LGBT activists say new bills target transgender youth

LGBT activists say new bills target transgender youth

At the urging of conservative advocacy groups, Republican legislators in more than a dozen states are promoting bills that focus on transgender young people. One batch of bills would bar doctors from providing them certain gender-related medical treatment; another batch would bar trans students from participating on school sports teams of the gender they identify … Notify me of follow-up comments by email. The Digital Edition of Missouri Lawyers Weekly is available to both print and online subscribers.

LGBT activists oppose new laws against transgender youth

LGBT activists oppose new laws against transgender youth

At the push of conservative interest groups, Republican lawmakers in more than a dozen states are promoting bills that focus on transgender youth.

A batch of bills would prevent doctors from giving them specific gender-specific medical treatment. Another group would prohibit transnational students from participating in school sports teams of the gender with which they identify.

The proposed laws would “wreak havoc on the transgender community,” said Chase Strangio, a transgender lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

He warned of medical bans currently in place in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota that are likely to appear elsewhere and could result in suicides among young people who yearn for gender change.

The goals of the bill have been supported by several national conservative groups, including Alliance Defending Freedom and Eagle Forum.

“We have many lawmakers working on it,” said Gayle Ruzicka, an activist for the Eagle Forum chapter in Utah. “We don’t let that happen to children.”

The recent bill in South Dakota would make it a crime for healthcare providers to perform surgery or hormone therapy to help minors change their sex. The Missouri bill would force doctors to withdraw their admission if they underwent sex change treatment, and parents who had consented to such treatment would be reported to child protection officials for child abuse.

“I can’t imagine what happens to transgender people when these criminal bans are imposed,” said ACLU transgender man Strangio. “I don’t think we can raise the alarm enough because people are going to die.”

The medical director of the Trevor Project, a youth suicide prevention service, was also dismayed that the bills could deprive some young people of life-saving treatment.

“They would force doctors to make an unsustainable decision and could be jailed for providing the best possible medical care,” said Dr. Alexis Chavez, a transgender psychiatrist.

A Utah legislature, Republican MEP Brad Daw, said he had accepted Eagle Forum’s request to begin drafting such a law, although his current proposal now includes some changes to the language proposed by the advocacy group.

While his bill would ban surgeries and hormone therapy for minors, it would allow puberty blockers – drugs that temporarily put puberty on hold.

“We want to do what we think is reasonable, postponing such a one-way decision until the youngsters grow up,” he said.

Daw said he wanted to be sensitive and respectful of transgender children and their families, but was still concerned about the medical steps to take.

“What we want is a really good policy right off the bat,” said Daw, who is still drafting the legislative proposal for the January 27 legislature.

However, for transgender children and their families, the idea of ​​taking these steps out of reach is frightening. Robyn Rumsey, of Roy, Utah, said her child had retired and was angry before she emerged as a transgender at the age of 12.

“As parents, we were completely thrown to say the least,” she said.

In consultation with a counselor and doctors, Dex Rumsey gradually began to wear short hair and boy clothes, and then started using puberty blockers and eventually testosterone.

“It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly,” said Robyn Rumsey.

It made her son, now 15, a happy, blooming person, she said. The family is considering surgery later this year.

“We saw this child turn completely around,” she said.

Dex thought of suicide before he came out, and if he had no access to hormones, she feared that those thoughts would return. Just when he found out about the idea of ​​a ban, he panicked and got a sleepless night, she said.

“I know it would be a life or death situation for my son,” she said. “We would desperately find help and medication for him.”

Dex Rumsey said the time since hormone therapy began was the happiest of his life.

“I never felt comfortable under my skin,” he said. “I’ve always felt wrong, disgusting, and hated myself. These hormones made me feel good about who I am. It allowed me to be happier. I don’t hate myself, I’m not depressed , not me.” don’t feel suicidal anymore. “

This kind of mood should be a particular concern for heads of state who want to lower the state’s suicide rate, said Troy Williams of the Equality Utah group.

If a law was passed, Dex Rumsey said he would want to leave the state.

