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.

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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As Trump declares it: “Made in America” Week, Indonesian Workers Toil Away Making Cheap Clothing for Ivanka Trump – democracy.org

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  “We’re here today to celebrate American manufacturing and to showcase the amazing products from all 50 states made in the U.S.A. Remember in the old days you used to have “made in the U.S.A.,” “made in America”? But made in the U.S.A., we’re going to start doing that again. We’re going to put that brand on our product, because it means it’s the best. … ” 

A recent investigation by The Guardian revealed workplace abuse, grueling production targets and deplorably low pay at an Indonesian factory that makes clothing for Ivanka Trump’s label. Many of the female workers at the factory in West Java say the pay is so low that they live in constant debt and can’t afford to live with their own children.

This comes as three Chinese activists with the group China Labor Watch were imprisoned, though now released, after they were arrested while investigating labor conditions at a factory manufacturing Ivanka Trump brand shoes in China.

KRITHIKA VARAGUR:  “Yeah. So this is a pretty large factory, almost 3,000 people, and the vast majority of people who work there are women. And often they are the breadwinners for their whole family.  the reason this town has become quite attractive to garment factories is that this minimum wage is incredibly low even for Indonesia.”

What the fuck?  Made in America week?  Can this get any more Orwellian?

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An American woman whose $30,000 wedding was cancelled invites the homeless to her wedding banquet instead. Right on.

The wedding reception of Sarah Cummins, 25, had been booked at the plush Ritz Charles in Carmel, Indiana, and was non-refundable.

So she contacted homeless shelters in the area and guests were bussed in for Saturday’s 170-seat dinner.

Ms Cummins called off the wedding but has not given the reasons.

She told the Indy Star: “It was really devastating, I called everyone, cancelled, apologised, cried, called vendors, cried some more and then I started feeling really sick about just throwing away all the food I ordered for the reception.”

She had been due to marry Logan Araujo, who had footed the largest part of the bill.

Ms Cummins said her ex-fiance, whose mother died recently, had agreed to the solution.

Mr Araujo told the Indy Star: “I’m happy through my grief and also Sarah’s that she was able to make a selfless and very thoughtful decision in such a hard time.”

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Ms Cummins worked with the Ritz Charles’ wedding planner on the event and then contacted homeless shelters, arranging for buses to pick up the new guests.

Local business helped to donate suits and dresses for the reception, Associated Press reported.

The agency quoted one of the attendees, Charlie Allen, as saying: “I didn’t have a sport coat. I think I look pretty nice in it. For a lot of us, this is a good time to show us what we can have. Or to remind us what we had.”

Some of Ms Cummins’ family joined her at the event, along with three bridesmaids.

The menu included chicken breast with artichokes and Chardonnay cream sauce, roasted garlic bruschetta and, of course, wedding cake.

Ms Cummins was scheduled to leave for what was supposed to have been her honeymoon – taking her mother instead of Mr Araujo – in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

South Portland lawmaker Scott Hamann interviewed by Secret Service for anti-Trump rant on Facebook! Right on, Scott!

U.S. Secret Service agents met with a Democratic lawmaker from South Portland who posted a Facebook rant against President Trump that included a threat against the president, the lawmaker said Friday.

Rep. Scott Hamann said he met with agents Thursday at his home.

But Hamann, who said he has received hundreds of threatening calls, is still facing blowback from the post, which he has since deleted.

On Friday, House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said Hamann had been kicked off two legislative committees on which he served: Health and Human Services and the Marijuana Legalization Committee.

In a statement Friday, Gideon said the repercussions for Hamann should send a signal to other lawmakers that such comments will be met with swift action. Gideon notified Hamann of her decision Thursday evening, she said.

In the Facebook post, Hamann criticized Trump on several fronts, particularly his treatment of women, and wrote, “Trump is a half term president, at most, especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that (vulgar term).”

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And of course, your President, Comrade Trump Makes Sexist Comments About French First Lady Brigitte Macron. Why not?

Meanwhile, President Trump was blasted on social media over what many are calling “creepy” and sexist comments about French first lady Brigitte Macron. Video posted to President Macron’s Facebook page shows Trump looking the first lady up and down before commenting, “You’re in such good shape,” and repeating, “She’s in such good physical shape,” adding, “Beautiful.” Trump has a long history of sexist comments. He previously called comedian Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” and boasted in a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video about sexually assaulting women.

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