Friday, January 13, 2023

The attacks never end

Really good video that C.I. tipped me to, from THE DAILY SHOW with guest host Roy Wood Jr.

If you're not getting how bad the attacks are on drag queens, read the report by David Villarreal (LGBTQ+):

Arkansas state Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R) has filed a bill that would classify drag queens as employees of an “adult-oriented business,” similar to nude models, porn actors, and sex workers.

The bill would put restrictions on transgender and non-binary people singing and dancing in public. It would also require bars, restaurants, shops, and theaters to relocate if they allow such behavior from people of those identities or anything resembling drag.

The bill, S.B. 43, defines a drag performance as one in which a performer “exhibits a gender identity that is different from the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other accessories that are traditionally worn by members of… the performer’s opposite sex,” and performs a song or dance “intended to appeal to the prurient interest” in front of an audience of two or more people.

By this broad definition, a transgender or non-binary person singing a song about lovemaking, reciting a sexual story, or gyrating while dancing would be legally considered the same as a sex worker or someone having sex on camera. In fact, the law would consider any person doing these things as someone who works for an “adult-oriented business” if they wore anything not associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.

 The people attacking drag queens and LGBTQ+ members are insane.  They need to be called out and rebuked. 

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, January 13, 2023.  Iraq has another victory in the Gulf Cup, Joe Biden thinks the answer to his appalling handling of top secret documents is to serve up jokes, and much more.

Group A competitions of the 25th Gulf Cup held in the southern Iraqi city of Basra ended with an Iraqi victory over its Yemeni counterpart.

The Iraqi national team qualified for the semi-finals of the 25th Gulf Cup championship, after obtaining the first place in the group, while the Yemeni and Saudi national teams are leaving the championship following their losses in the first round.

The Iraqi national team achieved a superb 5-0 victory over its Yemeni counterpart, on Thursday evening, in the third and final round of the group stage.

When Qatar hosted the 17th Arabian Gulf Cup in 2004, it wanted to celebrate a special moment: Iraq’s return to the competition for the first time in more than a decade.

Diplomatic ties between Iraq and its Gulf neighbours were severed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. As a result, the Iraqi national team were banned from taking part in the biennial tournament.

But Iraq returned in 2004, a year after Saddam Hussein was removed from power by an invasion led by the US. Despite this, the region was rocked by more than a decade of division as the country slipped into a period of sectarian strife.

Fifa banned Iraq from hosting international matches between 2003 and 2018, citing the poor security situation. But much has changed since and many view Iraq's hosting of the current tournament as a triumph of sports diplomacy, part of continuing efforts to heal a political rift.

To mark the occasion, Qatar commissioned the renowned Iraqi sculptor Ahmed Al Bahrani to design and create a new trophy for the tournament.

Mr Al Bahrani, who has lived in exile since the late 1990s, was overjoyed when he received the commission.

“I was happy for Iraq returning to the tournament and I was particularly proud to be given this opportunity as an Iraqi,” Mr Al Bahrani said.

Today Bahrain faces Kuwait and Qatar faces the UAE.  After that, the games resume on Monday with Iraq and Oman facing competitors determined by today's face offs.  

While there has been much to cheer about if you were Iraq or some of the other countries, the government of Iran has not been pleased with the games.  As we noted yesterday, the Gulf Cup or the Arab Gulf Cup is how it has been referred to and the prime minister of Iraq, on opening day, used "Arab Gulf Cup."  The government of Iran feels that term ignores and degrades the historic role of Iran in the region and that the games should be called "The Persian Gulf Cup."  Omar Ahmed (MEMO) explains:

Yet the recent row with Iraq is significant in that the country has, for some time, been seen as Iran's "backyard" due to the influence Tehran exerts in Iraq's internal affairs, particularly in terms of politics and security, but also due to the historic, cultural and religious ties that the two Shia-majority Muslim countries share.  Nevertheless, the rift has arguably exposed deep-seated nationalistic sentiments. Even some of the most ardent Iranian secularists opposed to the Islamic Republic would take issue with referring to the Gulf as "Arabian".  In some cases, these sentiments may supersede the strategic relations forged following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and, furthermore, with Iran's support in the fight against [ISIS].

