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Trump administration says it’s legal to fire workers for being transgender

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The Trump administration outlined in a court filing on Friday why it believes transgender discrimination is legal in the workplace under federal law — a broad setback in LGBTQ rights since the Obama administration.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act states that employers also can’t discriminate based on sex, race, color, religion, and national origin. The Justice Department under the Trump administration, is arguing that workplace discrimination based on sex does not apply to transgender workers.

The filing is related to an upcoming Supreme Court case involving a transgender funeral worker Aimee Stephens who was fired from her position after announcing her transition.

Per the Justice Department’s brief, the word “sex” solely refers to the biological sex of an individual.

“In 1964, the ordinary public meaning of ‘sex’ was biological sex. It did not encompass transgender status, which Stephens and the Sixth Circuit describe as a disconnect between an individual’s biological sex and gender identity,” the court filing stated. “In the particular context of Title VII … it was especially clear that the prohibition on discrimination because of ‘sex’ referred to unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace.”

Read more: The Justice Department wants the Supreme Court to be told it’s ok for businesses to discriminate against transgender employees

The Obama administration’s Justice Department had previously asserted that Title VII did protect transgender workers and would argue as such in court. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has upheld the Obama-era rule since then. This was exemplified in last year’s 3-o decision in a lower court, which ruled in favor of Stephens.

The court ruled that “discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII” of the federal employment rights law.

However, the DOJ under the Trump administration argued that Congress did not have the LGBTQ community in mind when passing the 1964 law. Earlier this week, Bloomberg Law reported that the Justice Department was seeking to persuade the EEOC to support its stance that it would not be in violation of the law for businesses to discriminate against transgender employees.

“As it stands, Title VII prohibits treating an individual less favorably than similarly situated individuals of the opposite sex,” the Justice Department contended in the court filing. “It simply does not speak to discrimination because of an individual’s gender identity or a disconnect between an individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex.”

The Supreme Court will hear Stephens’ case on October 8.



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General Election: Labour MP says anti-Kremlin activists being targeted by Russian hackers

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  • An “unknown number” of anti-Kremlin journalists, activists and organisations in the UK have reportedly been targeted by the same hackers. 
  • The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre told Ben Bradshaw, a Labour politician targeted in the campaign, its investigation was ongoing. 
  • Investigative journalism website Bellingcat and reporter Carole Cadwalladr are understood to have been targeted. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

An “unknown number” of anti-Kremlin activists have reportedly been targeted by Russian hackers, according to British MP Ben Bradshaw. 

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre told Bradshaw a number of individuals and organisations, all critics of alleged Russian interference in foreign elections, had been targeted by the same campaign.

Bradshaw’s campaign team received an email purporting to be from a Russian government whistleblower, promising insider knowledge of the Kremlin’s operations.  Sky first reported news of the original email.

Business Insider understands that the NCSC has confirmed similar emails sent to Bellingcat, an investigative journalism website, and Carole Cadwalladr, an Observer reporter, came from the same source. 

Bradshaw, who has been an ardent campaigner against Russia’s alleged election meddling, told Business Insider: “I’m not surprised, given everything I’ve done trying to expose the subversion of our democracy. For me, this makes it all the more scandalous that Boris Johnson is still refusing to publish the independent report on Russian interference.” 

Business Insider previously reported Prime Minister Boris Johnson had apparently blocked a report into Russian interference in UK elections because it revealed “embarrassing” links between Conservative donors and the Kremlin. 

Business Insider approached the NCSC for comment. 

This is a developing story…



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Viral video shows people using ladder to climb US-Mexico border fence

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  • A viral video posted to Twitter shows people climbing the US-Mexico border wall and easily sliding down the other side. 
  • The clip was shot by J. Omar Ornelas, a bi-lingual photojournalist based in Palm Springs, California. It is unclear where or when the video was taken. 
  • In the video, three people are seen at the border fence. One of the people was able to easily slide down the fence’s slats like a fireman’s pole before quickly running away as a Border Patrol vehicle pulls up. 
  • President Donald Trump has been advocating for stronger protections along the US-Mexico border and has long promised to build a wall that could withstand migrant penetration. 
  • In September, he replaced a decaying portion of the wall in San Diego, California claiming that it was “virutally impossible” to scale. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A video showing people apparently climbing the US-Mexico border wall and easily sliding down the other side has gone viral on social media. 

