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Police used pepper spray against protesters in Seattle

Police in the US city of Seattle clashed with crowds marching in support of anti-racism protests, in one of the most tense of several rallies held across the country on Saturday.

Officers used stun grenades and pepper spray, as protesters set a fire and broke windows. The march was in support of ongoing protests in Portland.

Forty-five people were arrested while 21 officers were injured.

In Austin, Texas one man was killed during a Black Lives Matter march.

Police said initial reports suggested the victim might have been carrying a rifle and approached a vehicle, from where a person shot and killed him. The suspect has been arrested and is co-operating with officers.

The demonstrations have been given renewed energy by violent clashes in Portland between protesters and federal agents deployed by President Donald Trump despite opposition from local and state leaders.

In Seattle, thousands of protesters had initially gathered peacefully, carrying signs such as “Feds go home” and “We are living in a police state”, and shouting chants of “No justice, no peace”.

A group then set fire to the construction site for a youth detention facility before smashing windows of a courthouse and nearby businesses, police said. Authorities said rocks, bottles, fireworks and mortars were thrown at officers, and one of them was taken to hospital with a leg injury.

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A trailer on a construction site for a youth detention facility was targeted by protesters

Police declared the demonstrations a riot and said they were investigating whether an explosive device was used against a police station. No injuries were reported.

Like Portland, Seattle has seen extended protests against racism and police brutality since the death of George Floyd in police custody in May. But after a police-free protest zone in the city was dismantled earlier this month following a series of shootings, demonstrations had waned.

What happened elsewhere in the US?

A car drove through a crowd in Aurora, Colorado but there were no reports of injuries. At the same march, a person was injured after a protester “decided to fire off a weapon”, police said. The person is reportedly in a stable condition in hospital.

Demonstrators in the city also remembered Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man who died last August after being stopped by police.

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A car drove through a crowd demonstrating in Aurora, Colorado

In Louisville, Kentucky hundreds of members of a black militia demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was fatally shot when officers entered her flat in March.

Carrying semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, the group walked in formation to a fenced off intersection where they were separated by police from a smaller crowd of armed counter-protesters. There were no reports of incidents.

Earlier, three members of the black militia were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after a weapon was accidentally discharged. Police said the incident was being investigated.

1595764608 627 Seattle protest Police and anti racism demonstrators clash at march

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Media captionThe black militia group NFAC were protesting against the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor

In other developments:

What is happening in Portland?

Mr Trump’s decision to send federal law enforcement agents to protect government buildings in Portland, Oregon, has been deeply controversial. Clashes have escalated recently.

Federal officers in unmarked vehicles appeared to forcefully seize protesters from the streets and detain them without justification. They have also fired tear gas and less-lethal munitions into crowds of demonstrators.

1595764608 880 Seattle protest Police and anti racism demonstrators clash at march

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Media captionPortland protests: Calls for federal troops to leave US city

President Donald Trump says he is trying to restore order but his approach has drawn widespread criticism and legal challenges.

The Democratic governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, has demanded their withdrawal, and local officials say this is an election-year ploy by the president to try and paint his opponents as weak on law and order.

Mr Trump said he would send federal troops to other cities including Chicago.



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A Tory MP Has Branded His Government’s Decision On Trans Rights A “Crushing Disappointment”

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Trade Secretary and Women and Equalities minister Liz Truss (Credit: PA)


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A Tory MP has branded the government’s decision to row back on plans to reform transgender rights “a crushing disappointment”.

Crispin Blunt tabled an urgent question in the Commons on Thursday after ministers dropped plans to allow trans people to self-identify under reforms to the Gender Recognition Act,.

He said women and equalities minister Liz Truss, who is also the trade secretary, had presented MPs with “an inherently unstable settlement that will have to be addressed hopefully sooner rather than later” and that delays in its release had contributed to upset in the trans community.

“Does she appreciate that trans people cannot discern any strong or coherent reason for this screeching change of direction?” he added.

“Does she understand the anger at the prospect of them receiving their fundamental rights being snatched away?

“The longer this uncertainty has been allowed to continue, the worse the fear and anger have become.”

The Conservative backbencher said the contrast in both Ms Truss’s reputation across her twin briefs and her work on equalities compared to that of her predecessor Penny Mordaunt was “horribly stark”. 

“I welcome and enjoy the dynamism of my right honourable friend, that she brings to her unprecedented historic responsibilities in retaking control of British trade policy after nearly half a century,” he said.

“The command of technical, economic and legal detail required is at once intimidating and inspiring. As a great trading nation, it commands all her attention and she has risen to the trade challenge.

“The prime minister has done her, and the nation, no favours by continuing to overburden her after the election at such an extraordinary time for trade.”

He added: “Does she see that the underlying trend of the majority of people in this country is following the path set by a change of attitude in society a generation earlier towards those with different sexualities?

“And the vast majority, the vast, vast majority of LGBT people will stand in solidarity with trans people. Does she appreciate that this statement does not command a majority in this House?”