It is also worth remembering that, Iran's leadership has sought to justify Iran's involvement overseas conflicts, including in Iraq as "the defence of Iran". During the height of the devastating Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Ayatollah Khomeini had initially hoped that Shia soldiers in the Iraqi army would take up arms alongside the Iranian forces; this didn't materialise. However, "This was not out of loyalty to the regime, necessarily, but to prevent Iraq from becoming colonised by Iran or from following in its theocratic footsteps." At the time, one western diplomatic source noted that the Iraqi Shia community has effectively been "nationalised" by the Baathist government who poured money into the shrine cities, in return for support against the Iranians.

The row over Iraq's referring to the Gulf as "Arabian" is unlikely to escalate further after Tehran sought clarifications from Baghdad, but it does illustrate the ethnic and nationalistic divergences that still exist between the two countries who, nevertheless, form integral parts of the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance. As such, the issue may be exploited in future by Iran's rivals across the Gulf in order to create a wedge between Iraq and Iran and to re-assert Iraq's Arab identity in an attempt to distance it from Iran. Speaking of the recent row, one senior Sadrist member, Issam Hussein, was quoted as saying "Iran is actually angry over Iraq's rapprochement with its Arab neighbours and it is afraid it will lead to economic and political cooperation and cost Iran its influence in Iraq."

As Basra gathers up the bouquets, Baghdad will hope that investors everywhere take note. But once the tournament is concluded, attention will quickly return to Iraq’s political dysfunction: The government of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, appointed in late October more than a year after the general election of 2021, may not be long for this world.
The backing of Iran makes it highly suspect in the eyes of most Iraqis. The country’s most popular politician, Moqtada al-Sadr, who was unable to form a government despite his party’s plurality of seats in parliament, retains the capacity to bring millions of supporters into the street and paralyze the government.
If Sudani can survive Sadr’s political maneuvering, he will have the unenviable task of managing Iraq’s economy, which is entirely dependent on oil exports. The prime minister dreams of oil remaining close to $100 a barrel. High prices through much of last year helped to cover the ineptitude of Iraq’s government, which is hoping to expand its export capacity in the months ahead.
But Iraq has been unable to convert oil revenues into opportunities for its young population. A comprehensive labor force survey conducted jointly last year by the Iraqi government and the International Labour Organization put youth unemployment at 35.8%. Joblessness, along with deep dissatisfaction with the government and anger at Iran’s meddling in Iraqi affairs, has powered the widespread protests that have wracked the country in the past three years.

Moving over to the US, President Joe Biden is in another mess.  Ruth's covering it daily at her site and Wally ("THIS JUST IN! JOE COPIES DONALD!"), Cedric ("Joe said it was wrong when Donald did it"), Betty ("They're both crazy!") and Ann ("Put them in a locked room and let them slug it out") did their joint post on Monday.

These are the basics.  Last year, Donald Trump, former US president, has his residence raided by the FBI because he had top secret documents that he had taken from the White House.  Donald has argued that he, in his role as president, had the right to declassify them and take them.  The National Archives had been insisting he return them.  When he didn't, the FBI was sent in.

The White House has confirmed reports that classified documents were discovered in a former office space used by Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., after his term as vice president. On Monday, Biden’s lawyers said a “small number” of the documents were discovered in a locked closet as they were closing the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. It’s not clear what the documents were related to. Biden’s lawyers say they immediately notified the National Archives, which took possession of the records the next day.

In 2018, then-President Trump signed a bill making it a felony -- rather than a misdemeanor -- to knowingly remove classified materials with the intent to retain them at an “unauthorized location.” Those convicted face up to five years in prison. Special counsel Jack Smith is currently investigating Trump for allegedly mishandling at least 325 classified documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago last August.

Journalist should be covering the way Amy did but most corporate journalist by Monday evening were not using terms like "Biden's lawyers say."  They were instead 'reporting' like "After the discovery, the National Archives were immediately notified."  No, you don't know that.  And you can't report it as fact.  It's "Biden's lawyers say."