“I don’t think they see the harm that this kind of thing does,” he said.

Alliance Defending Freedom is also running a nationwide campaign to prevent transgender girls from competing in college sports with other girls. It has filed a federal complaint of discrimination on behalf of Connecticut girls who have participated in athletics competitions and believe that the state’s inclusive measures regarding transgender athletes have cost them top results and possibly college scholarships.

“Forcing female athletes to compete against biological men is not fair and is destroying their athletic opportunities,” said attorney Matt Sharp, head of the ADF’s government relations department. “Likewise, every child deserves a childhood that enables them to experience puberty and other natural changes that determine who they will be.”

According to the ACLU, laws restricting athletic participation by transgender students are pending this year in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Washington. Idaho State MP Barbara Ehardt told the Idaho statesman that she was preparing a similar bill. In several cases, the bills would override the trans-inclusive guidelines adopted by state high school sports associations.

The measure in Alabama, entitled Gender Is Real Legislative Act, would prevent any K-12 public school from participating in interscholastic sporting events that allow trans-athletes to compete according to their gender identity.

“The GIRL law tries to support female students so that they can compete against each other and not face unfair advantages against male students,” said the author of the law, Rep. Chris Pringle.

Several national women’s rights and sports organizations are resigning and claiming to exclude transgendered sports teams based on their gender identity often means that they are “excluded” from participation.

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Tool company dismisses critics as ‘snowflakes’ after mocking gay builders

Tool company dismisses critics as ‘snowflakes’ after mocking gay builders

Toolfolks.com posted the message on its Facebook page A tool company that sent a Facebook post mocking gay builders has claimed that its critics are “snowflakes.”

The ‘comedy’ post to the Toolfolks Facebook page had said: “One of our customers left his tool bag in the shop this week. We can’t work out who it was.

“Took some images of what was in the side compartment.

“If you know who’s bag this is please let him know it’ ready for collection. You can tag him in this post.”

The post included pictures of Gay and Young Guys magazines, a picture of Little Britain gay character Daffyd, and a book bearing the title “Gay builders do it better.” Tool company insists critics are just ‘snowflakes’

The poor joke got a hostile reception from Facebook users, who called out the playground-level homophobic humour.

Toolfolks has now removed the message, but refused to apologise for posting it.

The Manchester-based company did not return PinkNews’ comment requests, but a spokesperson told the Manchester Evening News that its critics are “snowflakes” and that “it was just a joke.”

Toolfolks added on Facebook: “The joke was about finding something embarrassing in a tool bag. If I used a sex aid would the joke be any different?” We have become aware that an inappropriate post including the DEWALT brand was shared on a customer’s social channels. That post was not authorized by our company and has been removed.

— DEWALT (@DEWALTtough) January 20, 2020 Power tool manufacturer DeWalt, whose logo was used on the Facebook post, has condemned its content. More from PinkNews

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The company said on Twitter: “We have become aware that an inappropriate post including the DEWALT brand was shared on a customer’s social channels. That post was not authorized by our company and has been removed.

“Our company is committed to a diverse and inclusive environment for our employees, customers, end-users and all stakeholders. We apologise to everyone who was offended by the post.” Homophobia in construction industry ’causes hurt and distress’

Construction industry -based diversity trainer Constructing Rainbows was among those to call out the post, writing: “Really disgusting that this still goes on in our industry. And when challenged on it, told it is ‘just a bit of humour’. Well it’s not funny. It’s offensive and it causes hurt and distress.

“I am pleased however that many allies have called this out for what it is.” The tool company has faced anger over its stance In a message to Toolfolks, Constructing Rainbows added: “I am willing to come and have a chat with you about why these posts are offensive, and how we can be more inclusive as an industry, if you are interested, please get in touch.”

New UK housing ‘dominated by roads’

New UK housing 'dominated by roads'

Planners and engineers have been rapped for allowing new housing developments to be dominated by roads.

A report says too many highways engineers are still approving roads that do not fully account for pedestrians and cyclists.

It follows a government survey suggesting three quarters of people want to drive less to protect our health and the environment.

