1 | Afghanistan
Civilian Casualties Up
The number of Afghans killed or wounded increased by nearly a third in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to a report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The report says anti-government elements, including the Taliban, were responsible for 76% of all Afghan civilian casualties. Though it notes a 64% reduction in civilian casualties from pro-government air strikes, a recent NATO air strike killed at least a dozen Afghan civilians, one day after General David Petraeus' directive emphasized the need to avoid such deaths. The U.N. report comes on the heels of a massacre in the country's northeast that saw the execution of 10 foreign aid workers; the Taliban claimed responsibility.
Civilian deaths are up. Who's to blame?
Deaths in the first six months of each year:
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
• Anti-government elements
• Pro-government forces
2 | Mexico
Supreme Court Rules On Gay Marriage
Less than a week after it upheld a Mexico City law legalizing same-sex marriage, Mexico's Supreme Court addressed the rest of the nation. On Aug. 10, the judges ruled by a vote of 9-2 that all Mexican states must recognize gay marriages sanctioned in Mexico City. While individual states are not required to pass their own same-sex-marriage laws, couples married in Mexico City will retain rights outside the capital. The law, which was opposed by President Felipe Calderón's National Action Party as well as the Catholic Church, was passed in December and took effect in March.
3 | California
An Unexpected Partnership
Google and Verizon announced a plan on Aug. 9 that would allow Internet providers to offer accelerated premium broadband and wireless content. Critics say the plan runs counter to the principle of Net neutrality, the idea that all legal online data--from government reports to YouTube videos--should be treated equally and delivered to all users at the same speed. The proposal would prevent preferential treatment over current broadband lines. But if adopted by Congress, it could also pave the way for Internet-subscription rates for some types of video similar to those offered by cable-TV companies. In the meantime, the FCC is considering regulating the Internet as a telecommunications service, which would restrict companies from prioritizing their content.
4 | Pakistan
Desperate for Help