas about gender
Indigenous peoples have been in North America for at least 30,000 years. As their societies developed over time, hundreds of different ethnicities, languages, religious practices, gender expressions and identities emerged.
Transgender individuals, an umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity is not linked to the sex they were assigned at birth, have existed throughout history, including within Indigenous communities.
I learned from my maternal grandparents about Blackfeet religion and history. The Blackfeet acknowledged and accepted individual gender expression and identity because it was granted by the divine. Personal gender identity was rarely questioned, because it was tantamount to questioning the divine.
I first learned about Blackfeet ideas about transgender individuals as a young person from hearing oral history stories about famous Blackfeet religious leaders, warriors and adventurers who were transgender. They were viewed as having a direct connection to the divine. People often sought out these individuals for blessings, prayer or spiritual guidance.
Indeed, anthropologists and historians have studied Blackfeet gender expression and learned that the Blackfeet recognized multiple gender identities, including what is defined today in Western societies as transgender.
Two-Spirit and the divine
The modern-day term that many Indigenous peoples in North America have begun to use as an umbrella term to describe the multiple gender identities within Indigenous communities is Two-Spirit. That includes transgender people.
In many Indigenous communities, as the Indian Health Service notes, Two-Spirit identity is believed to come from the divine in visions or dreams and Two-Spirit people often “filled special religious roles as healers, shamans and ceremonial leaders.”
The first-in-the-nation law is both "unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad" and encouraged "discriminatory enforcement," according to the ruling late Friday by U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
"There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is 'obscene' in the vernacular, and material that is 'obscene' under the law," Parker said.
"The Tennessee General Assembly can certainly use its mandate to pass laws that their communities demand," Judge Thomas L. Parker wrote in his ruling. "But that mandate as to speech is limited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which commands that laws infringing on the Freedom of Speech must be narrow and well-defined. The AEA is neither."
The law was supposed to take effect July 1. It's not clear if the Tennessee Attorney General will appeal the case to a higher court.
Western oil companies are exacerbating water shortages and causing pollution in Iraq as they race to profit from rising oil prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Water scarcity has already displaced thousands and increased instability, according to international experts, while Iraq is now considered the fifth most vulnerable country to the climate crisis by the UN. In the oil-rich but extremely dry south, wetlands that used to feed entire communities are now muddy canals.
Mahdi Mutir, 57, worked as a fisher his entire life. For years, Mutir and his wife woke at dusk, sailing along a thick network of canals in Al Khora, a few kilometres north of Basra. The harvest was meagre but enough to provide food for the family of seven.
That changed last year. Now, at the height of the rainy season, Mutir’s boat lies stranded in the mud.
“It is the water station the Italian company built: they need water for their oilfields,” Mutir said, pointing at the black smoke rising from the Zubayr oilfield on the horizon.
To help extract oil, companies pump large quantities of water into the ground. For each barrel of oil, many of which are later exported to Europe, up to three barrels of water are pumped into the ground. And as Iraq’s oil exports rise, its water has dramatically fallen.
The whole world is facing drastic climate change but climate models suggest that Iraq will be among the worst effected. Back in March, Amr Salem (IRAQI NEWS) reported:
The United Nations stressed that Iraq is suffering from a real water crisis, calling for collective action to find solutions to this crisis, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported.
The statement was made on Sunday by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, during her participation in Iraq Climate Conference held in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
“There is an urgent need to find solutions to the water crisis in Iraq,” Plasschaert stated.
Urgent and it only gets more urgent each day. Already problems are evident. January 10th, Yale's School of Environment published Wil Crisp's article which opened:
For their biodiversity and cultural significance, the United Nations in 2016 named the Mesopotamian Marshes — which historically stretched between 15,000 and 20,000 square kilometers in the floodplain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The marshes comprised one of the world’s largest inland delta systems, a startling oasis in an extremely hot and arid environment, home to 22 species of globally endangered species and 66 at-risk bird species.
But now this ecosystem — which includes alluvial salt marshes, swamps, and freshwater lakes — is collapsing due to a combination of factors meteorological, hydrological, and political. Rivers are rapidly shrinking, and agricultural soil that once grew bounties of barley and wheat, pomegranates, and dates is blowing away. The environmental disaster is harming wildlife and driving tens of thousands of Marsh Arabs, who have occupied this area for 5,000 years, to seek livelihoods elsewhere.
Experts warn that unless radical action is taken to ensure the region receives adequate water — and better manages what remains — southern Iraq’s marshlands will disappear, with sweeping consequences for the entire nation as farmers and pastoralists abandon their land for already crowded urban areas and loss of production leads to rising food prices.
The Mesopotamian marshlands are often referred to as the cradle of civilization, as anthropologists believe that this is where humankind, some 12,000 years ago, started its wide-scale transition from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement. Encompassing four separate marshes, the region has historically been home to a unique range of fish and birdlife, serving as winter habitat for migratory birds and sustaining a productive shrimp and finfish fishery.
AP has observed, "Climate change for years has compounded the woes of the troubled country. Droughts and increased water salinity have destroyed crops, animals and farms and dried up entire bodies of water. Hospitals have faced waves of patients with respiratory illnesses caused by rampant sandstorms. Climate change has also played a role in Iraq’s ongoing struggle to combat cholera." And now action? Or what might pass for it. Khalid Al Ansary (BLOOMBERG NEWS) reported:
Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani on Sunday kicked off an initiative to plant 5 million trees and palms across the country in an attempt to alleviate some of the deleterious impacts of climate change, a statement from his office said.
Iraq has suffered years of drought, and more than 7 million people have been effected or lost their incomes from agriculture and fishing, Al-Sudani’s office said. The war-torn, oil rich country has experienced higher temperatures, persistent drought, an increase in dust storms and a crop area cut by half, all impacts of extreme weather caused by climate change.
Real action would be addressing the use of water by the oil industry -- water that's not going to the people.
Kat's "Kat's Korner: Simply Red's just marking TIME" and "Kat's Korner: Summer means Miley and The Jonas Brothers" went up Saturday.