News in Brief: Push for Anti-Abortion Bills at the State Level Continues, and More …

Push for Anti-Abortion Bills at the State Level Continues

The latest legislation in a series of anti-choice bills sweeping the country at the state level has popped up in Kansas and Indiana. In Indiana, the House voted to defund Planned Parenthood in the state entirely and will cut off services such as birth control, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and cancer screenings. Planned Parenthood said it will seek an injunction to keep the bill from being enforced, reported the Indy Star. In Kansas, the state Senate approved regulations aimed at abortion clinics in the state which would allow them to be searched annually and without prior warning, reported the Times Union. The law also directs the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to write standards for lighting, exits and bathrooms in abortion clinics, and allows KDHE to go to court to shut them down. This has been part of a wider push from anti-choice legislators. The Guttmacher Institute reports that 39 new laws restricting abortions were passed in 2010.

Mass Syrian Protests Going Strong

Thousands of Syrians continued to call for the toppling of President Bashar al-Assad Friday, defying violent repression in which 500 people have died since protests began a month ago. Demonstrations Friday erupted in six cities across the country – in Deraa, the most strongly repressed city, soldiers fired shots in the air to keep people from congregating for protests or Friday prayers, a resident told Reuters. Human rights organizations said snipers were visible from rooftops in many cities. Their presence is regarded as a further attempt to keep people from resisting the rule of the Baath Party, which has been in power for the last 48 years.

Bahrain “Torture Service” Official Attended Royal Wedding

As royal wedding fervor hit the world, the royal guest list recieved increased scrutiny. The Bahraini ambassador to London, a guest at the wedding, is also the formed head of an agency accused of torture and human rights abuses, reported The Guardian UK. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Ali al-Khalifa is the former head of Bahrain's National Security Agency (NSA), which Human Rights Watch said tortured detainees with electric shocks and beatings in 2007. Khalifa was head of the agency from 2005 to 2008. The Syrian ambassador to London's wedding invitation was withdrawn due to concerns over the country's vast repression, but both British and Bahraini embassy sources said Khalifa's invitation would not be revoked.

US Seeks New Limits on Food Ads for Children

The federal government proposed new guidelines Friday aimed to overhauling how the food industry advertises cereal, soda and fast food to children. Spurred on by an epidemic of childhood obesity, the regulators are aiming to minimize the use of appealing characters like Toucan Sam, the Froot Loops front man, to market foods high in sugar, fat or salt to children, reported The New York Times. The guidelines released by the Federal Trade Commission include television, print media and web sites, as well as online games, social media and product placements in movies and television shows.