Quebec passes controversial face veil ban

Quebec's face veil ban is the fist of its kind in North America [File: Shakil Adil/AP Photo]

Montreal, Canada – Quebec has passed a contentious law that would make it illegal for Muslim women, and other individuals, who cover their faces to receive public services, including riding public buses.

Members of the provincial legislature voted 65-51 in favour of the legislation on religious neutrality, known as Bill 62, on Wednesday morning.

The law forces citizens to uncover their faces in order to receive or give public services in the French-speaking province.

It applies to provincial and municipal employees – including doctors, nurses, teachers and daycare workers – and public transit workers.

Advertisements

US Health secretary Tom Price under investigation over travel fees

One of President Donald Trump‘s senior officials is under investigation for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money on flights around the US.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price took five flights in executive jets last week alone, instead of taking commercial flights.

tom-price

California to sue Trump administration over US-Mexico border wall plan

The US state of California has filed a lawsuit to block plans to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.

The wall was a central pillar of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

But the proposal is unpopular in California and other states that have large immigrant populations.

CbhSrFuW4AA0LLn

US colleges under the spectre of sexual assault

Betsy DeVos’ move to rescind Obama era Title IX guidelines raise concerns rape survivors will fall back into silence.

Victims of sexual violence and their supporters protest at George Mason University. Betsy DeVos announced plans to replace the way colleges and university handle investigations. 

New York, NY – Taylor Moore, a 20-year-old college student from Arkansas, wants to be able to attend class, stay in the dorms, or go to the school’s library without having to encounter the student who sexually assaulted her – rights US anti-gender discrimination laws, known as Title IX, are supposed to protect.

Schools receiving federal funds – this essentially includes all of the about 5,000 US colleges – must protect the rights of those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. But what they need to do to adequately protect those students has long been a subject of debate.

Betsy DeVos, the US secretary of education, has vowed to overhaul guidelines introduced by the Obama administration in 2011. Survivors of sexual assault had hailed those guidelines for making it easier for those who had been sexually assaulted to come forward and get on-campus justice, which is unrelated to criminal prosecution. But others have derided the guidelines as trampling on the rights of accused students.

The effects of sexual assault are profound, Moore told Al Jazeera.

“[My attacker] saw me naked, he touched my naked body,” she said, adding, of the possibility of seeing her assailant, “it makes me feel small and very insecure and just violated all over again.”

The Obama administration guidelines were introduced after decades of surveys continually found that about one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. They also accompanied a gradual shift in social awareness about what constitutes rape and sexual assault to include psychological coercion, exemplified by the FBI’s 2012 removal of the word “force” from its definition of rape.

US Senate backs resolution against white nationalists

Senators say Heather Heyer’s killing was a ‘domestic terrorist attack’, calling for measures against hate groups.

The resolution will go to the House, where identical language has been introduced [FIle: Getty Images/AFP]
The resolution will go to the House, where identical language has been introduced [FIle: Getty Images/AFP]

The US Senate has approved a resolution condemning white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups following a white-nationalist rally in Virginia that descended into deadly violence.

Describing Heather Heyer’s killing by a neo-Nazi driver in Charlottesville on August 12 as a “domestic terrorist attack”, the initiative went through on Monday night with unanimous support.

Rally in US city of Charlottesville turns deadly as car rams into counter-protesteThe resolution urges President Donald Trump and his administration to speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.

It also calls on the justice department and other federal agencies to “use all resources available” to improve data collection on hate crimes and “address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States”.

Saudi embassy may have funded 9/11 ‘dry run’

New York Post reports FBI evidence in a lawsuit alleges Saudi Arabia’s US embassy may have funded test run for Sept 11.

Last year, Congress voted to override a veto and allow relatives of 9/11 victims to sue for damages [EPA]Last year, Congress voted to override a veto and allow relatives of 9/11 victims to sue for damages

New evidence in a 9/11 lawsuit against the government of Saudi Arabia alleges the kingdom’s embassy in Washington, DC may have funded a test run for the deadly attacks in 2001, according to a US newspaper report.

The evidence was submitted as part of a class action lawsuit against the government of Saudi Arabia, the New York Post reported on Saturday.

It alleges the embassy paid for two Saudi nationals to fly from Phoenix to Washington two years before planes hit the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and slammed into a field in Pennsylvania as part of a “dry run” for the attacks.

Saudi Arabia has always denied any involvement in September 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The victims’ lawyers, however, have said the evidence suggests “a pattern of both financial and operational support” for the 9/11 conspiracy from official Saudi sources, according to the Post.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia condemns passage of US 9/11 law

The evidence could further reinforce the claim that employees and agents of Saudi Arabia directed and supported the hijackers.

Far-right activists clash with counter-protesters at the rally in Charlottesville [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

The US president referred to “very fine people” on both sides of the divide.

Reacting to Trump’s latest statement, Andrew Anglin, administrator of now defunct neo-Nazi blog the Daily Stormer, praised Trump’s reaction with the anti-Semitic headline: “Trump Finally Gives Half-Assed Charlottesville Statement to Whining Jew Media”.

“I knew Trump was eventually going to be like eh, whatever,” Anglin wrote. “Trump only disavowed us at the point of a Jewish weapon. So I’m not disavowing him.”

Others also read Trump’s reaction as made out of political expedience rather than genuine ill-feeling.

Neo-Nazis on Twitter and the 4Chan forum celebrated what they saw as a coded message of support from Trump.

Right-wing leader Richard Spencer and former KKK leader David Duke also lavished praise on Trump.

Duke wrote on the social media platform: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa”.

“By saying he is not taking sides, Donald Trump clearly is. When David Duke and white supremacists cheer, you’re doing it very very wrong.”

Chuck Schumer, Democrat senator

007187a529a9a535335e45233b41c80c.jpg