French “Black Tuesday” protests turn violent

“Black Tuesday” protests have been the latest challenge to the government as it attempts to modernise the French economy. Taxi drivers have amplified protests over their working conditions and competition from non-traditional services such as Uber. Bonfires were lit on a major highway during the nationwide strikes. Taxi drivers attempted to march on an eight-lane bypass but police pushed them back with tear gas. Flights were also cancelled Jan. 26 as air traffic controllers joined other various civil servants, teachers and hospital workers for day of strikes. Nineteen protesters of the total 1,200 were arrested.

South African municipal scholarship awards grants to girls who are not sexually active

If South African girls can prove their virginity, they are eligible for a scholarship programme called Maiden’s Bursary Award. A spokesperson for the municipality says the bursary is to encourage purity and focusing on their studies. If the girls become sexually active after they are awarded the scholarship the bursary will be taken away. Women’s rights activists have argued that the bursary undermines civil liberties and is counterproductive in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

UN peace talks spark controversy

Invitations have been sent out to Syrian participants of Geneva talks scheduled for Friday Jan. 29, which are expected to last six months. One of the main problems in the preparations for the talks comes from a dispute over which group should represent the opposition. The talks will attempt to push a nationwide ceasefire for all parties excluding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Olympic regulations on transgender athletes to be relaxed

Female-to-male transgender athletes will no longer be required to undergo sexual reassignment surgery in order to compete in the Olympics. However, male-to-female transgender athletes will still require hormone treatment. The medical officials from the Olympic committee said they changed these policies to update their guidelines to more social, scientific, and legal attitudes toward transgender issues. The guidelines are meant to be recommendations rather than outright rules or regulations, but should still apply for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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