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A girl named Ehlena and a dog named Wonder win at US Supreme Court

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a disabled Michigan girl whose school refused to let her bring her service dog to class, making it easier for students like her to seek redress for discrimination in federal court.

The justices ruled 8-0 that Ehlena Fry, 13, and her parents may not be obligated to go through time-consuming administrative appeals with the local school board before suing for damages for the emotional distress she said she suffered by being denied the assistance of her dog, a goldendoodle named Wonder.

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Ehlena was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that severely limited her mobility. Wonder was trained to help her balance, retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, turn on lights, take off her coat and other tasks.

“I saw with my own eyes how Wonder helped my daughter grow more self-reliant and confident,” Stacy Fry, Ehlena’s mother, said in a statement. “We are thankful that the Supreme Court has clarified that schools cannot treat children with disabilities differently or stand in the way of their desired independence.”

The justices sent the case back to a lower appeals court to determine whether Ehlena’s complaint involves the impermissible denial of a proper special education.

The dispute arose in 2009 when Ehlena’s elementary school in Napoleon, Michigan refused to allow her to attend school with Wonder. The school said she already had a one-on-one human aide, as part of her individualized special education program.

The family eventually moved to a different school district where Wonder was welcomed. They filed suit in 2012 in federal court, claiming discrimination under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which permits service dogs in public institutions.

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The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the family, said the ruling will remove unfair legal hurdles for victims of discrimination that prevent students from seeking justice guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Napoleon Community Schools Superintendent Jim Graham said he had no comment.

Ehlena and her parents sued the school district seeking money damages for emotional harm, claiming the school deprived Ehlena of her independence, including in intimate settings such as the bathroom.

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Wednesday’s ruling overturned a 2015 decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio upholding a dismissal of the lawsuit. The appeals court had said that under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law governing special education, the family had to exhaust all of the administrative hearings in its service dog dispute with local and state officials before filing suit.

Writing for the court on Wednesday, Justice Elena Kagan said that if the substance of a lawsuit does not claim the denial of a proper special education under IDEA, then exhausting the administrative remedies is not required.

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Marie-Antoinette and lover’s censored letters deciphered

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Love letters between the ill-fated French queen Marie-Antoinette and her lover, which contain key passages rendered illegible by censor marks, have been deciphered using new techniques, the French National Archives said on Wednesday.

The revealed passages are further confirmation of the steamy relationship between Marie-Antoinette and Count de Fersen, who were writing to each other two years after the 1789 French revolution.

At the time, the queen and King Louis XVI were living under surveillance in the Parisian Tuileries palace and had just failed to escape their house arrest.

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Trump’s attempt to look tough backfires — and even Republicans seem to see the writing on the wall

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From the moment that protests against racist police violence started to spread from Minneapolis to the rest of the country (and the world), after a white police officer named Derek Chauvin killed an unarmed black man named George Floyd in a gruesome incident captured on video, it's been clear that Donald Trump thought this was exactly the Hail Mary he needed to win re-election. Trump has been desperate for a way to distract the country from the soaring death rate of the coronavirus pandemic (now at 108,000 and counting) and the 40 million left unemployed in the resulting economic collapse. He believed that a racist and sadistic backlash against the protesters was just the ticket.

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Snapchat curbs Trump for inciting ‘racial violence’ as Facebook looks the other way

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Snapchat on Wednesday became the latest social network moving to curb the reach of inflammatory comments by US President Donald Trump, claiming the president has been inciting "racial violence."

The youth-focused social network said it would no longer promote Trump on its Discover platform for recommended content.

"We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover," a statement from Snapchat said.

The move came days after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence, heating up the White House war with Silicon Valley and social media.

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