Kentucky Passes a Bill Prohibiting Trans Students From Using the Bathroom That Matches Their Gender

Also: DC legalizes pot, "Jihadi John" may have a real name at last, and Facebook tries to help suicidal users.
Amanda Lauren
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Also: DC legalizes pot, "Jihadi John" may have a real name at last, and Facebook tries to help suicidal users.

Good news for pot smokers who live in DC: As of yesterday, marijuana became legal. But before you celebrate, I’ve got a primer on the rules in case you don’t want to end up in Federal Prison. Also, a decision has been made dictating what bathroom transgender students can use in Kentucky. Plus, "Jihadi John" has finally been identified.

What do you think of this bill in Kentucky? Do you think perhaps installing one individual unisex restroom (one toilet, no stalls) in every institution that anyone could use would be a far better way of dealing with such a sensitive issue? Are you lighting up a joint in DC as you read this? Are you the human of one of the most popular dog breeds in America?

Please discuss these questions or any news item in the comments or tweet me (or just follow me) on Twitter @AmandaLauren.

DC Legalizes It

On Thursday, marijuana officially became legal in the District of Columbia. Remember, legality doesn’t mean anarchy, and possessing marijuana is still prohibited by Federal law. So if you are within a 47 block radius of the Capitol building, keep your weed in your pants or in your purse, just don’t let the Capitol Police or Parks Department see it.

So if you can’t smoke a joint on the White House lawn (or anywhere outside), what can you do? You can posses up to two ounces on your person. If you have more than that, it’s a $1000 fine or possibly up to six months in jail. Also, you can’t sell weed, but you can give up to one ounce as a gift.

Remember, the law passed just made weed legal, but didn’t include funding to create any sort of sales infrastructure, so if you think DC is the new Colorado, that’s not going to happen, at least not in the near future.

In terms of growing, you can grow up to six plants at a time, but it needs to be “within the interior of a house, building, or rental unit that constitutes such a person’s principal residence.” Also, if more than three of those plants are “mature, flowering plants,” you’re breaking the law. As you probably assumed, driving while high is also prohibited.

"Jihadi John" Identified

"Jihadi John," the man shown in the ISIS beheading videos of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, and Abdul-Rahman Kassig has been identified. Officials believe he is Mohammed Emwazi, 26, a Kuwaiti-born British man from West London.

Emwazi reportedly came from a well-off family and occasionally attended a mosque in Greenwich. He has a degree in computer programing from the University of Westminster.

Reports say that in 2009, he and some friends went on a trip to Tanzania, allegedly to go on safari, but were detained once they got here. The government thought they were trying to join terrorist network al-Shaabab and then tried to recruit him as an informant. He was also strip searched and held in a cell for 24 hours without food or water.

Emwazi was deported to Amsterdam, where officials again questioned him. He was let go and traveled back to the U.K., but was also questioned when he arrived there.

In late 2009, he moved back to Kuwait as a result of his frustration and anger. Since those incidents, Emwazi has been detained and held several times. In 2013, he entered Syria.

According to a representative for the British Embassy in Washington, DC, the government can’t really comment specially, but they want justice:

Our prime minister has been clear that we want all those who have committed murder on behalf of ISIL to face justice for the appalling acts carried out. There is an ongoing police investigation into the murder of hostages by ISIL in Syria. It is not appropriate for the government to comment on any part of it while this continues.

While officials won’t confirm or deny, even Emwazi’s friends are admitting he’s the real Jihadi John and one even told The Washington Post,

I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John. He was like a brother to me . . . . I am sure it is him.

Using the Bathroom in Kentucky Just Got More Difficult If You’re a Transgender Student

On Monday, Kentucky passed a bill that prohibits transgender students from using the bathroom of their identified gender, requiring all students to use the bathroom according to “their biological sex.” The purpose of the bill is to:

. . . ensure that student privacy exists in school restrooms, locker rooms, and showers; require students born male to use only those facilities designated to be used by males and students born female to use only those facilities designated to be used by females.

The bill also includes a clause which allows students to sue the school for $2,500 if they encounter someone of the opposite sex in a bathroom, if the school fails to prevent it from happening.

The bill was a reaction to an incident last year, when Thomas Aberli, the principal of Atherton High School, allowed a transgender woman to use the woman’s restroom.

Last week, the state senate tried to pass a similar bill, which would allow transgender students to request special accommodations like a unisex bathroom. That legislation failed to pass by one vote.

Christina Kelty, who is a sophomore at Atherton High School, testified for the bill, saying,

My school's policy places the rights of one transgender student over the rights of many girls. Since a person's gender identity is what they think and feel about themselves versus something that can be physically seen, girls in the restroom have no way to tell if someone is transgender or not.

As can be imagined, not everyone was happy this bill passed, especially Chris Hartman, the director of the Kentucky LGBT advocacy group Fairness Campaign, who told The Huffington Post,

Unfortunately, tonight, the Kentucky Senate chose to prioritize an issue of discrimination after it was defeated just days ago with bipartisan opposition. Given the number and scale of important issues before the Senate this session, it is shocking the committee felt the need to re-vote on this. It is willful, mean-spirited, and does nothing to move our commonwealth forward.


· After working with suicide prevention organizations Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and, Facebook is doing more to help potentially suicidal users. If someone posts a message indicating they could be suicidal or might harm themselves, and their friends report it, now a trained team is going to review the posts and, if necessary, send the proper help and information to the person, either by connecting them with friends or a helpline worker at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Furthermore, the new program offers help to the person who reported the message, encouraging them to get in touch with their distressed friend either by phone or message or connect them with professional support. The old system was not as user-friendly, and required users to upload screen shots.

· On Thursday the FCC voted in favor of net neutrality, meaning there will be no “fast lanes” for content providers. Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "The Internet is too important to allow broadband providers to make the rules. So today after a decade of debate in an open, robust year-long process, we finally have legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet stays fast, fair and open.”

· This week, the AKC published a list of the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the U.S. The Labrador retriever was at the top of the list, followed by German shepherd, golden retriever, bulldog, beagle, Yorkshire terrier, poodle, boxer, french bulldog, and Rottweiler breeds. Remember, the cutest pups (and kitties too) are always available at a local rescue or shelter.