AFGHANISTAN: Officials may have averted a meltdown, but the country remains in a political crisis a day after presidential contender Abdullah Abdullah threatened to form a parallel government. Abdullah led the first round of popular voting but fell behind in the runoff count by 1 million votes to rival Ashraf Ghani, the candidate more closely aligned with current President Hamid Karzai, and a Pashtun. Abdullah charges voter fraud, and Ghani now has agreed to an audit of polling stations.
It’s worth noting that Abdullah is widely respected in Afghanistan, and stood down from elections against Karzai in 2010 because he alleged that corruption and fraud were so widespread. In June, his campaign released audio recordings of a senior election official allegedly saying, “Take the sheep into the mountain and bring them back stuffed,” referring to illegally filled ballot boxes.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are up 24 percent this year as a result of increased clashes between insurgents and government forces.
ISRAEL has launched an all-out attack on Gaza, threatening a ground invasion, over repeated Hamas shelling of Israeli cities and towns. Hamas, which ostensibly controls Gaza, has decided to go for broke.
Not all the photos under the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack can be believed.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Rebel fighters and Muslim civilians attacked a Catholic church in Bambari where thousands of residents had taken refuge. “We don’t have the exact death toll yet, but many people have been killed. As I’m speaking to you, they are still there,” Rev. Jesus Martial Dembele, vicar general for the archdiocese of Bangui, told Reuters.
AFRICA: Carys Parker found her first year of college more of an adjustment than most. She’d spent her entire life aboard Mercy Ships, where her father for 27 years has worked as a surgeon, sailing the seas to West African ports, even graduating from high school on board.
UNITED NATIONS: With only 18 countries worldwide recognizing same-sex marriages, the UN nonetheless on Monday extended benefits—including health coverage and travel—to include partners of employees “married in a country where same-sex marriages are legal.” Previously, a staff member’s personal marital status “was determined by the laws applicable in their country of nationality.” The new policy could mean conflict with UN member states where the organization works the most—38 of 54 sub-Saharan countries and most of the Near East and Middle East outlaw homosexuality.