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Virgin Air Australia cuts deal with Brunei airline over Sharia Law

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The Australian arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines has cancelled a staff travel agreement with Brunei’s national carrier in response to the Asian nation’s adoption of sharia law, including the death penalty for gay sex, the airline said Thursday.

The agreement allowed Virgin staff to book discounted tickets on Royal Brunei flights for leisure travel.

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The company, Australia’s second-biggest airline after Qantas, sent an email to employees explaining the new Sharia code, which came into effect on Wednesday, applies to Muslims, non-Muslims and foreigners “even when transiting on Brunei-registered aircraft and vessels.”

“Given the harsh (including death) penalties being introduced for activity that is legal and acceptable in Australia, the myID (staff travel) agreement between Virgin Australia and Royal Brunei has now been terminated effective immediately,” said the email, a copy of which was made available to AFP.

A separate agreement that allows Royal Brunei to sell seats available on Virgin Australia flights within Australia remains in place, the spokesperson said.

Qantas, whose CEO Alan Joyce is one of Australia’s most high-profile openly gay business leaders, declined to comment on whether it was reviewing its staff travel deal with Royal Brunei.

The tough sharia penal code in the tiny country on tropical Borneo island — ruled by the all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah — came into force Wednesday following years of delays.

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The laws, including death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, make Brunei the first place in East or Southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at a national level, joining several mostly Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia.

The decision to push ahead with the punishments has sparked alarm around the world, with the United Nations labelling them a “clear violation” of human rights and celebrities, led by actor George Clooney and pop star Elton John, calling for Brunei-owned hotels to be boycotted.

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WATCH: Saturday Night Live airs Christmas special — that’s just one giant dig at the Electoral College

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NBC's "Saturday Night Live" aired an opening skit that was just one giant attack on the electoral college.

A snowman introduced the segment, saying that we could look in on the holiday table conversation thanks to hacked Nest cams.

The skit featured a house in San Francisco, California, a second in Charleston, South Carolina and a third in Atlanta, Georgia.

Each dinner table debated impeachment, and the differences between President Donald Trump and his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

But then the snowman said that none of their votes matter.

"They'll debate the issues all year long, but then it all comes down to 1,000 people in Wisconsin who won't even think about the election until the morning of," the snowman said. "And that's the magic of the Electoral College."

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Georgia mayor being recalled for racism resigns from office: report

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Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly resigned in a special city council meeting held on Saturday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Saturday.

"The resignation came just days after Councilman Jim Cleveland resigned saying he‘d rather leave office on his own terms than face voters in a recall election next month," the newspaper reported. "Both resignations follow an AJC investigation launched seven months ago into claims that an African American candidate for city administrator was sidetracked by Mayor Theresa Kenerly because of his race."

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Nine 2020 Democrats unite to demand DNC Chair Tom Perez scrap debate rules: report

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The Democratic National Committee is facing a revolt for the party's 2020 presidential candidates for its restrictive debate rules.

"Nine Democratic presidential candidates, including the party's front-runners, are urging the Democratic National Committee to toss out the current polling and fundraising rules used to determine who appears in televised debates and reopen the exchanges to better reflect the historic diversity of the current field. The candidates say the rules exclude diverse candidates in the field from participating," CBS News reported Saturday evening.

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