Schoolteachers and farmers in the southern Tajik city of Kulob are complaining that they have been forced to buy annual
subscriptions to state newspapers, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
A teacher in Kulob named Firuz told RFE/RL on October 28 that officials from his school took 30 somonis from his monthly salary of 118 somonis ($25.1) to pay for annual subscriptions to official newspapers without asking him. Other teachers in the
area have made similar complaints.
He said Kulob's education department is forcing schools to subscribe to official newspapers like Jumhuriyat, Sadoi Mardum, Omuzgor, and others.
Iskandar Kamolov, the chairman of Kulob's post office, said subscriptions to newspapers are very important and the Kulob's mayor reminds city officials every Monday at weekly meetings to subscribe more people to state newspapers.
The villages and farming communities that surround Uganda's capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear.
Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.
The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country's economy.
The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.
Many believe that members of the country's new elite are paying witch doctors vast sums of money for the sacrifices in a bid to increase their wealth.
Time to be rebaselined at 2000>
years after will be called After PC (APC)
years before will be called Before PC (BPC)
Australia is to remove the birth of Jesus as a reference point for dates in school history books.
Under the new politically correct curriculum, the terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) will be replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).
The Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, condemned the move as an intellectually absurd attempt to write Christ out of human history . He described the phrase common era as meaningless , and compared it to using festive
season instead of Christmas.
The changes, introduced by the government, were supposed to be pushed through next year, but have been delayed by the row.
The terms CE and BCE became popular in academic and scientific publications in the late 20th century. They were used by publishers to emphasise secularism or sensitivity to non-Christians, but both still use the Gregorian calendar and the
year-numbering system revolving around BC and AD.
A senior Victorian magistrate who presided over a case in which a youth pleaded guilty to teenage sexting offences has condemned
as so unjust the mandatory laws that meant the young man was registered as a sex offender.
The magistrate said the lack of judicial discretion in such cases meant severe consequences for young people who posed no threat to society and were often guilty of little more than naivety.
He presided over the case of the country youth, then aged 18, who was sent four uninvited text message pictures of girls, aged between 15 and 17 years, topless or in their underwear. Police found the pictures on his mobile phone and laptop and
charged him with child pornography offences.
On legal advice the youth pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a one-year good behaviour bond without conviction. The magistrate refused the prosecutor's application for the young man to be placed on the sex offender register but police later
realised his guilty plea resulted in mandatory registration for eight years. Magistrates have discretion for those aged under 18, but none for adults.
The magistrate said:
These people shouldn't be regarded as sex offenders. It's going beyond the pale in relation to the imposition of long-term penalties which are not judicial penalties, they're not fines or community-based orders or even sex
offender treatment programs. This is a limitation on what a person can and can't do for the next eight years of their life, for God's sake.
The parties are no danger to the community, they're no danger to kids, it's an exercise in many cases in naivety, not even quite stupidity, just naivety.
[Offenders] have a minimal amount of culpability attached to them and a minimal amount of danger to any other person in the community. That's when it becomes so unjust.
He called for magistrates and judges to be given discretion over who ought to be listed as a sex offender.
Another story about Brits abroad. Getting caned. Though this time, this is not a classic binge-drinking Britain story, but a caning of another sort. British businessman Austin Cowburn from Manchester, is facing a potential
caning punishment for allegedly squeezing a woman's bottom in a nightclub in Singapore.
He is reported to be charged with the offence of outraging the modesty of the woman. The story seems to have caught the public interest, at a time when holidaying and what might be in store for people travelling to
other countries, is at the forefront of people's minds.
Amnesty has not commented on Mr Cowburn's alleged behaviour. We are always concerned about any allegations of assault against women and have a long history of campaigning to stop violence against women. But caning is a brutal
and archaic practice that is never acceptable. It should be consigned to the history books.
