Washington, Feb 23, 2017: US President Donald Trump’s administration revoked landmark guidance to the country’s schools letting transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice, reversing a signature initiative of former President Barack Obama.
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In a joint letter on Wednesday, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department rejected the Obama administration’s position that non-discrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, the New York Times reported.
The two-page “Dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration, was sent to the nation’s public schools and it did not offer any new guidance.
Instead, it said that the earlier directive needed to be withdrawn because it lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges, the New York Times report said.
The letter stated that the earlier directive was improperly and arbitrarily devised, “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy”.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said: “We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that his department “has a duty to enforce the law” and criticised the Obama administration’s guidance as lacking sufficient legal basis, reported ABC News.
Sessions wrote that the Department of Justice remains committed to the “proper interpretation” and and enforcement of the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”
Gay rights supporters made their displeasure clear after the move. Outside the White House, several hundred people protested the decision, waving rainbow flags and chanting, “No hate, no fear, trans students are welcome here”.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “Transgender young people face tragically high rates of discrimination and bullying, and they need a government that will stand up for them — not attack them.”
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American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) LGBT project director James Esseks said: “Revoking the guidance shows that the President’s promise to protect LGBT rights was just empty rhetoric… School districts that recognise that should continue doing the right thing; for the rest, we’ll see them in court.”
The new letter scrambled the calculus for a number of lawsuits working their way through the courts, particularly the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia teenager who sued his school board for barring him from the boys’ restroom.
The case is scheduled for oral arguments before the US Supreme Court in March. Grimm said he was disheartened that the Trump administration is withdrawing Obama’s guidance which was “incredibly empowering”. (IANS)
New York, October 8, 2017 : Researchers have found that all forms of victimization – bullying, cyber bullying and harassment – can damage the entire school climate.
The study, published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, measured the impact of poly-victimization – exposure to multiple forms of victimization – on school climate at the middle- and high-school levels.
The results showed that bullying, cyber bullying and harassment were significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection, and equity.
“For each form of victimization, school climate measures go down precipitously, so if we only center the conversation about kids who are being bullied that limits it to ‘that’s not my kid’,” said study author Bernice Garnett, Associate Professor at University of Vermont in the US.
“But if we change the conversation to bullying can actually damage the entire school climate, then that motivates and galvanises the overall will of the school community to do something about it,” Garnett added.
Based on data from the 2015 Vermont Middle and High School Pilot Climate Survey, the findings highlight the need for comprehensive policies that address all forms of victimization to offset further erosion to safe and equitable school environments, which is tied to educational outcomes.
Overall, 43.1 per cent of students experienced at least one form of victimization during the 2015-2016 school year.
Just over 32 per cent of students reported being bullied, 21 percent were victims of cyber bullying and 16.4 per cent experienced harassment – defined as “experiencing negative actions from one or more persons because of his or her skin, religion, where they are from (what country), sex, sexual identity or disability.”
Prior research had shown that students from vulnerable populations are most frequently victimized.
The new study found female and transgender students were more vulnerable to poly-victimization. (IANS)
USA, September 4, 2017: US President Donald Trump has decided to end DACA programme- a programme that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children with a six-month delay, the media reported.
Trump has wrestled for months with whether to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme introduced by his predecessor Barack Obama in June 2012 to shield hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths from deportation.
But conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that Congress was responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the President to terminate the programme, the informed sources told Politico news on Sunday.
In a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House has planned to delay the enforcement of the President’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, the sources said.
Trump is expected to formally make an announcement on the programme’s termination on Tuesday, and the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the President’s decision on Sunday
Paul Ryan thinks that ending DACA programme is not a good idea
On Friday, Paul Ryan said that he did not think the President should terminate DACA programme and that Congress should act on the issue.
According to official documents, approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants are currently benefiting from the DACA programme.
Permits under DACA programme are granted for two years before needing to be renewed.
The latest study by groups that support DACA programme estimated that 1,400 people a day could lose their protections if renewals ended.
Bernie Sanders criticised Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA programme
Former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has condemned the move, reports CNN.
