Saturday, October 22, 2022

Lucy Simon and her sister Joanna Simon have passed away

I got home yesterday, had lunch and wrote what I thought would be my Friday post  Here it is.

Carly Simon was born to Richard and Andrea Simon and was one of four children.  Her sisters were Joanna and Lucy and her brother was Peter.  Peter passed away a few years ago.  Joanna, a noted opera singer is still alive.   Lucy, however, has passed away:

Lucy Simon, the Tony Award-nominated composer of Broadway’s 1991 musical The Secret Garden and sister of singer Carly Simon, died of breast cancer Thursday at her home in Piedmont, New York. She was 82.

Born into wealth and a rarified atmosphere of celebrity and literati as the second of four children to Simon & Schuster publisher Richard Simon and wife Andrea, Simon would enter show business herself in the early 1960s when she and younger sister Carly formed the folk singing duo The Simon Sisters, performing in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and New York City’s Greenwich Village. In 1964, the sisters recorded and released the song “Wynken, Blynken & Nod” to moderate success.

Simon began her professional career singing folk tunes with sister Carly Simon as the Simon Sisters and later folk-rock. Simon's setting of "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod"[11] has been recorded by many diverse artists, including the Doobie BrothersMitzie Collins, and the Big Three (Cass ElliotTim Rose, and James Hendricks).[12][11] In the mid-1970s, after a number of years away from recording, Lucy released two albums on the RCA label of mostly original compositions, along with a few collaborations and covers. Her self-titled debut album was more folk-rock in orientation while her second album, "Stolen Time," had a contemporary pop sound. Carly Simon and James Taylor provided backing vocals on half of the songs from "Stolen Time."

Simon won a Grammy Award in 1981 with her husband, David Levine, in the Best Recording for Children category for In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record, and again in 1983 in the same category for In Harmony 2.[3]

Simon made her Broadway debut as the composer of The Secret Garden, for which she was nominated for a 1991 Tony Award for Best Original Score[4] and a 1991 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music.[5] She also wrote songs for the Off-Broadway show A... My Name Is Alice.

She composed the music for a musical version of the Russian novel Doctor Zhivago, with lyricists Michael Korie and Amy Powers and book writer Michael Weller. The musical had its world premiere at the La Jolla PlayhouseSan Diego, California, in May 2006.[13] A new version of Doctor Zhivago ran in Sydney, Australia, Melbourne and Brisbane in 2011 under the title Doctor Zhivago - A New Musical, starring Anthony Warlow in the title role and Lucy Maunder as Lara, the sensitive doctor's secret muse. The musical was produced by John Frost with Des McAnuff directing.[14] Anthony Warlow starred in the Australian production of The Secret Garden and at that time Simon said of him, "There is my Zhivago". The musical premiered on Broadway on March 27, 2015 (previews), with an official opening on April 21, 2015 at the Broadway Theatre, but was not successful, closing after 26 previews and 23 regular performances.[15][16]

Simon also contributed to the Off-Broadway musical Mama and Her Boys.[17][18]

As The Simon Sisters, Carly and Lucy released three studio albums: MEET THE SIMON SISTERS, CUDDLEBUG (which is the first album to contain songs written by Carly -- "Pale Horse and Rider, "If You Come Down To The Water" written with Nick Delblanco, and "Hold Back The Branches") and THE SIMON SISTERS SING THE LOBSTER QUADRILLE AND OTHER SONGS FOR CHILDREN. 

When I was about to post, I was going to google Carly so I could link to her website.  I did google Carly but that's when I found out that Joanna Simon died as well:

       Singer Carly Simon paid tribute to her two sisters, Joanna and Lucy, who died just a day apart of each other this week, both from cancer.

Joanna Simon, 85, died of thyroid cancer on Wednesday and Lucy Simon, 82, died of metastatic breast cancer Thursday, Simon’s manager, Larry Ciancia, confirmed to CNN.

“I am filled with sorrow to speak about the passing of Joanna and Lucy Simon. Their loss will be long and haunting,” Simon said in a statement to CNN.

All three sisters were musically talented. Joanna Simon was an opera singer and Lucy Simon was a performer and composer who was nominated for a Tony Award for the score of the “The Secret Garden” musical.

