Texas bathroom bill appears to be all but dead in special session

Protesters rally in favor of transgender rights at the Texas Capitol, on July 21, 2017.
Protesters rally in favor of transgender rights at the Texas Capitol, on July 21, 2017.

 Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

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Despite it serving, in part, as the reason lawmakers are back in Austin for legislative overtime, the Texas Legislature could very well gavel out next week without passing a “bathroom bill.”

With just days left in the 30-day special legislative session, controversial proposals to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans appear to have no clear path to the governor’s desk. As was the case during the regular legislative session that concluded in May, efforts to pass any sort of bathroom bill — a divisive issue pitting Republicans against business leaders, LGBT advocates, law enforcement and even fellow Republicans — have stalled in the Texas House.

And it’s unlikely that will change in the coming days.

“I’d say the chances are definitely getting smaller,” Republican state Rep. Ron Simmons of Carrollton, who filed two bathroom bills during the special session, said earlier this week.

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The push to keep transgender Texans out of bathrooms that match their gender identity — a move opponents said was discriminatory and could endanger transgender individuals — largely dominated the regular legislative session between protests, lobbying days, two overnight hearings, legislative bickering among Republican leaders over proposed bathroom bills and, eventually, a forced special session.

Restricting bathroom use in public facilities was deemed a legislative priority by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. But House Speaker Joe Straus, with the increased backing of the business community, emerged as his most prominent foil on the issue.

Gov. Greg Abbott — who for months during the regular session was reticent to voice his support for a bathroom bill — eventually took the lieutenant governor’s side and added the issue to his 20-item agenda for a special session that Patrick forced him to call by holding hostage legislation needed to keep open the doors at a handful of state agencies.

But amid concerns for the safety of an already vulnerable population and statewide economic fallout, those efforts did little to sway the speaker.

When lawmakers returned to Austin in July, the Senate quickly passed its latest version of the bill to regulate bathroom use in public schools and local government buildings based on the gender listed on a birth certificate or Texas ID. It would also nix parts of local nondiscrimination ordinances meant to ensure transgender Texans can use public bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Just like during the regular session, Straus has refused to refer that bill to a House committee — the first step in the legislative process.

[Source”cnbc”]

NYPD: Man tries to rape woman in Bronx Walgreens bathroom

Police are searching for the man responsible for a brazen and terrifying sex assault in the Bronx.

Authorities say the suspect attempted to rape a woman in a bathroom inside a Walgreens just before 4 p.m. Thursday.

The incident happened inside the business on White Plains Road in the Wakefield section.

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Police say this man attacked a woman inside a bathroom in the Bronx

According to the NYPD, the 50-year-old victim was approached by the suspect as she was exiting a single-occupancy unisex bathroom.

The man allegedly shoved the victim back inside, pushed her to the ground, covered her mouth and attempted to remove her pants. A store employee heard the victim’s screams for help and pulled the suspect off the victim.

He fled the location on foot northbound on White Plains Road. The victim was treated at Jacobi Hospital.

The suspect is described as a black male in his early to mid 30s, approximately 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, white T-shirt, blue jeans and black and white sneakers.
[Source”cnbc”]

 

Suspect arrested in attempted rape in Bronx Walgreens bathroom

Suspect arrested in attempted rape in Bronx Walgreens bathroom

Police say they have made an arrest in connection with a brazen and terrifying sex assault in the Bronx.

Authorities say the suspect attempted to rape a woman in a bathroom inside a Walgreens just before 4 p.m. Thursday.

28-year-old Victor Augustus is charged with attempted rape, sex abuse, forcible touching, assault and harrassment.

The incident happened inside the business on White Plains Road in the Wakefield section.

Police say this man attacked a woman inside a bathroom in the Bronx

According to the NYPD, the 50-year-old victim was approached by the suspect as she was exiting a single-occupancy unisex bathroom.

The man allegedly shoved the victim back inside, pushed her to the ground, covered her mouth and attempted to remove her pants. A store employee heard the victim’s screams for help and pulled the suspect off the victim.