But fellow Tory MP Ben Bradley defended Ms Truss, accusing Mr Blunt of being “way out on a limb”.

He wrote on Twitter: [In my opinion], most colleagues welcome the compromise where can make things administratively easier for trans people, whilst still taking a good look at the implications of education, healthcare and treatments.”

He added that Ms Truss had found a “fair balance” in her response, and that any issues with the approach stems from the “previous administration massively overpromising” on potential changes to the process.

Under the government’s plans, the need for a Gender Recognition Certificate for a person to legally change sex will remain the same, but the process will be “modernised” and the cost reduced.

Ms Truss said the government is “also taking action to ensure transgender people can access the appropriate healthcare they need”.

Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities, Marsha de Cordova, said minsters had “let trans people down…after three years of toxic debate”.

Ms Truss said she believed the “right conclusion” had been reached to ensure “proper checks and balances” in the system and that the government’s proposals were “in line with other major nations”.

“We believe in individual liberty and in the humanity and dignity of every person,” she added.

“It is my view that the balance struck in the existing legislation is correct.”

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Dreamworld accident: Australian theme park fined over four deaths

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image caption(L-R) Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozbeh Araghi and Cindy Low died in 2016

The operator of Australia’s Dreamworld theme park has been fined A$3.6m (£2m; $2.5m) over the deaths of four people on a malfunctioning water ride.

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozbeh Araghi and Cindy Low died in October 2016 when their raft crashed into another and overturned, crushing them.

Park operator Ardent Leisure admitted in July to breaching safety laws.

The company said it accepted responsibility and had worked to improve safety standards.

The four victims – all adults – died almost instantly after the Thunder River Rapids Ride rafts collided, an inquiry heard in 2018. Two children were also on board but survived.

The accident at Australia’s biggest theme park was caused by a pump that malfunctioned near the end of the ride.

On Monday, a court said the company had failed in its duty of care and should have taken steps to make the ride safer.

“Steps were not that complex or burdensome and only mildly inconvenient and really were inexpensive,” Magistrate Pamela Dowse said.

“They operated the most iconic amusement park in the country, which targeted and attracted families.

“There was complete and blind trust placed in the defendant by every guest who rode the Thunder River Rapids Ride.”

image copyrightCORONERS COURT OF QUEENSLAND
image captionThe raft carrying passengers flipped in the collision

The size of the fine reflected the severity of the company’s failure, she added. Ardent had been facing a maximum A$4.5m fine.

Chief executive John Osborne said: “Ardent accepts responsibility for this tragedy, and we fully accept the consequences.”

Families of the victims also delivered statements to the sentencing court on Monday, expressing grief and anger over their loss.

  • Australia theme park admits guilt over ride deaths

“That Cindy died violently is unacceptable to us,” said Helen Cook, aunt to Ms Low. “Knowing her death could have been avoided is unacceptable and infuriating.”

In February, a coroner found the accident had been “only a matter of time” as the theme park had not properly assessed the ride’s safety risk in over 30 years.

Dreamworld briefly shut down for six weeks after the accident in 2016, during which it demolished the ride.

The company has reported operating losses every year since the accident, including more than A$260m in losses in its theme park division.

It is also fighting a class action from shareholders who claim the company misled them on the park’s safety measures.

Related Topics

  • Theme parks

  • Queensland
  • Australia

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Swiss voters clearly reject curbs on EU immigration

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The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) had forced a binding referendum on the EU agreement in a bid to curb immigration to the country where foreigners make up a quarter of the population.

The measure lost by 62%-38% margin.

The SVP – the biggest party in parliament – has long pushed to take back control of immigration, echoing some arguments pro-Brexit politicians used in the run-up to Britain’s exit from the EU. It won a referendum on the issue in 2014, only to see parliament water down its implementation.

Opponents said the plan would have robbed business of skilled workers and torpedoed accords that enhance non-EU member Switzerland’s access to the crucial EU single market.

Under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, the referendum could have forced the government to annul the EU agreement if negotiations did not produce a deal on ending the pact voluntarily, something Brussels has ruled out.

A “guillotine clause” meant that ending free movement would have toppled other bilateral pacts on land and air transport, procurement, technical barriers to trade, and research.

Around two-thirds of the 2.1 million foreigners living in Switzerland in 2019 were citizens of the EU, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, which with Switzerland are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

More than 450,000 Swiss live in the EU.

The domestic political battle immediately turned to Switzerland’s biggest foreign policy headache: a stalled treaty meant to cement ties with the EU but which critics say infringes too much on Swiss sovereignty and would never win a referendum.

The treaty would have Bern routinely adopt single market rules and create a new platform to resolve disputes.

With questions open over state aid, rules to protect high Swiss wages, and access to welfare benefits, the Swiss have dragged their feet while trying to forge a domestic consensus, triggering a row over cross-border stock trading.

Amid relatively high turnout, voters narrowly blocked an attempt to make it easier to shoot wolves deemed a threat to livestock.

In an unexpectedly close vote, they approved the government’s plans to buy new fighter jets for up to 6 billion Swiss francs ($6.46 billion).

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