Chinese Workers Latest Fatalities in Taliban Crusade to Derail Elections in Afghanistan
Yesterday, gunmen killed an Afghan guard and 11 Chinese road workers as they slept in the Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. The Associated Press reports that yesterday's brutal attack was the deadliest on foreign civilians since the Taliban lost power. Four other Chinese workers who were injured in the attack are listed in stable condition. The workers were contracted to rebuild the highway from Doshi to the Tajikistan border. The UN immediately warned staff to stay off roads and halted voter registration in Kunduz until at least Saturday. Shortly after the attack on the Chinese workers, a bomb hit a vehicle carrying UN counternarcotics officials in the neighboring province of Takhar, but there were no reported injuries.
These murders were the latest in a string of deadly attacks on relief workers, government employees and private contractors in a Taliban-led crusade to derail democratic elections and oust the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, AP reports. Already the elections that were to take place in June have been postponed until September due to the lack of security. Only 2.8 million of the 10.5 million estimated eligible Afghan voters are currently registered, of which approximately one-third are women. Despite the dire security situation, peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan remain a small contingent of some 6,500 soldiers.
AP reports that Badghis and Kunduz, the provinces where the Medecins Sans Frontieres and Chinese workers killings occurred, were considered "relatively peaceful" until now. Relief agencies are concerned that militants are expanding their excursions from the south and east where there has been a campaign of deadly attacks and bombings by the Taliban and other militants since last year.
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. . . .