The new report comes from University College London (UCL).

Its author, Prof Matthew Carmona, told BBC News: “Far too many new developments are still all about the car.

“It’s all about making sure cars don’t need to slow down. Pedestrians and cyclists just have to get out of the way. Ban gas grid for new homes ‘in six years’

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Young couples ‘trapped in car dependency’

“It’s an approach from the 1960s. We should be allowing people to walk and cycle to get to local facilities instead of having to get out the car every time. But car-dominated developments are still going up.”

His report concludes that nearly three quarters of 142 developments surveyed should not have been given planning permission.

A fifth of the schemes should have been rejected outright, and more than half should have been amended to improve a sense of place and help pedestrian and cyclists.

Prof Carmona continued: “Highways authorities are really problematic – they’re all about getting roads as cheap as possible that can be maintained cheaply – that means large areas of tarmac with no regard for walking and cycling." The report says many schemes should have been amended to help pedestrians and cyclists He said many councils had not updated design standards since the 1970s.

And he urged the government to make mandatory its own advisory Manual for Streets, which says : “Streets are not just there to get people from A to B. In reality, streets form vital components of residential areas and greatly affect the overall quality of life for local people.”

The report comes after the government’s own (unpublicised) travel survey suggested that 76% of people agreed with the statement: "for the sake of the environment, everyone should reduce how much they use their cars".

It is a big jump in public opinion since 2017 when 63% agreed with the statement.

Prof Carmona said: “The government’s drive to deliver more homes is absolutely right – but it mustn’t be delivered at expense of the quality of places.”

His survey judged developments on the basis of green space, local shops and lack of character as well as transport. The work was funded by the countryside charity CPRE and the Place Alliance.

The Local Government Association said: “Standards should future-proof all new homes, ensuring they are environmentally sustainable. The government should ensure homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place.”

Andrew Whitaker from the Home Builders Federation told BBC News many of the problems identified by the report were not within the control of the builder.

He said: “Local authorities have an obligation to commit sufficient resources to deal with planning applications efficiently and to work closely with the builder to agree well-designed schemes.

"The overwhelming majority of new home-buyers are happy with their new home and the wider environment around it.”

The government told BBC News it would soon be updating its guidance on roads in the light of its 2050 climate commitments.

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NHS faces huge clinical negligence legal fees bill

NHS faces huge clinical negligence legal fees bill

Hayden died when he was just six days old The NHS in England faces paying out £4.3bn in legal fees to settle outstanding claims of clinical negligence, the BBC has learned through a Freedom of Information request.

Each year the NHS receives more than 10,000 new claims for compensation.

This figure includes all current unsettled claims and projected estimates of ones in the future.

The Department of Health has pledged to tackle "the unsustainable rise in the cost of clinical negligence".

Estimates published last year put the total cost of outstanding compensation claims at £83bn. NHS England’s total budget in 2018-19 was £129bn.

The Association of Personal Injuries Lawyers (APIL) believes the cost is driven by failures in patient safety.

Doctors represented by the Medical Defence Union (MDU), which supports doctors at risk of litigation, are calling for "a fundamental" reform of the current system. Hayden’s story

Hayden Nguyen was born in August 2016. Six days later he died in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. His heart failed after it was attacked by a virus.

Initially Hayden’s parents did not know what had happened to him. In the face of official silence and in a bid to get answers they took legal action against the hospital.

After three years the trust admitted liability for a failure to adequately treat his condition. The Nguyens received a small amount of compensation and their legal fees were met by the trust.

His father Thong said: "It was every parent’s worst nightmare. We had to sit there and watch our son slowly die in front of our eyes.

"I haven’t really thought about it as suing the NHS. I thought about it as fighting for a voice for Hayden, fighting for acknowledgement of his life, and his rights."

His mother Alex said: "It has been four years so far of trauma after trauma." No alternative

Suzanne White, from APIL, said people came to her on a daily basis with no intention of suing the NHS.

But she said they often found it difficult to get answers from the medical authorities – and were left with no other option but to sue.

