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.

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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”.

The ACLU: Immigration Agency Is Destroying Records of Human Rights Abuses

The American Civil Liberties Union is warning that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency—ICE—is seeking permission to destroy 11 types of records, including information on sexual assaults by ICE officers, solitary confinement of prisoners and even the deaths of people in ICE custody. Immigrants’ rights activists say the request by ICE to the National Archives and Records Administration is aimed at covering up the agency’s track record of human rights abuses.

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Abortion protesters return to Portland, Maine after court rules against them

PORTLAND, Maine — The protesters outside Portland’s Planned Parenthood clinic weren’t screaming Friday morning, but not because of a court order.

It was the first of the regularly scheduled anti-abortion demonstrations since a federal judge ruled that police may again enforce Maine’s noise ordinance against protesters outside the women’s health center. And the activists kept their admonitions to a low shout despite the decision not yet being in effect.

On Tuesday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling, finding that police can enforce the noise section of the Maine Civil Rights Act against the protesters because, as written, the law is message neutral.

The ruling is the latest step in a legal drama that started in 2015 and could now be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue at hand being whether or not the First Amendment gives protesters the right to scream epithets such as “Murderer!” and “Whore!” at patients entering the clinic, of course, in the name of Jesus.

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Scaramucci: White House plotters seeking Trump exit

There are people in Washington DC working against President Donald Trump, the former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has said.  He said there were “elements” within the White House trying to eject Mr Trump, and he had “named some names”.

Mr Scaramucci spoke to ABC News for the first time since being sacked last month – after just 10 days in office.

It followed a phone recording in which he strongly attacked then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.  He also directed profanity-laced insults at Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.  Mr Scaramucci said he had thought the interview was off the record, and he had “paid the consequences for that conversation”.

“What happens in Washington… is the president is not a representative of the political establishment class, so for whatever reason the people have made a decision that they want to eject him,” he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News on Sunday.  “I think there are elements inside of Washington, also inclusive in the White House, that are not necessarily abetting the president’s interests or his agenda.”

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Why Trump will be impeached – Keith Olberman