The pain inflicted by caning is so severe that victims often lose consciousness as a result. Afterwards the suffering can last for weeks or even years, both in terms of physical disabilities and psychological trauma. As a
punishment that intentionally inflicts severe pain and trauma, caning violates the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment under international law.
Caning was imposed for some 30 offences in Singapore last year, including for vandalism, and in April a man from Cameroon was caned for overstaying his visa. Whatever offence Mr Cowburn is accused of, when someone is found
guilty of an offence after a fair trial there are a great many avenues of sentencing, which do not constitute torture, available; such as a custodial sentence, or a financial penalty.
At Amnesty our position is simple. Caning is a form of torture, and constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Neither Austin Cowburn, nor anybody else should face being hit with a cane as a punishment, wherever in
the world they are and what ever they are accused of doing.
Five women who dared to break Saudi women drivers ban by getting behind the wheel were arrested for a few hours and then released by the Kingdom's muttawas, or religious police, in the Red Sea coast city of Jeddah.
To gain their release, the women, along with their legal male guardians, had to sign a pledge declaring they would not drive again.
In what is being described as dramatic night time raids, police detained one of the women as she was driving in the city. She was reportedly surrounded by four police cars and taken into custody.
According to a conservative Saudi news website, her car was also confiscated. The other four were first accused of defying the ban and then arrested.
Galvanized by the recent revolutions in the Arab world, the organization Saudi Women for Driving, a coalition of leading Saudi women's rights activists, released a statement that read, The Saudi police decided to wait a few weeks before
cracking down in the hope that international attention on the ban on women driving would subside.
Saudi women are banned from driving by fatwas, or religious edicts which are enforced by the religious police or muttawas.
It is the first time the muttawas cracked down on women drivers since women's rights campaigner and single mother Manal Al Sharif was arrested for driving in May this year and remained behind bars for nine days. Al Sharif is one of five organizers
who set up the facebook group Women2Drive page, launched a nationwide campaign calling on all women across the country to drive on June 17. Dozens of women across the country hit the streets, some documenting their audacious act and posting
their videos on YouTube.
Activists of Femen, a group of young women who have made a name for themselves with their topless demonstrations for feminist causes, decided to throw their support behind Saudi women who are not allowed to drive under the country's strict
interpretation of Islamic law. Baring their breasts while covering their faces with black hijab, the Femen activists drove past the Saudi embassy chanting Cars for women, camels for men.
A hotel worker was jailed in the UAE after reporting she had been raped by fellow employees. She spent eight months in prison for adultery
and drinking without a permit.
The 29-year-old woman says she was drugged and raped by work colleagues at the hotel in the Emirate of Fujairah in 2008.
She contacted her consulate for help, and says she received no warning from the Australian officials about the dangers of making a complaint.
After reporting the incident to police, she was imprisoned until her pardon in March 2009. She was imprisoned as it is illegal to have sexual relations outside marriage in the UAE even when raped.
The woman is now suing her country's government for allegedly giving her bad advice when she was in trouble abroad. The complainant says Australian consular officials failed to warn her that she could be jailed for adultery if she reported the
The complainant is also suing her employers at the hotel, alleging they failed to protect her.
According to reports, Sabastian Vettel was told before the start of last weekend's Turkish Grand Prix that, if he were to win, he
would not be allowed to drink the champagne. Not because alcohol isn't permitted in Turkey but because of a new Turkish law that places the minimum drinking age at 24. And Vettel is just 23. And drink champagne he did.
The restrictions in Turkey extend as well to a ban on advertising alcohol, forcing some teams to temporarily jettison their liquor sponsors. McLaren, for example, is sponsored by Johnnie Walker scotch whisky, as Force India is by Whyte &
Mackay, while Sauber is sponsored by Jose Cuervo tequila.
Will Vettel face some sort of punishment at the hands of the Turkish authorities?
A British woman locked up in Dubai after being caught in bed with a banker told of her relief as she was released on bail.