"What they want to do is find out what went wrong, why they have received these injuries … and to make sure it doesn’t happen to other patients."

She said that although only 10% of claims relate to obstetrics, they take up 50% of compensation. This is often because a child injured at birth will need a lifetime of care. Curb rising NHS negligence payouts, health leaders urge

Cost legacy of decades-old NHS blunders begins to rise

The Department of Health said there had been no decline in patient safety.

"Our ambition is for the NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world," it said.

However, the MDU said reform of the system was needed, including a change in the way compensation is calculated, and the establishment of an independent body to assess claims.

Dr Christine Tomkin, MDU chief executive, said: "This is money that should be going to healthcare, but instead is going to compensation claims – which is impairing all of our access to healthcare.

"We are now awarding compensation in sums of money higher than almost anywhere in the world. What we need is a fundamental change to the legal system." ‘Cynical approach’

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, said the government had taken a "short-sighted and somewhat cynical approach".

"The NHS is not investigating incidents properly, recognising when it has harmed patients and seeking to compensate them fairly and promptly."

NHS Resolution, which oversees clinical negligence claims for the NHS in England, said it was trying to keep down costs, for instance by promoting mediation as one solution.

"Over 70% of the claims brought against the NHS are resolved without going to court," a spokesperson said.

It also urged greater transparency by healthcare providers when things go wrong.

"It is of course vitally important that we learn from harm in order to improve patient safety."

New China virus: Fourth person dies as human-to-human transfer confirmed

New China virus: Fourth person dies as human-to-human transfer confirmed

Four people in China have now died as a result of the virus A fourth person in China has died from a new virus that has spread rapidly across the country, as authorities confirmed that it can be passed from person-to-person.

A 89-year-old man was the latest victim of the new strain of coronavirus, which causes a type of pneumonia.

He was living in Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.

More than 200 cases have now been reported across major cities in China including Beijing and Shanghai.

China’s National Health Commission on Monday confirmed that two cases of infection in China’s Guangdong province were due to human-to-human transmission.

In a separate statement, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said at least 15 medical workers in Wuhan have also been infected with the virus, with one of them in critical condition.

All of them are being kept in isolation while being treated for the illness. Chinese virus: How worried should we be?

The disease was first identified in Wuhan, a central Chinese city of 11 million people, late last year.

There are concerns that the virus could spread further when hundreds of millions of people travel within China for Chinese New Year later this week.

A handful of cases have also been identified abroad: two in Thailand, one in Japan and another in South Korea. These are people who had travelled from Wuhan recently.

Airports in Singapore, Hong Kong and the Japanese capital Tokyo have been screening air passengers from Wuhan, and US authorities last week announced similar measures at three major airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Australian authorities have also announced that they will begin screening passengers coming from Wuhan to Sydney.

China is the largest source of tourists to Australia, with more than 1 million people arriving last year. What we know about the virus

2019-nCoV, as it’s been labelled, is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans

Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people

Scientists believe an animal source is "the most likely primary source" but that some human-to-human transmission has occurred

Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties

People are being advised to avoid "unprotected" contact with live animals, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms

Source: World Health Organization

The outbreak has revived memories of the Sars virus – also a coronavirus – that killed 774 people in the early 2000s across dozens of countries, mostly in Asia. Analysis of the genetic code of the new virus shows it is more closely related to Sars than any other human coronavirus.

Experts in the UK told the BBC the number of people infected could still be far greater than official figures suggest, with estimates closer to 1,700. The BBC spoke to people in Beijing who seemed largely unconcerned about the virus

Gov. Lee says he signed LGBT adoption refusal bill to protect religious liberty

Gov. Lee says he signed LGBT adoption refusal bill to protect religious liberty

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Business leaders across the state are worried about a new law that allows adoption agencies to deny services to gay couples.

They’re worried the state will be hit hard economically because of the measure. Governor Bill Lee said his decision to sign the bill into law was because it’s based on protecting religious freedom.

However, LGBT groups say it’s discriminatory. The new law also protects adoption agencies from lawsuits for refusing service.

