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Norway allows children to legally change gender

(WNS)–Norwegians as young as 6 can now legally change their gender using an online form—without a doctor’s approval, counseling, or surgery. The law, adopted with a 79-13 vote by the Norwegian parliament in June, makes Norway the fifth country in the world to pass a similar law, and the second behind Malta to include children. While the process in Malta requires a parent to seek court approval for the gender change, children in Norway apply for the change using the same process and paperwork as adults. While transgender activists celebrated the new law, experts warn treating gender dysphoria so lightly could multiply harm for children who most likely will shed feelings of confusion as they become adults.

Archaeologists uncover city gate destroyed by Hezekiah

(WNS)–King Hezekiah abhorred the idol worship rampant in Judah. When he began his reign as the nation’s 12th king, Hezekiah “removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah …,” according to the biblical narrative in 2 Kings 18:4. Now, the Israel Antiquities Authority reports archaeologists have uncovered a city gate-shrine they believe Hezekiah’s men demolished at the city of Lachish in the eighth century B.C. “Before our very eyes these new finds become the biblical verses themselves and speak in their voice,” said Ze’ev Elkin, minister of Jerusalem and heritage and environmental protection. Lachish, a walled city that guarded a main road between Jerusalem and Egypt, was the second most important fortified city in the kingdom of Judah, second only to Jerusalem. It fell to Assyria during King Sennacherib’s siege in 701 B.C. The siege is documented in several sources, including the Bible, Assyrian documents, and in a series of reliefs that once decorated King Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh.

France prepares to dismantle port-city migrant camp

(WNS)–In October, the British government announced it will accept hundreds of refugee children from a squalid camp on the French side of the English Channel. The decision came in response to international pressure to “fulfill its moral obligation” to find homes for migrant minors with documented family links in Britain. Pressure on the U.K. mounted in recent weeks as France advanced plans to flatten the port city camp, moving as many as 9,000 adult migrants to 164 area villages. As France and Britain work to rehouse thousands of migrants doubly displaced by the camp closure, human rights activists fear hundreds of children could be lost in the shuffle. The camp, commonly called “The Jungle,” is a slummy network of shelters in Calais, home to an estimated 10,000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Overcrowded, unsanitary, and unsafe, The Jungle has been described as an embarrassment to Europe.

Boko Haram releases 21 Chibok girls

(WNS)–Boko Haram has released 21 of the kidnapped Chibok girls, the president’s spokesman confirmed Oct. 13. The release is the first positive result to come from negotiation efforts by the government since Boko Haram kidnapped the girls in 2014. Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement the girls are now in the custody of the Department of State Services. Their release resulted from negotiations between the government and Boko Haram with the help of the International Red Cross and the Swiss government, Shehu said. “The negotiations will continue,” the statement said.

Gaia Mission maps the Milky Way

(WNS)–The European Space Agency (ESA) announced recently it is on course to finalize a monumental 3D map of the Milky Way next year. Scientists will plot a billon stars—just 1 percent of those in our galaxy—on the Gaia Mission map. Orbiting the sun at slow speed, the 33-foot-wide Gaia spacecraft has two telescopes that gather data with a measurement precision akin to gauging the diameter of a human hair from 600 miles away. Mission manager Fred Jansen said Gaia has already collected about 500 billion different measurements. The ultra-precise measurements are “a revolution” for astrophysics, said Anthony Brown, head of the scientific consortium of humans processing Gaia’s data. So far, the mission’s data-gathering methods have enabled the identification of 400 million new stars and should open the door for other discoveries.

France plans ban on pro-life websites

(WNS)–The French government announced in September that it plans to ban pro-life websites found guilty of “deliberately deceiving” women with the appearance of neutrality. Under an amendment to a current “Equality and Citizenship” law, owners of pro-life sites could face a 30,000 euro fine (about $33,600) and two years in prison, the same penalties that currently apply to “the offense of obstruction to abortion,” which has been illegal since 1993. “Being hostile to abortion is an opinion protected by the civil liberties in France,” Laurence Rossignol, minister of families, children, and women’s rights, told Rue89. “But creating websites that have all official appearances to actually give biased information designed to deter, guilt, traumatize is not acceptable.”

Nigeria investigates squandered aid funds

(WNS)–The Nigerian Senate on Oct. 4 said it will investigate the diversion of government funds intended to provide aid to people displaced by Boko Haram’s insurgency in the northeast. Lawmakers agreed to the probe after a state senator claimed several agencies that received government funds to provide assistance to displaced persons cannot account for more than $1 million. Sen. Bashir Gabai from Borno state, Boko Haram’s birthplace, accused the agencies involved of using the money for their personal interests. “The rather incoherent and largely fragmented state of the procurement process so far points to a vague and corrupt scheme that is not in line with helping out people in the northeast,” his motion for the investigation stated.

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