Dolly Parton singing the classic she wrote "I Will Always Love You."
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is given to public figures who contribute “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
For both Trump and Biden, a public figure that came to mind was Dolly Parton. But after the “Coat of Many Colors” singer turned down the honor from Trump, she said “no thank you” to Biden as well.
As reported by Consequence, Parton explained off-air to the Today Show’s Jacob Soboroff why she turned down the medal from Biden.
“I just don’t want even the appearance of being partisan in any way,” Soboroff recalled her saying.
Parton didn’t accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump either (twice). So she didn’t want it to look like she didn’t accept the medal from the former president just because he’s a republican.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
The ministry's spokesman Sayf al-Badr told the official Iraqi News Agency that 35 of the detected VHF cases were registered in the southern Dhi Qar province, followed by Basra with 18 cases, and the rest are spread across the other provinces.
Al-Badr added that six of the 18 deaths by the infectious disease were registered in Dhi Qar, followed by the southern province of al-Muthanna with three deaths.
Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are a group of diseases that are caused by several distinct families of viruses. The term “viral hemorrhagic fever” refers to a condition that affects many organ systems of the body, damages the overall cardiovascular system, and reduces the body’s ability to function on its own. Symptoms of this type of condition can vary but often include bleeding, or hemorrhaging. Some VHFs cause relatively mild illness, while others can cause severe, life threatening disease. Most VHFs have no known cure or vaccine.
Although VHFs are caused by several families of viruses, these viruses share some common characteristics:
- They are RNA viruses, meaning viruses that have ribonucleic acid (RNA) as their genetic material. These viruses are the most common cause of emerging disease in people because RNA viruses change over time at a high rate.
- They are covered, or enveloped, in a lipoprotein outer layer, making it easier to destroy these viruses with physical (heat, sunlight, gamma rays) and chemical (bleach, detergents, solvents) methods.
- They naturally exist in animal or insect populations, referred to as host populations, and are generally restricted to the geographical areas where the host species live.
- They spread to people when a person encounters an infected animal or insect host. After the initial spread into the human population, some VHF viruses can continue to spread from person-to-person.
- Outbreaks of VHFs in people can be difficult to prevent since they can occur sporadically and cannot be easily predicted.
Madam President, the resources needed to turn certain Government goals into realities, such as adequate public service delivery, should be unlocked with the passage of a federal budget. This is yet to happen and, these days, all eyes are on Iraq’s Council of Representatives. Needless to say: agreement on a functioning budget, sooner rather than later, is critical. Including for the timely organization of the long-awaited Provincial Council Elections, now announced for no later than 20 December this year. Meanwhile, Iraq continues to rely on oil. And the public sector remains the biggest employer. Now, these phenomena are, of course, nothing new. But, as I have said so many times, neither can last indefinitely. Economic diversification and major structural reforms remain urgent.
The United States will stand side-by-side with all Iraqis as they continue their effort, which has come at great sacrifice, to ensuring an enduring defeat of ISIS. The United States and the Defeat-ISIS Coalition will continue to provide support for this critical effort, at the invitation of the Iraqi government. An essential element of ISIS’s defeat is the dismantling of their networks for recruitment and radicalization to violence, particularly those that prey on children in displacement camps in Syria. We commend Iraq for its efforts to bring home Iraqis, overwhelmingly women and children, from al-Hol camp, and we call on all UN Member States to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate, and where appropriate, prosecute their nationals in Iraq and Syria.
President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for the opportunity to brief you on the situation of women and civil society in Iraq this morning.
I am Khanim Latif, founder and director of Asuda for Combating Violence against Women, an Iraqi non-profit organization that strives to achieve gender equality, eliminate gender-based discrimination, and end all forms of violence against women. My organization established the first independent shelter for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in Iraq in 2002.
The current situation in Iraq is characterized by widespread violence against women in all fields, including the targeting of women human rights defenders. In recent months, we have witnessed campaigns against women human rights defenders in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq simply for using the term “gender.” The precarious situation of Iraqi women, coupled with social and economic inequality and the unacceptably low numbers of women in decision-making, means that the space for women to fully and freely exercise their rights is highly restricted.
The current situation of women and girls in Iraq should deeply concern us all. My statement today will focus on how the international community can effectively address four key issues:
- Legal protection from violence against women;
- Women’s political participation;
- The gendered impact of climate change; and
- Renewal of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) mandate.
With regard to legal protection from violence against women:
Discrimination and violence against women in Iraq are now widespread. Hardly a day goes by without reports of women being killed, maimed, and targeted by their own family members, simply because of their gender. Besides the alarming levels of violence against women across the country — GBV increased by 125 percent to over 22,000 cases between 2020 and 2021, and over 75 percent of those at risk of GBV are women — the brutal nature of these crimes is also of grave concern. So-called ”honor killings” of women for transgressing social norms, early and forced marriage and incest are also widespread across the country. This sharp increase in GBV is occurring against a backdrop of impunity for perpetrators, and lack of access to services, legal protection, and justice for survivors of GBV.
Excellencies, without protection from violence and freedom from discrimination, women cannot engage fully or equally on the political, social, and economic levels. The prevalence of GBV not only violates women’s basic human rights as guaranteed by international standards outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Iraq, but also violates Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security (WPS) that have, for more than 20 years, emphasized the important linkages between protection and participation. For women to have a voice in determining their country’s future, the violence must end.
Therefore, I urge the Security Council to call on the Iraqi Government to take all necessary measures to protect girls and women from all forms of GBV and to support access to justice for survivors. This requires adopting the long-overdue draft Anti-Domestic Violence Law, amending the Penal Code, and preventing the interpretation of the Personal Status Law on sectarian grounds. Adopting the Anti-Domestic Violence Law could provide an important solution for the thousands of Iraqi girls and women who are exposed to GBV on a daily basis. I also urge you to call on the Government of Iraq to provide GBV survivors with robust access to shelters for those fleeing domestic violence, including shelters operated by NGOs, and ensure their access to psychosocial support, access to justice and legal services, as well as support for livelihoods.
Finally, we call on the Iraqi Government to allocate a budget for and fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law adopted in March 2021.
As for women’s political participation:
Today, 29 percent of the members of Iraqi Parliament are women, and the cabinet includes three women ministers, including the Minister of Finance. While this is a positive first step, there must be far greater efforts by political parties to ensure the meaningful participation of women in all processes. It is not enough to only increase the number of women in decision-making positions — they must also have meaningful influence over the outcomes of such processes and negotiations. Quite simply, without women at the table, decisions will remain the preserve of men in the political process and fail to reflect women’s rights.
Therefore, I call on the Security Council to encourage the Iraqi Government to establish a national mechanism for women, whether it is a council or a ministry, with competent human resources, and to allocate a sufficient budget to implement the second National Action Plan to implement Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).
Concerning the gendered impact of climate change:
We know that Iraq is the fifth-most vulnerable country to climate change in the world. The percentage of Iraqi lands exposed to desertification reached 92 percent. Iraq also contributed 9 percent on average of all global emissions of greenhouse gasses, methane, and carbon dioxide.
As is the case with wars, the first victims of climate change are women. After the agricultural lands dried up in Iraq, migration from rural to major urban centers increased in search of livelihoods, exposing women to sexual harassment, economic violence, loss of adequate shelter, and deprivation of their most fundamental rights.
In this regard, Asuda organized awareness campaigns calling on stakeholders to take concrete measures to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change on women and girls and to include them in programs to improve irrigation systems and resource management.
Therefore, the Security Council should call on the Government of Iraq to abide by the Paris Agreement and the Helsinki Principles on climate change. This would help ease internal migration to large cities and provide livelihoods for the displaced, especially women, rehabilitate them and provide them with information, psychosocial support, and economic opportunities to ensure security and respect for their rights.
On the renewal of UNAMI’s mandate:
The United Nations has a vital role to play in supporting and advocating for the protection and advancement of women’s human rights, gender equality, and their full, safe, equal and meaningful participation in peace and political processes within Iraq.
As the mandate for UNAMI is renewed, it is essential to strengthen its role in advancing any issues related to WPS. I strongly encourage the Security Council to be explicit in calling on UNAMI to support women’s participation in all political and decision-making processes. Additionally, UNAMI must monitor and report on any violations or retaliation against women human rights defenders and civil society leaders. UNAMI should also prioritize regularly engaging with Iraqi civil society to ensure their views inform its work throughout the country. UNAMI must also provide the necessary support to the Government of Iraq to carry out judicial and legal reforms, protect women’s rights, support women’s organizations, and prevent all forms of GBV in line with all relevant Security Council resolutions. Finally, the Security Council should urge the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNAMI to provide comprehensive analysis on WPS issues in all upcoming briefings and reports to the Security Council.
In conclusion, I can say that Iraq is currently in the process of being built. I urge the international community to relinquish militarized approaches and to instead support us, with technical expertise and resources, as Iraqis, to rebuild our homeland, end corruption and work towards lasting peace. As I hope my statement today highlights, none of this is possible without respect for women’s rights, or without women taking their rightful place at the table.
Something else, Madam President: water. Water represents the most critical climate emergency for Iraq. By 2035, it is estimated that Iraq will have the capacity to meet only 15% of its water demands. 90% of Iraq's rivers are polluted, and 7 million people are currently suffering from reduced access to water. This is a significant multiplier of threats to Iraq’s stability.
The priority placed on the issue of water security by Iraq’s Government is, therefore, most welcome. And, plans for the extensive updating of Iraq’s water management systems are said to be underway. This will be vital in meeting demands driven by population growth and urbanization.
The fair sharing of resources among Iraq’s neighbours is equally important. If water is a competition, everyone loses. Bold domestic actions and close regional cooperation offer the only winning solution.
Saturday, May 6h, Baghdad hosted the International Water Conference. Though the conference was needed, there was no real attention from the international press.
You'll note Iraq's prime minister, foreign officials, a WHO rep, the United Nations, etc. Why isn't this being covered by the US press?
Lack of interest in Iraq? Lack of interest in climate change? Or both.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani made the plea for “urgent international intervention” at the start of the two-day Baghdad International Water conference.
“The issue of water has become a sensitive one not only in Iraq but in all countries,” Mr Al Sudani said.
Water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which account for more than 90 per cent of Iraq's freshwater reserves, have declined significantly over the years, partly as a result of the construction of dams and diversion of water upstream in Turkey and Iran.
The Prime Minister warned that a shortage of water compounded by climate change would have a substantial impact on Iraq's economic development and environment, with wider ramifications for regional stability.
KURDISTAN 24 noted:
The KRG Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Begard Dlshad, is heading the delegation to present the Region’s perspective on water issues such as drought, that has negatively impacted Iraq in recent years, the minister told Kurdistan 24.
The United Nations is also participating in the conference along with representatives of neighboring countries, including Iran and Turkey.
“The KRG’s dam construction project aims to reduce the reliance on water flow from neighboring countries,” the minister told Kurdistan 24 and added that 30 percent of Iraq’s water reserves are in the Kurdish region.
45-year-old Begard Dlshad Shukralla has her degree in biology and has previously held the following posts: 2011 to 2013 head of the PUK's Office for Monitoring and Follow Up, 2013 to 2017 MP in the Kurdistan Parliament and, in 2017, Secretary of the Kurdistan Parliament. Julian Bechocha (RUDAW) reported:
Iraq is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including water and food insecurity, according to the United Nations. It is facing a severe water shortage because of reduced precipitation and higher temperatures, and waste and mismanagement. The crisis is worsened by dams upstream in Turkey and Iran that have led to a significant decrease in the volume of water entering the country.
A visit by Sudani to Turkey in March saw measurable success after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to double the water releases in the Tigris River for a period of one month, saying the decision was made “in order to relieve Iraq’s distress.”
“The government has set the water file as one of its priorities, and has taken many policies. And it was necessary to identify the problems with upstream countries so our meetings with the countries emphasized the need to give the full share of water,” Sudani said.
During the conference, Sudani also pleaded for “the efforts of all friends” of the international community to “urgently” assist Iraq counter water insecurity.
In one of the latest stark warnings of the threats a heating climate poses to Iraq, a report by the Ministry of Water Resources late last year predicted that unless urgent action is taken to combat declining water levels, Iraq’s two main rivers will be entirely dry by 2040.