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Transgender woman sues Massachusetts for housing her in men’s prison

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A transgender woman on Wednesday sued the Massachusetts prison system, saying it is violating her civil rights by housing her in a facility for male prisoners, where lawyers contend she is routinely harassed by fellow inmates and prison staff.

The 53-year-old woman, whose name is not disclosed in the lawsuit filed in Boston federal court, contends the state Department of Corrections is violating her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to house her with women and subjecting her to strip searches by male guards.

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The suit, which advocates believe is the first of its kind filed in the state, asks the prisons system to transfer the woman to a women’s prison in Framingham, rather than the men’s facility in Norfolk where she is housed. It also asks the court to order prison officials to address her as a woman and allow only female guards to strip-search her.

“Anyone could imagine how horrific it would be to be a woman in a men’s facility,” said Jennifer Levi, director of the transgender rights project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the Massachusetts group representing the woman, who is serving a three-to-four-year sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. “This policy of placing transgender women in men’s facilities is totally out of step with Massachusetts policies.”

A spokesman for the state department of corrections declined to comment on the lawsuit.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania in May allowed a transgender woman to sue her employer under the ADA citing the condition known as gender dysphoria, even though the disabilities law excludes transgender people from protection. The suit has since been settled, according to federal court records.

Gender dysphoria is a medical condition where someone suffers distress because their gender identity does not match their body.

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Massachusetts last year passed a law banning discrimination against transgender people in public restrooms and other public buildings.

The woman, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria decades ago, claimed in the lawsuit that she has been routinely groped by male guards during strip searches and is forced to shower in the presence of male inmates.

“Jane Doe is forced to shower in terror of being attacked by these men,” the lawsuit contends. “She is particularly fearful of men serving life sentences, because she believes they view her as the only woman with whom they will ever have the opportunity to have contact and thus target her.”

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Levi estimated that about 50 to 60 transgender women are currently held as inmates in Massachusetts prisons.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Samoa makes measles vaccine mandatory to stop deadly outbreak

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Samoa finalised plans for a compulsory measles vaccination programme Monday, after declaring a state of emergency as a deadly epidemic sweeps the Pacific nation.

At least six fatalities, including five children, have been linked to the outbreak of the virus, which has also hit other island states such as Tonga and Fiji.

Samoa is the worst affected with more than 700 cases reported from across all areas of the country, prompting the government on Friday to invoke emergency powers.

Declaring a state of emergency, the government said plans for compulsory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisations would be published on Monday.

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Protest-hit Iran slams US show of support for ‘rioters’

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Iran has slammed a US show of support for "rioters," after violent protests sparked by a decision to impose petrol price hikes and rationing in the sanctions-hit country.

Major roads have been blocked, banks torched and public buildings attacked in the nationwide unrest that has left at least two dead -- a civilian and a policeman.

Footage of the violence showing masked young men on debris-strewn streets setting buildings ablaze has been aired on state television, which rarely shows any signs of dissent in the country.

Demonstrations broke out on Friday after it was announced that the price of petrol would be raised by 50 percent for the first 60 litres and 200 percent for any extra fuel after that each month.

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John Oliver explains how the Ukraine scandal is so stupid even Fox News ‘idiot’ Steve Doocy should understand it

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver closed out his season with a special report for Fox News hosts who seem to be struggling with the basic understanding of things like "bribery" or the concept that attempted crimes are still actually crimes.

At the top of Sunday's show, Oliver played a clip of Fox News host Laura Ingraham who made the argument that if Trump tried to commit a crime and didn't manage to pull it off, then he's clearly innocent.

"Attempted bribery isn't in the constitution," proclaimed Ingraham, forgetting about what "high crimes and misdemeanors" covers. "Remember, Ukraine got its aid, it was 14 days delayed, big deal. And Ukraine never made any public statement about the investigation."

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