He fled the location on foot northbound on White Plains Road. The victim was treated at Jacobi Hospital.

[Source”cnbc”]

Reviews roundup: Meet Me in the Bathroom; Eureka; What We Lose

The Strokes – New York’s finest – in January 2006.
 The Strokes – New York’s finest – in January 2006. Photograph: Stephen Lovekin/WireImage

“Every scene needs a chronicler like Lizzy Goodman,” was Jim Carroll’s wholehearted recommendation, in the Irish Times, of Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011. The book is “a meaty oral history”, “a wild read” and “strikes all the right notes. As oral histories go, this is one of the very best.” In the Observer, former music journalist Barbara Ellen admired Goodman’s ability “to marshal a veritable army of interviewees who’re not only prepared to talk, but also to gossip, muse, digress, ramble, even bitch and fume, to build the most accurate picture”, making the book “beautifully paced, vivid, informative and compelling”. For the Sunday Times’s Lise Verrico, it was exhaustive at more than 600 pages, and “full of colourful characters, catty comments and incredible candour”.

Anthony Quinn’s novel Eureka also looks back at a swinging time, in this case London in the 1960s, with characters including acid casualty screenwriter Nat Fane. It is part three of a “loosely linked and hugely enjoyable trilogy”, explained Peter Stanford in the Observer, but “works just as well as a standalone”. Stanford found mysteries, wit and entertainment aplenty, but reassured readers: “If Eurekais beginning to sound too clever by half, rather like a 60s counterculture film, what brings it all delightfully together is Quinn’s flawless, easy-going prose. He never once puts a foot wrong either in the wealth of period detail or in giving each well-drawn character their distinctive voice. Clever, certainly, but in just the right measure.” The Mail on Sunday’s Hephzibah Anderson described it as a “pleasingly melancholic romp [which] gallivants towards a dark mystery”, and the Times’s Siobhain Murphy decided that “Quinn’s immersive approach to his historical fiction means we’re soon woozy with the sounds and sights of that significant year”. Not the Daily Mail’s John Harding, though. “[The 60s] are unconvincingly evoked here, with pop music limited to the Beatles and references to Mr Fish fashion and hula hoops feeling tacked on,” he wrote. “The book is padded out with excerpts from Nat’s film script. Let’s hope it never gets made – it’s as flimsy as a go-go dancer’s miniskirt.”

Critics were also divided over the debut novel by Zinzi Clemmons, What We Lose, about a light-skinned black woman living in the US. “Luminescent,” raved Lucy Scholes in the Independent. “Sometimes fierce and angry, other times quiet and tender, it’s a story about identity organised around [a] central, momentous loss – that of a parent – that expands and contracts, as with the beating of a heart, to encompass meditations on race, sex and love … Intelligently and impressively conceived, and beautifully told.” “A memoir trying hard to pass itself off as fiction,” complained Claire Allfree in the Daily Mail. “Clemmons, who shares a lot of biography with her narrator, has a bracingly clear-eyed view on racial politics and the psychological dissonance of living between two cultures, and the tension between her steady prose and turbulent emotions is beautifully sustained. Yet I found it frustrating … Clemmons has yet to make this territory her own.” But the Sunday Times’s Phil Baker was impressed, on balance, finding that “sometimes the result feels like a struggle between grief and pretentiousness, but the frankness and intelligence of the writing win out”.

[Source”cnbc”]

Modern slavery cases ‘in every large town and city’ in UK

A file picture of a teenager with mental health issues

Modern slavery and human trafficking are much more prevalent than previously thought, the National Crime Agency has said.

There are cases in “every large town and city in the country”, the NCA said, with the organisation currently assisting 300 live police operations targeting modern slavery.

The cases involve alleged victims as young as 12 being sold to families in the UK from Europe.

Will Kerr, NCA director of vulnerabilities, said: “The more that we look for modern slavery, the more we find evidence of the widespread abuse of the vulnerable.

“The growing body of evidence we are collecting points to the scale being far larger than anyone previously thought.

