National News

North Carolina Sues Justice Department

North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory and other state officials announced Monday they are suing the Justice Department in response to its demand that the state stop the implementation of House Bill 2 (HB 2), also called the “Bathroom Bill.” HB 2 would require that people use the sex listed on their birth certificate to determine which bathroom to use. The Justice Department, citing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, said that HB 2 is a violation of civil rights and threatened litigation and the curtailing of federal funding to the state if the bill wasn’t denounced. Proponents of the law say it is necessary to prevent molestation by people misusing civil rights protections to enter a bathroom that does not correspond to their biological sex. In response to this claim, Loretta Lynch, United States attorney general, said no instance of that sort of abuse has been found.
Bison Named First National Mammal

President Obama signed a bipartisan bill Monday that made the bison the official national mammal. The animal will join the bald eagle as a national symbol and an icon of long-lasting preservation efforts in the U.S. that have kept the animal from being driven to extinction. However, the law does not change how people can interact with the animal. It is still legal for Native Americans to hunt, ranchers to ranch, zoos to keep and for anyone to eat bison. Bison were almost driven to extinction in the early 1800s in an effort to drive away Native Americans, who used the animal as a primary food source. It became illegal to kill bison in 1894, and later, Theodore Roosevelt led an effort to rehabilitate them.

Planned Parenthood Shooter Found Incompetent

Robert L. Dear Jr., the shooter in the November Planned Parenthood shootings and self-proclaimed “warrior for the babies,” was found to be incompetent Wednesday by Judge Gilbert A. Martinez and will be sent to a psychiatric facility for 90 days before another hearing. The 90 days are intended to bring Dear to competency so he can stand in court to face the 127 charges leveled against him. The ruling was made after Judge Martinez heard testimonies from two psychologists who evaluated Dear. He was found to have wide-ranging delusions that the government had been following and spying on him.

International Spotlight

Italy Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions

The Italian Parliament passed a law Wednesday allowing for same sex couples in Italy to engage in civil unions. Italy is one of the last Western nations to enact the measure, with the delay likely caused by the Roman Catholic Church’s influence in the country’s politics. Opponents of the law, including the Catholic Church, say they want to protect the traditional family. Proponents of LGBT rights say the law doesn’t go far enough since it does not recognize same-sex marriages and does not allow one member of the civil union to legally adopt the biological child of their partner. The “stepchild adoption” provision was in the original law, but was dropped after opposition from center-moderate groups and the church.

Brazil 2016 Summer Olympics Will Go On as Planned Despite Zika Virus

The International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that it will not move, delay or cancel the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil despite urging from many officials, most notably Canadian health professor Amir Attaran. Attaran posed that the influx of visitors into the country for the games could result in a large number of avoidable malformed babies. In a published article in the Harvard Public Health Review, Attaran stated that the games could potentially cause a worldwide global health disaster. However, organizers of the games say they see no need to change their plans for the games.

Germany Will Rescind Convictions for Homosexuality

Germany announced Wednesday that it would erase convictions from the records of those prosecuted under a Nazi-era anti-homosexuality law. The law, originally of Nazi origin, was in effect from 1949 and eased off in 1969, but wasn’t fully removed until 1994. Only men were convicted since female homosexuality was not criminalized under the law. Since many of those prosecuted under the law went to prison and faced many injustices, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas says the government will put forward legislation that will outline compensation for those affected by it.