“As sad as this day is, it’s impossible to mourn them without celebrating their incredible lives that they lived,” Simon said. “We were three sisters who not only took turns blazing trails and marking courses for one another, we were each others secret shares. The co-keepers of each other’s memories.”

“I have no words to explain the feeling of suddenly being the only remaining direct offspring of Richard and Andrea Simon,” the “Anticipation” and “You’re So Vain” singer continued.    

How awful.  She lost one sister on Wednesday and the other on Thursday.  That's horrible and a lot to go through.  

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot;"

Friday, October 21, 2022.  Litigious is not the same as truthful, the government of Turkey insists it would never, ever use chemical weapons in Iraq, the persecution of Julian Assange continues, BROS is out on streaming platforms in North America, and much more.

I saw a little lawyer on the tube
He said "It's so easy now anyone can sue"
"Let me show you how your petty aggravations can profit you!"
Call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

Oh and deep in the night
Appetites find us
Release us and blind us
Deep in the night
While madmen sit up building bombs
And making laws and bars
They're gonna slam free choice behind us
-- "The Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her DOG EAT DOG

They have made it so easy and, yes, anyone can sue.  Even if they can't win.  The "they" includes idiots in the press.  For example, before you applaud a family of a dead person for pondering a lawsuit, you might want explain case law and how you can't defame the dead.

But, hey, facts, right?  What do they matter?

Anthony Rapp found out yesterday just how much they matter (see Marcia's "The jury didn't believe Anthony Rapp either" and Mike's "THE GOLDBERGS, Kevin Spacey is cleared by jury").  Funny how the malicious press is involved in that one too, right?

Turns out, you can't come forward with a story and get the jury to believe you when they find out that the 'reporter' who you shopped you tale to couldn't confirm your basic details so he advised you to avoid specifics.  

Turns out the unpopular press is even more unpopular with juries when they run a one-sided story that they know they can't verify. 

Turns out witnesses do matter especially when they contradict your claims.  

Turns out your bitterness over your failed life and career aren't seen as noble by a jury of your peers.

Maybe it's not a good idea to look like a greedy whore by suing for forty million dollars?

And to the 'resistance,' maybe take a lesson and learn not to pin your hopes on nut jobs.

For example, a woman suing for defamation for being called a liar and being said to be "not my type" by Donald Trump?  If she's crazy enough to sue someone for saying that she's not their type, she's probably not going to deliver you what you need to jizz all over one another as you high five and scream "F**k MAGA!"  And maybe the first clue there was when she went on CNN and told Anderson Cooper that rape was "sexy."

In the world of reality, Julian Assange remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden and a host of people who should be supporting him stay silent or heap scorn on him.

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 death. 

In an address to Australia’s National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Jennifer Robinson, one of Julian Assange’s lawyers, provided a powerful and unanswerable indictment of the protracted political persecution of her client.

Robinson’s speech, which was broadcast live on the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, contained a sharp warning on Assange’s plight and the implications of the US attempt to prosecute him. 

Assange, she said, would not survive years’ more incarceration and “persecution by process.” And if he were extradited from Britain to the US and hauled before a kangaroo court for publishing true information, it would be a dagger blow to freedom of the press and democratic rights.

The address was a rare breach in a wall of silence on the Assange case in Australia. His various court dates have been given cursory coverage, but there has scarcely been any television programming or substantive reporting on the persecution of an Australian citizen and journalist.

Robinson noted that many were shocked at Assange’s appearance when he was dragged from Ecuador’s London embassy by the British police in 2019. She said that she was not, because “for seven years I had seen his health decline.”

Similarly, some were surprised when the US unveiled an indictment of Assange, and an extradition request, as soon as he was arrested. Robinson noted, however, that this was what Assange, WikiLeaks and its defenders, including herself, had been warning of for years.

“For the past three and a half years Assange has been in a maximum security prison” dubbed “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay,” Robinson noted, where his health had further declined. At a court hearing last October, she recalled that while prosecutors for the US extradition were deriding medical evidence of Assange’s deteriorating condition, viewers of the proceeding watched him slump with his head in his hands. It was later confirmed that Assange was, at that moment or just before, suffering a minor stroke, which is often a prelude to a major stroke.