Ruth rightly noted yesterday, when it was announced that more classified documents were found in Joe's possession at another location (in a garage), that this was not a time for jokes -- Joe had ha-ha-ed that "my Corvette's in a locked garage, so it's not like it's sitting on the street."

It's not the time for jokes.

It's also not time for partisanship.  But many are playing that on both sides.  

A House investigation?  I would agree with that.  We have a sitting president who has classified document problem -- that's more serious than the media's treating it -- hold on for that, I'll get to it.  So, sure, the House has every right to investigate.  Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a Special Counsel:

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Appointment of a Special Counsel

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced today the appointment of a former career Justice Department prosecutor and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur to serve as special counsel to conduct the investigation of matters that were the subject of the initial investigation by U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. related to the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records discovered at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and the Wilmington, Delaware, private residence of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Based on Mr. Lausch's initial investigation, I concluded that, under the Special Counsel regulations, it was in the public interest to appoint a Special Counsel. In the days since, while Mr. Lausch continued the investigation, the Department identified Mr. Hur for appointment as Special Counsel.

“This appointment underscores for the public the Department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters, and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law. 

I am confident that Mr. Hur will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner, and in accordance with the highest traditions of this Department.”

That's needed as well.

I don't want to even include the name of the guy who burned his bridges at MSNBC, ESPN, CNN, FOX SPORTS, CURRENT TV and GQ (did I miss a firing?) but he has nothing of value to offer (big surprise, right?) and this is a real news story and it's a serious one.  

There's no need to compare the two -- Joe and Donald.  One is a sitting president, one is a former president.  

Instead, we're back to this.

For those who are late to the party, Tara Reade came forward to detail her time working in then-Senator Joe Biden's office and to state that he assaulted her.  Tara is credible and I believe her 100%.  She has 'receipts' (including the call in her mother made in real time to CNN's LARRY KING SHOW).  The response was for Joe's campaign to smear her to the press -- who never explained to their readers -- and I say readers because most of it was in print and not on TV but do include PBS in this list of outlets who were allowing Joe's campaign to dictate the coverage.  

It became harder and harder to attack Tara's statements -- as Alyssa Milano found out (after being fed lies by TIMES UP!) -- and so we got the justification that the video above points out.  "Less rapes."

And now, it's less documents.

It doesn't matter if it was one document and we're not going to revamp our standards for legalities and make Donald Trump the bar.  No.  And if you don't like Donald (I don't), why in the world are using him as the standard?  "Well it's less than Donald had!"

He is in violation.

If you're going to compare the two at all, it's that Joe had those documents not as president, but as vice president and/or former vice president. If Donald's argument is legal -- a court will decide that -- it would apply for Donald but it's doubtful that Barack Obama, as the president under whom Joe served, could give Joe or anyone's classified documents -- if Donald's argument holds up in court, Barack could have given himself that permission but not anyone serving under him.

These documents turning up would be embarrassing for any sitting president.  

It's more embarrassing for Joe.


For Immediate Release – Thursday, Jan. 12th, 2023

Full-Page Ad on Capitol Hill Calls for Primary Challenger to Biden

The Hill newspaper today published a full-page ad in its print edition calling for a progressive Democrat to step forward with a primary challenge to President Biden, who has said he intends to run for re-election.

The ad, which appears under a big “Help Wanted” headline, says that a “historic position” is available for an “articulate and principled Democrat willing to show political courage on behalf of party and country.”

The notice goes on: “Qualifications include a record of progressive advocacy, effective leadership and proven integrity. Capacity to withstand intensive pressure from corporate interests and the Biden White House a must.”

The complete full-page ad, as it appeared in The Hill, is posted here.

The ad was placed by the Don’t Run Joe campaign, which is sponsored by the activist group RootsAction. The organization’s co-founder Jeff Cohen said Thursday: “A healthy political party requires healthy political debate about its future. President Biden should not be enabled to coast to renomination without such a debate, especially in light of recent polling that shows most Democrats don’t want him to seek a second term.”

Recent polls by CNBC and CNN found that nearly 60 percent of Democrats nationwide do not want Biden to be the party nominee in 2024.

“A presidential nomination should not be a coronation,” RootsAction national director Norman Solomon said. “Voters in the Democratic presidential primaries next year should not simply be told to rubber stamp a choice handed down from on high.”

