The Education Department Officially Won't Deal With Transgender Students Experiencing Bathroom Discrimination

The Trump administration’s Education Department will no longer investigate complaints filed by transgender students who are kept from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, a department official told BuzzFeed News.

HuffPost previously reported that the Department of Education had already started telling students who submitted these complaints that the issue no longer fell within its jurisdiction, but this marks the first time an official has referenced a concrete policy change. The news comes almost a year after the departments of Justice and Education rescinded joint, Obama-era guidance that any school receiving federal money must treat a student’s gender identity as his or her sex, which included allowing individuals to use the bathroom conforming to their identity. 

However, since that time, the Trump administration has been mum on information about how the Education Department’s civil rights division would officially handle these cases. In June, an internal memo from the department’s Office for Civil Rights told attorneys that these cases could be dismissed, but it was not necessarily a requirement. But a spokeswoman for the Department of Education told BuzzFeed that the administration does not interpret Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination, to cover these types of cases.

“Where students, including transgender students, are penalized or harassed for failing to conform to sex-based stereotypes, that is sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX,” Liz Hill told BuzzFeed. “In the case of bathrooms, however, long standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”

Hill told the outlet that transgender student complaints could still be investigated, just not those centered around the use of intimate facilities. 

The Obama administration interpreted Title IX to include discrimination based on gender identity. Notably, a wave of recent court decisions have also interpreted the law this way.

In January, HuffPost learned of at least three recent cases in which the Office for Civil Rights dismissed complaints filed by transgender students regarding access to bathrooms, locker rooms and gender specific sports teams. The Office for Civil Rights wrote back to complainants and said their office was no longer required to deal with this type of discrimination.

HuffPost also previously learned that the number of complaints filed with the Department of Education related to the treatment of transgender students dropped precipitously, by about 40 percent, between January 2016 through January 2017, and January 2017 through January 2018. At the time, advocates for LGBTQ students told HuffPost they worried that the Trump administration was having a chilling effect on the students who would otherwise submit complaints of discrimination.

Upon rescinding the Obama-era guidance last year, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met with a small group of transgender children and families to discuss issues facing this group of students. Vanessa Ford attended the meeting with her six-year-old transgender daughter, Ellie. During the meeting, DeVos mentioned that she had a young granddaughter, just like Ellie.

Ford told HuffPost that she found the news today “mind boggling.”

“We put our family at risk meeting with her in hopes it would make change. She now made the decision for the Department of Education that my daughter and thousands of daughters and sons shouldn’t have the protection her grandchildren should be afforded,” said Ford.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said that after the Trump administration first rescinded the student guidance last year, they saw school districts who had been supporting transgender students suddenly change course. She is now focused on making sure they feel supported and affirmed across the country.

“They are not alone,” said Byard. “It is ultimately most important right now every transgender student understands right now that this is wrong.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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US State Department Issues Warning Against Traveling to "Sh!thole Countries such as Haiti for example"


The State Dept. recommends US citizens avoid traveling to third-world countries the mainstream media claims President Trump referred to as “shitholes.”

In particular, the department said travelers should “reconsider” going to Haiti “due to crime and civil unrest.”

“Violent crime, such as armed robbery, is common,” warns the State Dept. “Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents or emergencies.”

“Protests, tire burning, and road blockages are frequent and often spontaneous.”

The crime in Haiti is so bad that embassy personnel are banned from walking in certain neighborhoods.

Now, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a shithole is defined as:

An extremely dirty, shabby, or otherwise unpleasant place.

It actually sounds like Haiti is worse than a shithole, given that definition, but there’s African nations even more dangerous than Haiti, such as the Central African Republic.

“Do not travel to Central African Republic (CAR) due to crime and civil unrest,” says the State Dept. “Violent crime, such as armed robbery, aggravated battery, and homicide, is common.”

“Large areas of the country are controlled by armed groups who regularly kidnap, injure, and/or kill civilians. In the event of unrest, airport, land border, and road closures may occur with little or no notice.”

Somalia, however, sounds even worse due terrorism and piracy.

“Terrorists continue to plot kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in Somalia,” warns the State Dept. “They may attack with little or no warning, targeting airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, as well as government, military, and Western convoys.”

“Pirates are active in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia.”

It sounds like it’d be difficult to properly vet migrants from such violent countries, especially when compared to somewhere like Norway, which the State Dept. says is a relatively safe country.



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State Department ridiculed on Twitter after it warns citizens against travel to Russia

State Department travel map


The US State Department found itself the focus of social media jibes after an overhaul of its travel safety warning system downgraded Russia to the same category as Mauritania, Sudan and other trouble spots.