"I think equality is important and protection of rights is important and the rights of religious liberty are important. And that bill was centered around protection of religious liberty and that’s why I signed it," explained Governor Lee.

The LGBT chamber says companies have told them they’re considering pulling upcoming conferences from places like Nashville if the legislation stands.

Copyright 2020 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Emiliano Sala: A year on from plane crash, his family speak of ‘pain that will never go away’

Emiliano Sala: A year on from plane crash, his family speak of 'pain that will never go away'

BBC Sport Insight banner Emiliano Sala On a typical Saturday afternoon in Progreso, the streets seem completely deserted. As the summer sun blazes outside, most of its 2,000 inhabitants are sheltering indoors.

The only human presence is at San Martin football club, where a family is celebrating a baptism. It is the same place where the town mourned its most illustrious son, Emiliano Sala.

Located in Argentina’s agricultural heart, six hours’ drive from Buenos Aires, Progreso sadly became better known in the tragic story of Cardiff’s record signing, who died in a plane crash in January 2019. When his casket arrived back home, those empty streets held more people than they had ever seen before.

A year later, the pain is still palpable. BBC Sport visited between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, a time of reflection for most of the town. Here, Sala was not only a football star. He was El Emi, the kid everybody knew. He was a friend, a neighbour, a former pupil, a former team-mate.

For his mother, Mercedes, and his 24-year-old brother, Dario, it is not easy to speak about what happened. Mercedes says she takes comfort from the many messages of support her family has received When Dario opens the door of their home, Mercedes is sitting in the dining room. "Thanks for coming, it means a lot to pay homage to my son," she says as she instantly offers a glass of water.

A smiling picture of Emiliano, Dario and sister Romina lights up the room. Sala’s father Horacio also died last year. He suffered a heart attack at the age of 58 in April, three months after his son’s death. He and Mercedes did not live together.

"When Emi was 15, he sat in the kitchen at our old house and told me: ‘Mummy, I want to be a football player’. He wanted that so much, and to pursue that dream he had to move to San Francisco, in Cordoba province," says Mercedes.

"He was just a boy, and it was so difficult to see him leave, but he was so resolute, so convinced that he would make it. It was his dream, and he did make it. He loved football. And now he was so excited to play in the Premier League."

Sala, who was 28 when he died, was on his way to join Cardiff City, following a £15m transfer from French side Nantes, when the plane he was travelling in crashed. He had signed for the Welsh club two days before. Cardiff and Nantes have since been in dispute over transfer payments. Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage in the English Channel, but pilot David Ibbotson has still not been found.

The Nantes supporters loved Sala, who moved there in 2015. Some have come to visit Progreso since his death. Even his hairdresser travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to see where he lived and meet his family.

Mercedes’ living room is now home to many of the gifts her son received during his three and a half seasons at Nantes. Collecting and sorting his belongings was another of the very painful experiences the family had to endure last year.

"Every year I’d go to France in October for his birthday, and I’d stay with him for a month," says Mercedes. "The first week was always a celebration of the food he loved. In my luggage, I would pack the ready-made pastry circles to make empanadas, and also breadcrumbs for Milanesas, because the ones in France were different.

"’Mummy, please make all the dishes I love,’ he would tell me. I’d also make homemade pasta. But after this one week he’d quickly switch back to his football diet, with lots of fish, because he was so focused on being fit. He was a hard worker. On top of training for the club, he also had a personal trainer and set up a gym in his house."

After home matches, supporters would gather, waiting for his car to go past on the way out of the stadium.

"He was shy, but he would always stop, open the windows and start signing autographs and taking selfies," Mercedes says.

"All those fans, today, are the ones that I want to thank, because they are still sending me pictures I had never seen before.

"I receive so much stuff from France, from England, from the rest of Argentina."

Dario says: "It was beautiful to see how much the people loved him. I remember when he was in talks to renew his contract and people would just ask him to stay." Cardiff City announced Sala’s signing on 19 January 2019 – for a club record £15m Sala was looking forward to his move to the Premier League and he dreamed of getting a call-up to represent Argentina.

In November 2017, he was Argentina’s most prolific striker behind Lionel Messi. His brother Dario, and many people from Progreso, still cherish the image captured from TV: Messi had scored a goal every 95 minutes; Sala every 98.

A photo depicting France and Paris St-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe, the man who ended Argentina’s chances at World Cup 2018, going to hug him is still treasured. Sala was so shy he would hardly ask for a jersey swap.

"We’d talk a lot about the national team, as two fans do," says Dario. "He knew it was very difficult to be part of the squad, with the calibre of the strikers that we have. But I’m sure he never lost hope, not my brother. He wanted to be a footballer and he’d achieved it. He wanted to play in the top flight and he made it. He wanted to go to the Premier League and he’d just achieved it.

"Playing for Argentina was the natural desire. We would imagine him scoring after getting a pass from Messi, for instance. Who wouldn’t?"

Growing up, Sala admired Gabriel Batistuta and Carlos Tevez. He was a fan of Independiente, because of his friend Colito’s influence.

Dario says: "I’m five years younger than him, so growing up I would always end up going in goal and he’d get all the shots.

"We didn’t have many of the things that other kids might have had, but thanks to my mum we never had a meal missing from our table. That’s where we come from. From sacrifice. And we are all very alike. Emi was the oldest of the three and he was shy."

Mercedes says: "It’s still so fresh. I can still see them playing outside. I would have to call them in to have dinner or take a shower. There were no toys for them, just football.

"He didn’t see himself as famous or anything, that’s why when he came back to the town. He was just an ordinary citizen… and what a son he was."

She starts crying.

"Do you know that we would talk two, sometimes three times a day? Every day? That was my son. He would tell me everything – the food he’d eaten, the things he’d done. Sometimes he’d complain about his performance, and perhaps he had scored a goal or made one, but he was always trying to progress."

Dario adds: "We had a WhatsApp group, the four of us: mum, Emi, Romina and me. He’d speak to mum and if he couldn’t call me, he’d write at night saying that it was late in France and we’d speak the next afternoon. There was distance, but it was like we were all together. He’d ask me a lot about football, about the team, about his performances. It was a joy to be able to watch him live on TV, too. It wasn’t the case with some of the first clubs he played for."

One year after leaving home for Cordoba, Sala made his first trip to Europe to have a trial with Bordeaux. He signed for them in 2010, a move made easier by him gaining Italian citizenship. Before his transfer to Nantes came in 2015, he had been loaned out to some smaller French sides: Orleans, Niort and Caen.

"He was completely focused on getting better," Mercedes says. "He learned French, had become extremely fluent, and now he’d surely have been taking English courses." Mercedes’ home holds many gifts to her family from the football world On the date of Sala’s birthday last year, a giant mural was unveiled at San Martin, where it all began. The club’s small stadium – which holds about 2,000 people – was also named after him.

"It’s a very nice mural, very realistic, and very touching, too," Dario says. "I go often to the club and I take a moment to pass it."

San Martin also play with Sala’s image on their black-and-red jerseys, while the regional league they compete in was renamed the Liga Emiliano Sala. For Mercedes, each homage and every gesture acts like a valve releasing something of the pain of losing her first son.

"As a mother, seeing all this love, all these messages, feeling the comfort of so many people, it is touching. But what can I say? I just want to have him here with me." Cardiff’s fans paid emotional tribute to Sala following news of his death Two days before Sala’s plane crashed, Progreso had celebrated its traditional Fiesta del Queso – a cheese festival showcasing producers from the local area. The main square, Los Colonizadores, was filled with joy. Through the speakers it was announced that El Emi would move to the Premier League, becoming Cardiff’s record signing. It felt as the town itself had earned that distinction.

That same square would soon be overcrowded with TV vans, cameras, journalists from all over the world. After they left, the candles and prayers remained.

"I can’t say I found peace, unfortunately. I’m still fighting," Mercedes says. She pauses for a long time.

"I am practically dead while living. It’s been a terrible, terrible year. I loved him so much. I would tell him every day," she says in tears. Sala’s funeral in Progreso was held at the football club, San Martin. His father Horacio is pictured here, next to his son’s coffin, with his hand to his face. Mercedes is to the far left of the image Outside, three dogs are barking in the back yard. One of them is Nala, the five-year-old dog Sala had rescued as a puppy in France. She became famous for a picture in which she was seen waiting for her owner to come home.

"She knew us from all the times we’d been in France, but when she came here, she found all the stuff from Emi, and I’m convinced that she also recognised his smell," Mercedes says. "We decided to take her to the wake, so she could also be with him."

The family had a private wake before going to San Martin’s main hall for the public funeral in February last year. "There was a whole town wanting to say goodbye," Mercedes […]

Brexit: What is a level playing field?

Brexit: What is a level playing field?

"Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest single market," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech at the London School of Economics.

She was talking about what kind of access the United Kingdom could have to the European single market after Brexit.

It is a question set to dominate negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal, which will probably begin about a month after the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU), on 31 January.

And the answer depends, to a large extent, on what’s known as the level playing field. To what does a level playing field refer?

It is a trade-policy term for a set of common rules and standards that prevent businesses in one country undercutting their rivals and gaining a competitive advantage over those operating in other countries.

In other words, it’s about fair and open competition – and it’s an important part of the EU single market , which is a group of countries that have agreed to make it as easy as possible for people, goods, services and money to move around between them. Confused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics. Part of a trade negotiation is working out how widespread level playing field provisions should be.

But the areas in which the EU is most insistent they must be maintained are: workers’ rights

environmental protection

taxation

state aid (or subsidies for business)

Is the EU trying to make the UK a special case?

Yes and no.

On the one hand, almost all trade agreements involve level playing field provisions, because all parties are keen to ensure their businesses aren’t operating at a commercial disadvantage.

And the closer a trading relationship is, the stricter those rules become.

But the EU is also taking other factors into account – notably, that the UK is one of the world’s largest economies and is right on its doorstep.

The political declaration that sets out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK makes this link explicit.

Given the "geographic proximity and economic interdependence" of the two sides, it says, the future relationship must include "robust commitments to ensure a level playing field".

What this means in practice is if the UK wants a trade deal that involves zero tariffs (no taxes on goods crossing borders) and zero quotas (no limits on the amount of goods that can be traded), the EU will expect it to sign up to stricter rules than those set out in other recent EU trade agreements with countries such as Canada or Japan.

It’s because there is far more trade involved and the stakes are higher. What are the options?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants a zero-tariff zero-quota deal but also insists on the UK’s right to diverge or move away from EU rules and regulations when it wants to.

So that could mean sticking close to EU rules in some areas but not in others.

The EU adds a third zero to the equation – "zero dumping", which means the strictest level playing field rules it can negotiate.

One option is to have what are known as non-regression clauses, which means the two sides would agree not to water down the shared rules they currently have.

Another, tougher, option is to insist on what’s called dynamic alignment, which would mean if the EU changed its rules in the future, the UK would automatically make the same changes. And that’s partly what the trade negotiations will be about?

Yes. And both sides are – predictably – digging in a bit.

The early signs are a number of EU countries, including those that do a lot of trade with the UK, are taking a tough line and insisting on dynamic alignment in several policy areas, including state aid and environmental regulations that affect businesses.

But that won’t be acceptable in London. Last week, Chancellor Sajid Javid told the Financial Times: "There will not be alignment, we will not be a rule taker."

Former Prime Minister Theresa May’s initial version of the withdrawal agreement with the EU contained a series of legally binding level playing field provisions within it.

Boris Johnson’s version doesn’t – it relegates most of those rules (apart from some that relate to trade between Northern Ireland and the EU) to the non-binding political declaration.

So agreement on a level playing field regime is going to have to be negotiated before the end of the post-Brexit transition period, in December 2020.

And it is fair to say the two sides will begin a long way apart.

Not only is there disagreement on what should be covered, there is also no meeting of minds yet on how any future disputes should be resolved.

It’s another reminder that, after Brexit, the UK will remain a friend and partner of the EU but it will also become a rival.

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