For further information, contact RootsAction cofounders:
Jeff Cohen,, phone/text (914) 388-1431
Norman Solomon,, phone/text (415) 488-3606

For background, see the Don’t Run Joe website and Frequently Asked Questions.


Contact: | Learn more at our FAQ

Joe wants to run for re-election in two years.  He hasn't announced yet because there are still some trying to talk him out of it.  (He's had arguments -- including one of the phone with Barack.)  The majority of Democratic voters do not want him to run as evidenced by repeat polling.  They think he's too old.  That's reality, by the way.  If he ran and was re-elected, he would be the oldest president in US history.  He's 80 years old right now.

What does this have to do with the documents?

Donald Trump left the White House and took documents with him.  That's why you don't want to compare the two.  Donald was asked to return and said no.


Donald knew he had the documents.  Donald knew where he had the documents.

Joe's defense currently is, at best, oops!

He forgot he had them.

Okay, we already see him as senile.

He wants to argue that he's so senile that he forgot to return these documents in 2016 or by 2017 when his book on Beau Biden was published (the documents may have been used or mixed in with classified documents when he was working on that book published in 2017).

That's not making him look good.

He had top secret documents and worse than that, he had them for years.  He had them for years and he forgot them which means -- pay attention here -- he misplaced them.

That is a serious breach of national security.

He did not just misplace them for a moment, he misplaced them for years.

Again, a serious breach of national security.

This does warrant a special counsel.  This does deserve a Congressional investigation.

A sitting president has lost and misplaced -- not just mishandled -- classified information.

This needs to be addressed seriously.  This is not minor.  He is now handling tons of documents and it needs to be determined if he can handle that role and, if he can, he needs to be assuring the American people that this will not happen again.

Ruth is so right, this is not the time for jokes.  It's also not the time to hide behind your attorneys.  You are the President of the United States and you have done something that is appalling.  This is not a woopsie.  You need to speak to the American people and you need to be honest and forthright.  It is not a time for jokes.

Let's wind down the snapshot with this from Alex Bollinger (LGBTQ NEWS):

A 13-year-old boy in France named Lucas died by suicide last Saturday, January 7 after facing anti-LGBTQ+ bullying at school. People close to his family say that the school did little to stop the bullying.

The student at the Louis Armand de Golbey middle school in the Vosges department was out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the French magazine Têtu reports.

“He was constantly harassed for the way he dressed, his mannerisms, his presence,” said Stéphanie, a family friend. “He didn’t hide himself and that bothered some people.”

She said Lucas was “always pleasant, caring, spontaneous, full of dreams and a life.”

The following sites updated:

  • Thursday, January 12, 2023

    The little Republican who cried wolf?








    Okay, now we're going over to Iraq.  There's an issue that we've been ignoring -- my choice to do so.  We'll go into why in a minute.  AL-MONITOR reports:

    Iraq has not apologized to Iran after several Iranian parliamentarians slammed Iraq for using the term "Arabian Gulf" as it hosted the 25th Gulf Cup in Basra and asked for an apology.

    Alireza Salimi, a member of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Parliament, attacked Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani and the leader of Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, for what he termed a hostile action.

    “I advise the Iraqi prime minister and Muqtada al-Sadr to apologize and stop these kinds of contentious actions that are against the interests of the two nations and create disputes between the two nations,” Salimi said according to Iranian media reports. 

    Observers and experts, however, said Iraq has so far ignored the complaints because it does not want to become embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with Iran, especially as Baghdad is playing a key role in achieving rapprochement between regional countries, most notably Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

    While Baghdad has not officially commented on the “Arabian Gulf” dispute, the Sadrist movement, led by influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, rejected Tehran’s summoning of the Iraqi envoy. 

    Leading member of the movement, Issam Hussein said on Wednesday that Tehran is not justified in summoning the envoy. 

    Moreover, he noted that the move gives Iran’s supporters in Iraq the “green light” to criticize the naming of the tournament. 

    He remarked that Iran is “greatly bothered” by the rapprochement between the Iraqi and Gulf people. 