The move, explained as “due to terrorism and harassment,” comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow and just five months before Russia hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The new State Department classification sees countries divided into four zones, when it comes to personal security. Russia has been bundled into the “orange” category (the 2nd most dangerous of the quartet), meaning US citizens should “reconsider travel” to this destination.

Twitter was ablaze on Thursday and Friday with condemnation of Russia’s “orange” status. For instance, Mark Galeotti, a pundit at US State Broadcaster RFE/RL described it as “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Whether a political move or stupidity, truly ludicrous,” the Russia watcher commented.

The State Department itself claims the changes are part of an “effort to streamline information on threats overseas and present it in a clearer, more direct fashion” at a “time of increased travel – 2017 was on track to be a record year for the number of Americans travelling abroad. In 2016, there were over 80 million Americans who went overseas.”

Some users have suggested the decision may be more political than practical.

Leonid Ragozin, an author at Lonely Planet, protested “if travel advisories are a tool of punishing countries for aggressive behavior, of which Russia is clearly a culprit, then fair enough. But if the idea is to provide accurate info for citizens, then it is a piece of garbage.

Comment: Here’s a clue for you, Leonid. The State Department isn’t about providing accurate info for citizens, and that includes lies about Russian aggression.

Ukraine, currently enduring a civil war in its east and frequent social unrest in the capital, is placed in the yellow band, which only requires Americans to “exercise increased caution.” Meanwhile, Kosovo, a partially recognized
entity associated with human-organ trafficking, widespread corruption and organized crime is also considered safer than Russia.

Crucially, both Kosovo and Ukraine are US allies, whereas Russia is regarded one of the top foes in Washington amid unproven allegations of election meddling and geopolitical tensions in Europe and the Middle East.

The advisory includes a warning that “terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Bomb threats against public venues are common,” which could equally be applied to any other major European country these days including Germany, France and the United Kingdom – all of which have category two safety grades.

As reporter Fabrice Deprez pointed out, the French Foreign Minister has declared Russia “all safe, except for the South (sic) Caucasus.” The North Caucasus, located in the south of Russia, is a region where counter-terrorism operations are frequent.

The State Department also advised against travelling to Crimea. “The US government is unable to provide emergency services to US citizens travelling in Crimea as US government employees are prohibited from travelling to Crimea,” it contends. However, Russian authorities do not prohibit US government employees from visiting the peninsula. Instead, it is actually the US government which has introduced the ban, for its own reasons.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the move “another unsubstantiated statement, whose primary goal is to trigger another round of anti-Russian hysteria in the US, and to cultivate blind fear of Russia among Americans.”

Foreign travelers to Russia spoke of experiences that were far from scary. Ciaran Deely, from London, explained: “In Summer 2017 I travelled [for] 3 weeks [on] the Trans-Siberian Railway through [St] Petersburg, Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm, Yekenterenburg, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan Ude… and can honestly say not once did I feel unsafe. Welcoming people! Far more danger in London or Dublin.”

The renowned Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa recalled a 2017 visit. “Sevastopol. Taking city walks at 2am, myself with my kid, to feed dozens of cats. Using [a] flashlight on dark street stairs and alleys without fear of strangers in the dark. An eerie feeling of time travel back to USSR, where, as a kid, the fear of strangers or crime didn’t exist. (),” she wrote. Lisitsa compared it to her first visits to the US. “And then the culture shock of America: no, it’s not a good idea to take a walk in downtown Miami – or NYC Central Park after dark. And we thought [it was] Soviet propaganda and scare tactics when we read about it.

Meanwhile, Donal McAllister, an Oman-based Irishman, gave a slightly different testimonial. “Other than usual slightly menacing taxi drivers at [the] airport, [I] have to say [I] loved walking around Moscow, amazing city. At night, felt more uneasy but never had any hassle.”

Hunter Cawood, an American in St Petersburg, also disagreed with the State Department. “I’ve lived in Russia for a year and a half now, and I can genuinely say that I’ve never once felt unsafe,” he said.

And Michael Boyle, from Arizona, echoed his compatriot. “Very safe everywhere from St Petersburg to Irkutsk (including the Trans Siberian Railroad). The only questionable place was the St Petersburg-Moscow overnight train but even that was safe if you weren’t an idiot looking for trouble,” he tweeted.

London-based Chris McNee was even more positive: “I travel every few months to Russia and feel always very safe. More so than Paris London or NY. Worked all over and, touch wood, never really a problem.”

