The Daily Cut: Catalan parliament | NRA statement | Niger attack | Transgender policy | Nobel in literature
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The Daily Cut: Catalan parliament | NRA statement | Niger attack | Transgender policy | Nobel in literature

October 5, 2017

Spain’s Constitutional Court bars Catalan parliament from meeting Monday

On Thursday, Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled to prohibit the Catalan parliament from meeting next Monday, when members of parliament were scheduled to discuss the results of Sunday’s referendum on independence from Spain. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont had said on Wednesday that the region would declare its independence “within days.”

The Socialists’ Party of Catalonia, which opposes secession, brought the case to the court, arguing that if the 135-member parliament declared independence on Monday, it would violate the rights of the party’s 13 MPs.

Spain’s Constitutional Court said in their ruling that the Catalan parliament declaring independence would be “a breach of the constitution.” The court had previously ruled to suspend the referendum vote.

A Catalan government spokesperson said about 42 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Sunday’s referendum, and about 90 percent of those voted in favor of independence.

(Sources: BBC, The Guardian)

US NRA says bump stock devices ‘should be subject to additional regulations’

The U.S. National Rifle Association (NRA) said in a statement on Thursday that it “believes devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.” The statement said that in Sunday night’s Las Vegas mass shooting, “reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved,” and that the NRA “is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these [bump fire stock] devices comply with federal law.”

The Las Vegas shooter reportedly had “bump stocks” attached to 12 rifles found in his hotel room. The devices attach to rifles and use the rifle’s recoiling action, causing the trigger to be pulled over and over again so that semi-automatic rifles can fire at a rate similar to automatic rifles. The ATF had previously declined to ban bump stocks, saying in 2010 that a bump stock is a “firearm part and is not regulated as a (actual) firearm under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.”

“Banning guns from law-abiding Americans” would “do nothing to prevent future attacks,” the NRA said in Thursday’s statement. The statement also reaffirmed the NRA’s commitment to “strengthening” the Second Amendment of the U.S. constitution, which protects “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.”

(Sources: USA Today, BBC)

3 US Green Berets killed, 2 wounded in attack in Niger

Three U.S. special operations soldiers were killed and two were wounded on Wednesday in Niger, according to U.S. officials who requested anonymity. A Nigerien official said five Nigerien soldiers were also killed in the operation. The U.S. and Nigerien soldiers were attacked while on a joint patrol along the Niger-Mali border. U.S. officials said they were likely attacked by militants from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

French soldiers evacuated the dead and wounded via helicopter. According to a spokeswoman for the French Ministry of Defense, no French soldiers were killed in the attack. The two wounded American soldiers, also known as Green Berets, were taken to Niger’s capital Niamey, about 124 miles (200 km) away, before being transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where they were in stable condition, according to U.S. Africa Command.

CNN reports that the U.S. has about 800 troops in Niger, and has had a military presence there for five years. According to a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, U.S. special forces “provide training and security assistance” to Nigerien forces in fighting “violent extremist organizations,” such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and IS-affiliated Boko Haram. France has maintained thousands of troops in the area since starting its “counterterrorism effort” Operation Barkhane in 2014.

(Sources: CNN, AP)

US Attorney General memo: Title VII doesn’t cover gender identity-based discrimination

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in a memo that the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Title VII prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex “encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.” The Department of Justice (DOJ) memo, delivered to federal prosecutors on Wednesday, said the department would take this position “in all pending and future matters.”

The statement, which Buzzfeed first reported on Thursday, further said the position was a “conclusion of law, not policy,” and that the DOJ, “must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals.”

Three years ago, the Justice Department under President Obama had implemented a policy that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to be used to bring legal claims on behalf of transgender people discriminated against in the workplace for their gender identity. There are currently no federal laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination against transgender people in the workplace.

(Sources: The Washington Post, AP)

Nobel prize in literature awarded to British novelist

Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japan-born British author, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday for his body of work over 35 years. Ishiguro, 62, is the 29th English-language novelist to win the prize. He has published seven novels since 1982, including “A Pale View of the Hills,” “Never Let Me Go,” and “The Buried Giant,” published in 2015. His 1989 novel “The Remains of the Day,” about a butler in pre-World War II England, was the basis for a movie of the same name.

The Nobel Prize in Literature was established in 1901, has been awarded 114 times, and awards 9 million Swedish krona (US$1.1 million) to a writer who “shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction,” according to Alfred Nobel. The Swedish Academy said Ishiguro’s novels are “of great emotional force”, and “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.

(Sources: The New York Times, The Guardian)