“This should not be acceptable in any way, shape or form.”

The NCA has launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery in everyday life.

[Source”indianexpress”]

Modern slavery risk on rise in European supply chains

modern slavery human rights

The European migrant crisis is forcing a sharp rise in human rights risks in European supply chains. This includes the UK and Germany, which have moved up from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ risk in the annual Modern Slavery Index, released by global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

In fact, modern slavery risks have risen in 20 of the 28 member states of the EU over the last year, the research finds – a reminder of the importance of transparent supply chains and efficient due diligence.

The study ranks 198 countries, assessing them on the strength of their laws, the effectiveness of their enforcement and the severity of violations. The higher the rank, the higher the risk.

Verisk Maplecroft points to the arrival of migrant populations in Europe as a key contributor for the increase in slavery, who it says are “extremely vulnerable to exploitation” across multiple sectors, including agriculture, construction and services.

The five EU countries posing the highest risk are Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria – countries that are key entry points for migrants into the region.

Romania and Italy, in particular, are highlighted as being the two EU countries with the worst reported violations, including severe forms of forced labour, such as servitude and trafficking. Romania rose as many as 56 places to rank 66, and is thus deemed as the country with the most deteriorating slavery situation globally.

Italy, which comes at place 133, is up 17 places from last year, and Verisk Maplecroft expects the country’s score to only worsen over the next year due to “geographic shift in migrant sea arrivals”, with the agriculture sector being at especially high risk.

Greece remains a key destination for human trafficking, the consultancy says. The country moved up 16 places in the index to 129 – this despite a dramatic fall in immigrants in Greece since the 2016 signing of the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement.

“Even the EU’s biggest economies are not immune to the rise in slavery risk,” the report says, pointing to Germany and the UK, which slipped from the ‘low’ to ‘medium’ risk category after a slight negative shift in their scores. This is attributed to gaps in the UK’s labour inspectorate and Germany’s uptick in recorded trafficking and servitude violations.

Outside of the EU, Turkey experienced the world’s second-largest jump in the index, from 110 place up to 58, thus moving into the ‘high risk’ category. This was triggered by various factors, including the Syrian refugee influx, Turkey’s restrictive work permit system and the low priority for policing labour violations.

 

New supply chain focus

While key manufacturing hubs in Asia have traditionally been in focus when companies assess human rights risks, there is good reason to take notice of the developments in Europe, says Sam Haynes, senior human rights analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.

“The migrant crisis has increased the risk of slavery incidents appearing in company supply chains across Europe. It is no longer just the traditional sourcing hotspots in the emerging economies that businesses should pay attention to when risk assessing their suppliers and the commodities they source,” he says.

Human rights issues not only pose a huge reputational risk– they could also become a legal one, especially with emerging legislation on modern slavery and human rights appearing in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Australia.

Verisk Maplecroft’s findings come just a few weeks after a study revealed huge weaknesses in companies’ efforts to secure responsible supply chains. Surveying business executives from corporates around the world, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that only 22% are addressing child labour concerns in the supply chain, 23% are actively tackling climate change, and just 32% ensure they aren’t sourcing from areas affected by conflict and violence. Despite this, only 2% of respondents thought their companies had irresponsible supply chains.

On its findings, Verisk Maplecroft notes that despite the higher risk in Europe, the “top sourcing locations in the emerging markets should remain firmly on the radar of companies”.

Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand, for example, all feature in the ‘extreme’ or ‘high’ risk categories. Ranked 21, China remains firmly established among the worst performing countries. The index’s highest ranking nations include North Korea, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, DR Congo, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Eritrea and Turkmenistan.

 [Source”indianexpress”]

Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than thought, ancient teeth reveal

When Dutch archaeologist D. A. Hooijer first saw a pair of weathered teeth recovered from a remote cave on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, he noted that they were about the right size and shape to belong to modern humans. But in 1948, he couldn’t be sure of their identity or their age. Now, harnessing cutting-edge science, a group of researchers has confirmed what Hooijer had suspected: Modern humans lived in Southeast Asia as far back as 73,000 years ago—about 20,000 years earlier than previously thought. The earlier timeline helps fill in the blanks on the migration routes of our early ancestors and bolsters an emerging theory that humans may have dwelled in rainforests much sooner than researchers had assumed.