The video was posted to Twitter by J. Omar Ornelas, a bi-lingual photojournalist based in Palm Springs, California, alongside the caption: “This is the newly replaced wall along the US/MEXICO border. #TheWall”

The clip shows three people at the border wall — one person at the bottom holding a ladder in place, and two people scaling the ladder.

One of the people was able to easily slide down the border fence’s slats like a fireman’s pole once they were over the fence’s ledge. The person then runs away, as what appears to be a Border Patrol vehicle pulls up. The two other people remove the ladder and remain on the Mexico side of the wall.

US Customs and Border Protection was not immediately available for comment.

The clip has since amassed over 2.1 million views and has been retweeted over 15,o00 times.

Ornelas did not include where the video was shot or when the video was taken, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

President Donald Trump has been advocating for stronger protections along the US-Mexico border and has long promised to build a wall that could withstand migrant penetration. 

Trump unveiled several prototypes of a border wall last year and they appeared to withstand attempts at scaling them. The prototypes at the time were made of concrete, steel, and other materials. 

No new border wall has been built since he’s been in office, though Trump did replace a decaying portion of the border partition with a 14-mile stretch of 18- to 30-foot slatted fence in September. When Trump visited the $147-million border wall replacement project in Otay Mesa, California, he called the design “amazing” and signed his name in Sharpie. 

Trump has said that climbing this iteration of the border wall is “virutally impossible.”

“I tell you this very strongly: No more people can come in,” he said during his visit. 

Recently, videos have emerged showing people as young as eight-years-old scaling an 18-foot replica of the wall. One man multiple was even able to climb the replica while juggling different items in one hand.

And in November, The Washington Post reported that smugglers based in Mexico are reportedly using power tools to cut large holes in the newly constructed wall. 



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Amazon Web Services’ Andy Jassy says JEDI ‘was not adjudicated fairly’

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Following Amazon’s legal challenge of the government’s handling of a $10 billion cloud contract, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy tried to make his case in the court of public opinion on Wednesday.

In a meeting with reporters, Jassy argued that the Pentagon’s decision to award that contract to Microsoft was not fairly made and was tainted by “significant political interference.”

“What I would say is that I think it’s fairly obvious that we feel pretty strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly,” Jassy told reporters at a press event at AWS re:Invent, Amazon’s cloud mega-conference in Las Vegas. “If you do a truly objective detailed apples-to-apples comparison of the platforms, you don’t end up in a spot where that decision was made.”

In October, Amazon was on the losing end of a major upset when it lost a crucial $10 billion Pentagon contract to Microsoft. Amazon Web Services was considered the frontrunner of the bid for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.

After the Department of Defense announced that Microsoft had won, AWS filed an official challenge in November over claims of “unmistakable bias.” During the bid for JEDI, President Donald Trump, who has an open feud with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns, reportedly said that he would look into the bidding process for the contract.

“We have a sitting president who is willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company,” Jassy said. “It makes it really difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make an objective decision without a fear of reprisal.”

The line is almost identical to what Jassy said in an all-hands meeting with Amazon employees last month, according to a recording obtained by Business Insider. 

In his comments on Wednesday, Jassy added an appeal to patriotism and national security.

“We’re talking about the national security of our country and modernizing their technology platforms and the foundation on which all those applications are going to be used to protect our country,” Jassy said. “You have to make sure these decisions are made truly objectively.”

Previously, Jassy reportedly told employees that AWS is two years ahead of Microsoft, and he made these claims again on Wednesday.

“Most of our customers tell us that we’re a couple years ahead mostly in regards to functionality and maturity,” Jassy said.

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