A controversial bill in Iraq, proposed by former Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari and passed by the cabinet, would allow girls to be considered adults at age 9 and thus able to marry, NPR reports.
Known as the Jaafari law (after a school of Islam of the same name), it still has to make its way through the parliament. No action will likely be taken until after Iraq forms its new government, following last month's elections. If passed, the law will be voluntary and will only apply to the country's Shia Muslim majority.
Those who oppose the law say that despite some new freedoms in Iraq — more travel opportunities and internet access, for example — women's rights are not moving forward and conservative religious politics are becoming more mainstream. "We know the state of women in Iraq is getting worse, despite the intellectual openness that women had benefited from following the American occupation and the removal of the regime," lawyer Fawzia al-Babakhan told NPR.
In the end, the law is unlikely to be passed — it was likely an electoral overture to conservative Shiites — but it is still unsettling to radio host Ahlam al-Obeidi. "We are a society plagued by patriarchal attitudes and outdated tribal laws, which are all conducive to violence against women," she said to NPR. "This is not marriage, but rather the selling and buying of young women." --Catherine Garcia
We will 'replace chasms of distrust with new bridges of opportunity and cooperation,' Trump says at close of Florida rally
President Trump finished his campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday with a sweeping call to a new national — and nationalist — unity in America. After earlier decrying the media for unsatisfactory coverage of his event, Trump enthused that the movement his campaign inspired "has been written about on the cover of every magazine all over the world." Its success is indicative of the fact that "people want to take back control of their country," he said, "and they want to take back control of their lives and the lives of their family."
Trump went on to argue that "the nation-state remains the greatest model for human happiness, and America remains the greatest symbol of justice and liberty" on Earth. Thus, he said, Americans must develop "a new loyalty rooted" in our shared destiny and allegiance to our flag. "Erasing national borders does not make people safer or more prosperous," Trump continued. "It undermines democracy and trades away prosperity."
Instead of embracing globalism, he added, Americans will "replace chasms of distrust with new bridges of opportunity and cooperation." This, the president concluded, "will make America great again — greater than ever before." Bonnie Kristian
After addressing his economic agenda, President Trump turned to matters of crime and drugs at his campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday. He pledged to "destroy transnational criminal cartels which are all over the United States" and "stop the drugs from" entering American communities and "poisoning our youth."
From there Trump transitioned seamlessly to immigration and national security, pledging to support U.S. veterans and "rebuild" the military. "I've ordered the construction of a great border wall which will start very shortly," he said, "and I've taken decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country."
On the subject of his suspended immigration executive order — twice defeated in court and currently in legal limbo — Trump argued that the court rulings do not cite the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 because if they were to do so, it would become evident that his order is legally justified. He read a portion of the law in support of his case and promised new action on the matter soon. "I listened to these judges talk and talk and talk. So unfair," Trump said. "So we'll be doing something in the next couple of days. We don't give up. We never give up." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump's speech at his campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday began with his "big" and "bold" economic agenda, a plan Trump said will make "a new day in America, you're gonna be proud again."
"You want lower taxes, less regulation, millions of new jobs, and more products stamped with those beautiful, beautiful words, 'made in the USA,'" Trump said, because "when American workers win, America as a country wins and wins big." Among his specific goals, Trump spoke of "put[ting] the miners back to work" on "clean, very clean coal;" his administration's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); the 35 percent outsourcing tax — "They're not leaving, and if they do, they're gonna pay a very big price" — and oil pipelines including the Dakota Access Pipeline.
From there, Trump turned to the Environmental Protection Agency, newly headed by Trump nominee Scott Pruitt. Before he took office, the EPA was "clogging up the veins of our country with the environmental impact statements and all the rules and regulations," Trump argued. "It meant no jobs." Now, by contrast, "a spirit of optimism is sweeping — and you see it, it's sweeping across the country," Trump said, citing as evidence growth in the stock market and "every poll" pertaining to American optimism. Bonnie Kristian
With a dramatic entrance in which Air Force One taxied up to a stair car, and then the stair car taxied up to Air Force One, President Trump arrived with first lady Melania Trump at his campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday to enthusiastic applause.
Melania took the podium first, opening with a reading of the Lord's Prayer. "It is my honor and great pleasure to stand before you as the first lady of the United States," she said. "The America we envision is one that works for all Americans, and where all Americans can work and succeed."
The president took the microphone soon after, announcing his pleasure in visiting Florida, his "second home" and a key state in his Electoral College victory. "I am now here to tell you about our plans for the future," he said, "and they're big and they're bold and it's what our country is all about."
"I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news," he continued. "They don't want to report the truth ... They have become a big part of the problem," Trump said, comparing his troubles with the press to that of great American presidents past, like Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Under a Trump administration, the president added, the media will "not get away with it." Bonnie Kristian
Standing at the podium together, the sisters addressed issues including immigration and congressional opposition to Trump's agenda in Washington: "Any senator or congressman or woman that has a problem with working with the Trump administration needs to pack up their office and head down to the unemployment office and look for another job," they said, "because we are going to vote you out!"
After a rousing conclusion — "He is already making America great again. He is already making America strong again. He is already making America safe again. And we're going to continue to help him make America great again!" — the sisters made way for the mayor of Melbourne and a representative of local law enforcement. Bonnie Kristian
The eastern half of Mosul, Iraq, was liberated from Islamic State occupation in late January, and civilian life there is tenuously returning to normal. After more than two years of ISIS control, schools and markets have reopened, children are playing in the street again, and the city infrastructure — relatively intact compared to some ISIS-ravaged areas — is undergoing repairs.
As BuzzFeed News reported Friday, car enthusiasts in eastern Mosul even organized a drifting event this month to "tell people there's a lot more happening in our country, more than just shooting and wars," as one organizer put it.
The still-occupied western side of the city is a different story. There, the Iraqi army's U.S.-supported campaign to oust ISIS fighters reportedly destroyed a major ISIS command center on Saturday. "ISIS did not use the building for any medical purposes [and] civilians were no longer accessing the site," said a coalition statement announcing the strike, which targeted a building in a hospital complex.
A counter-statement from ISIS said the strike killed 18 people, most of whom were women and children, and wounded nearly 50 more. Because independent media are not allowed in western Mosul, outside reporting has not been able to verify either statement. Bonnie Kristian