AP: China’s ruling Communist Party announced on Friday that it will loosen its one-child policy and abolish a heavily criticized labor camp system.
Under new rules, couples will be allowed to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. The previous policy limited most urban couples in China to one child and allowed two children for rural families if their first-born was a girl.
Follow more updates on China at BreakingNews.com.
(Photo: Seth Perlman / AP)
The Illinois House of Representatives approved a bill on Tuesday to allow gays and lesbians to marry in the Land of Lincoln, capping a months-long wait for a vote on the legislation while same-sex marriage advocates worked on getting the support needed to pass the measure.
Indonesian Court Ruling Gives Land Rights Back to Millions of Indigenous
On May 14 Indonesia’s constitutional court ruled to modify the language of a 1999 law, effectively placing millions of hectares of previously government-controlled forest land back into the hands of Indigenous Peoples.
The ruling clarified Indonesia’s classification of forest land, separating state forests from public forests and dividing public forests into either customary or individual forests. Previously, all customary forests had been under state control; now, the rights for customary forests have been handed back to the Indigenous inhabitants.
Oregon Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Allow Native Mascots
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber flexed his executive muscle Friday by vetoing a bill that would have permitted the use of Native American mascots in schools throughout the state.
'Mandatory Minimum' Sentences to End for Many Non-Violent Drug Offenders
California has become the first state to enshrine certain rights for transgender K-12 students in state law, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that he had signed AB1266. The new law gives students the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.
San Diego bans commercial sale of pets in effort to stop puppy mills
In a move aimed at keeping puppy mill animals off the retail market and encouraging more adoption of shelter animals, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the commercial sale of all dogs, cats and rabbits.
The new ordinance, which will go into effect in 30 days, says that pet retailers may only offer adoptions of animals they’ve obtained from city or county shelters, humane societies and nonprofit rescue groups. Retailers were upset, saying the blanket measure unfairly penalizes “well-run” shops.
Animal advocates disagree: “Every time we do a pet store investigation [after a complaint], we find that puppy mills are the suppliers,” said a spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States. San Diego is the 32nd U.S. city to pass such a ban.
Ireland parliament approves limited abortion bill
AP: Ireland’s parliament passed a bill Friday to allow abortion for life-saving cases for the first time. The decision came following months of debate in the Catholic country.
The topic of legalizing abortion flared following the death of a critically ill woman who was denied an abortion in an Irish hospital.
Debate surrounded the bill’s rule that would allow an abortion for a suicidal woman if a three-doctor panel deems her at risk of killing herself if denied termination.
The bill was passed by a 127-31 vote.
Bill would honor Buffalo Soldiers’ role in parks
In the decades after the Civil War, the nation’s first black Army regiments guarded Yosemite and Sequoia national parks against poaching and timber thefts, a role that in hindsight made them some of the United States’ first park rangers.
Now as the National Park Service prepares for its 100th anniversary in 2016, there is a move in Congress to formally recognize the role of these “Buffalo Soldiers,” who set aside their guns to build the first trail to the top of Mt. Whitney and the first wagon road into the Giant Forest.
On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, allowing the federal government to study creation of a national historic trail along the 280-mile route the soldiers traveled between The Presidio in San Francisco, where they were stationed, and the Sierra Nevada they patrolled.
"This relates to a bigger goal we have — and that is to celebrate the centennial by diversifying our national parks so that they reflect all of our cultural heritages," said Ron Sundergill, senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, which has pushed for the Buffalo Soldiers to be honored.
Companion legislation is being sponsored by California’s Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
"Many African-Americans don’t feel a cultural connection to the national parks because they don’t feel a connection to the history," said Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson, a historian who interprets the park soldiers’ lives. "It’s good for the entire country to know that people of color and women made contributions to our parks."
The all African-American regiments were comprised of men from the South who faced limited economic opportunities. Native Americans named them “Buffalo Soldiers” because their curly hair resembled the tuft between the horns of a buffalo.
In times of peace, their mission was tough: to maintain order in a wild and often lawless region of California, while not arousing feelings of racial prejudice. The route they rode took them south through San Jose then over the Diablo Mountains and through the Central Valley.
Supporters hope that recognizing the soldiers leads to a broader awareness of the role African-Americans troops played in protecting resources, as well as fighting wars in Cuba and the Philippines.
"Children learn about Spanish missionaries, the 49ers, and the railroad barons, but how much do they know about the Buffalo Soldiers?" Speier said. "My hope is that their remarkable service to this country takes its rightful place alongside other great stories from the San Francisco Bay."
Sacramento Bee: A measure allowing students in California choose bathrooms, locker rooms and sports team that best match their individual gender identities passed the state Senate on Wednesday.
The state Assembly passed the bill in May and it now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, Assembly Bill 1266 generated pointed questions about whether a bill couched in tolerance and inclusiveness could alienate some students and parents. Skeptical lawmakers said it might encourage biologically male students to join women’s teams and dominate.
Lawmakers supporting the bill argued that school administrators would be able to distinguish between students trying to game the system and students struggling with their gender identity.
Irish lawmakers back bill allowing abortion in health emergency
AP: Ireland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.
Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life.
(Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)
Delaware Passes Trans Protections, With Help From A Young Advocate
“The last six months have reinforced my belief that government can be a force for good and that reason and compassion will win the day.”
McBride came out to her parents in 2011 after realizing she could not be completely happy as she was. “I thought if I could make being Tim worthwhile for other people, it would be worthwhile for me to be Tim. A life in pursuit of position or power is not a life well-lived or in service to others,” McBride said. After she completed her term as student body president at American University, McBride published a personal column entitled “The Real Me” in the student-run newspaper. She ended the piece with the line, “I now know that my dreams and my identity are only mutually exclusive if I don’t try.”
McBride was at the bill-signing ceremony yesterday.
US government to end effort to restrict morning-after pill
New York Times: The Obama administration told a U.S. District Court judge it would stop trying to block the over-the-counter availability of Plan B One-Step for all women and girls.
The reversal by the government means that anyone, no matter how young, will soon be able to walk into a drugstore and buy the pill, Plan B One-Step, without a prescription.
The Justice Department had been fighting to prevent that outcome, but said late Monday afternoon that it would drop its appeal of a judge’s order to make the drug more widely available. In a letter to Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the administration said it would comply with his demands that the Food and Drug Administration be allowed to certify the drug for nonprescription use.
Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via nytimes.com
Oregon county to order gender-neutral bathrooms
The Oregonian: Multnomah County in Oregon has one of the first in the country to require single-occupancy, gender-neutral bathrooms in all new construction projects for the county.
The Oregonian reported that the move, coming through an executive order scheduled to be signed Tuesday morning by county board Chairman Jeff Cogen, is intended to eliminate stigmas for transgender county employees and visitors using county-owned restrooms.
Photo: Dana Tims/The Oregonian
More from the Oregonian here.