UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held talks last week with the Taliban militia in an attempt to ease the tension between Afghanistan and Iran. The build-up of troops along the Iranian-Afghan border has continued to increase since August, when members of the Taliban killed eight Iranian diplomats while taking control of Mazar-i Sharif in northern Afghanistan.
Brahimi reported that the tension between the two countries began to defuse when the Taliban agreed to release all of the Iranian prisoners held in Afghanistan. Although both countries continue to stock their common border with military personnel, the possibility of a face-to-face talk between Iran and the Taliban looks hopeful.
Fighting within Afghanistan shows no sign of ceasing. The ongoing fighting between the Taliban and its opponents has prevented humanitarian groups, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, from entering the country and administering aid which is desperately needed during such heightened conflict.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .