This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Starting in Iraq.
Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the US Department of the Treasury, arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to make “progress on int’l [international] anti-money laundering & banking reform” to “help combat corruption & support international invest in Iraq,” US Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Rosenberg met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani on Wednesday, discussing joint US-Iraq financial cooperation “and the Iraqi government’s measures to implement financial and banking reforms to reduce corruption in all its forms,” said a statement from Sudani’s office.
The group came to prominence in 2007 for attacks against U.S.-led Coalition forces in Iraq, and was known for uploading videos of its attacks on American forces on the internet. The militia's main tactics were to fire rockets and mortar shells at U.S. bases, sniper attacks, and detonate roadside bombs along routes where the forces moved.
In mid-2008, U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a crackdown against the group and the "Special Groups", the US military term for Iran-backed militias in Iraq. At least 30 of its members were captured during those months. Many of the group's leaders were also captured and US officials claimed that "as result much of the leadership fled to Iran".
On 2 July 2009, the group was added to the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The group was held responsible for numerous IED attacks, mortar, rocket and RPG attacks as well as sniper operations, targeting US and Iraqi forces, including a November 2008 rocket attack that killed two U.N. workers.
On 12 February 2010, a firefight with suspected members of the group occurred 265 km (165 mi) southeast of Baghdad in a village near the Iranian border, the U.S. military said. Twelve people were arrested, it said. "The joint security team was fired upon by individuals dispersed in multiple residential buildings ... members of the security team returned fire, killing individuals assessed to be enemy combatants," the military said in a statement. The Provincial Iraqi officials said many of the dead were innocent bystanders, and demanded compensation. They said eight people were killed.
On 13 July 2010, General Ray Odierno named Kata'ib Hezbollah as being behind threats against American bases in Iraq. "In the last couple weeks there's been an increased threat ... and so we've increased our security on some of our bases," Odierno told reporters at a briefing in Baghdad.
On 6 June 2011, Kata'ib Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in eastern Baghdad killing six U.S. soldiers. Another five soldiers were also wounded in the attack.
On 29 June 2011, Kata'ib Hezbollah fired IRAM rockets that struck a US base near the Iranian border – COP Shocker. The attack resulted in the deaths of three American soldiers. A videotape of the rocket attack was published online by the militia.
The Al-Qa'im border crossing has seen hastened military activity as the group is expected to play an important military and security role as the crossing with Syria is officially opened on September 30, 2019.
Another 128 school library books here are being reviewed — and will be permanently removed if found to have sexual content, district officials told the School Board this week.
All the books stem from continuing challenges made by the local chapter of Moms for Liberty, a conservative political group, over the past two years.
Among the books most recently removed: Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," which won a Pulitzer Prize; and "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult no longer comes up in a search of books available in the district's libraries, as 20 of her 30 novels made the list of challenged books to review.
In 2022, Moms for Liberty asked for 156 books to be removed, citing sexual or racial content. In February 2022, the School Board removed just five of them. Since then, the group found an additional 98 books to be challenged, said chapter President Jennifer Pippin.
In Chester County, Pennsylvania -- a suburb of Philadelphia -- Ronna Dewey, a mother with a recently graduated son, was alarmed when calls for the removal of certain books started occurring in her district in 2021.
"Two of the books in particular that they were targeting were written by and about people who identify as part of [the LGBTQ] community," Dewey, whose son is gay, told ABC News. "And so, it felt really personal to me. It felt like a direct attack on my son and my family."
Schools in many parts of the U.S. have become a battleground and parental involvement is one of the topics at the center. Fights in school board meetings, including in Chester County, have erupted over how race, sexual orientation, gender and other topics are brought up, or taught, in the classroom.
Moms for Liberty, in particular, has come under fire over its political ties and its calls to remove material from schools that, critics say, feature LGBTQ+ characters and promote racial inclusivity. The group has responded to this criticism in the past, calling it “laughable” and saying it lacks credibility.
Despite the seemingly contentious discussion about the state of the U.S. education system, a recent Gallup poll found parents are generally satisfied with the quality of their children's K-12 education.
At least 76% of parents of K-12 students say they are "completely" or "somewhat" satisfied with the quality of the education their oldest child is receiving.
Katie Paris, a mother in Ohio, and the founder of Red, Wine and Blue -- a progressive political mobilizing group -- said she saw these topics coming under attack during school board meetings.
"Anything that mentioned words like 'diversity' or 'inclusion' or 'equity' those all of a sudden, were becoming kind of lightning bolt controversial phrases," she told ABC News. "But just this small minority of people who were getting very loud … and I think parents were concerned about the impact that this was going to have on their kids."
"Our suburban communities are becoming more diverse, and we have a lot of pride actually in the steps for the progress that we're making together, in terms of better understanding [what it means] to really respect our differences and grow together in these communities and thrive in a diverse environment," she continued. "For me, as a parent, I know that for my kids to be successful, they need to be exposed to reality, and diverse viewpoints, learning real accurate history."
Elliot’s bill was introduced during a five-day special session that was originally called to address redistricting legislation. Though the bill ultimately did not make it to the floor, Elliot warned that this would not be the end of his interest in the archives department, telling Alabama Daily News, “What I was proposing was minor compared to what’s coming.”
This is new territory for IHP, which is headquartered in Birmingham and works to preserve LGBTQ+ history across the American southeast. Since Dr. Sullivan and her cofounder, Josh Burford, launched their project in 2018, presentations have largely taken place without scandal. But in a political climate that is partly characterized by attacks on trans youth, gender-affirming care, and abortion services, it seems another element of queer culture is now under attack: history itself.
“There's something insidious about coming after archives, coming after history,” Dr. Sullivan tells Teen Vogue. “It's like, 'Let's go after the people. Let's push them back in the closet. Let's eradicate them from public view, and then let's erase any trace of the progress that they had made and that they were here previously.'”
Alabama legislators’ move to censor queer history comes at a time when a record number of anti-trans bills have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide, most of them targeting health care, high school sports, and school bathrooms. Archives have so far mostly flown under the radar, but censorship has been on the rise in the form of book bans and restrictions on Black history curricula, critical race theory, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Says Molly Tepera, a digital archivist at the University of Texas at Dallas, book bans are easier for politicians to execute because they’re about censoring individual titles, not entire collections. Dr. Sullivan says it’s all part of a broader “anti-intellectualism” trend.
Ron DeSantis is only 44, but he may already have a kind of dementia that threatens US security, given this exchange with CBS News’s Nora O’Donnell on using the US military against drug cartels in Mexico…
O’Donnell: “Would you send missiles into Mexico?”
DeSantis: “We would use all available — the tactics, I think, can be debated. If you have something you want to accomplish, people would brief you on the different ways you’d be able to do it. So, that would be dependent on the situation.”
O’Donnell: “But launching military forces into Mexico is a much different standard, that’s why I’m asking the question.”
DeSantis: “The reality is they’re overrunning our border … Do we just throw up our hands and say there’s nothing we can do about it?”
Lastly, I wasn't planning on reviewing Naomi Klein's new book. I like the book but I wasn't planning on reviewing it. I'll look at my schedule for tomorrow later and see if I have time to do a review on Saturday. Warning, I don't do fluff. I have a serious problem with one aspect of the book. If I do a review, I will probably focus on that because no one else probably is. But I do think it's a good book and I do think it's worth reading.