New gender law gives hope
Stigmatized, often abused and rejected, Greece's transgender community is hoping a law passed by parliament Tuesday will improve their daily lives and foster greater acceptance in the deeply conservative society. The law, passed with 171 votes in favor out of 300, allows Greeks over the age of 15 to change the gender listed on their official documents at will, following a simplified procedure in court. Previously, those wanting to change how their gender is officially defined had to prove they had undergone sex-change surgery and psychiatric assessment. The law is "a huge positive step," said Anna Kouroupou, 53. "The world of a trans person won't change that easily," but it will improve the daily problems and humiliations suffered by her community, she said. Simple everyday transactions — from bank visits to picking up packages — can lead to traumatic experiences when officials question documents. The bill was met with vociferous opposition from many groups, including the Orthodox Church. The main remaining issue, hairdresser Ariadni Prokopiou, 28, said, is more education, so others can be more at ease. She added: "For trans people not to be viewed as something surreal. We are real. We are here. We've always been here."
Engineers say some lives lost in quake could have been saved
Dozens who perished in the Sept. 19 quake died in structure failures that several prominent engineers now say could have been prevented. Nearly two-thirds of the 44 buildings that fell in Mexico City were designed with a construction method called flat slab — in which floors are supported only by concrete columns — now forbidden in parts of the United States, Chile and New Zealand, according to data compiled by a team of structural engineers at Stanford University and obtained by the AP. Mexico City officials were widely lauded for tightening their building codes after thousands died in a 1985 earthquake. But they left out one crucial reform: a prohibition on the building technique that caused 61 percent of the collapses in last month's magnitude 7.1 quake, which killed 369 people and blanketed tree-lined avenues in rubble.
Opposition leader drops bid in new presidential election
Opposition leader Raila Odinga said Tuesday that he would not run in a new presidential election to be held in two weeks, a move that almost guarantees President Uhuru Kenyatta will remain in office. The first election, on Aug. 8, was initially praised as a success, but it was nullified three weeks later by the Supreme Court, which ordered a new vote after determining the first had been tainted by fraud and irregularities. Kenyatta had been re-elected with 54 percent of the vote, but his main challenger, Odinga, had petitioned the court to cancel the results, saying the election had been rigged. Odinga now says the election panel failed to make the changes necessary to avoid the problems that plagued the one in August.
Lawmaker: North Korean hackers stole D.C.-Seoul war plans
North Korean hackers stole a vast cache of data, including classified wartime contingency plans jointly drawn by Washington and Seoul, when they breached the computer network of the South Korean military last year, a South Korean lawmaker said Tuesday. One of the contingency plans contained the South Korean military's plan to remove the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should war break out, lawmaker Rhee Cheol-hee told reporters. Rhee, a member of the governing Democratic Party who serves on the defense committee of the National Assembly, said he only recently learned of the scale of the North Korean hacking attack, which was first discovered in September 2016. It was not known whether any of the military's top secrets were leaked, although Rhee said nearly 300 lower-classification confidential documents were stolen. The military is still unable to catalog nearly 80 percent of the leaked data, he said.
1st trans senator begins work
Michelle Suarez has become Uruguay's first transgender senator. The 34-year-old lawmaker assumed her senatorial seat representing the Communist Party on Tuesday. Suarez said she always had the support of her parents, but in her youth, she was discriminated against by some schoolmates and teachers. She ended high school with top grades and later became the first transgender person to graduate with a law degree from college in the country of 3.3 million people. She is now seeking to pass an anti-discrimination law in Congress that would expand transgender rights and protect more than 900 transgender people living in Uruguay. — tbt *wires