New Afghan Constitution Threatened By Violence and Intimidation
A major human rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), sent an open letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai urging him to take action to end the recent attacks and intimidation associated with the election process for the upcoming loya jirga (general assembly). According to HRW, some candidates have received death threats and are afraid to participate in the upcoming constitutional loya jirga.
According to the letter, several people who vocally opposed Herat Governor Ismail Khan have been targeted in assassination attempts this month. A candidate who spoke against warlords in Kandahar was threatened by gunmen. HRW is urging Kazai to speak out against the violence and to keep warlords from attending the constitutional convention.
Two United States Senators, Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that "we are in jeopardy of losing Afghanistan to become a failed state again," reports Reuters. Biden also raised concerns that even though NATO approved the expansion of peacekeeping forces (ISAF) outside of Kabul, he was unsure if the Bush Administration fully backed it.
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. . . .