“Julian’s wife Stella anxiously waits for the phone call she dreads,” Robinson said. “He is suffering profoundly in prison and she does not know if he will survive it.”

Robinson provided a brief prĂ©cis of where Assange’s extradition case is up to. She explained that he had won in the first British hearings, with a District Court ruling early last year that extradition would be “oppressive” because of the conditions in which Assange would be held in the US prison system. He would be placed under “Special Administrative Measures (SAMs),” a draconian regime of complete isolation described by rights’ groups as the “darkest corner” of US penitentiaries. 

Assange remains in Belmarsh prison as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as well as diplomatic cables.

Last week the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, reiterated his view that the case against the Australian citizen had “gone on long enough” but cited private talks with the Biden administration as a reason for not commenting further.

Robinson, who has met several times with Dreyfus, said it was “encouraging” that the Albanese government was maintaining the position that it had adopted in opposition: that the case had dragged on too long and “enough is enough”.

Turning to Iraq, I24 notes:

Turkey on Thursday rejected allegations that the Turkish Armed Forces used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Media close to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group – which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, among others – published videos this week showing chemical weapons being used by Turkey’s army against them.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which represents thousands of doctors and campaigns to prevent armed violence, said it found indirect evidence of possible violations during a September mission to northern Iraq.
“The chemical weapons lie is a futile attempt by those who try to whitewash and airbrush terrorism. Our fight against terrorism will continue with resolve and determination,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.

Last July, the government of Turkey attacked a resort in northern Iraq killing 2 children and 7 adults with an additional 33 people left injured.  It's not that hard to picture them also using chemical weapons.


Iraq hit two anniversaries this month. Three years ago in October, Iraqis rose up to protest the failure of the Iraqi government and political class in delivering basic services, providing jobs, fighting corruption and more. One of the outcomes of those protests was early elections, which were held on October 10, 2021, but have yet to yield a government. The last year witnessed crippling political gridlock, as the winner of the 2021 national parliamentary elections, Moqtada al-Sadr, eventually withdrew from the political process after failing to form a government.

Last week, Iraq’s parliament elected Abdul Latif Rashid as president, and he then named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister-designate. Al-Sudani, who now is tasked with forming a government, is the nominee of the Coordination Framework, al-Sadr’s chief rival. Amid a year of political turmoil and three years after the protests erupted, Iraqis’ grievances remain largely unaddressed.

USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed discusses how we got here, what comes next in the government formation process and where Iraq’s protest movement stands three years on. 

Iraq held national parliamentary elections on October 10, 2021, but struggled with forming a government for a year. The election resulted in two broad coalitions that led to a state of gridlock over the forming of a government amid controversial litigation in the Federal Supreme Court, drone attacks on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's house, armed attacks on the offices and residence of various political actors, violence in Baghdad’s “Green Zone” and external pressure, particularly from Iran. Al-Sadr, whose bloc won the largest number of seats (73), sought to form a majoritarian government with Sunni Arabs, led by parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and Khamis al-Khanjar, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani. The Coordination Framework — considered to be Iran-backed — which includes the State of Law alliance of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Fatah Coalition and others, succeeded in blocking al-Sadr.

Over a year later on October 13, Iraq’s parliament voted Abdul Latif Rashid as the new president, who in turn designated Coordination Framework nominee Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister. Nine rockets hit the vicinity of the parliament and other parts of Baghdad as the voting occurred, but it did not stop the process. With 30 days to form a government and win a vote of confidence from the parliament, al-Sudani is negotiating with other political parties to form his government and projects confidence in his actions and messages. He has also welcomed the Sadrists’ participation in the government, but that’s unlikely to happen.

This breakthrough was made possible because al-Sadr gave up all his bloc’s parliamentary seats and his attempt of applying public pressure through the street — occupying the parliament building and judiciary headquarters — backfired. The Coordination Framework replaced al-Sadr’s MPs with their own, nominated al-Sudani to become prime minister, and reached agreement with Kurdish and Sunni Arab allies of al-Sadr — whom al-Sadr has freed from commitments they made to him — to support their candidate.

