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News Brief: Oct. 22 – Nov.1

  • International 

Taliban allow middle and high school girls back into schools 

After banning girls from attending school last month, the Taliban allowed them to return to school on Oct. 27. The decision came after pressure from other countries’ governments and international aid groups. 

Taliban officials said conditions will be different for females from the last time they were in power, where women were mistreated in their society. However, many parents and teachers are still hesitant to believe it will be the case, because the Taliban government has kept women out of government and higher-up jobs. 

Agnès Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said in a statement education is a fundamental human right.

“The policies currently pursued by the Taliban are discriminatory, unjust, and violate international law,” Callamard said.  

Japan’s Princess gave up her title to marry a commoner 

On Oct. 26, Princess Mako of Japan married Kei Komuro and lost her royal title. The simple ceremony and reception happened in a registry office in Tokyo, handled by royal representatives. 

The public opinion in Japan about Princess Mako’s choice is controversial. The former Princess’ decision highlights Japan’s monarchy succession crisis. Although she was called a princess, the Imperial Household Law stipulates women are not allowed to reign on the throne, and by marrying a commoner, Princess Mako will become a commoner herself, as will any of the couple’s children. 

Because of the controversy, the couple announced they will move to New York. 

Princess Mako said in a statement she acknowledged the various opinions about her marriage. 

“I feel very sorry for the people to whom we gave trouble,” Princess Mako said. “I’m grateful for the people who have been quietly concerned about us, or those who continued supporting us without being confused by baseless information.”

  • National 

Actor Alec Baldwin fatally shoots film’s director of photography on set 

On Oct. 22, Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm, a .45 Long Colt revolver, on the set of “Rust,” killing the film’s director of photography and wounding the movie’s director. 

Juan Rios, a spokesman for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office said the shooting happened in the middle of a scene that was being rehearsed.  

After five days of investigation, authorities released an affidavit on Oct. 27. The police confirmed the gun handed to Baldwin was not thoroughly checked. Dave Halls, an assistant director on the film, said he should have inspected each round in each chamber. 

The bullet that killed the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, has been recovered, and authorities said there were more live rounds on the set. 

Santa Fe County District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, said at a news conference on Oct. 27, the inquiry will continue. 

“If the facts and evidence and law support charges, then I will initiate prosecution at that time,” Carmack-Altwies said. 

Live ammunition is forbidden on film sets. It is still unclear how they came to be in the gun Baldwin was handed. 

US issues the first passport with ‘X’ gender marker 

On Oct. 27, the State Department announced the U.S. has issued its first passport with an ‘X’ gender marker, acknowledging people who do not identify as male or female. 

More than six other countries have adopted similar policies. About 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow an ‘X’ gender designation on driver’s licenses. 

The statement said the department plans to expand gender-neutral options to all applicants in 2022. 

“[This policy is to] ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity,” the statement said. 

  • Local 

More than 350 new Oklahoma Laws to take effect Nov. 1 

More than 350 new laws will take effect in Oklahoma on Nov 1. The new legislation includes education changes, medical marijuana reforms and renaming state highways.

Starting in the 2022-2023 school year, Oklahoma high school students will be required to pass a civics test to graduate. Students will have to score 60% or higher on the 100-question test, which will include government and history questions. Schools will also be required to include mental health instruction in any health education curriculum. 

Another new regulation on the list includes naming a 20-mile stretch of highway in the panhandle after former president Donald Trump. The highway will be a section of U.S. 287, located from Boise City to the Oklahoma-Texas border in Cimarron County. 

Other regulations include new gun laws, anti-abortion laws and protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence. 

To learn more, access The Oklahoman.

Death row inmates, including Julius Jones, get execution stays 

Oklahoma’s set of scheduled executions have been dropped. The 2-1 decision gave stays to death row inmates John Marion Grant and Julius Jones

Jones was set to be executed on Nov. 18 despite his highly publicized claim of innocence. Three other death row inmates asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver for stays. Their requests were neither granted nor denied. 

Attorney General John O’Connor said he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will vacate the stay so that justice can finally be served for the people of Oklahoma, including the families of the victims of these horrific crimes,” his office said.

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