Presidential Assassination Attempt And Car Bomb Explosion Mark Day of Violence in Afghanistan
In what is being called the most violent day in Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted, a car bomb explosion in Kabul today that killed at least 15 was followed by an assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai in Kandahar in which three were killed and the governor of Kandahar was injured.
“This assassination attempt in Kandahar, 300 miles south of Kabul, and the horrific explosion in the center of Afghanistan’s capital city show an urgent need to significantly expand international peacekeeping forces within and beyond Kabul,” said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal.
The assassination attempt was carried out by a man wearing an Afghan soldier’s uniform who started shooting at Karzai’s car outside Kandahar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai residence. One of Karzai’s Afghan bodyguards took the man down. US Special Forces who are assigned to protect Karzai then moved in, opened fire and whisked Karzai away to safety. The bodyguard, the assassin and a third person were killed in the attack. Karzai was uninjured in the attempt, Sherzai sustained a bullet wound to the neck which was said to be non-life threatening.
Meanwhile, shortly before the assassination attempt, a car bomb exploded in the busy central business district of Kabul near the Information and Culture Ministry. Thousands of people fled the powerful blast, which was said to have been preceded by a smaller explosion, and approximately 15-20 people were killed. Deputy Police Chief Mohammed Khalil blamed al Qaeda, the Taliban and an exiled former guerilla chief and Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for the blast, according to Reuters. Earlier this week Hekmatyar called for jihad, or holy war, against American and other foreign troops in Afghanistan, according to CNN.
These incidents are the latest in a series of violent events that have occurred throughout Afghanistan in recent months. The Feminist Majority, Karzai, UN officials, and women's rights and human rights organizations continue to urge a full-scale expansion of peace troops to ensure security and enable reconstruction to move forward. With the leadership of Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously early last month to support international peace troop expansion, increased funding for reconstruction, and funding earmarks for the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs and the independent Human Rights Commission. Last week, the Bush administration indicated possible support for expansion of international peace troops.
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. . . .