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Saudi eliminates gender-segregated entrances for eateries

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Restaurants and cafes in Saudi Arabia are no longer required to have gender-segregated entrances, officials said, in a further easing of social restrictions in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.

Eateries have long required one entrance for single men and another for women and families, in a country where the once-powerful religious police zealously enforced sex segregation in public places for decades.

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The ministry of municipalities and rural affairs said on Twitter Sunday it was eliminating several requirements for restaurants, including the need for “an entrance for bachelors and a separate entrance for families”.

It was unclear whether a restriction on seating inside restaurants will also be removed.

Restaurants are currently segregated into a “family” section for those accompanied by women and a “singles” area for men, though many have quietly taken down the barriers in recent years amid the kingdom’s sweeping liberalisation drive.

The latest reform was hailed by young Saudis but dismissed by arch-conservatives on social media, with one Twitter user saying it went “against sharia”, or Islamic law.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has sought to project a moderate, business-friendly image of his austere kingdom as he seeks to boost investment.

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Prince Mohammed has clipped the powers of hardline clerics as he pursues a modernisation drive that has allowed mixed-gender music concerts and ended decades-long bans on cinemas and women drivers.

Until three years ago, the religious police elicited widespread fear in the kingdom, chasing men and women out of malls to pray and berating anyone seen mingling with the opposite sex.

The hardline enforcers of public morality, whose powers began waning even before Prince Mohammed rose to power, are now largely out of sight.

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But the reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on activists, including women urging faster reform, some of whom have accused interrogators of sexual harassment and torture. Saudi prosecutors deny the accusations.


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Trump’s frustrated lawyers wanted Jared and Ivanka booted from the White House: new book

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According to the new book A Very Stable Genius, members of President Trump's legal team saw Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, as "problems" during the early days of the Mueller investigation because they talked "openly" about it and made it "impossible for the White House to function in a normal way," Newsweek reports.

Some of Trump's legal team were scared to speak out, however, fearing that they'd become "roadkill" if the pair ever found out.

According to the book, key members of the legal team held a meeting on June 13, 2017, where they discussed whether or not Jared and Ivanka should remain in the White House as senior staffers.

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Trump has been mysteriously ignoring Melania’s initiatives in his major speeches: report

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According to a report on Politico, an analysis of Donald Trump's State of the Union addresses shows that the president has neglected to boost his wife's most notable achievement in her three years as first lady -- apparently at the urging of aides who feel it is best not to bring it up.

Traditionally, first ladies take on a cause after settling in and Melania Trump has been no different, launching her "Be Best" campaign aimed at halting online bullying. However, that campaign has been ignored by the president in all of his major speeches where he has touted his administration's accomplishments.

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Mike Pompeo accused of ‘retaliating against’ NPR after he bars reporter from his plane

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NPR reporter Michele Kelemen has been removed from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s press pool ahead of his trip abroad this week to Europe and Asia, the State Department Correspondents’ Association reported on Monday.

In her role as a pool reporter, Kelemen was to travel with Pompeo and share information as a representative of all radio news outlets, not just NPR. But last week, Pompeo ignited a feud with NPR when host Mary Louise Kelly pressed him on his failure to stand up for State Department officials who got wrapped up in the Ukraine impeachment scandal. Reporters need the department’s permission to fly on the plane along with the secretary for foreign trips, though this practice is usually uncontroversial.

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