- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Karzai slammed over sex law

KABUL | Women’s rights activists on Monday accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of using a constitutional loophole to enact a law that allows minority Shi’ite Muslim husbands to refuse food and money to their wives if they deny them sex.

The activists say Mr. Karzai took the step to appease conservative Shi’ite clergy ahead of Thursday’s presidential election. Nearly 20 percent of Afghans are Shi’ites and could become an influential voting block as Mr. Karzai bids for a new five-year term.

The legislation, which governs many aspects of family life for Afghanistan’s Shi’ites, has been sparking controversy since Mr. Karzai signed an earlier version in March. Critics said the original legislation essentially legalized marital rape, and Mr. Karzai quickly suspended enforcement after governments around the world condemned it as oppressive and a return to Taliban-era repression of women.


11 workers killed in accident at plant

MOSCOW | An accident during repair work at Russia’s largest hydroelectric plant Monday killed at least 11 workers, while as many as 65 others were missing after an engine room was suddenly flooded, officials said.

The cause of the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in southern Siberia was unclear. Federal investigators said a transformer exploded during repair work, destroying walls and the ceiling in an engine room where turbines are located and causing the room to flood.

Eleven workers were confirmed dead and 14 injured. Rescue workers were searching the cavernous engine room for 50 to 65 people still missing, said Roman Dotsov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry in Siberia.


Ex-president cleared of graft charges

LUSAKA | A magistrate acquitted former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba of corruption charges Monday after a six-year trial in a ruling that overjoyed his supporters but frustrated clean-government campaigners in Africa.

Mr. Chiluba, 63, was accused of diverting nearly $500,000 of state money into accounts to pay for an extravagant lifestyle when he served as Zambia’s first democratically elected leader from 1991 to 2001. The judge ruled that the funds could not be traced to government coffers.

About 150 supporters in the courtroom broke into applause even before Magistrate Jones Chinyama finished reading the handwritten, 3,400-word verdict.

“After studying the evidence presented to this court, I’m left with no doubt that the prosecution failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Mr. Chinyama said.


Lead poisoning sparks clashes

BEIJING | Police clashed with residents of two neighboring villages in northern China where nearly all of the children were poisoned by lead, apparently from a nearby smelter, reports said Monday, the latest sign of growing anger over China’s rampant industrial pollution.

Several hundred villagers tore down fences and blocked traffic outside the Dongling Lead and Zinc Smelting Co. in Shaanxi province after news of the poisoning emerged last week, state media and villagers said. Fighting between angry parents and scores of police broke out Sunday, and trucks delivering coal to the plant were stoned.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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