Afghanistan’s Taliban militia group leaders met with their northern opponents this weekend for peace talks brokered by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson and sponsored by the U.N. and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Taliban and northern opposition leaders agreed to discuss a cease-fire, possible prisoner exchange and the resolution of the Taliban’s human rights violations that are leading to a decrease in international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, according to U.N. official James Ngobi.
Taliban leader Mohammad Omar said he believed peace in Afghanistan rested on finding a religious rather than a political solution to the conflict. The Taliban militia group gained control of the Afghan capital city of Kabul in September of 1996 and currently controls 85 percent of the country. Since the takeover, Taliban leaders have inflicted decrees that violate women’s human rights, including forbidding women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a husband, brother or son, prohibiting girls from obtaining an education and restricting women’s access to healthcare. From media reports, it was unclear whether restoration of women’s rights was discussed in the first day of negotiations.
Last week, President Clinton met with the President of Turkmenistan. The leaders discussed improving relations between the two countries and creating a transnational pipeline that would pass through Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A U.S.-based oil and gas company, Unocal, holds a 46.5 percent stake in the pipeline, which could earn the Taliban militia group $50 to $100 million a year.
10/13/2015 EEOC Launches Hollywood Gender Discrimination Probe - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has contacted several women directors in Hollywood in an effort to determine whether legal intervention is necessary to disrupt the industry's discriminatory hiring practices.
In a letter sent to some 50 women filmmakers, the EEOC - which is responsible for protecting individuals from employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion and national origin through enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - requested interviews with them to "learn more about the gender-related issues" women behind the camera face in both the film and television industries.
In May, following the release of a study by the San Diego State University Center for the Study of Women in Television in Film revealing only 7 percent of 2014's 250 top-grossing movies were helmed by women, the ACLU of Southern California and the national ACLU Women's Rights Project urged state and federal rights agencies to investigate Hollywood's failure to hire equal numbers of women. . . .
10/12/2015 Report Finds Texas' HB2 Increases Abortion Wait Times - A new report released by the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Policy Evaluation Project found patients seeking abortions in Texas have experienced an increase in wait times since the passage of HB2, the 2013 Texas omnibus anti-abortion bill that attempts to cut off abortion access by requiring abortion providers in the state to fulfill medically unnecessary ambulatory surgical center requirements and secure hospital admitting privileges.
More than half of 42 clinics providing abortion in Texas have been forced to shut their doors since HB2 passed two years ago, leading Texas women to wait up to 20 days for a first consult at one of the surviving 18 reproductive health clinics operating in the state, the second most populous in the nation. . . .
10/9/2015 Federal Judge Orders Anti-Abortion Group to Cede Footage to NAF - On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its leader David Daleidan must turn over all previously unreleased "sting" videos and outtakes of National Abortion Federation (NAF) meetings the group obtained surreptitiously as part of a smear campaign against the abortion provider.
U.S. . . .