    It fears that this rapprochement could develop into an increase in tourism and later development in economic and investment, he added. 

    First, as a US citizen, I don't have an opinion on which of the two names Iraq chooses to use for the competition.  Second, I'm not Condi Rice. 

    The US government has too often seen Iraq and Iran as twins or as potential twins.  They are neighboring countries.  As we have noted for years now, they will have many disagreements -- and have had many disagreements.  They may act together but they will also act in opposition.

    Condi Rice, whenever things were going the way she wanted between Iran and Iraq (at odds) or at any time (like when Moqtada's influence was ebbing) would insert herself into the process.  It was stupid to begin with because the disagreement then becomes with the US.

    We're noting it now to explain to all those e-mailing why we aren't obsessing over this news and to again remind that neighbors will always have frictions.  The two countries are not twins.  They aren't individual nations that share a border and will work together on somethings and not work together on other issues.  When government officials in the US fret over Iraq and Iran it's as though they're still addicted to the domino theory.

    The above disagreement is not a US issue.  I don't plan to comment on it and say someone's right and someone's wrong, it's not my business and I don't see how it helps.  If outlets from the region choose to run columns or editorials, we may note those.  But this is something that needs to be between those two counties.  And, if that really makes you butt hurt because -- like Condi -- your goal is to drive a wedge between Iraq and Iran, grasp what Condi never could, a chorus of US voices is just going to turn attention towards the US and make it the target of frustration.  So let it play out for that if you just can't support the notion that we don't need to stick our nose into everything.

    I picked the morning paper off the floor
    It was full of other people's little wars
    Wouldn't they like their peace
    Don't we get bored
    And we call for the three great stimulants
    Of the exhausted ones
    Artifice brutality and innocence
    Artifice and innocence

    -- "The Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on DOG EAT DOG


    "The strike ends"

    "Nacho Chicken in the Kitchen"

    "Day 2 of the nurses strike"

    "NY nurses strike"

    "Beef Stew in the Kitchen"

    "The crazy"

    "Pack the Court"

    "That ridiculous Patti Davis"

    "A show to watch"

    "AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER nears a benchmark and FX is lousy"

    "WILL TRENT and The Golden Globes"

    "Brief because I'm watching WILL TRENT (go to ABC and watch with me)"

    "Weekend box office and favorite directors"

    "What the hell is M3GAN?"

    "The Sewing Circle"

    "Fox News elevates cult of Scientology over Christianity"

    "Please stream this investigative report"

    "Adam Rich"

    "Important report on violence against the transgender community"

    "The Biden Family Circus of Scandals"

    "Biden scandals -- they never end"

    "Kenneth Roth was refused for a number of reasons"

    "Shame on the state of Florida"

    "Why did BREAKING POINTS delete the J.F.K. video?"

    "Graham Elwood, THE GOLDBERGS, Don't Run Joe and the awful Ezra Miller"

    "Graham Elwood and Barbara Lee thinks life begins at 78"

    "Sam Bankman-Fried and Joe Biden"

    "THE VANGUARD, a woman wants to return to the US but the US doesn't want her"

    "Graham Elwood, Mickey Z, and Idiot of the Week"


    "'shotgun wedding'"

    "if cher's happy, more power to her"

    "the greedy"

    "this will be glenn greenwald at some point"

    "Joe Biden caught lying about science"

    "Have you heard of TOI 700 e"

    "They're both crazy!"

    "Golden Globes, SAG Awards"

    "Golden Globes"

    "Put them in a locked room and let them slug it out"

    "Joe said it was wrong when Donald did it"


    Wednesday, January 11, 2023

    Joe Biden caught lying about science

    I'm confused.  Are you confused?  COVID 19 appears to have left a number of us in the fog.  This:

    The White House's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has extended the COVID-19 state of emergency.

    HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the decision Wednesday via a declaration titled, "Renewal of Determination that a Public Health Emergency Exists."

    But Joe said COVID was over, remember?  September 19, 2022, he declared the pandemic over.  Remember?

    Now was the pandemic over?  No, not at all.  He was lying.  But if the White house now wants to do the extension that they have, then they need to own up to the fact that Joe lied.  Don't mince words, don't play 'well actually . . .'  He lied.  Plain and simple.  And we've had enough COVID lies and there was already enough distrust of the government over this without him further polluting the waters.

