Apr 18
Her eye on the news

Starting in 2020, the U.S. Naval Academy will stop accepting transgender students in accordance with a recently implemented policy that bans transgender individuals from serving in the military.

According to the Capital Gazette, students who enrolled in 2019 will continue to be covered by an Obama-era policy that lifted previous restrictions, allowing transgender people to serve openly and receive coverage for gender-affirmation surgery. But those applying for the next academic year will be subjected to a policy formulated by former Defense Secretary James Mattis in 2018, which bans transgender people from the military unless they are willing to serve under the gender assigned at their birth.

Those not willing to conform to the new policy, or who are undergoing hormone or gender-affirmation treatments, will be disqualified or discharged from their positions, the Advocate reports. The policy also bans future applicants who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, which the American Psychiatric Association defines as “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify” — unless their doctor says they have exhibited three years of “stability in his/her biological sex immediately before applying to serve,” the Associated Press reports.

The AP also notes that the new order allows “service secretaries to waive the policy on a case-by-case basis.” Yet an estimated 13,700 trans service members out of the approximately 15,000 who are currently serving are expected to be disqualified under the new rules.

Six personnel are currently suing the Trump administration as a result of the ban, reports the Gazette. And activists have expressed their dismay over the new  policy.

“The start of this looming purge represents an unprecedented step backward in the social and civil progress of our country and our military,” Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “This is the first time in American history such a step forward has been reversed, and it is a severe blow to the military and to the nation’s values.”

Read more at the Advocate.


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Judith Clark, a 69-year-old woman who participated in a botched robbery that left three people dead, will be paroled after serving 37 years in a New York prison.

In 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo commuted Clark’s 75-years-to-life sentence, making her eligible for parole. The New York Times reports that a group of supporters, among them 70 elected officials, sent a letter to the parole board arguing that Clark was rehabilitated and should be set free. After a board hearing on April 3, a panel voted two-to-one to release Clark from prison. She is due to be paroled on May 15.

Clark was once a far-left activist connected to the Black Liberation Army and the May 19th Communist Organization, a radical left-wing group. On October 20, 1981, she drove the getaway car during an attempt to steal $1.6 million from a Brink’s armored vehicle; the perpetrators planned to use the money to fund a guerrilla uprising. A security guard, Peter Paige, was killed during the incident. Two police officers, Sergeant Edward O’Grady and Officer Waverly Brown, were subsequently murdered when they tried to stop a van involved in the crime.

During her trial, Clark was defiant, calling herself “an anti-imperialist freedom fighter” and insisting that violence was “a liberating force,” according to the Times. But after years in prison, Clark appeared to change her perspective. “I had to grapple with what happened to my humanity,” she said in 2017.

Clark became a model prisoner. She obtained two degrees, launched initiatives to improve prenatal care in prison, led educational programs and helped train service dogs. After the parole board’s decision to release her, Clark’s lawyer Michael Cardozo said in a statement: “We are grateful that the parole board affirmed what everyone who has interacted with Judy already knows — that she is a rehabilitated, remorseful woman who poses no threat to society.”

Law enforcement groups, Republican officials and other conservative legal authorities had previously advocated against her release. And for some of those who were impacted by Clark’s crimes, the decision to set her free opened old wounds. Arthur Keenan, a former detective who was injured during the heist, told the Times that he does not believe Clark’s good behavior in prison makes up for her past misdeeds. He also noted that he continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress as a result of the incident.

“Doesn’t what happened to the people who lost loved ones and were wounded matter?” he asked.

Read more at NBC News and the New York Times.


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Candid conversation

In 2018, Beyoncé became the first black woman to headline the Coachella music festival. But the milestone almost never happened due to an “extremely difficult pregnancy,’” the singer reveals in a candid Nexflix documentary.

According to People, Beyoncé says in the film that her pregnancy was a surprise — as was the news that she was expecting twins. She suffered from pre-eclampsia, a dangerous complication that causes high blood pressure, water retention, protein in the urine and other disconcerting symptoms. By the end of her pregnancy, she weighed 218 pounds. Then came another scare.

“In the womb, one of my babies’ hearts paused a few times, so I had to get an emergency C-section,” the singer said.

The twins were born in 2017, and Beyoncé began preparing to take on Coachella. But physically and emotionally, it was hard to commit to the work. “In the beginning, there were so many muscle spasms, and just internally, my body was not connected. My mind was not there,” she revealed. “My mind wanted to be with my children.”

Like many new mothers, Beyoncé struggled to accommodate the demands of her job and raising children. She says she can’t rehearse for “15 hours straight” anymore, but she is happy with the balance she has learned to strike. “I just feel like I’m just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I’m not even trying to be who I was,” she said “It’s so beautiful that children do that to you.”

Watch the trailer for the new film below.

Read more at People.


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Search ends

The “extremely dangerous” teenager who forced schools to close across Denver on Wednesday over fears that she might attack one of them with a shotgun has been found dead of an apparent suicide.

The body of 18-year-old Sol Pais, who authorities described as being “infatuated” with the Columbine High School massacre, was discovered not far from a lodge at Echo Lake outside of Denver. She took a ride-share to the lodge, then hiked up a hill through the snow. She was found by a stump, dead from a gunshot wound, on Wednesday afternoon. She had a shotgun with her.

“At this point it looks like she was alone and took her own life with the weapon she procured,” said Dean Phillips, the agent in charge of the FBI office in Denver.

Law enforcement officials had announced earlier that a “massive manhunt” was underway for Pais, whose parents had reported her missing on Monday night. She had purchased one-way tickets from her home in Miami to Colorado, just days before the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in which two teenagers killed 13 people before turning their weapons on themselves.

Authorities said Pais had posted disturbing statements on social media and threatened friends and family. Once in Colorado, she legally purchased a pump-action shotgun and ammunition. The FBI said Pais’s threats were “credible,” but not specific. Still, school officials decided to close Denver public schools, and many others shut down as well.

Pais’s family in Florida was informed of her death. “[T]hey are actually grateful that no one else is hurt,” said Julio Yero, police chief in Miami’s Surfside suburb, according to CNN.

If you or anyone you know needs help, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Read more at CNN and the New York Times


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A ‘boyfriend loophole’ in U.S. gun laws is costing women’s lives

Car culture

Uber has implemented a feature for its women drivers in Saudi Arabia that allows them to only give rides to other women.

The decision came after Uber offered the feature to Saudi women drivers as part of a pilot program in September that proved a hit in the predominantly gender-segregated country. Following the program, 74 percent of Uber’s Saudi women drivers told the company that they didn’t want to pick up men. The ride-sharing company has thus far said that the women-only feature will remain exclusive to Saudi Arabia.

After Saudi Arabia finally lifted its ban on women drivers last June, Uber and its former Middle Eastern rival Careem announced that they would be launching initiatives to train women drivers. While Uber was only able to recruit a “handful” of women drivers by last October, Careem, which has since been acquired by Uber, reported that they had managed to hire 2,000 registered women drivers.

In recent days, a number of companies have been scrambling to offer the Islamic Kingdom exclusive features that conform to the country’s unforgiving stance toward gender equality. Both Google and Apple, for instance, have repeatedly refused to remove apps from their stores that allow men to track the movements of women — and even to cancel women’s visas and legally bar them from traveling in real time.

Read the full story at Engadget.


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