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The Trump administration is turning the State Department into a global weapons dealer

weapons armas


In the Trump administration, an agency started to promote peace is now fomenting war.

The Trump administration will soon announce its next move in the ongoing assault on diplomacy and human rights currently taking place in the United States. Through a plan dubbed “Buy American,” the administration is calling for U.S. attachés and diplomats to play a larger role in the sale of U.S. weapons, effectively solidifying their role as lobbyists for the arms industry rather than agents of diplomacy.

This means the State Department, the agency that is meant to foster diplomatic relations and maintain peaceful engagement with other countries, will now openly operate as a weapons dealer. The administration is essentially forcing the State Department to undermine itself, as seeking out and expanding opportunities for increased weapons sales are certainly not conducive to fostering peaceful global relations.

The “Buy American” plan will increase U.S. officials’ involvement in facilitating weapons sales, while simultaneously easing rules that limit U.S. weapons sales to governments with poor human rights records. The move displays an increasingly undeniable truth-that the United States government views human rights not as the foundation of human dignity but as an impediment to corporate profits.

More Riches for the Merchants of Death

Though it has long been the case, U.S. officials around the world will now officially serve as salespeople for U.S. military corporations. Embassy staffers will now be charged with promoting weapons sales and briefing visiting senior U.S. officials so they can help finalize pending arms deals.

This move by the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department to advance the interests of the arms industry will increase profits for the merchants of death that are already thriving thanks to U.S. involvement in perpetual warfare around the globe. Shares of the five biggest military corporations-Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics-have more than tripled over the last five years and currently trade at or near all-time highs, so they are literally making a killing on killing.

Additionally, foreign military sales in fiscal year 2017, under the purview of both Obama and Trump, climbed to $42 billion, compared to $31 billion in the prior year, according to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. And global arms sales in 2016 rose for the first time since 2010, with 57.9 percent of global arms sales coming from U.S. companies.

Existing arms sales restrictions have not prevented U.S. weapons from being used to aid repressive military interventions. U.S. weapons companies that stand to profit from the administration’s new plan have long made billions from the sale of bombs, missiles and aircraft that have been vital to the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, a campaign that has decimated the country’s sewage and health infrastructure, killed thousands, and caused a humanitarian crisis. In addition, U.S. military corporations enjoy deep business connections with Israel, and profit from supplying the military tools used to uphold Israel’s occupation of Palestine. U.S. fighter jets, tanks, attack helicopters, bombs, and missiles have been integral to Israel’s brutal attacks on the Palestinian people in recent decades.

If present arms sales “restrictions” have enabled U.S. weaponry to play a major role in such atrocities, what tragedies will U.S. weapons contribute to under human rights standards weakened or revoked with this new plan?

‘Buy American’ Is the Culmination of Arms Industry Influence

The move to turn the U.S. State Department into an outright arms brokerage platform is a reflection of the immense power and influence of the arms industry. Military corporations have engaged in extremely aggressive lobbying over the past several years, spending a total of more than $1 billion on lobbying since 2009 and employing anywhere from 700 to 1,000 lobbyists in any given year. To put that in perspective, the arms industry has employed significantly more than one lobbyist per member of Congress each year.

Consider also that Trump has made common practice of populating his administration with former weapons industry executives. The practice is so rampant that in November 2017, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain, warned Trump he shouldn’t nominate any more candidates from military corporations. Examples of Trump’s industry-heavy administration include Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a former board member at General Dynamics; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who worked for a number of military firms and was an adviser to Pentagon contractor DynCorp; former Boeing executive and now Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan; former Lockheed Martin executive John Rood, nominated as undersecretary of defense for policy; former Raytheon Vice President Mark Esper, newly confirmed as Secretary of the Army; Heather Wilson, a former consultant to Lockheed Martin, who is Secretary of the Air Force; Ellen Lord, a former CEO for the aerospace company Textron, who is Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition; and National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg, a former employee of the major military and intelligence contractor CACI.

The “Buy American” policy is being coordinated by Trump’s National Security Council and drafted by State, Defense and Commerce Department officials, meaning the plan is largely being crafted through a commercial lens by individuals trained in increasing shareholder profits, not upholding or protecting human rights. Those writing the policy have deep connections to the corporations that stand to benefit from the change, and they may very well return to positions with those companies after their stint as government officials, thanks to the revolving door between military corporations and the government.

