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5 US soldiers sue Trump over ban on transgender military service

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Washington, Aug 10, 2017: Five US active-duty transgender troops on Wednesday sued President Donald Trump in a Washington federal court over Trump’s tweets about a possible ban on transgender people from serving in the US military.

They are arguing that the president’s related tweets have impinged on their constitutional rights, and, though there is no concrete new policy from the White House yet, they have already been harmed because they no longer have a reasonable expectation they can continue serving.

“The directive to reinstate a ban on open service by transgender people violates both the Equal Protection component of the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution,” says a complaint filed by two LGBTQ groups on behalf of the five anonymous soldiers, listed only as Jane Doe 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

“The categorical exclusion of transgender people from military service lacks a rational basis, is arbitrary, and cannot be justified by sufficient federal interests,” the complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia wrote.

The five plaintiffs in the lawsuit have nearly 60 years of combined service, according to the groups, namely the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said the White House “will work with the Department of Defense to lawfully implement the policy,” but revealing no details about how or when such a policy would be released.

“As is with any ongoing litigation we cannot comment on it,” she told BuzzFeed News in an email on Wednesday.

On July 26, Trump tweeted that the US military “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” claiming he had consulted with “generals and military experts” before making the decision.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” he said in another tweet.

However, Pentagon so far hasn’t promulgated such a ban. US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said the next day that Pentagon would not change the current policy until the White House issued further “guidance.”

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates there are more than 15,000 transgender troops in the US military. The RAND Corporation estimates there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender personnel in the active service and between 830 and 4,160 in the selected reserve.

According to a report released by the Palm Center on Wednesday, it would cost 960 million dollars for Pentagon to recruit and train replacements for the estimated 12,800 transgender troops serving in the US armed forces.

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S.Koreans burn Kim Jong-un’s photo over North’s participation at Olympics

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(PC- Associated Press)

Seoul, Jan 22: Demonstrators on Monday burned a photo of the North Korean leader during a rally in Seoul against North Korea’s participation in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang in South Korea.

The rally, at which the North Korean flag was also burned, was led by the far-right Korean Patriots Party in front of Seoul’s central train station, according to Yonhap news agency, reports Efe.

The protesters chose the train station because a North Korean delegation visiting South Korea to coordinate the North’s participation in the Games which begin on February 9 plans to arrive at the station from the eastern city of Gangneung.

Strong security measures have been put in place ahead of the group’s visit.

The activists read a statement in which they denounced that the PyeongChang Winter Olympics were turning into “Kim Jong-un’s Pyongyang Olympics” that they claim legitimise its nuclear weapons programme, before setting North’s national flag and so-called unification flag on fire.

As well as agreeing on North Korea’s participation at the PyeongChang Games, the two countries, which have been technically at war for more than 65 years, also decided to form a joint women’s ice hockey team and agreed on a joint march at the opening ceremony with the unification flag.

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Apple joins Malala Fund to empower girls’ education

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Apple CEO 'Tim Cook' and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 'Malala Yousafzai' (PC- Apple Newsroom)

London, Jan 22: Apple on Monday announced to support The Malala Fund — led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai — which is focused on advocating every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe and quality education.

Apple will become the fund’s first Laureate partner, enabling a significant expansion of Malala’s effort to support girls’ education and advocate for equal opportunity.

“We believe that education is a great equalising force, and we share Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Cook will also join the Malala Fund leadership council.

“Yousafzai is a courageous advocate for equality. She’s one of the most inspiring figures of our time, and we are honoured to help her extend the important work she is doing to empower girls around the world,” Cook added.

With Apple’s support, Malala Fund expects to double the number of grants awarded by its “Gulmakai Network” and extend funding programmes to India and Latin America — with the initial goal of extending secondary education opportunities to more than 100,000 girls.

The fund’s “Gulmakai Network” currently supports programmes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey and Nigeria.

Apple will help Malala Fund scale its organisation by assisting with technology, curriculum and research into policy changes needed to help girls everywhere attend school and complete their education.

“My dream is for every girl to choose her own future,” said Yousafzai.

“I am grateful that Apple knows the value of investing in girls and is joining Malala Fund in the fight to ensure all girls can learn and lead without fear,” she noted.

Since 2013, Malala Fund has been working in partnership with other organisations, the private sector and governments around the world to realize every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

“With an estimated 130 million girls out of school, the importance of their work is increasingly essential,” Apple said.

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Women’s March in US on first anniversary of Trump administration

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PC- AFP

New York, Jan 21: A year after millions of people turned out for the Women’s March and took to the streets en masse to protest President Trump’s inauguration, demonstrators gathered in cities across the US, galvanised by their disdain for Trump and his administration’s policies.

The one in New York was expected to be one of the largest, with some 85,000 demonstrators registering for the event on the Internet, although the organisation noted that the actual figure ends up being higher. According to the mayor’s office, in 2017 it was 400,000, Efe news agency reported on Sunday.

Early in the morning, people were already on the move to join the rally west of Central Park, which was well attended and overflowing with “energy, empowerment and unity”, New Yorkers Lisa and Merely told Efe after the march.

With widespread criticism of the policies of the Trump Administration dominating the marches this Saturday across the country, the participants chanted one of their slogans, dedicated to the president on the anniversary of his arrival at the White House “Welcome to your first year, why the hell are you still here?”.

On his Twitter account, Trump seemed to ignore the general sentiment of the demonstrations and wrote that it was a “Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March” and noting that the United States has the “lowest female unemployment in 18 years.”

Despite this, the vast majority of protesters were dissatisfied with the immigration and health care reform the Trump administration has promoted and demanded equal rights for women, immigrants and members of the LGBT community, and were shouting feminist slogans against sexual assaults.

In New York, was Leslie, a woman who, like many others, was wearing the same pink cap she wore in the first marchas a “symbol of a new wave of feminism”.

“It’s an important year because we can vote to reclaim the House and Senate and deny power to the president,” she told Efe, referring to the midterm elections to be held in November.

The Women’s March organization, which focused last year on Washington DC, because of its proximity to the Capitol, and when 500,000 people attended, on Saturday sought to turn the protests into political action, encouraging women to run for public office and to exercise their right to vote.

In Las Vegas, the capital of Nevada, which turned to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the march will focus on the “PowerToThePolls” campaign and will feature Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter representatives on Sunday to boost voter registration and political mobilization.

Other prominent cities where thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday were Washington, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the latter with more notoriety because it concentrates much of the national film industry.

Actresses such as Viola Davis, Natalie Portman and Eva Longoria took the microphone to extol women’s empowerment and allude to the Hollywood harassment scandals uncovered in recent months, which have sparked feminist movements and social denunciation such as MeToo or Time’s Up.

On Saturday and Sunday, there are hundreds of global women’s rights marches and events planned in the capitals of countries such as Argentina, Kenya, China, Canada, Australia and Rome, but also in secondary cities and at the local level.

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