When Jake Kleinmahon and his husband, Tom, decided to move back to New Orleans in 2018, they had plans to live there forever.
Kleinmahon, a pediatric cardiologist, earned his medical degree from Tulane University, and despite leaving the state to complete his fellowships, he said he felt drawn to Louisiana.
“At the time there was only one heart transplant doctor in the state of Louisiana,” he said, adding some children who needed heart transplants had to be transferred out of state. “I believe the kids in Louisiana should have the same world class health care as any other part of the United States.”
He accepted a job at a local children’s hospital as director of the pediatric heart transplant program.
In August, Kleinmahon decided to move his family to Long Island, New York, where he took a job at another children’s hospital developing a heart transplant program.
Kleinmahon said he worries his departure will leave a void in the Louisiana healthcare system. There are now only two pediatric cardiologists who manage heart transplants in the state, and they will be expected to serve the same number of patients, he said.
Stephen Handwerk, who has lived with his husband Danny in Lafayette for 22 years, announced his decision in a guest column published by Big Easy Magazine based in New Orleans.
The headline: "Last one out, turn off the lights ... A bittersweet goodbye to a state that is pushing us out."
"If you are a woman, LGBTQ, Black or really anything other than a middle-aged white heterosexual man, it is just not safe to live in Louisiana," Handwerk wrote.
Handwerk's decision follows another high-profile exit from Louisiana by one of the state's few children's heart specialists and his family.
Again, the people lost. Hate merchants are destroying our lives.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Right-wing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas revealed Thursday that he took three flights on the private jet of conservative billionaire Harlan Crow last year, a disclosure that came more than four months after
ProPublicareported that the powerful judge has been accepting luxury trips from the Texas real estate magnate for decades.
The trips are outlined in Thomas' required financial disclosure for 2022. Last May, according to the document, Thomas flew on Crow's private jet to Dallas, where the justice delivered a keynote address at a conference held by the right-wing American Enterprise Institute.
The disclosure states that the May flights to and from Dallas "were by private plane for official travel" because Thomas' "security detail recommended noncommercial travel whenever possible," citing "increased security risk following the Dobbs opinion leak."
That opinion, which was formally handed down on June 24, 2022, ended the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S.
Kyle Herrig, a senior adviser to the progressive group Accountable.US, said in a statement that "it's no surprise that Justice Thomas has kept up his decadeslong cozy relationship with billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow with even more lavish jet rides and vacation reimbursements."
"For years, Thomas has used his position on our nation's highest court as a way to upgrade his own lifestyle—and that hasn't stopped," Herrig added.
Thomas, who has faced calls to resign over the gifts from Crow and other billionaires, also acknowledges in the filing that he "inadvertently omitted" bank account information in financial disclosures dating back to 2017. Thomas previously had to amend two decades of disclosures after he neglected to include information about his wife's income from conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation.
"In a pathetic attempt to clear his name, Thomas' latest financial disclosure confirms his financial dependency on right-wing billionaires and his scorn for basic judicial ethics and common decency," said Brett Edkins, managing director of policy and political affairs at Stand Up America. "It's no wonder the Supreme Court is mired in an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy."
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: “America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow.” That’s the headline to a major New York Times investigation that examines how the nation’s aquifers are becoming severely depleted due to overuse in part from huge industrial farms and sprawling cities.
The depletion of the nation’s aquifers is already having a devastating impact. The Times reports that in Kansas, corn yields are plummeting due to a lack of water. In Arizona, there is not enough water to support the construction of new homes in parts of Phoenix. And rivers across the country are drying up.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going now to Oklahoma, where we’re joined by Warigia Bowman, who has been closely tracking this issue, director of sustainable energy and natural resources law at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Thank you so much for being with us. Can you start off by just explaining what an aquifer is, why these groundwater resources are under such threat, why they’re so critical not only to the United States but all over the world?
WARIGIA BOWMAN: Well, thank you so much, Amy. It’s really an honor to be on your show. I’ve been listening for years, so I am grateful for the opportunity.
For your listeners, an aquifer refers to, essentially, a container of soil and rock that holds water under the ground. This is not an underground river. Rather, it’s water flowing through porous rock and soil. So, if you have an aquifer very close to the surface, we usually call that artesian, and that’s when you see a spring. So, if you see a spring bubbling out of the ground, that means that the aquifer is very close to the surface. Some aquifers are very deep below the surface, and they were formed by glacial rainwater billions and millions of years ago. So, an aquifer is just a fancy way of saying, you know, the place that holds our groundwater.
Now, aquifers are critical for both the United and the world, because we get so much of our drinking water from groundwater. It’s really a significant percentage. In California, it could go as high as 60% in a drought year.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And so, Warigia, if you could talk about how the federal government and state governments manage public water supplies?
WARIGIA BOWMAN: OK. Well, the federal government does not deal with groundwater. They have the power to. The Supreme Court has said, in Nebraska v. Sporhase, that the federal government has that opportunity. But all water law is done at the state level for the moment. And what that means is that each different state has a different approach to managing its water. So, actually, who manages water at the local level, that’s a municipal issue. That’s a little bit more of an infrastructure issue. But in terms of who owns the water and the legal regime to utilize it, that’s a state law issue.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about how aquifer depletion isn’t solely a problem in the west of the country, how the tap water crisis is emerging in other parts of the country, as well?