A federal government that unabashedly caters to the interests of weapons manufacturers is a bipartisan creation, and the Trump administration is simply building on the war-friendly foundation built for it by previous administrations. But this move to officially turn U.S. diplomats into arms brokers is an appalling statement by this Administration that it views diplomacy and human rights as disposable, especially if they interfere with commercial interests and shareholder profits.

“Buy American” and other moves enabling the wholesale takeover of the U.S. government by arms industry influence have more to do with the power and profits of this country’s majors weapons makers than they do with any imaginable benefit for the average citizen. The administration is embarking on this new scheme supposedly all in the name of creating great American jobs, though research shows that dollar for dollar, investment in civilian industries like infrastructure, healthcare, and education creates more jobs than investment in the military sector.

As 46 million people in the U.S. live in poverty, as funding is stripped from vital life-affirming sectors and services, and as the country falls deeper into despair, the American public would do well to wake up to the fact that their tax dollars are funding the official, blatant transformation of the U.S. government into the largest arms dealer in the world.

An Opportunity for Action

A mobilized and informed public has the power to cast a light on the corporations behind this headlong rush to weaponize the world. Since many military corporations are publicly traded companies, Americans can urge the financial institutions that represent them-their universities, their cities, their pension funds, their banks-to pull investments from these merchants of death.

This is why CodePink and a coalition of over 70 national organizations are embarking on a Divest from the War Machine campaign

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Department Finds Powerful Way to Thwart Police Brutality by Teaching Cops Yoga


Aside from the overwhelming physical benefits of yoga, like increased flexibility, muscle strength, and protection from injury, the mental benefits are many. Yoga has been shown in numerous studies to help in the reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression, while at the same time improving blood pressure. Although, the list of mental and physical benefits, while immense, is lacking any mention of reduction in police brutality. However, thanks to a forward-thinking department in San Leandro, California, that could soon change.

Late last year, Beth Zygielbaum, a San Leandro resident, and yoga instructor called the San Leandro Police Department after becoming fed up with news reports of racial disparity and brutality among American police.

“I was just calling to find out what the heck was going on. I was calling as a concerned citizen,” she explained to ABC 7.

Instead of ignoring her call and writing her off as ‘anti-cop’, Chief Jeff Tudor actually called her back. During their conversation, Zygielbaum offered to help the department in the best way that she knew how. Being a certified yoga instructor, she offered to teach yoga to the officers and staff at the department—for free.

Zygielbaum’s classes are already starting to have their effect.

“Do you buy into the idea of mindfulness,” ABC 7 News Reporter Katie Utehs asked Officer Alex Hidas who had just taken the class.

“Absolutely,” Hidas responded. “I’ve experienced several times where I’m out there and I can feel my body, I can feel under stress, the adrenaline pumping, and your fine motor skills kind of go out the window and what brings you back is being able to control your breathing.”

The idea of curbing police brutality with yoga through seeking mindfulness may seem like a stretch to some. However, the benefits of simply being mindful are so compelling that UC Berkeley has launched a study to measure the results specifically on police officers.

“Anecdotally at least the effects seem to be positive,” said Professor Jack Glaser a social psychologist and Associate Dean of Public Policy at UC Berkeley who launched the study over the fall.

“It appears to have a lot of benefits that could be relevant to policing both in terms of the performance of their job and in terms of emotional welfare that they experience,” said Glaser.

According to ABC 7, this study will look at mindfulness as a deterrent to racial profiling. Simply put, participants will be shown pictures depicting police scenarios and potential suspects. One group will be lead through a mindfulness meditation before doing the exercise. The other group will just look at the pictures.

“All of the things that lead-up to that split second decision are where the opportunities lie for avoiding that happening at all and mindfulness, I think, has great potential for just that sort of thing,” Glaser said.

According to Glaser, the study will take two years to complete. However, Chief Tudor decided that he won’t wait that long to reap the benefits of his officers achieving mindfulness. The chief has begun building a wellness program inside the department with the aim of improving officer health—both mentally and physically. The program will include a gym, as well as nutrition and sleep course, and—most importantly—yoga to teach the officers how to be mindful.

“With that health becomes a more patient officer and that’s what our communities expect and deserve,” explained Chief Tudor. “If I can in any way impact them by providing them with some tools or some knowledge that can better their lives that’s the ultimate goal,” he said.

As the number of citizens killed by police continues in its epidemic levels, clearly American cops are in need of intervention. What better way to combat obstinate violent tendencies than with mindfulness and peace.

We agree with officer Hidas when he says, “I can’t imagine going forward that every department wouldn’t have something similar to this.” Hopefully so, officer. Hopefully so.

