27 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Major victory for reproductive rights activists paves way to overturn dozens of measures that curtail access to abortion providers across the country

Texas abortion case supreme court

Pro-life protesters clash with pro-choice protesters in front of the US supreme court on Friday, when a decision in the Texas case had been expected but was deferred. Photograph: Allison Shelley/Getty Images

The US supreme court on Monday struck down one of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country and potentially paved the way to overturn similar measures in other states that curtail access, in what might be the most significant legal victory for reproductive rights advocates since the right to abortion was established in 1973.

The 5-3 ruling will immediately prevent Texas from enforcing a law that would have closed all but nine abortion clinics. But in a coup for abortion rights supporters, the court also in effect barred lawmakers from passing health measures backed by dubious medical evidence as a way of forcing large numbers of abortion clinics to close.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose support was key to determining if the liberal or conservative bloc of the court would prevail, cast his key vote with the four liberal justices.

The case began in 2013, when Texas Republicans, on the heels of an 11-hour filibuster by state senator Wendy Davis, passed one of the most expansive abortion restrictions in the country. The bill, known as House Bill 2, requires abortion providers to have staff privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic and requires clinics to meet expensive, hospital-like building and equipment standards.

Lawmakers claimed these were critical safety measures. But abortion providers argued that HB 2 was a gambit designed to shut clinics down in large numbers. On the day the admitting privileges requirement took effect, in November 2013, the number of Texas abortion clinics plummeted from 41 to 22. Today, there are 18. Had the requirement for clinics to meet hospital-like rules gone into effect, another nine would have shut down. Last year, the four liberal justices plus Justice Anthony Kennedy blocked that requirement until the court could resolve the case.

Around the country, highly similar laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin threatened to shutter another 13 abortion clinics.

Monday’s ruling could give abortion providers in those states ammunition to have those laws struck down in the lower courts……………


The pontiff says Church teachings dictate that gay people should not be discriminated against, but respected

Pope Francis

Pope Francis speaks to journalists during an in-flight press conference on his way back to the Vatican. Photograph: Tiziana Fabi/AP

Pope Francis said on Sunday that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from gay people for the way they had treated them.

In an hour-long conversation with reporters on the plane taking him back to Rome from Armenia,the pontiff was asked if he agreed with recent comments by a German Roman Catholic cardinal that the Church should apologise to gay people.

The pope recalled Church teachings, saying: “[Gay people] should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.

“I think that the Church not only should apologise … to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologise to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons.”

The Church teaches that homosexuality is not sinful but homosexual acts are, and that homosexuals should try to be chaste.

Francis repeated a slightly modified version of the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” comment he made about gay people on the first foreign trip after his election in 2013.

“The questions is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?”……………….


Raul Ramirez to be sentenced to three years in prison for case with similarities to Stanford sexual assault case for which Brock Turner will serve only six months

Santa Clara County superior court judge Aaron Persky

Santa Clara County superior court judge Aaron Persky, who drew criticism for sentencing former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail for sexual assault. Photograph: Jason Doiy/AP

The embattled judge in the Stanford sexual assault trial is presiding over a similar case in which a Latino man is facing a much harsher sentence than Brock Turner, raising questions about how the former student may have benefited from his privileged background.

Raul Ramirez, a 32-year-old immigrant from El Salvador who admitted to sexually assaulting his female roommate in a case that has similarities with the Stanford case, will be sentenced to three years in state prison under a deal overseen by judge Aaron Persky, according to records obtained by the Guardian.

The three-year-prison sentence, part of a plea agreement signed in March, provides a sharp contrast to the outcome for Turner, a white 20-year-old former Stanford swimmer who Persky sentenced to probation and six months in county jail after he was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

The parallel cases, which include similar felony charges of sexual assault, could lend weight to what critics of Persky allege are biases in his courtroom. Others, however, argue that Persky’s actions were reasonable and that the divergence in punishments stems from broader disparities in the criminal justice system.

