Schools offer lessons on accommodating transgender students
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — From locker rooms and sex education classes to dress codes and overnight field trips, many U.S. public schools already are balancing the civil rights of transgender students with any concerns that classmates, parents and community members might have.
The U.S. Department of Education is drawing on those practices to guide other schools as they work to comply with the Obama administration’s directive that transitioning children be treated consistent with their gender identity.
That has been the policy since 2013 of the Arcadia Unified School District in Southern California. As part of a settlement with the federal departments of Justice and Education that became the foundation for the national mandate issued Friday, students may use the bathroom, locker room or wilderness cabin that corresponds with their recognized gender outside school, Superintendent David Vannasdall said.
“This is absolutely not about a student on a day-to-day basis saying, ‘Today I’m a boy, tomorrow I’m a girl.’ That has never happened,” Vannasdall said. “By the time these students are at a point where they are asking for our help, they are presenting in all areas of their life as that gender.”
The administration had warned schools before Friday that denying transgender students access to the correct facilities and activities was illegal under its interpretation of federal sex discrimination laws. But the new guidance, for the first time, offers advice for accommodating the privacy needs of nontransgender youngsters.
Ukraine’s Jamala wins 2016 Eurovision Song Contest
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Ukrainian singer Jamala’s melancholic tune about Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars was crowned the winner of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest early Sunday, an unusual choice for the kitschy pop fest.
Susana Jamaladinova, a 32-year-old trained opera singer who uses the stage name Jamala, received the highest score of 534 points for her song “1944,” after votes from juries and TV viewers across Europe were tallied following performances Saturday night by the 26 finalists at Stockholm’s Globe Arena.
Australia’s Dami Im was second with 511 points, followed by Russia’s Sergey Lazarev in third with 491.
The show was broadcast live in Europe, China, Kazakhstan, Australia, New Zealand and, for the first time, the United States. Last year’s contest reached nearly 200 million viewers globally.
Amid entries about love and desire, Jamala’s song stood out. With somber lyrics it recalls how Crimean Tatars, including her great-grandmother, were deported in 1944 by Soviet authorities during World War II. Many died during the deportations or starved to death on the barren steppes of central Asia. Decades later some of the survivors were allowed to return to the Crimean Peninsula.
Photo controversy highlights black women in Long Gray Line
Self-expression is hardly a part of life for cadets at the United States Military Academy.
So it was far from ordinary when 16 black women put their own spin on the traditional graduation photo, hoisting their fists in the air while posing in their dress uniforms, swords at their sides.
A social media firestorm followed. So did an internal inquiry at the school.
Some viewed the cadets’ pose as a gesture of racial solidarity and strength. Others questioned whether it was a statement of support for Black Lives Matter.
West Point officials decided last week that the photo was not politically motivated and no punishment was warranted. Still, that outcome left some black female graduates confused: Why would anyone see controversy in how those 16 women celebrated their experience in the Long Gray Line?
Big rallies or quiet voters? Is Clinton low on enthusiasm?
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Rock concert rallies versus intimate town halls. Adoring groupies versus dutiful voters. Sweeping promises versus targeted proposals.
Whether Hillary Clinton is competing against Democratic rival Bernie Sanders or presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, one concern is much the same. They are outsider candidates riding a wave of populist excitement, while she is viewed as a traditional, establishment choice.
As a result, her campaign sometimes just looks a little less exciting.
Clinton has won far more votes than any other 2016 candidate. But if she moves into a general election matchup with Trump, she may continue to be dogged by questions about voter enthusiasm, especially as Trump pledges to continue his raucous rallies.
Clinton’s supporters say they are not worried.
Officials: 8 dead, 44 hurt, in South Texas bus crash
LAREDO, Texas (AP) — A charter bus headed to a casino crashed in far South Texas on Saturday, killing eight people and injuring 44 others in a one-vehicle rollover, officials said.
Seven people died at the scene on U.S. Highway 83 about 46 miles north of Laredo and another died later at a Laredo hospital, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Conrad Hein said.
“The driver of the bus lost control and rolled over,” he said. “Everything’s real preliminary right now.”
Hein said the driver was among the survivors. His name and the names of passengers were not immediately available, Hein said.
The trooper said it was raining Saturday morning but it was uncertain if that was a factor in the crash that occurred just before 11:30 a.m.
For original Trump team, a moment to celebrate and reflect
NEW YORK (AP) — They were the core of the original Trump team, a small group of largely obscure political operatives who signed on a year ago for the seemingly quixotic presidential campaign of an oft-mocked celebrity businessman.
Yet there they were in the lobby of the Trump Tower in New York City, sharing a very public embrace as Donald Trump’s victory in Indiana made it clear he was on track to be the Republican nominee for president. The improbable had come to pass.
“It’s professionally very satisfying,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an interview. “A lot of us have been here from the very beginning when the professional pundits said this was a career-ender and we weren’t going anywhere.”