Previous studies suggested that after evolving in Africa, modern humans eventually made their way to Southeast Asia, but researchers have argued whether they arrived about 50,000 years ago or earlier. Recent studies put modern humans in Australia by about 65,000 years ago, but there has been little direct evidence of an early presence in Southeast Asia.

To unravel the mystery, researchers led by geochronologist Kira Westaway of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, decided in 2008 to give the Sumatran teeth another look. She and her team used new techniques, including micro–computed tomography scanning to precisely measure the thickness of the enamel, and luminescence dating to determine when minerals in the rock surrounding the teeth were last exposed to sunlight. They found thick enamel, confirming that the teeth are from modern humans, and pegged the date to between 63,000 and 73,000 years ago, they report today in Nature.

The findings offer new hints about how our early ancestors spread across the world, paleoanthropologist Russell Ciochon of the University of Iowa in Iowa City wrote in an email. “[The teeth] show greater affinity to east Asian humans than later southeast Asian specimens, which may give us some clues about the early dispersal routes of modern humans.” he wrote. The researchers, he says, “have definitively and superbly demonstrated the presence of modern humans in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previous estimates.”

Though just a pair of teeth may seem like insubstantial evidence, the new analysis is convincing, says paleontologist Patrick Roberts of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. “If they show they are clearly human, which I think they do, then it is enough to document humans in this part of the world.”

And the earlier timestamp also means early modern humans may have overlapped with the hobbit (Homo Floresiensis), a tiny early human species that lived more than 60,000 years ago on another Indonesian island called Flores. Yet it’s unlikely the two crossed paths, Westaway says, because strong currents would have made travel to Flores difficult.

The new findings also suggest that these early colonizers may have been the first to live in a rainforest setting. That’s significant, because researchers have long thought that early humans would have found rainforests unappealing: Why hunt clever monkeys in the treetops when easy-to-catch shellfish and other resources await on the coast?

But Roberts of isn’t fully convinced that these early human colonists did live in rainforests. Fossils from rainforest animals were found at the site but don’t bear the marks of a human kill and may not have coexisted with modern humans.

Still, the study shows that “tropical terrestrial habitats were crucial resources for humans expanding beyond Africa, and our species was flexible enough to adapt to them,” Roberts wrote in an email. “Perhaps it is this environmental plasticity that characterizes our species and has left it the last remaining hominin in the world.”

[Source”timesofindia”]

Ultra-modern glass home in Minneapolis offers inside-out living

Larry and Cynthia Holtz are native Minnesotans who have never lived in California. But the modern glass house they built in south Minneapolis could easily be at home in Laurel Canyon, the desert in Palm Springs or on the beach by the Pacific Ocean.

Our cold northern climate can’t rival that of balmy California, but the Holtz residence, designed by Peterssen/Keller Architecture, effortlessly flows between indoor and outdoor living from its perch on a skinny sloped lot in the city.

The flat-roofed boxy dwelling is an amalgam of stark white stucco, dark stained cedar and black metal accents.

After stepping inside, you still feel like you’re outside. That’s because walls of glass — some that slide open — maximize views of the lush green landscape, punctuated by the cool blue swimming pool. And from their second-floor bedroom, Larry and Cynthia can see Lake Calhoun, filtered through the treetops.

The couple’s friends often point out that the home’s design is more West Coast than Twin Cities.

“It does feel like a California house,” said Larry. “But ironically, it’s the most beautiful outside in the winter when it’s snowing.”

Going modern was a dramatic departure for Larry and Cynthia. The couple had always lived in traditional homes, most recently in Edina’s Country Club neighborhood, where they raised their four children.

Once they became empty-nesters, they yearned to live in a walkable Minneapolis neighborhood where they could jog and walk their dog Leo around one of the urban lakes.

After quickly selling their Edina home, they decided that Calhoun was the lake where they would downsize and build new, rather than renovate an older house.

“We liked the openness of Lake Calhoun and all the activity around it,” said Larry.

But a piece of land for sale by Calhoun is a rare occurrence. Larry drove around neighborhoods for two years until he spied a white flag on a lot; by the end of the day, it held a “For Sale” sign.

Narrow lot

The narrow L-shaped lot in Linden Hills was on the south side of Lake Calhoun and backed up to a condominium complex with lots of privacy trees.

A rundown 1970s duplex on the lot would be torn down before a new house went up. The Holtzes closed on the property, and their builder, Nate Wissink of Elevation Homes, referred them to Peterssen/Keller, known for architecture with a clean contemporary aesthetic.

“Modern design has a simplicity to it and a certain calmness that appeals to us,” said Cynthia.

The couple had seen other infill modernist architecture in Linden Hills and knew a thoughtfully designed home could blend with older traditional housing stock. In fact, Jim and Donna Pohlad’s ultramodern abode is just two doors down.

But Ted Martin, the project manager, knew the Holtzes’ lot posed challenges. “How do we design an indoor-outdoor house that works for the odd-shaped site, captures the views — and yet has privacy?” he said.

The solution was an innovative structure composed of three pavilions linked by glass-enclosed sunken gardens.

Pavilions 1 and 2 contain the side-entry garage and the main-floor public living spaces. Pavilion 3 holds the second-story master suite, which is positioned perpendicularly so it projects out toward the lake.

The design team used 3-D computer modeling to determine the best window placement for the best views — including the vista of the downtown Minneapolis skyline from the second story. “You can place yourself inside the model to see the views,” said Martin.

Inside, the wide-open interior is a composition of warm walnut, white-streaked Aster stone on the fireplace and birch-tree leaves from the indoor garden.

[Source”timesofindia”]

Nissan attacked for one of ‘nastiest anti-union campaigns’ in modern US history

Auto workers and others march to Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, plant following a pro-union rally in March.

Days before a potentially historic union vote at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, the car company has been accused of running one of the “nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labour movement”.

The vote, a fiercely contested effort by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to represent a foreign automaker’s US plant, is planned for Thursday and Friday this week. It comes as US unions are hopeful they can overturn a series of defeats as they seek to build membership in southern states, where manufacturers have moved to take advantage of lower wages and non-union workforces.

In the closing days of the campaign, which has attracted support from the former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, UAW officials and their allies have become increasingly confident of victory even as managers have pressured workers to vote no. “People are rallying,” says Frank Figgers, co-chair of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan.

The UAW is undertaking an extensive door-to-door campaign to visit workers in their homes to discuss the union. The UAW has shipped in staff from all over the country to help in the effort.

Other unions from around the south have shipped in organizers from across the country to assist in the outreach to the plant’s nearly 4,000 workers.

Nissan has responded with fierce opposition. The company has blitzed local TV with anti-union ads and stands accused of both threatening and bribing workers to vote no. It requires workers to regularly attend anti-union roundtable group meetings as well as one-on-one meetings with their direct supervisors, some of whom have worn “vote no” T-shirts to work.

The Republican governor, Phil Bryant, has also come out hard for Nissan. “If you want to take away your job, if you want to end manufacturing as we know it in Mississippi, just start expanding unions,” Bryant said last week.

Washad Catchings, a Nissan worker, said: “There is no atmosphere of free choice in the Canton plant, just fear, which is what Nissan intends.”

Late Friday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the independent US government agency responsible for enforcing US labor law, filed the latest in a series of complaints against Nissan.

The NLRB alleged that Nissan had violated the law in these anti-union sessions by warning that workers would lose wages and benefits if they supported the union.

The NLRB also found that a supervisor at the plant told workers that if they spoke out against the union, he would personally ensure that they received increased wages and benefits.