    CDC’s goal is to provide actionable information to public health professionals and the American public. Because Omicron sublineage XBB.1.5 data were displayed separately from XBB data on COVID Data Tracker’s Nowcast projections for the first time last week, we thought it would be helpful to explain the different variant proportion information CDC provides. This includes how the Nowcast forecasting tool works—what it is (a projection based on a model that has been accurate over time) versus what it isn’t (a literal, real-time count of variants based on sequenced viruses from people with COVID-19).

    CDC uses two methods to display variant proportions: weighted estimates and Nowcast estimates. Weighted estimates for each circulating lineage are very precise, but it takes two to three weeks for sample collection, specimen treatment, shipping, and analysis to occur. CDC uses Nowcast to forecast variant proportions before the weighted estimates are available.

    Sublineages with weighted estimates less than 1% of all circulating variants are combined with their parent lineage for reporting of both weighted and Nowcast estimates. Variant proportion estimates for XBB.1.5 were first separated from its parent (XBB) the week of December 31, when its most recent weighted estimate (based on information from the week of December 10) rose to about 4%. Because of its fast growth rate, its Nowcast estimate was projected to be around 41% by the end of December.

    But projections can be uncertain when a variant is just beginning to spread. When Nowcast predicted XBB.1.5 at 41%, there was a wide prediction range of about 23% to 61%. Since then, more data have come in from mid-December, as well as additional data delayed by the holidays. As a result, the projection for the week ending December 31 was revised to 18%, but with a higher degree of certainty (prediction range of 9% to 33%), followed by an increase to 28% for the most recent week of January 6 (prediction range of 14% to 47%).

    These findings demonstrate that XBB.1.5 is spreading quickly. At this time, CDC’s COVID-19 guidance remains the same about how people can best protect themselves from serious illness. CDC will continue to investigate the ways in which XBB.1.5 may be different from other Omicron lineages and will continue to update COVID Data Tracker’s Variant Proportions page on a weekly basis.

    Get it?  It never ended.  Joe was going around in 2020, campaigning from his basement, saying, "Trust the science."  Now he gets caught lying about the science.  This is not a minor thing.


    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Wednesday, January 11, 2023.  Ryan Murphy speaks reality at a time when so many are silent in the face of hate merchants.

    Last night, NBC aired The Golden Globes. Among the winners? Ryan Murphy who was awarded The Carol Burnett TV Achievement Award.  Murphy is a writer, director and producer whose credits include 9-1-1, 9-1-1: LONESTAR, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, GLEE, AMERICAN CRIME STORY, NIP/TUCK and RATCHED.  He and his husband David Miller are also the parents of three children.

    Ryan Murphy: When I was a young person at home in the seventies watching THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, I never, ever saw a person like me getting an award or even being a character on a TV show.  It's hard being an LGBTQ kid in America -- in fact, all over the world -- then and now.  And I have one word for you: Florida.  You are often told you will never become anything, you have to hide your life to survive.  But, for those kids watching tonight, I offer up MJ [Rodriguez] and Billy [Porter] and Niecy [Nash-Betts] and Matt [Bomer] and Jeremy [Pope] as examples of possibility.  There is a way forward, use them as your north stars.  25 years here, that's all I've ever tried to do here in Hollywood.  My mission was to take the invisible, the unloved and make them the heroes I longed to see but never did in pop culture. 


    Those were important words at any time but certainly more important than ever at this time in American history where hate merchants surface constantly and argue that rendering LGBTQ+ persons invisible will help children -- what of the LGBTQ+ children?  The hate merchants don't feel their lives matter.  They've started another cultural war where they hope to use the LGBTQ+ community as a scapegoat for all the failure of the right-wing.  The economy's in the tank, "Let's go after gay people!"  Any distraction from reality, they quickly embrace. And there are lives at stake.


    Two teenagers on Monday implored the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education to do more to protect district students from bullying.

    While sharing their experiences during the public comment period, the students detailed incidents in the schools and comments made during past school board meetings that were harmful to their mental health. 

