AFGHAN LAWMAKERS BLOCK LAW ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked legislation on Saturday aimed at strengthening provisions for women's freedoms, arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles and encourage disobedience.
The fierce opposition highlights how tenuous women's rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam once kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.
Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of an uproar by religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.
"Whatever is against Islamic law, we don't even need to speak about it," Shaheedzada said.
The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in effect since 2009, but only by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women's rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its potential reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.
The law criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and bans "baad," the traditional practice of exchanging girls and women to settle disputes. It makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.
VICTIMS: MARINES FAILED TO SAFEGUARD WATER SUPPLY
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) -- A simple test could have alerted officials that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated, long before authorities determined that as many as a million Marines and their families were exposed to a witch's brew of cancer-causing chemicals.
But no one responsible for the lab at the base can recall that the procedure - mandated by the Navy - was ever conducted.
The U.S. Marine Corps maintains that the carbon chloroform extract (CCE) test would not have uncovered the carcinogens that fouled the southeastern North Carolina base's water system from at least the mid-1950s until wells were capped in the mid-1980s. But experts say even this "relatively primitive" test - required by Navy health directives as early as 1963 - would have told officials that something was terribly wrong beneath Lejeune's sandy soil.
A just-released study from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry cited a February 1985 level for trichloroethylene of 18,900 parts per billion in one Lejeune drinking water well - nearly 4,000 times today's maximum allowed limit of 5 ppb. Given those kinds of numbers, environmental engineer Marco Kaltofen said even a testing method as inadequate as CCE should have raised some red flags with a "careful analyst."
"That's knock-your-socks-off level - even back then," said Kaltofen, who worked on the infamous Love Canal case in upstate New York, where drums of buried chemical waste leaked toxins into a local water system. "You could have smelled it."
Biochemist Michael Hargett agrees that CCE, while imperfect, would have been enough to prompt more specific testing in what is now recognized as the worst documented case of drinking-water contamination in the nation's history.
OJ'S EX-LAWYER CONTRADICTS HIS TESTIMONY ON GUNS
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- O.J. Simpson's former lawyer defended himself point-by-point Friday against allegations he botched the former football star's armed-robbery trial, after giving damaging testimony that Simpson actually knew his buddies had guns when they went to a hotel room together to reclaim some sports memorabilia.
Miami-based attorney Yale Galanter quickly found himself under withering cross-examination from a Simpson lawyer intent on proving that Galanter's word couldn't be trusted - that he knew ahead of time of Simpson's plan and spent more effort covering up his involvement than representing Simpson.
The weeklong hearing concluded late Friday with Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell telling attorneys she will issue her decision in writing. She didn't specify a date.
Simpson was returned to prison custody. His attorneys, Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo, said they were optimistic that the judge would grant a new trial.
"I just think the evidence of his claims is overwhelming," Palm said.