Afghanistan's fundamentalist, repressive Taliban regime claims that U.S. embassy bombing suspect Osama bin Laden survived the recent U.S. missile strikes and has pledged to continue protecting him.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri, head of an Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization, reported "bin Laden calls on Muslim Ummah (community) to continue Jihad ("holy" war) against Jews and Americans to liberate their holy places. In the meanwhile, he denies any involvement in the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings." Bin Laden opposes U.S. support for Jewish Israel and the U.S. military's presence in the cities of Mecca and Medina, which hold Islamic shrines.
The Taliban has placed Afghan women under virtual house arrest through a series of decrees based on its own harsh interpretation of Islam. Under the Taliban, women cannot leave their homes without a close male relative. Once making up half the nation's doctors, women are now forbidden from working or attending school, and do not have access to adequate healthcare.
Under the Taliban's rule, much of Afghanistan's secular-minded population has been forced to flee the country, while Islamic radicals from other nations, many of whom have significant wealth and influence, have flocked there. A former Afghan diplomat told the Washington Post "There were many wonderful people in the Taliban, many moderate and patriotic people, but the control from the outside, the interference from Pakistan and the radical Arabs made it hard for the moderates to stay there and help."
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. . . .