“We’ve done something no one thought could be done,” Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski’s path to Trump Tower was an unlikely one. He grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, worked as a political operative on Capitol Hill, graduated from the New Hampshire state police academy and took a job with Americans for Prosperity, the flagship conservative political organization of the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.
AP Exclusive: Peace deal expected with armed Afghan group
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan is expected to finalize a peace deal with a notorious militant group in the coming days, in what could be a template for ending the 15-year war with the Taliban, a government official and a representative of the militant group said Saturday.
The deal is partly symbolic as the group in question, Hezb-i-Islami, has been largely inactive for years, but it marks a breakthrough for President Ashraf Ghani, who has made little progress in reviving peace talks with the far more powerful Taliban.
Under the 25-point agreement, a draft of which was seen by The Associated Press, Hezb-i-Islami would end its war against the government, commit to respecting the Afghan constitution and cease all contact with other insurgents. In return its members would receive amnesty and its prisoners would be released.
Ataul Rahman Saleem, deputy head of the High Peace Council — a government body charged with negotiating an end to the war — told the AP that the deal could be completed on Sunday, after two years of negotiations. A senior representative of Hezb-i-Islami, Amin Karim, also said he expected Ghani to approve the final version of the agreement on Sunday.
Hezb-i-Islami is led by warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose forces killed thousands of people in Kabul during the 1992-1996 civil war. He is believed to be in Pakistan, though Karim has said he is in an unspecified location in Afghanistan. He could soon return to Kabul to sign a formal peace deal and take up residence.
Ruled ‘broken,’ Texas foster care system faces long overhaul
DALLAS (AP) — At 5, the girl identified as S.A. entered the Texas foster care system. Within months, she reported being raped by an older child. She was moved more than 45 times, including to psychiatric hospitals, and missed several chances for adoption because of paperwork delays. At 18, after aging out of the system, she walked into traffic and was hit by a car. At last report, she was living in a homeless shelter.
Her story, detailed in court records, was among scores of chronic foster care failures that led a federal judge to declare the Texas system unconstitutionally flawed and order an independent overhaul. Unlike most other states under similar orders, Texas is fighting the ruling — even as two court-appointed administrators face a September deadline to present a reform plan.
The system, which has about 30,000 children in homes and institutional settings, is “broken, and it has been that way for decades,” U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack said in her December ruling. That’s especially true for those labeled permanent wards of the state, she said, who “almost uniformly leave state custody more damaged than when they entered.”
That label, covering about 12,000 children on whose behalf the suit was brought, can be affixed after a child spends just a year in custody and means they receive less care and oversight, Jack said.
Another troubling aspect of Texas’ system, the judge wrote, was allowing “foster group homes.” Texas’ stated allowance of up to 12 children in such homes, including the caregivers’ own, was exceeded, Jack said, calling them “a hybrid” between traditional foster homes and institutional facilities that provided “fewer benefits … and fewer safeguards.”
Moody’s downgrades Saudi Arabia on lower oil prices
NEW YORK (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s credit rating has been downgraded by Moody’s because of the long and deep slump in oil prices.
Moody’s Investors Service said Saturday that it also downgraded Gulf oil producers Bahrain and Oman. It left ratings unchanged for other Gulf states including Kuwait and Qatar.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. Moody’s cut the country’s long-term issuer rating one notch to A1 from Aa3 after a review that began in March.
Crude prices fell from more than $100 in mid-2014 to under $30 a barrel in February, although they have recovered into the mid-$40s. Benchmark international crude settled Friday at $47.83 a barrel.
“A combination of lower growth, higher debt levels and smaller domestic and external buffers leave the Kingdom less well positioned to weather future shocks,” Moody’s said in a note.
Jewish bus blaze evokes tension of 1991 Brooklyn riots
NEW YORK (AP) — For days, the charred school bus sat in front of a Jewish girls’ school in Brooklyn, its ruined hulk posing a troubling question: Has the quarter-century of peace between blacks and Jews in Crown Heights begun to fray?
Twenty five years ago this August, the neighborhood’s black residents exploded into days of rioting after a 7-year-old boy, the son of Guyanese immigrants, was accidentally struck and killed by a car in the motorcade of the leader of the Lubavitcher sect. A rabbinical student was stabbed and died. Many people were beaten. Vehicles were flipped and burned.
Those tensions were supposed to have melted away a long time ago, but last Sunday afternoon a group of boys, all black, went aboard an unlocked bus parked in front of the Bnos Chomesh Academy, set fire to the seats and ran. Flames consumed the bus in minutes.
Five children, including 11-year-olds, a 12-year-old and two 14-year-olds, have been arrested and accused of arson and criminal mischief.
The episode prompted at least one leader in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community to formally complain to police about what he saw as a trend in anti-Semitic incidents. He says another bus was attacked and a student was beaten by a group of black teens in the days before the bus burning.