    Eli Granillo, an eighth-grader who self-identified as a member of the LGBTQ community, described being tormented by other students.

    “Since sixth grade I have experienced bullying in a few ways. One, I have been shoved and pushed in the hallways for being queer,” Granillo told the board. “I was always worried someone was going to hurt me at school, where I should feel safe.”

    After giving a presentation about suicide prevention at school, Granillo was subjected to derogatory name-calling by other students. On other occasions, Granillo, who is Hispanic, was called “b**ner” and “border hopper” by other students.

    “I am certainly not the only minority student that is singled out for my skin color or cultural background,” the teen said. “When is it enough? How much bullying does it take to cause physical or mental injury? What is the last straw?”

    Gloria Rebecca Gomez and Isabela Gamez (AZ MIRROR) report:

    Across the street from the state Capitol, while lawmakers gathered in advance of the new legislative session, Arizona high school students laid out 180 black body bags in protest.

    “We are trying to let our legislators know that every single step they take, bill they vote on, there is a life on the line,” said Dawn Shim, the leader of Support Equality Schools Arizona, which organized the event. 

    The student-led group was formed last year to speak out against a record slate of anti-LGBTQ bills proposed by the Republican majority. Lawmakers approved several laws singling out LGBTQ students, including one that prohibits trans girls from joining sports teams that fit their gender identity and another that forces teachers to hand over all student records to parents, even if they contain sensitive personal information. 

    Some of the newest bills filed this year continue the trend, with one of them restricting pronoun use in schools and another seeking to clamp down on drag show performances by taking away state funds from the schools that host them

    Enacting these kinds of laws, said 17-year-old Shim, creates a hostile environment for LGBTQ youth. 

    “Once we get these kinds of political ideologies in schools that (are) banning us from carrying out activities that affirm us as individuals and people, schools no longer become a safe space where kids are able to thrive and learn as they should,” she said. “Instead, they become a place where they are marginalized and don’t feel safe. That’s something that shouldn’t be happening.” 

     Kristina Davis (KXXV) reports:

    Many in the LGBTQ community across Central Texas feel targeted by the new bills lawmakers considered in today's 88th legislative session.

    From gender affirming care for children to classroom lessons about sexuality and even drag shows, Republican lawmakers are stepping down by filing around three dozen bills — over the last week — impacting the LGBTQ community.  

    Many in the LGBTQ community across Central Texas feel targeted by the new bills lawmakers considered in today's 88th legislative session.

    From gender affirming care for children to classroom lessons about sexuality and even drag shows, Republican lawmakers are stepping down by filing around three dozen bills — over the last week — impacting the LGBTQ community. 

    This has left many who identify with LGBTQ in Central Texas feeling uncomfortable. Many are particularly concerned by the "Don't Say Gay Bill." HB 1155 would prohibit children from receiving instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity in public education.

    “If the 'Don’t Say Gay' bill passes, what about the multiple families, with same gender parents, how is that gonna be addressed in school?” Central Texas woman Carmen Saenz said.

    An advocate with Waco Pride Network added her opinion: “Imagine just the fear a student could feel if they can’t talk about the existence of their parents, or the existence of themselves. There is nothing positive to achieve here.”

    John Hanna (AP) reports:

    Conservative Kansas legislators are pushing back more aggressively this year on LGBTQ-rights issues than in the past two years, with proposals to ban gender-affirming care for trangender youth and restrict how public schools discuss sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Top Republican lawmakers on Tuesday outlined an agenda for the year that includes culture war issues pursued by Republicans in other states, including a ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s K-12, club and college sports. Their broader agenda on LGBTQ-rights issues this year in Kansas also comes after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly narrowly won reelection in November despite GOP attacks over her vetoes of two bills restricting transgender athletes.

    [. . .]

    State Rep. Heather Meyer, a bisexual Kansas City-area Democrat with a transgender son, said this year, for GOP lawmakers, “It sounds like that the bigots are the priority, not our children.”

    “They want to make it so that it’s like we never existed, so like the LGBTQ community is invisible,” she said.

