Daily Digest: Anoka-Hennepin School District Policy, Iraqi Embassy, Europe Freeze

by Evelina Smirnitskaya

Here is your Daily Digest for Tuesday, February 7th:

The Anoka-Hennepin school district teachers are speaking out against the district’s controversial approach to addressing sexuality. On Monday, the district’s chapter of Education Minnesota teachers’ union officially endorsed the proposed Respectful Learning Environment Curriculum Policy, Minneapolis Public Radio reports. The current Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy requires teachers to remain neutral on all issues pertaining to sexual orientation. In contrast, the new policy bars teachers from influencing students on political, religious, social or economic issues. In the past two years, the district has seen nine student suicides, which some community members claimed to be a direct byproduct of the policy. The board is set to vote on the new policy Feb. 13th.

The State Department is preparing to downsize U.S. diplomatic presence in Iraq by half, according to the New York Times. With American troops withdrawn from the country, 16,000 staff (contractors and about 2,000 diplomats) still remains at the embassy. The lack of military support has caused security concerns and maintenance difficulties, including delays of food convoys which were previously escorted by the American military from Kuwait. Some security contractors are being detained, as the Iraqi government is cracking down on visa regulations. As part of the cuts the embassy is hiring Iraqi staff and purchasing more local goods.

Meanwhile,  Europe is continuing to deal with an almost unprecedented bout of freezing weather. According to BBC more than 200 people succumbed to the cold. Emergencies have been declared in regions of Greece and Serbia, and Italy is struggling with conversing energy. Due to the extreme cold, Russian energy company Gazprom, which supplies about a quarter of Europe’s natural gas, is diverting supplies to meet the increased domestic demand. Italy, where temperatures have dropped to 10 below zero degrees Celsius in its southern regions has lost 20 percent of the energy imports as a result.