WARIGIA BOWMAN: OK, well, I’m not an expert on the tap water crisis, but I will say that all coastal regions in the United States are really being threatened by groundwater and aquifer problems. Some of the hardest hit are going to be Louisiana and Florida. Obviously, New York will eventually be hit.
Let’s take Florida. I’m sure you guys have already heard about how residents in Miami are trying to move their properties or find property on hillier areas, but in places like the Everglade, you have a very delicate balance of freshwater and saltwater. But when we overdraw our aquifers, then you get something called saltwater intrusion, which upsets that balance. And that’s also a serious problem in Louisiana.
And surprisingly, under the Mississippi River between Mississippi and Arkansas, there’s enormous aquifer depletion. It’s hard to believe because the Mississippi is such a big river. But the farmers in that region are withdrawing so much water so fast that actually the aquifers underneath the Mississippi River are one of the most endangered aquifers in the United States.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Warigia, if you could talk about, very quickly, in the last minute we have, how the climate crisis worsens this aquifer depletion and accelerates it?
WARIGIA BOWMAN: Well, there are a few different ways. The first way is precipitation is declining. Snowmelt is declining — I mean, snow is declining. But one thing to understand it that aquifers and groundwater, they recharge incredibly slowly. So, it can take millions of years to fill an aquifer, but they can be depleted, you know, in 50 years. But as surface water supplies, like rivers and streams and lakes, are depleted, farmers and industry are going to draw more from groundwater, and so that accelerates the depletion.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Warigia Bowman, we want to thank you so much for being with us, associate professor and director of sustainable energy and natural resources law at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
That does it for our show. A very happy birthday to Hany Massoud! Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Sonyi Lopez. Our executive director is Julie Crosby. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Jon Randolph, Paul Powell, Mike Di Filippo, Miguel Nogueira, Hugh Gran, Denis Moynihan, David Prude, Dennis McCormick, Matt Ealy and Emily Anderson.
If you want to sign up for our daily digest, news in your email box, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Thanks so much for joining us.
The Iraqi government has discussed establishing a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes as the country grapples with crippling electricity shortages.
The media office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said in a statement that the most recent meeting of the Ministerial Council for National Security discussed “establishing a limited nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes and the production of clean electric energy that contributes to reducing dependence on other sources of energy such as gas and oil.”
The Iraqi Minister of Electricity, Ziyad Ali Fadel, announced last June that Iraq produces 24 thousand megawatts per day, an increase of 22 percent over last year. However, providing electricity 24 hours a day requires production of 34 thousand megawatts per day.
Oh, look, 20 years after Bully Boy Bush was lying about "yellow cake uranium," Iraq may finally get some.
So US troops remain on the ground in Iraq supposedly to train and help with terrorism -- rooting it out -- and yet Iraq's the place for a nuclear reactor. Hmm.
In other news, the US State Dept issued the following yesterday:
We welcome the Iraqi court’s decision to convict and sentence multiple individuals on terrorism charges for their roles in the killing of U.S. citizen Stephen Troell. It is critical that all those responsible for the brutal, premeditated assassination of Mr. Troell face justice and accountability. We once again extend our condolences to Mr. Troell’s family and hope this verdict brings them some measure of justice.
The officials did not identify the Iranian and provided no further details about the case.
The Interior Ministry also confirmed the sentences in a statement, saying four other accused are still wanted.
"The Iranian man was the mastermind of the crime," one legal source told Reuters. All five were arrested in Iraq soon after the fatal shooting, the source said.
At the time of the killing, Mr Troell was working in the local English school, the Global English Institute, run by the Texas aid group Millennium Relief and Development Services.
A native of Tennessee, he had lived in the Iraqi capital with his wife Jocelyn – who was the language school's manager – three daughters and a toddler son, since 2018.
Shortly after the killing, social media accounts close to Iran-backed Shiite militias accused him of being a spy, although they produced no evidence for the claim.
Canada warned travelers visiting the United States about state laws impacting LGBTQ people.
The country added a cautionary message for travelers who identify as Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or those who use other terminologies to its travel advice and advisory page for the U.S. on Tuesday.
“Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons,” the advisory said. The warning recommended travelers check relevant state and local laws.
Some states have enacted laws and policies that may affect 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Check relevant state and local laws.
Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics
Foreign laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) can be very different from those in Canada. As a result, you could face certain barriers and risks when you travel outside Canada. Research and prepare for your trip in advance to help your travels go smoothly.
The updated advice does not mention any specific law or state policy, nor does it suggest staying away from a particular state. When asked for details, a department spokesperson pointed to laws targeting the transgender community.
"Since the beginning of 2023, certain states in the U.S. have passed laws banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender affirming care and from participation in sporting events," the spokesperson said in a media statement.
"The information is provided to enable travellers to make their own informed decisions regarding destinations. Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada."