The Taliban announced this week that it will imposes its extreme, fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law on foreigners in Afghanistan, even going so far as to require foreigners to sign an agreement to obey Islamic laws before entering the country. All persons in Afghanistan must not drink alcohol, eat pork, listen to loud music, or have “inappropriate contact” with members of the opposite sex. Women are prohibited from driving. Failure to comply will result in expulsion from Afghanistan or three days to one month of jail time. “Illegal sexual relations” will be punished according to Islamic law, which, under the Taliban, has included severe beatings and even death. Most Muslim nations, except Saudi Arabia and now Afghanistan, allow non-Muslims exemptions from compliance with Islamic law.
The Taliban’s new edicts come at a time of increasing tensions between the Taliban and the United Nations. According to a U.N. official, the Taliban is “narrowing humanitarian space,” restricting severely the U.N.’s ability to provide aid to the thousands of displaced persons within Afghanistan who are in need of food and shelter. According to the Afghanistan Support Group, the main organization that coordinates all of the Afghan aid, including aid distributed through U.N. channels, the Taliban is risking almost all of the aid to Afghanistan with its increasingly restrictive policies. The ASG warns that the situation is worsening daily.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .