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In the Press

  • David Cameron today backed allowing big retailers and supermarkets to open for longer on Sundays, despite opposition from religious leaders and some of his own MPs.
    The Prime Minister told the Commons this afternoon it was “time to modernise” the current laws, which restrict larger shops to only serving customers for six hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays.
    Earlier this week, the Church of England claimed extending the hours would “erode” family life, while it has been reported at least 20 Tory MPs could vote against the measure.
  • Nearly 700 recruits have returned to Kenya after quitting militant groups, a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.
    The report warns that a failure to reintegrate returnees may lead to further radicalisation.

    Somalia's Islamist al-Shabab militants are believed to be recruiting heavily in neighbouring north-eastern Kenya.
    Kenya has seen a series of militant attacks with one at a university earlier this year killed 148 people.

    Although the report does not mention where the returnees came from, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Hassan Ole Nadu has confirmed to the BBC that they were fighting for al-Shabab.
  • A Muslim couple accused of trying to take their four young children to Syria to join Islamic State should not have their children taken away, the head of the family court ruled yesterday.
    Sir James Munby found that Asif Malik, 31, and Sara Kiran, 29, posed no threat to the welfare of their children, who are all younger than eight. The family’s passports will be returned, despite the fact that they were arrested in Turkey last April as they headed for the Syrian border. Sir James said they had “put the incident behind them”.
    The judgment, made the day after the government announced a raft of plans to strengthen powers to stop Britons travelling to Syria, is thought to be the first of its kind.
  • Michael Gove’s plan to replace the Human Rights Act with a new British Bill of Rights risks encouraging childish “fantasy”, the head of the Government’s equalities watchdog has suggested.
    Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve, the philosopher and chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said any new charter which eventually replaces the Human Rights Act is likely to contain virtually the same principles as the controversial legislation it supersedes.
    The idea that the Government could come up with a completely new set of rights to those contained in the Act is, she said, like a child fantasising that there could be new set of colours to paint pictures with.
    Her remarks came as she delivered a lecture on freedom of religion and freedom of expression, hosted by the Christian think-tank Theos.
    She said the murders of the staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier this year vividly illustrated the dangers of the increasingly prevalent belief that people have a “right not to be offended”.
  • French National Front leader Marine Le Pen has appeared in court in Lyon, to answer charges of inciting racial hatred, for comparing Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi occupation.
    She made the comments at a rally in the city in 2010 when she was fighting for the leadership of the party.
    Ms Le Pen insisted on Tuesday she did not commit any offence.

    And the prosecutor called for her acquittal, saying she was not referring to the whole Muslim community.

    The National Front (FN) leader had only spoken about a specific number of people and was exercising her freedom of speech, Bernard Reynaud told the court.
  • California is still in some respects a laboratory for the rest of the world. Really good things have come out of there, like tight emissions standards for cars, and really bad things, like techno-libertarianism. Now it has embraced assisted suicide, and in this done the rest of the world a huge favour.
    Although there are four other states where assisted suicide is already legal in the US, their combined populations are only a third the size of California’s. If we want to know what happens when a large, diverse state tries the policy, California is the place. Within 10 years or so we will be able to see who is right in the central dispute about these laws. Do they protect the weakest in society, or do they weaken them still further?
  • The House of Representatives will vote on Friday on a bill that will use the reconciliation process to approve legislation to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, which has been caught selling aborted babies and their body parts.
    After the House approved a previous de-funding measure, Senate Democrats defeated a bill to fund the federal government that included language de-funding Planned Parenthood for one year while the Congressional investigation continues into how it allegedly violated multiple laws to sell aborted babies and their body parts.
    House Republican leaders are planning to target Planned Parenthood’s funding by immediately drafting a fast-track reconciliation bill that would be able to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster and be approved on a majority vote in the Senate. The Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives has announced that the House will vote on Friday, October 23, on the “pro-life reconciliation bill” — a fast-track bill (H.R. 3762) containing multiple pro-life provisions.
  • More than 15,000 same-sex marriages have taken place in England and Wales since it became legal to do so.
    The Office for National Statistics confirmed a total of 15,098 couples had legally married after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force on 29 March last year. Of those, 7,732 were conversions from civil partnerships.
    This meant that the number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales fell by 70% – from 5,646 in 2013 to 1,683 in 2014. In December 2014, only 58 civil partnerships were formed compared with 314 in the same month in 2013, a fall of 84%.
    Of the 7,366 same-sex marriages that took place from 29 March 2014 to 30 June 2015, 55% (4,059) were between women and 45% (3,307) were between men. Those who chose to convert their civil partnerships into a marriage were roughly evenly split between male and female couples.
    Gianna Lisiecki-Cunane, a family lawyer with JMW Solicitors, said the figures appeared to suggest that gay women shared the preference of their heterosexual counterparts for the security and stability of marriage.
  • Prison staff are to teach meditation to Britain’s most dangerous criminals in an attempt to aid their rehabilitation and quell their violent impulses.
    About 60 of the most violent men held in segregation units in the country’s eight highest-security prisons will have access to one-on-one training by psychologists and prison officers, the Guardian has learned.
    A prisoner in HMP Wakefield’s close supervision centre (CSC), where the armed robber and hostage taker Charles Bronson is being held, is the first to undertake a mindfulness-based stress reduction course, derived from a 2,400-year-old Buddhist meditation tradition.
    The move represents an ambitious new frontier in the application of the technique, which is already prescribed on the NHS to treat depression and is gaining traction in schools to help pupils concentrate and to regulate their emotional responses.
  • Women who undergo IVF are a third more likely to develop ovarian cancer, the biggest ever study of fertility treatment in the world has discovered.
    Scientists at University College London said underlying health problems in infertile women may be driving the increased risk, but warned that the research 'leaves open the possibility' that the procedure itself might be to blame.
    Previous studies have suggested that ovarian stimulation methods used to harvest eggs could fuel cancer, but most specialists dispute the dangers and a 2013 Cochrane review found no strong evidence of a link.


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