“Nissan is running one of the nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labor movement,” said the UAW secretary-treasurer, Gary Casteel, in a statement regarding the most recent NLRB charges. “The company’s investors as well as socially conscious policy makers in the US and around the world need to understand what’s happening in Mississippi and join local civil rights leaders in calling for a halt to Nissan’s illegal and unethical behavior.”

This isn’t the first time that NLRB has cited Nissan. In 2015, the watchdog charged Nissan and its temporary employee agency provider, Kelly Services, with violating workers’ rights. This April, the NLRB charged Nissan and Kelly Services with threatening to close the plant if workers unionized. The NLRB also chargedthe company with breaking labor law by having security personnel perform unnecessary security stops on union members.

Nissan has denied all the charges including the most recent one issued by the NLRB and plans to appeal them. “Today, the UAW has launched another set of baseless allegations against Nissan Canton,” wrote the Nissan spokesperson Parul Baraj in a statement. “The UAW can now continue its campaign of deception and empty promises as they work to divide the Canton workforce.”

Nissan says it plans to continue its attempt to campaign against the union as the election approaches. However, some workers said Nissan’s campaign was backfiring. “It’s almost overkill,” Morris Mock, a Nissan employee, said. “It looks like the company is being more desperate in their attempt to fight the union.”

Ultimately, Mock remains confident that the anti-union strategy won’t work. “Workers are numb to it,” says Mock. “Most of them been in there 14 years, and in 28 days, you can’t convince a Nissan worker that you are a good company.”

 [Source”indianexpress”]

‘I slept on the floor in a flat near Harrods’: stories of modern slavery

When Elvira arrived at Heathrow in 2014, she thought she had escaped the abuse she’d faced as a domestic worker in Qatar. Yet the exploitation the Filipino woman was about to suffer would surpass anything she experienced in the Middle East. The 50-year-old was taken to a luxury flat in Kensington, where her boss, the sister of her “madam” in Qatar, made her work 20 hours a day, allowing her only one piece of bread and no wages. She was trapped in a life of servitude, while metres away central London bustled with shoppers.

More than 200 years since it was abolished, slavery is thriving. The UN’s International Labour Organisation estimates that 21 million people around the world are trapped in some form of modern slavery. In many cases, the physical shackles of the past have been replaced by less visible but equally effective forms of coercion and control: a worker on a factory line crippled by recruitment debts he or she cannot pay back; a man on a construction site in a foreign country without his passport or wages; a woman selling drugs on a roadside threatened with beatings and rape if she doesn’t earn enough. Dig deep into the supply chain of the world’s major commodities, and you’ll find instances of slavery. From the food we eat to the phones we use and the clothes we wear, its influence is pervasive.

Record numbers of people are fleeing violence and poverty, and traffickers are ready to exploit them. The International Office for Migration believes 70% of migrants arriving in Europe by boat have been victims of human trafficking, organ trafficking or exploitation. In the UK, the government estimates there are 13,000 people trapped in slavery, working in hotels, care homes, nail bars and car washes, or locked in private houses that have been turned into brothels.

“As a business model, slavery is a no-brainer,” says Siddharth Kara, an economist and director of human trafficking and modern slavery at Harvard’s Kennedy school of government. “It’s a low-cost, low-risk business that generates huge profits. To be two or three centuries on from the first efforts to eradicate slavery and still to have it permeating every corner of our economy is a damning indictment of our failure to tackle this highly lucrative criminal industry.”

In London, Elvira managed to make a bold escape, waiting until her “employer” was taking a nap before running to a nearby church for sanctuary. She is still waiting for justice. Much exploitation goes unpunished and unrecognised: data from the US State Department shows that in 2016 there were only 9,071 convictions globally for forced labour and trafficking offences.
To get a picture of what slavery looks like today, we talked to people all over the world who have experienced it first-hand. Their stories, which show how quickly one can become trapped and exploited, give an insight one of the biggest human rights challenges of our time.

Elvira, 50, Philippines

Portrait of former domestic slave Elvira

[Source”timesofindia”]