Saturday News: Because it's 2019, not 1919


JUDGE TELLS NC CHARTER SCHOOL IT CAN'T FORCE GIRLS TO WEAR SKIRTS: A North Carolina charter school promoting traditional values engaged in unconstitutional sex discrimination by requiring girls to wear skirts, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled that Charter Day School can't enforce the skirts-only rule as part of its dress code that punishes violations with suspensions and even expulsion. No child has been expelled for violating the dress code since the school opened in 2000, Howard said in a decision filed on Thursday. "All I wanted was for my daughter and every other girl at school to have the option to wear pants so she could play outside, sit comfortably, and stay warm in the winter," Bonnie Peltier said in a statement provided by the ACLU. "But it's disappointing that it took a court order to force the school to accept the simple fact that, in 2019, girls should have the choice to wear pants."

GOVERNOR COOPER PUSHES MORE HIRING OF DISABLED PEOPLE: State government is increasing employment for people with disabilities and is encouraging the private sector to do the same. Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday signed an executive order that declares North Carolina to be an "employment first" state, meaning that people with disabilities who can work should be able to do that and that the state should do what it can to help. Several states around the country are taking same steps. Cooper wants the Office of State Human Resources and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a plan for state agencies to expand recruiting efforts for people with disabilities and to create an inclusive job climate for them. More than 720,000 North Carolinians – about 7 percent of the state's population – are working age and disabled, according to state officials. But only 35 percent of them are employed, compared with 76 percent of North Carolinians without disabilities.

GEORGIA LEGISLATURE PASSES ANTI-ABORTION "HEARTBEAT" BILL: The Georgia House gave final approval Friday to legislation outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, sending the bill to Kemp. If enacted, it'd be among the strictest abortion bans in the U.S. Signing the toughest abortion law in the country was a campaign pledge of Kemp's during his run for governor last year. The measure was approved by just one vote more than the majority needed to pass out of the House: 92 votes from the 180-member chamber. Following the vote, a tense situation erupted when law enforcement confronted several Democratic lawmakers and protesters speaking against the bill in the halls of the Capitol, threatening to arrest people if a crowd didn't disperse and stop chanting "shame". Women in Georgia can currently seek an abortion during the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy. A heartbeat can be detected in an embryo as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.

MEASLES OUTBREAK IN NEW YORK SUBURB TRACED TO ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWISH COMMUNITY: The authorities here in Rockland County have traced the spread of measles to ultra-Orthodox families whose children have not been vaccinated. On Tuesday, county officials took the extraordinary step of announcing a state of emergency, barring unvaccinated children under 18 from public places, including restaurants, shopping centers, houses of worship and schools. More than 17,000 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine have been administered in the county in the past 26 weeks, and the county’s public health campaign included doctors as well as rabbis exhorting the importance of immunization. But the outbreak has persisted. As of Friday, there had been 157 confirmed cases of measles in the county since October. Fault lines have appeared within the Orthodox community as well, where its leadership has been struggling not only to push those who fail to immunize their children to get vaccinations, but against the false perception that Hasidim as a whole are against vaccination.

MAY LOSES ANOTHER VOTE IN PARLIAMENT, HARD BREXIT OR DEADLINE EXTENSION LOOMING: The pound has fallen after British lawmakers once again defeated Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the European Union. Having traded modestly higher ahead of the vote, the pound was 0.5 percent lower at $1.2995 soon after the lawmakers voted by a margin of 58 votes against May's withdrawal agreement. The defeat means that the United Kingdom now facies the prospect of crashing out of the EU on April 12 without a deal that could lead to severe disruptions to trade. Lawmakers will have another chance on Monday to come up with their own proposals of how, or if, Britain leaves the EU. There's also the prospect that Britain will agree on a long Brexit extension with the EU. The European Union has called a special summit for April 10 to assess the third rejection in the UK parliament of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and says a chaotic exit for Britain from the bloc "is now a likely scenario."