The Coordination Framework, which now holds the highest number of Shia seats in the parliament, has come together with most Kurdish and Sunni MPs under a new coalition called the State Administration Coalition (Itilaf Idarat al-Dawla). They have sufficient votes and seem to have established enough foundation for a government to finally form. Regional and international interlocutors, including the United States and European allies, have welcomed the government formation process moving forward. However, there continues to be apprehension about what al-Sadr might do next: Will he challenge the formation of the cabinet? Will he wait until a government is formed and then challenge it? Or will he move on and focus on the next elections?

In Iraq, the political stalemate has not ended.  With the naming of a prime minister-designate, it should be ending shortly.  But a prime minister-designate is not a prime minister.

That's not "What if he can't put together a full Cabinet!"  Despite that being in the Constitution, that measure has never been enforced and no one's ever met it.  But it is stating a prime minister-designate is not yet a prime minister.



A story we've noted earlier this week is a discovery in northern Iraq.  Hyder Abbasi and Khalid Razak (NBC NEWS) report;

Ancient rock carvings that are believed to be more than 2,700 years old have been unearthed by a team of archaeologists in Iraq's northern city of Mosul.

The marble slabs were found during restoration work on the Mashki Gate, an ancient monument that was partially destroyed by Islamic State militants when they captured the city in 2016.

The relief carvings show scenes of war from the rule of Assyrian kings, in the ancient city of Nineveh, the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage said in a statement Wednesday.

And here's a video report.

In north America, you can stream the comedy classic BROS.

BROS is still in the theater (as of Wednesday, it's got $11 million in ticket sales in North America).  (Thursday's numbers are not out yet.)  AMAZON and YOUTUBE TV are just two of the platforms you can stream it on -- rental or purchase.  

BROS is a great film.  It's on my top ten.  Of the year?  No.  I think it's the best film of 2022.  It's on my top ten of all time favorites.  

The following sites updated:

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Joni Mitchell, Berry Gordon, Smokey Robinson, George Ezra

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS  "Take A Moment To Enjoy The PEW" went up Saturday and "Enjoy THE PEW" went up Sunday. 

the pew


We got OG news tonight -- Original Gansters.  First up, singer-songwriter and legend Joni Mitchell.  VULTURE reports:

Put Brandi Carlile on Joni Mitchell’s payroll at this point, because she has become the legend’s de facto spokesperson (on top of one of her best champions). On last night’s The Daily Show, Carlile spoke to Trevor Noah about her In the Canyon Haze album and documentary and performing with Mitchell at her first show in years this summer at Newport Folk Festival. And, being the Joni fan she is, Carlile couldn’t help spill some news about the singer-songwriter. “After Newport, Joni said, ‘I wanna do another show,’” Carlile told Noah. So they planned a two-night event at the Gorge, in Washington, called Echoes Through the Canyon. Carlile is set to headline on June 9, 2023, with Mitchell to follow on June 10. “No one’s been able to buy a ticket to see Joni Mitchell play in 20 years, so this is enormous,” Carlile said, as if this news needed any PR spin. And she’s right — it’s Mitchell’s first announced show since she toured with Herbie Hancock in 2000 and since her aneurysm in 2015. “I can’t believe it’s happening, but it’s happening, and she is going to crush it,” Carlile added. Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but you’d best get on booking those flights.

Maybe they'll record the two-night concert?  I hope so.  There won't be enough tickets for everyone who would want to see Joni another time.  I don't think we'll see Carly again and that's sad.  Carly Simon could be recording.  That awful Heart music made her sign that contract for her 2008 album and it forbade her from doing a studio album of new material for X years.  It has to be over by now.  I don't think Carly wants to sing anymore.  THIS KIND OF LOVE (2008 album was supposed to be her farewell album.  Then they ripped her off financially.  That's why she rerecorded her hits for NEVER BEEN GONE.  She'll probably step on stage with an artist or two (the way she did with Taylor Swift) but otherwise I fear she's done with it.  Makes me sad but it's equally true that she's put in her time and has a right to just relax and enjoy.  

Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson will be honored as the 2023 MusiCares persons of the year, the Recording Academy’s philanthropic partner announced on Thursday (Oct. 20). The longtime friends and music legends will receive the honor at the annual gala on Feb. 3, 2023.