Danielle Spencer has been languishing in custody for the past 30 days after allegedly falling foul of the Gulf state's repressive morality laws.
She had been caught spending the night with a man after police were alerted after an attack by an angry spurned girlfriend. All three were arrested.
Since her arrest last month she had been sharing a mattress in an overcrowded underground holding cell in Bur Dubai with her love rival.
The amorous couple were arrested for sex outside marriage, a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates. No charges have been brought. It is expected they will be brought before a prosecutor in the next few weeks.
The mayor of Tel Aviv is under fire after granting the request of singer Yaniv Ben Mashiach to have the first sex-segregated concert in Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium in 53 years.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was asked this week to ban sex segregation at next month's concert, and any other performances, in municipal venues.
The mayor has responded, commenting that Tel Aviv is a democratic and pluralist city which respects all people and therefore allows municipal buildings to be rented out for events such as these.
Ben Mashiach, who sings songs with Jewish themes, had previously asked the auditorium for separate seating at the concert, meaning that men would sit in the main section and women would sit in the upstairs balcony. His concerts are usually
overseen by modesty guards who enforce the segregation.
Tamar Zandberg, a city council member who heads the municipality's committee on women's rights, also asked Huldai to ban such a chauvinist and primitive practice. It's a custom that has nothing to do with Jewish or religious life. It has
sprung up suddenly in dark, fundamentalist circles and it has been growing ever wider. These methods of excluding women should not be accepted even in ultra-Orthodox society, most certainly not in municipal institutions in the heart of Tel Aviv.
A 23-year-old unmarried woman was given a one year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant
The Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of his
friends assaulted her all night long.
The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks' pregnant then, the hospital confirmed.
According to the ruling, the woman will be sent to a jail outside Jeddah to spend her time and will be lashed after delivery of her baby who will take the mother's last name.
A 25-year-old Dubai hotel employee was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered deported after having sex with a guest, becoming
pregnant and aborting the pregnancy, the United Arab Emirates-based National reported.
The woman - a non muslim native of South Africa identified only as MB - was arrested after doctors snitched her up to police after she checked into a Sharjah hospital hemorrhaging from an abortion.
She was charged with committing zina - the Sharia law offence of sex outside marriage - in addition to aborting a four-month-old fetus.
MB could have faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison and 100 lashes, although a prior National article says that the UAE hasn't allowed the lashing of non-Muslims since 2006.
According to the paper, the woman told the Sharjah Criminal Court of First Instance that she'd met an American guest at the unidentified Dubai hotel where she worked and he invited her out one night. They had sex and never saw each other again.
Ghanaians are waiting for their normally slow court system to deliver a verdict in a shocking case that illuminates resurgent beliefs
Six people are currently appearing before a magistrate at Tema, near Accra, for allegedly burning a 72-year-old woman to death, in the belief that she was a witch. Earlier, the media had made fun of an elderly woman who, it was claimed, was arrested
by villagers who claimed that she had fallen out of the sky after running out of witches' gas on a flying expedition with her coven, and fallen under a tree.
In both cases, anyone with the slightest knowledge of dementia would recognise symptoms of the disease from the accounts given of the behaviour of the women. They were where they were not supposed to be, and when they were asked what they were
doing there, they could not explain themselves. This is because dementia sometimes robs its victims of the ability to speak coherently.
Sri Lanka is mulling a ban on mini-skirts following nutter complaints, prompting the government to set up a panel to prepare a dress code for public places.
The cultural ministry was considering public petitions calling for a ban on mini skirts which have raised the ire of the ultra conservative.
The Cultural Ministry forwarded the petitions to a committee to study the requests and come up with a dress code for public places, a ministry official told PTI.
There are individuals and groups representing religious and cultural interests, who have written to us raising concerns that this kind of (mini) dress would corrupt our culture, Minister T. B. Ekanayake was quoted as saying by the Lakbima
news daily: They say with the arrival of tourists, this situation would worsen .