“What’s happened with Mr Ramirez is standard,” said Alexander Cross, a defense attorney who briefly represented Ramirez when his family could afford a private lawyer. “The anomaly is the Stanford case.”…………………

  • Ben Wizner: NSA whistleblower case one ‘for which pardon power exists’
  • New York magazine details use of ‘Snowbot’ to reach US audiences
Edward Snowden Snowbot

Edward Snowden is interviewed by TED curator Chris Anderson, via his ‘Snowbot’ BeamPro machine. Photograph: Steven Rosenbaum/Getty Images

Lawyers working with Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower who received sanctuary in Russia after fleeing the US, have vowed to step up pressure on Barack Obama’s administration for a presidential pardon.

“We’re going to make a very strong case between now and the end of this administration that this is one of those rare cases for which the pardon power exists,” Ben Wizner, the ACLU lawyer who is Snowden’s principal legal adviser, told New York magazine in a cover story published late on Sunday.

“It’s not for when somebody didn’t break the law. It’s for when they did and there are extraordinary reasons for not enforcing the law against the person.”

Snowden, however, conceded that Obama is unlikely to offer such a pardon before he leaves office.

“There is an element of absurdity to it,” he said. “More and more, we see the criticisms levelled toward this effort are really more about indignation than they are about concern for real harm.”

The comments were reported in lengthy article about Snowden’s use of a “Snowbot”, technically a BeamPro robot, to appear at US galleries and events. The Snowbot is a $14,000 (£10,000) machine that consists of a flatscreen monitor and camera atop a moving base…………….

  • Seven people taken to hospitals including one white nationalist
  • Police break up chaotic fight between group and anti-fascists
A victim is attended after he was stabbed during a rally at the state capitol in Sacramento on Sunday.

A victim is attended after he was stabbed during a rally at the state capitol in Sacramento on Sunday. Photograph: Renee C Byer/AP

Multiple people were stabbed and beaten in a brutal clash between white nationalists and counter-protesters just outside the California capitol building in Sacramento on Sunday.

Ten people were taken to hospitals with injuries, two with “critical trauma stab wounds”, the fire department said, after what it called a “mass casualty incident”.

Chris Harvey, Sacramento fire department spokesman, said nine men and one woman, ranging from 19 to 58 years old, were treated for stab wounds, cuts, scrapes and bruises.

Sacramento police did not immediately respond to requests for details. Harvey said the main fight broke out when people carrying sticks rushed into the rally area, a park by the capitol building. California highway patrol officers eventually broke up the fight, he said…………..


US politics

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Participants carry a rainbow flag during an annual Gay Pride Parade along the streets of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

I am proud that our queer ancestors rose up to resist at Stonewall decades ago, and I’m proud of how today’s community remains socially conscious. Photograph: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Having arrived in Orlando the day of the Pulse shootings and stayed there all week, and having spent the past week in New York City in the neighborhood where the Stonewall riots kicked off the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement, there are many things I am proud of this pride season.

I am so proud of my queer brothers, sisters and gender nonconforming family.

I am proud that here in New York, where the Stonewall Inn looks like a fortified police bunker post-Orlando, queer people are nonetheless questioning the over-policing of our society. I’m proud that queer people are considering how police at bars could put our Latinx queer family at risk for harassment and all queer people of color at risk for police violence. I am proud that queer Americans are resisting turning this moment into a pinkwashing opportunity to justify even more police surveillance.

I am proud that our queer ancestors resisted the police 47 years ago, when they rose up against abusive arrests at the Stonewall, just as I am proud that a pillar of our queer community, Chelsea Manning, has continued to stand up to state violence as a whistle blower.

I am proud that queer people of color, especially queer Latinx people, are refusing to be erased by demanding accountability when anyone tries to make them invisible.

I am proud of queers who wanted to politicize this moment: who demanded that the homophobia and racism be named, and who angrily demanded action. And I am proud of queer Muslim people who are standing up to tell the world how they practice their sexuality, gender identity and faith – and of queer people of all faiths who refuse to allow the Pulse shootings to be co-opted for Islamophobia………….




English Online International Newspapers

For a change from the same old news stories from the same old news networks, here are links to English-edition online newspapers from other parts of the world. Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

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Some of the available newspapers:

Asia & CIS


China & Hong Kong








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