“If Trump decides to end DACA programme, it will be one of the ugliest and cruellest decisions ever made by a president in our modern history,” the Vermont Senator tweeted on Sunday night. (IANS)
America have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time Pakistan is housing the very terrorists they are fighting
Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network
Top leaders of both groups-Taliban and the Haqqani network enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan
Washington, USA, September 2, 2017: In his South Asia strategy speech last week, President Donald Trump publicly puts Pakistan on notice that it must stop providing sanctuaries to armed groups that are fighting in Afghanistan.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” said Trump, laying out his “condition-based approach” to defeating terrorism in Afghanistan.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting. But that will have to change and that will change immediately,” he vowed.
Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
Analysts charge that sanctuaries in Pakistan have helped the militants sustain a bloody insurgency in Afghanistan against the Western-backed Afghan government.
“Top leaders of both groups [Taliban and the Haqqani network] enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan — mainly Baluchistan province, but also some of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” Michel Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, told VOA.
“It is not just the leaderships of these groups that enjoy Pakistani largesse; it’s the fighters, too,” he added.
Afghan Taliban’s leadership council, known as the Quetta Shura, is reportedly based in the Pakistani southwestern city of Quetta, which shares a border with Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, the traditional stronghold of the Afghan Taliban.
The Haqqani network, one of the most notorious terror groups in the region, is reportedly based in Miram Shah, a town in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northern Pakistan. The group, which has been blamed for numerous deadly attacks inside Afghanistan against U.S.-led NATO forces and the Afghan government, is reportedly operating with impunity from across the border.
The Afghan government charges that militant sanctuaries are the main reason behind the country’s instability.
“Neighbor countries have been a major part of the problem in Afghanistan. Terrorists’ safe havens and sanctuaries are out of Afghanistan, where they get support, training, and equipment,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a defense liaison at the Afghan embassy in Washington, told VOA.
Pakistan maintains that the Afghan Taliban controls large swaths of territory inside Afghanistan and does not need to have sanctuaries inside Pakistan.
“They don’t need hideouts or sanctuaries in Pakistan. They have vast territory [under their control], which is beyond Kabul’s writ, at their disposal. Why would they come to Pakistan for sanctuaries?” Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said over the weekend.
Following Trump’s speech, Pakistan denied the allegations that it harbors militants and cited its sacrifices in the ongoing war against terror as an example of how the country itself has been a victim of terrorism.
In an effort to illustrate its displeasure at the U.S president’s speech, Pakistan postponed Asif’s planned trip to Washington and also delayed a planned visit to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells to Islamabad.
Could the U.S. take unilateral action?
As the administration is weighing its options to deal with the issue of sanctuaries in Pakistan, some analysts doubt Pakistan will take action against militants operating from its soil unless more rigorous pressure is applied on the country.
“The Trump administration will need to deploy new forms of pressure. Previous forms of pressure — threats, aid conditionalities and aid cuts — have not worked. The administration will need to step up its actions and make them much more draconian — and this is clearly already under consideration,” Kugelman, of the Woodrow Wilson Center, told VOA.
Meanwhile, David Des Roches, an associate professor at the National Defense University in Washington, believes that while it is unlikely that the Pakistanis would back down publicly, it “is quite possible that they will facilitate enhanced American action against militants in Pakistan.”
What seems unclear so far is to what lengths the U.S. is willing to go as far as tackling the issue of safe havens in Pakistan.
While talking to reporters at the State Department last week, U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted that the U.S. would target terrorists “wherever they live” without elaborating further.
“There’s been an erosion of trust because we have witnessed terrorist organizations being given safe haven inside of Pakistan to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. servicemen, U.S. officials, disrupting peace efforts inside of Afghanistan,” Tillerson said.
Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, told VOA that the U.S. should target Taliban and Haqqani network sanctuaries inside Pakistan and push Islamabad “out of its comfort zone.”
“Pakistan has become comfortable with its dual policy; receives U.S. assistance and works to defeat the U.S. in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.
He advocated for sanctions against senior military and intelligence officers who support extremist groups.
“Take Pakistan off the list of the major non-NATO ally, which provides the opportunity to receive significant security assistance; suspend assistance program; push IMF, World Bank, and Asian and European allies to suspend assistance programs,” Khalilzad added.
“If America imposes sanctions, Pakistan will probably be unable to receive assistance from IMF and the World Bank, and international companies will not be willing to invest in Pakistan,” Saad Mohammad Khan, a retired Pakistani military leader, told VOA. (VOA)