    Carly Flandro (IDAHO ED NEWS) reports:

    An unruly audience volleyed insults and threats at the Caldwell School Board Monday night, forcing trustees to call the meeting to an early end. 

    At the heart of the fracas was a draft of a potential policy that would establish rights and protections for all students, regardless of sexual orientation.

     Equality and democracy are flying out the window as hate merchants peddle their nasty wares and attack LGBTQ+ persons.  They want to render them invisible.  They want to deny humanity and reality.  

    It is very much a war and it's very telling to see who choose to support those at risk and who chooses to hide or worse -- then the Glenn Greenwalds who, despite being gay, rush to defend hate merchants like Tucker Carlson.  People like that must have a humiliation kink.  

    Reminder, US House Rep Lauren Boebert uses the term "groomers" to describe LGBTQ+ persons but not her own husband who was arrested and put on probation after exposing himself to two young women at a bowling alley.  She'll point the finger at innocent people but she'll lie about her own husband and insist this story -- despite legal records -- is not true.  

    But then that's what the hate merchants have to do: Lie.  Because they don't have truth on their side.

    Turning to Iraq where they are raking in billions as oil revenues in 2022 reached a four year high.  At the same time, please note, the number of Iraqis living in poverty has increased from 20% to 25%.  Corruption is the reason.  

    Haifa Zangan (MEMO) notes:

    After decades of war, siege and occupation, it is rare to see an Iraqi audience joyful; rare to see women and men laughing and singing happily together in a place that unites them. They breathe in the meaning of being Iraqi with bright colours far from the mourning black that has become the daily reluctant norm. It is rare. And yet, thousands of Iraqis and Arabs gathered in such a joyful atmosphere for the opening of the Gulf Cup this week as Iraq hosted the tournament for the first time since it was held in Baghdad in 1979.

    The opening ceremony summed up the civilised history of the country and the unity of emotions that transcend religious sectarianism, national strife and everything else that has polluted the name of Iraq since the US-led invasion and occupation in 2003. It was a night made for visitors to the city of Basra to enjoy the hospitality of its people, who are known for their kindness and generosity. The opening of the tournament in the Basra International Stadium — also known as the Palm Trunk Stadium — was an emotional reminder for the locals, as the city was once proud of its 16 million palm trees, most of which were destroyed by wars between 1980 and 2003.

    The opening was dazzling with the lighting in place. The Iraqi Electricity Company confirmed that it lit the roads leading to the Sports City, its surroundings and its doors with new lighting installations. The company also launched a campaign for the concept of rationing electricity, and the senior local officials supervised the mobilisation of the electricity company staff for the Gulf Cup on the ground.

    This ensures that football fans and TV viewers have power during the tournament, but raises many questions. Why is the media making such a big issue about the preparations to provide adequate lighting? What is so unusual about lighting an international football stadium and the surrounding streets? Why isn't such supervision and provision made at all times to ensure that all of Basra has adequate electricity supplies? Is the area going to be plunged into darkness when the tournament is over?

    If the government bodies responsible are able to meet FIFA's requirements for hosting the tournament, within a record time, why can't they make the same effort to provide the basic essential electricity supply needed by Iraqi citizens for the past 20 years, and which is their fundamental right, not a favour from officials? Or is this sudden appearance of good lighting only to invest looted resources in order to save face? Football has been called the world's new religion, so is the perfect vehicle for saving face while concealing the reality of the miserable daily life of most Iraqis.

    Since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, the country has been one of the most corrupt countries in the world.  Billions come in each year to the government and somehow never make it to the people.  Officials and politicians stuff their pockets.  Most of the time, they get away with it.  MEMO notes:

    Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani has issued an order to suspend the governor of Diwaniyah, Zuhair Ali Al-Shaalan, while an investigation over corruption allegations is carried out, the Iraqi News Agency has reported.

    "The decision was made due to the investigative procedures on suspicions of administrative and financial corruption, which the competent courts are reviewing," confirmed the prime minister's media office.

    Shaalan has not yet commented on the decision, but if found guilty he could face a maximum of seven years imprisonment. "Every public official or agent who intentionally causes damage to the funds or interests of the entity in which he works or is connected shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years," explains the Iraqi Penal Code.

    The following sites updated: