US school test scores haven't recovered since pandemic

American 13-year-olds continue to struggle academically in the wake of the pandemic, especially in mathematics, according to official data out Wednesday.. The assessment, which relies on nationally representative samples, revealed several additional concerns, including that the number of 13-year-olds who said they read for fun hit an all time low.

Raids, executions as Saudi Arabia wages war on drugs

After a spate of arrests and executions for drug offences, Ibrahim, a dealer in Saudi Arabia, is not taking any chances.. The result is at least 20 executions for drug offences since last year, according to an AFP tally, and a sharp rise in arrests.

Abaya controversy tests French schools' secular limits

A reported increase in Muslim girls wearing the abaya dress at French schools has triggered a debate about their violation of the country's sacrosanct commitment to secularism in education.. BFM TV reported from a school in the southeastern city of Lyon and quoted a teacher who requested anonymity as saying the abaya-wearing girls were creating "pressure", even if unintentionally.

Campaigners slam Japan government forced sterilisation report

Japanese campaigners on Wednesday slammed a government report into the sterilisation of thousands under a eugenics law in place until 1996, saying it failed to take responsibility for the procedures.. But "it lacks a summary of why this terrible law was enacted and existed for 48 years, and fails to mention why the government didn't take responsibility even after the law was amended," he said.

US judge scraps law banning gender transition treatment in minors

A US federal judge on Tuesday struck down a law prohibiting minors from gender transition treatment in Arkansas, the first time such a restriction has been overturned as similar laws are enacted in Republican-led states. . Gender transition treatment laws have already been temporarily suspended while lawsuits continue, but Tuesday's decision was the first by a federal judge to rule on the merits. 

How big tech embraced disabled users

Buried beneath the hype of the artificial intelligence revolution, big tech is quietly rolling out services for disabled people that it hopes will push a greater transformation for customers.. Google's Andersson makes the opposite point, saying the realisation that one billion people live with disabilities has jolted companies into realising what this could mean for their bottom line.

'No job for humans': the harrowing work of content moderators in Kenya

Trevin Brownie's first day as a content moderator for Facebook is etched in his memory, working out of a subcontractor's nondescript office in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. . He worked in Nairobi for Sama, a Californian company subcontracted by Meta to moderate Facebook content for sub-Saharan Africa between 2019 and 2023.

Nearly 40 countries at UN back LGBTQ families

Nearly 40 countries at the United Nations backed LGBTQ families on Tuesday, at a time when some Muslim and African nations are contesting sexual orientation and gender identity language in UN forums.. Such issues have become a contentious in several branches of the UN. Countries in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and many African nations, plus Russia and China, are trying to roll back concepts and language which have been embedded in UN documents for at least a decade.

Hot new fashion talent Burc Akyol makes 'magic with little'

While the fashion world braced for the celeb juggernaut of Pharrell Williams's first show in Paris on Tuesday, a young designer was making his own modest splash with a debut below his own home. . For now, his Paris apartment doubles as his workshop, with a bedroom cluttered with designs. 

From women to LGBTQ members, Catholic Church ponders inclusion

From welcoming LGBTQ Catholics to better representation of women, the Vatican published on Tuesday a reflection on the top social issues facing the Catholic Church as part of a global study on its future.. Launched by Pope Francis, who has sought to make the Church more welcoming towards marginalised people, the gathering is part of a wide-ranging consultation of 1.3 billion Catholics on every continent, who have for the past two years been invited to express their views on the Church and social issues.