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State Department Issues Cryptic Warning of Ongoing Coup In Iran

The cirucmstantial evidence supports the notion that an American-backed coup is underway in Iran. It is clearly being sanctioned by President Trump and the orchestrated by the CIA. Now, we have new proof of this coup from State Department press releases. Here is the story.


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FBI Rejects Baltimore Police Department’s Request To Take Over Suiter Investigation

The FBI has rejected the Baltimore Police Department’s request to take over the investigation of Detective Sean Suiter’s death, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced Wednesday .

The FBI says there is no evidence to suggest Suiter’s death was directly connected to the police corruption case that Suiter was set to testify in the day after he was shot, or another FBI investigation.

“For [that] reason we believe it’s prudent for the [Baltimore Police] to continue as the lead in this investigation with our current commitment to assist and support you fully [with] FBI analytical, forensic and investigative support,” FBI Assistant Director Stephen Richardson said in a letter to Davis. “If we develop information that changes our assessment of the investigation, we will, of course, take appropriate action.”

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to support the ongoing investigation and will help identify any leads in the case. The $25,000 reward from the FBI for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in the case remains. The Baltimore Police Department’s $215,000 reward for information still stands as well.

Davis asked FBI Director Christopher Wray for the FBI to take over the case three weeks ago.

In an announcement Wednesday, Davis said they have no real physical evidence that ties to one individual person or suspect in the case. Suiter was shot in the head with his own weapon while investigating a case in West Baltimore last month.

He also said there is “Zero evidence” that Detective Suiter’s death was suicide.

“I took the unusual step to ask the FBI to take the lead on this investigation primarily because of the extraordinary circumstances associated with the death of Detective Suiter,” Davis said. “Primarily the fact that he was scheduled to testify as a witness the very next day in federal court regarding an ongoing corruption investigation led by the FBI. It was out of an abundance of caution.

“I wanted the credibility to be at its very highest level. I want it to be transparent,” Davis said. “I wanted then and still want now folks in Baltimore to realize that I will not hesitate to ask for any assistance whatsoever to help us get to the bottom of this case.”

Davis says tips have come in, but they have not helped the investigation identify a person of interest.

“I’m waiting for that 3 a.m. phone call in the middle of the night that says ‘Guess what? we just got that break in this thing,’ and I’m optimistic that will eventually happen,” Davis said.

Davis says homicides don’t always get solved right away, citing a few high-profile homicide cases that were solved this year, those being the McKenzie Elliott and Latrina Ashburne cases. Those cases began in 2014 and 2016.

“I hear the [corruption] concerns…the eight indicted police officers is something that has been a blow to this city in 2017,” Davis said. “I understand skepticism…and that’s primarily the reason I asked the FBI to take the lead in this case.”

While the case will not be investigated publicly, Davis says a copy of the radio transmission made by Suiter clearly sounds like him in distress. He will reconsider releasing that audio now that the request for the FBI to take over the investigation is no longer pending.

Davis says a thorough re-examination and a fresh set of eyes on everything is always helpful in an investigation.

“These Baltimore Police detectives are the best in the business,” Davis said. “It’s not a matter of any questioning or doubt about the talent that exists in BPD homicide, because that talent is there, but it’s such an emotional thing to investigate the death, not only of a police officer, but a fellow detective.”


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Trump Attacks Justice Department As 'Deep State,' Calls For Jailing Top Clinton Aide

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed his attack on his “deep state” Justice Department, and said a top aide to 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton should be jailed.

Trump, returning to Washington after spending the holidays at his Florida resort, posted an early-morning tweet lashing out at former Clinton aide Huma Abedin, apparently in response to Abedin emails released by the State Department on Friday

The emails, disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch, were uncovered during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Politico, part of the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. Abedin reportedly forwarded State Department emails, including some that contained passwords, to a personal account. Trump and his right-wing allies continue to raise the issue.

Trump also said in his tweet that the Justice Department must act on “Comey and others,” a reference to former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election until Trump fired him in May.  

Trump, in tweets and interviews, has repeatedly sought to undermine his Justice Department and FBI as the Russia probe has intensified. He has criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions numerous times for recusing himself from supervising the Russia investigation, and claims to have the right to direct government investigations himself. 

Last week, Trump asserted in a New York Times interview that he had the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”


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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Department of Homeland Security could separate immigrant families illegally crossing the border

The Department of Homeland Security is considering a new measure that would send immigrant children to one detention center and their parents to another while they wait to see if they’ll be admitted into the U.S. as refugees, or sent back home.

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