The event, which takes place two nights before the 65th annual Grammy Awards, will mark the first time the gala will honor two individuals together, as it’s typically reserved for a single person or a musical group. With Berry Gordy as the creator of the Motown Sound and Smokey Robinson as his first writer and artist, the duo transformed popular music and fostered a legendary friendship — one that has spanned more than six decades and produced countless classic songs.

“Wow! How honored I am to be named the MusiCares Persons of the Year, and together with my best friend of over 65 years, the great Smokey Robinson. How special is that!” Gordy says in a press statement. “I am grateful to be included in MusiCares’ remarkable history of music icons. The work they do is so critical to the well-being of our music community, and I look forward to a most exciting evening.” 

Robinson adds: “I have supported MusiCares for many years, and know what great work they do for our creative community who need our help. Recently, when no one could tour, they were a lifeline to those in the touring industry for monetary help and mental health services. I am honored that they have chosen me and my best friend and Motown founder Berry Gordy to share this beautiful honor and celebrate with you all together.”

Berry Gordy is a funny guy.  The biggest surprise to me was his sense of humor.  He created MOTOWN -- the record label and the film production company.  He's got a place in history and it's a well earned spot.  C.I. is friends with Berry and one time she introduced me.  I was so intimidated and I'm not usually that way.  But he's a legend.  And what stood out was his smile and his sense of humor.

I have never met Smokey but, like everyone in the country, I know his songs.  My favorite is a solo song he did, "Being With You."

But I love his songs when he was with the Miracles and I love so much of his solo work.

10 favorite Smokey songs that he wrote other than "Being With You."

10) "My Girl" 

9) "Let Me Be The Clock"

8) "The Tears of a Clown"

7) "Baby That's Backatcha"

6) "The Way You Do The Things You Do"

5) "I'll Try Something New"

4) "I Second That Emotion"

3) "Cruisn'" 

2) "You've Really Got A Hold On Me"

1) "Tracks of MY Tears"

By the way, when Smokey was on the charts with "Just To See Her" (I love it too but he didn't write it so it didn't make the list), there was talk of him and Carly Simon doing a duet.  I don't know if that ever happened and is buried in a vault or if it never took place.  But that would have been something to listen to.

Let's wind down with this from George Ezra:

Closing with  C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:" 

Thursday, October 20, 2022.  Climate change continues to impact Iraq and a year's been wasted without a government.

The Iraqi artist, Basem Mahdi, wrote two square kilometer ‘save the marshes’ sentence in an attempt to shed light on the drought hitting the marshlands in southern Iraq.
Mahdi wrote the two square kilometer sentence in the marshlands of Al-Chibayish District in Dhi Qar governorate in southern Iraq.
The Al-Chibayish marshes is one of the most famous marshes in Iraq which suffers from a great drought due to the lack of water flow.

Iraq is battling several years of drought, the governments of both Iran and Turkey are blocking the flow of the two big rivers running through Iraq (the Tigris and the Eurphates), everyone is expected to be effected by climate change; however, Iraq has been named the fifth most vulnerable country in the world.  Dust storms are increasing in frequency and in force.  Speaking to the United Nations at the start of the month, the US Deputy Rep to the UN, Ambassador Richard Mills, noted that climate change was one of the challenges Iraq is facing, "Complicated challenges face the next government – including passing a budget, developing oil and gas legislation that is acceptable to the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, improving the provision of electricity, combatting climate change, promoting private sector development and job growth, and increasing women’s participation in the workforce."  Also this month, the International Organization for Migration pointed out, "Displaced families are likely to be among the most vulnerable to climatic and environmental changes that can impact livelihoods, food security and social cohesion. Sustainable return and rein-tegration can be determined by many factors but the role of climatic change and environmental degradation in return dynamics is insufficiently understood."

Susan Schulman (DAILY MAVERICK) reports:

Ninety-one percent of Iraq’s water originates in Turkey, Iran and Syria, leaving the country at the mercy of those controlling the taps upstream. Accompanied by a translator and fixer, I set out, travelling northwards from the very south, across the country, to explore the impact of these combined forces on those most directly affected – and what that might forebode.    

