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04 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

BBC

‘Burkini-only day’ at French waterpark criticised

The Islamic full-length swimming suit known as burkini is displayed on mannequins at a sports store in Dubai on August 23, 2009

Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionWomen who attend “must be covered from the chest to the knees”, organisers say

A waterpark in France is to be booked out for one day to Muslim women wanting to wear “burkinis” – but the decision has led to criticism by politicians on the right.

A community group in Marseille arranged the day, giving access only to women wearing the all-over swimming garment.

The group was set up to “encourage women to join in with the community”.

Some leading political figures said the move was contrary to France’s legally enshrined secular values.

“Accepting this so-called fashion means we accept communalism in our country,”said Valerie Boyer, a mayor of two Marseille districts from the centre-right group Les Republicains group, led by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.

“However, it’s also a question of the woman’s dignity, a question of our most fundamental principles.”

A note by the event organisers, Smile 13, said that women attending “must be covered from the chest to the knees”…………..

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Zhou Shifeng, director of Beijing’s Fengrui law firm, jailed for more than seven years in latest crackdown on activists

Chinese lawyer Zhou Shifeng during his trial in Tianjin in northern China.

Chinese lawyer Zhou Shifeng during his trial in Tianjin in northern China. Photograph: AP

A Chinese lawyer has been sentenced to seven years in prison in the third of a series of subversion trials demonstrating the ruling Communist party’s determination to shut down independent human rights activists and government critics.

Zhou Shifeng was director of Beijing’s Fengrui law firm that took on sensitive cases and represented people who dared challenge the party.

Zhou accepted the ruling and would not appeal, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

His half-day trial in the northern city of Tianjin followed those of two related legal activists earlier this week, one of whom was sentenced to 7 ½ years and the other given a suspended sentence, both for subversion.

As with the others, Zhou was detained in July of last year amid a sweeping roundup of activists and lawyers. About 300 lawyers and activists were initially seized and questioned before most were released.

Zhou established Fengrui in 2007 and the next year took on one of the country’s biggest dairies in a scandal over tainted baby formula that the government had tried to squelch. The firm has also represented clients targeted by the government, including members of the banned Falun Gong meditation sect and activist artist Ai Weiwei…………

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Virginia school board permitted to continue barring Gavin Grimm from using the boys’ restroom, in high court’s first ruling on an increasingly contentious topic

Gavin Grimm

The decision is a major setback for Gavin Grimm and will likely bar him from using the bathroom consistent with his gender identity. Photograph: Courtesy of Gavin Grimm

The supreme court on Wednesday blocked a court order giving a transgender student access to the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school, in what is the high court’s first ruling on an increasingly contentious topic.

The ruling permits the Gloucester county school board to continue barring Gavin Grimm, a trans boy, from using the boys’ restroom until the supreme court decides whether or not to hear Grimm’s challenge to the school board.

The decision is a major setback for the teenager and will bar him from using the bathroom consistent with his gender identity when he begins his senior year of high school.

In April, Grimm won a key victory before the fourth circuit court of appeals that granted him access to the boy’s bathroom.

At the time, the circuit court was the highest court in the country to have weighed in on the issue of transgender access to spaces, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, that are segregated by gender. Trans rights supporters hailed Grimm’s win was hailed as a key victory. In July, the circuit court rejected a plea from the Gloucester County school board to stay its order while the lawsuit continued………

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A jury in southern Virginia is considering whether or not to convict police officer Stephen Rankin of murder for fatally shooting an unarmed black teen

William Chapman

Relatives and friends of William Chapman pray outside Portsmouth circuit court in Virginia as jurors deliberate a murder charge against the police officer who fatally shot him in April 2015. Photograph: Jon Swaine

A jury in southern Virginia is considering whether or not to convict a police officer of murder for fatally shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old outside a Walmart store last year.

Stephen Rankin could face life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder for killing William Chapman during an early-morning confrontation over suspected shoplifting. It was his second deadly shooting of an unarmed man.

Rankin, 36, is accused of intentionally killing Chapman with premeditation and using a gun to commit a felony. He shot the teen in the face and chest after his attempt to stop Chapman in the store’s parking lot turned into a physical struggle. Rankin denies the charges and says he fired his gun because Chapman aggressively charged at him.

Late on Wednesday afternoon the jury – seven women and five men – entered its eighth hour of deliberations at Portsmouth circuit court. Their foreman had brought them back into the courtroom twice to ask the judge questions and to request a replaying of a video clip of the incident filmed by Rankin’s Taser.

Jurors heard four days of detailed testimony on the 22 April 2015 shooting from several witnesses, a series of experts and Rankin himself. Rankin was terminated from his job at the Portsmouth police department after being indicted for Chapman’s murder…………..

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  • Sentence reduction is the largest batch on a single day in more than a century
  • Most offenders were charged with possession and intent to distribute cocaine
President Obama has so far shortened sentences for 562 prisoners.

President Obama has so far shortened sentences for 562 prisoners. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama on Wednesday cut short the sentences of 214 federal inmates, including 67 life sentences, in what the White House called the largest batch of commutations on a single day in more than a century.

Almost all the prisoners were serving time for non-violent drug crimes, reflecting Obama’s long-stated view that the US needs to remedy the consequences of decades of sentencing requirements that put tens of thousands of Americans behind bars for far too long.

A majority of the offenders were charged with possession and intent to distribute various forms of cocaine. More than half of the prisoners will have a sentence commuted to expire sometime in 2016 through 2018, with some requiring a stint at a residential drug treatment facility.

Obama has pushed for a broader fix to criminal justice laws and has used the aggressive pace of his commutations in an effort to pressure Congress and call more attention to the issue…….

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US politics

Election 2016

Latest Election Minute

Who will win the election? Trump and Clinton’s ratings make it hard to predict

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