Poisonous snakes emerge from fields and slither into homes in Iraq, threatening people and claiming lives. In neighbouring Iran, crocodiles previously known for their “blissful” nature are attacking the same people with whom they have peacefully existed for as long as anyone can remember.  

Almost 120,000 people were sickened and admitted to hospital by contaminated water in Basra, Iraq. Large protests over water and electricity claimed 23 lives. Water protests roiled Iraq’s Kurdistan in August 2021.

[. . .]

Iraq is one of the world’s most water-stressed countries, ranked fifth in vulnerability to water and food availability and extreme temperatures in the UN Environment Programmes 2019 Global Environmental Outlook report. 

Temperatures have risen by at least 0.7℃ over the past century; extreme heat events are occurring more frequently. The World Bank estimates temperatures will rise 2℃ by 2050 while the average annual rainfall will decrease by 9%. 

President Barham Salih, in a recent piece in the Financial Times, noted that desertification affects 39% of Iraq and “increased salinisation threatens agriculture on 54% of our land”.  

Unicef reported in August 2021 that 60% of children in Iraq lack access to clean water, while half of schools have no water at all. With Iraq’s population of 40 million expected to double by 2050, demographic growth will exponentially worsen the situation. 

Meanwhile, dams in neighbouring Turkey and Iran choke Iraq’s famed rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, in the heart of what was once known as the Fertile Crescent.  

Iraq's government needs to be taking immediate action.  Instead, it's done nothing for a year because it  couldn't even form a government following the October 11, 2021 elections.  Last week, they finally got a president and a prime minister-designate.  Iraq didn't have that year to throw away.  AFP-JIJI report today:

It was the river that is said to have watered the biblical Garden of Eden and helped give birth to civilization itself.

But today the Tigris is dying.

Human activity and climate change have choked its once-mighty flow through Iraq, where — with its twin river the Euphrates — it made Mesopotamia a cradle of civilization thousands of years ago.

Iraq may be oil-rich but the country is plagued by poverty after decades of war and by droughts and desertification.

Battered by one natural disaster after another, it is one of the five countries most exposed to climate change, according to the U.N.

Pollution caused by oil production in Iraq is the leading cause of increased rates of cancer in parts of the country; its environment minister has acknowledged.
Minister Jassem al-Falahi has acknowledged that pollution from oil production is the main reason for increases in local cancer rates.
After a BBC Arab research on oil pollution in the vicinity of Basra, which has resulted in an upsurge in leukemia cases in areas closest to the region's oil resources, Jassem Al-Falahi revealed the statement.
The information was disclosed despite Prime Minister Mustafa Al-order Kadhimi's prohibiting public workers in Iraq from discussing health issues associated with the oil sector.
Al-Falahi claimed that the Ministry of Oil prohibited personnel from the Ministry of the Environment from keeping track of pollution levels at the Rumaila oil field, the biggest in the nation and the location of the majority of waste gas flare-ups.
His remarks followed a BBC Arabic research that found populations around oil sites near Basra have a higher risk of leukemia than the general population.
Gas flaring, the wasteful burning of gas created during oil drilling, is suspected to be to blame in these towns. Pollutants like benzene linked to cancer are produced during flare-ups.

Monday, The United Nations world food Program and the Food and Agriculture Ogranization of the UN issued the following statement:

17   October 2022 - The world is at risk of yet another year of record hunger as the global food crisis continues to drive yet more people into worsening levels of acute food insecurity, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warn. On World Food Day (16 October), the two agencies call for urgent action to address the root causes of today’s crisis as the world continues to face challenges without borders, including Iraq.

Iraq, known commonly as the “Land of Two Rivers” has been experiencing increased drought for the past two years, brought about by the rising temperatures, reduced rainfall which is the lowest in 40 years in addition to reduced water flows in Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. This led to degradation of arable land, increased water, and soil salinity, which all contribute to serious loss of livelihoods and an increased pressure on the state national budget, which imports cereals to ensure enough food, is available to the population.

“Iraq remains one of the most affected countries globally by the adverse effects of climate change. Unless mitigation and adaptation are implemented, the future may not be promising for the small holder farmers and vulnerable groups in Iraq,” said WFP Iraq Representative, Mr. Ally Raza Qureshi. “We at WFP believe that food is the path towards peace and as such, serious action must be taken immediately by the Government of Iraq and the International community to adopt climate smart food systems and long-term resilience building in order to ensure that Iraq and its people are able to navigate these testing times.”

“This year slogan for the World Food Day Leave no one behind. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, underlines the need for concerted action to ensure that everyone has access to adequate, healthy, and affordable food while maximizing environmental sustainability in particular in Iraq where climate change is disproportionally affecting the rural poor, their agricultural yields and productivity” said FAO Representative in Iraq, Dr Salah ElHajjHassan. “Each of us has a role to play in transforming food systems for the benefit of people and the planet; FAO is committed to empower the most vulnerable in Iraq, including women and youth, through the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient agrifood systems. We need to act in global solidarity to ensure that no one is left behind and become climate advocates by wasting less, eating nutritious food, in particular seasonal and locally produced foods and caring for natural resources like soil and water”.

In 2021, Iraq developed a plan to increase the efficiency, inclusiveness, resilience, and inclusivity of its agri-food systems as part of the Food Systems Summit. This was done to ensure that everyone everywhere has access to enough affordable, safe, and nutritious food to lead active and healthy lives.

Twenty percent of the Iraq’s workforce are engaged in the agricultural sector, which is the second largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) after the oil sector, accounting for 5 percent of the total GDP. Thus, agriculture development is critical to allow Iraq to achieve their vision of a more diversified economy, in addition to generating employment and boosting private sector engagement. In this regard, urgent work must be undertaken on the levels of investing in research and development in an effort to make farming more technologically advanced and capable of handling adverse climate conditions and financially viable in the country, in addition to Agri-business and value chain development to increase profit margins and encourage farmers not to abandon their lands, which is not merely a detriment to their incomes, but also drives up local food costs and shortages, affecting entire communities. It is also paramount to discuss the issue of food waste, which decreases the availability of food intended for human consumption. This has consequences for the environment, natural resources, and the overall economy.

FAO and WFP together with the Government, private sector, academia, civil society will continue working together to prioritize food security, to increase local food production and to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable households. Immediate joint action is key to ensuring sustainable food and nutrition security while leaving no one behind.


Dr. Salah ElHajjHassan, FAO Representative, Iraq

Ally Raza Qureshi, WFP Representative, Iraq

Again, Iraq did not have a year to waste on this issue (nor does any other country have a year to waste).  The editorial board of THE NATIONAL notes:

For decades, Iraq has had to contend with all manner of challenges, sometimes catastrophes, that would hurt even the most resilient countries. The past 20 years have been particularly troubling.

The country is fast becoming one of the most environmentally stressed nations on the planet due to climate change but also to government negligence and incompetence. The results have ranged from failed harvests to cholera outbreaks, as desperation to access dwindling water supplies forces people to tap into contaminated wells.

The economy of one of the Arab world’s richest countries is crippled, devastating particularly for its disproportionately young population who, out of a lack of opportunity, are pushed into dangerous trips overseas. Iraqis constitute one of the biggest groups who migrate to Western Europe illegally.

This and other failures have fuelled political anger and driven many to the streets, even, as was recently the case, into the most important halls of power. Only last August protesters stormed the country's parliament.

Last week, Abdul-Latif Rashid became Iraq's latest president and he named Mohammad Shia al-Sudani prime minister-designate putting Mohammad into the 30 day period, per the Constitution, he has to form a government.  Alina Romanowski is the US Ambassador to Iraq.  This week, she's met with the President Rashid and with Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halboosi.

Whether that will have any impact on the formation of a new government remains to be seen.  

ALARSHARQ notes she's also met with the prime minister-designate:

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Romanowski has emphasized during her meeting with Al-Sudani the necessity to form a government that “contributes to restoring security and political stability in the country,” noting that it was essential to “benefit from the experience of previous governments, because failure this time will have serious repercussions on Iraq.”

Iraqi leaders tried to reassure the US ambassador in Baghdad that the new government would maintain its strategic relations with Washington, as reported by an official in Al-Fateh Alliance.

Al-Sudani also told the German ambassador to Iraq, Martin Jaeger, that his prospective government would seek to “build balanced relations with its regional and international surroundings.”

Let's wind down with this from MS. MAGAZINE:

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