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Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian acquitted of blasphemy, still lives the life of a prisoner, nearly three months after her release from death row, awaiting a final ruling on her fate.

She spends her days in seclusion for fear of being targeted by angry mobs clamoring for her death. In her hideout, she longs for her children who were taken to Canada for their safety.

Pakistani security forces guarding the 54-year-old Bibi prevent her from opening a window in her hiding place, let alone go outside, a friend said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is weighing a petition by Islamist extremists and right-wing religious parties that rallied against her acquittal and demand her execution.

Her case goes to the core of one of Pakistan's most controversial issues — the blasphemy law, often used to settle scores or intimidate followers of Pakistan's minority religions, including minority Shiite Muslims. A charge of insulting Islam can bring the death penalty.

Just making an accusation is sometimes enough to whip up vengeful mobs, even if the courts acquit defendants. A provincial governor who defended Bibi was shot and killed, as was a government minority minister who dared question the blasphemy law.

Bibi's ordeal began on a hot day in 2009, with a row with fellow farmworkers after two Muslim women refused to drink water from the same container as a Christian. They demanded she convert, and she refused. Five days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy. She was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.


The Colorado Supreme Court said Monday that state law does not allow oil and gas regulators to make health and environmental protection their top priority, prompting Democrats who control the Legislature to call for changing the law.

In a victory for the energy industry, the court said Colorado law requires regulators to "foster" oil and gas production while protecting health and the environment. But the justices said regulators must take into account whether those protections are cost-effective and technically feasible.

The unanimous ruling was an endorsement of the way the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission operates. It was the latest in a series of wins for the industry, both in the courts and at the ballot box, against opponents who say the state is too lenient with energy companies.

But Democrats now control both houses of the Legislature as well as the governorship, and they appear ready to embrace tougher restrictions. House Speaker KC Becker said Monday that she is already working on a measure for the Legislature, which started work on Jan. 4.

"How do we make health and safety an earlier consideration or a more prominent consideration in siting and permitting?" she said. "This is really what we're hearing in the community."

Colorado's new governor, liberal Democrat Jared Polis, also said change is in the works.

"It only highlights the need to work with the Legislature and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to more safely develop our state's natural resources and protect our citizens from harm," Polis said in a statement.

Oil and gas drilling has long been contentious in Colorado, which ranks fifth nationally in crude oil production and sixth in natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration .

The Wattenberg oil and gas field — the most productive field in Colorado and one of the top 10 nationally — overlaps fast-growing communities north of Denver, triggering frequent disputes over the proximity of wells to neighborhoods. In 2017, two people were killed in a home explosion and fire blamed on a severed pipeline from a nearby gas well.

Monday's ruling came in a lawsuit filed by six young people who argued state law requires regulators to ensure energy development does not harm people's health or the environment. They asked the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2013 to require those protections before issuing any drilling permits.

The commission refused, saying the law required it to balance health and environmental concerns with other factors. Those include the rights of energy companies and the people who own the oil and gas reserves as well as a mandate from lawmakers to foster drilling.


The Supreme Court is refusing to be drawn into a dispute over the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the acting U.S. attorney general.

The justices on Monday rejected an appeal in a case dealing with gun rights that also included a challenge to President Donald Trump's appointment of Whitaker to temporarily lead the Justice Department.

The appeal claims Whitaker's appointment is illegal under federal law and asks the court to name Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (ROH'-zen-styn) as a party in the case, instead of Whitaker.

The Justice Department in November released an internal legal opinion supporting the legality of Whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general. Trump has called Whitaker "a highly respected person."

Former Attorney General William Barr has been nominated by Trump to again lead the Justice Department.


Congo's presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu has asked the constitutional court to order a recount in the disputed election, declaring on Saturday that "you can't manufacture results behind closed doors."

He could be risking more than the court's refusal. Congo's electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa has said there are only two options: The official results are accepted or the vote is annulled — which would keep President Joseph Kabila in power until another election. The Dec. 30 one came after two years of delays.

"They call me the people's soldier ... and I will not let the people down," Fayulu said. Evidence from witnesses at polling stations across the country is being submitted to the court, which is full of Kabila appointees.

Rifle-carrying members of Kabila's Republican Guard deployed outside Fayulu's home and the court earlier Saturday. It was an attempt to stop him from filing, Fayulu said while posting a video of them on Twitter: "The fear remains in their camp."

Fayulu has accused the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, of a backroom deal with Kabila to win power in the mineral-rich nation as the ruling party candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, did poorly.

The opposition coalition for Fayulu, a businessman vocal about cleaning up widespread corruption, has said he won 61 percent of the vote, citing figures compiled by the Catholic Church's 40,000 election observers across the vast Central African country.



Abortion opponents in Kansas have been bracing themselves for nearly two years for a ruling from the state's highest court that protects the right to have an abortion and potentially upends politics in a state long at the center of the national debate.

The Kansas Supreme Court is relatively liberal in a state with a Republican-dominated Legislature that has strong anti-abortion majorities.

Court watchers also are asking: Why is it taking so long for the justices to rule? No one outside the court knows for sure and the justices are not saying, as is their long-standing custom. One educated guess is that they still are wrestling with the implications of declaring that the state constitution protects abortion rights.

That was the core legal issue when the court heard attorneys' arguments in March 2017 in a major abortion lawsuit . An abortion-rights decision could allow state courts in Kansas to chart their own course on abortion and invalidate restrictions that the federal courts would uphold.

"What's the test for that?" said Jeffrey Jackson, a Washburn University of Topeka law professor. "There's any number of weird possible decisions that you can get to."

The case arises from abortion opponents' numerous legislative victories during eight years under Republican governors. Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, a strong abortion rights supporter, takes office Monday, but the Legislature emerged from last year's elections more conservative — and as anti-abortion as ever.

GOP conservatives' power in the Legislature surged following "Summer of Mercy" protests in 1991 against the late Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita, among a few in the U.S. known to do late-term abortions. An anti-abortion zealot shot Tiller to death in 2009.

Legislators debate abortion annually. Kansas recorded its lowest number of abortions in 30 years in 2017, fewer than 6,800 — 46 percent less than the peak of more than 12,400 in 1999.



An adviser to Europe's top court says Google doesn't have to extend "right to be forgotten" rules to its search engines globally.

The European Court of Justice's advocate general released a preliminary opinion Thursday in the case involving the U.S. tech company and France's data privacy regulator.

The case stems from the court's 2014 ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. That decision forced Google to delete links to outdated or embarrassing personal information that popped up in searches.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar's opinion said the court "should limit the scope of the de-referencing that search engine operators are required to carry out," and that it shouldn't have to do it for all domain names, according to a statement.

Opinions from the court's advocate general aren't binding but the court often follows them when it hands down its ruling, which is expected later.

The case highlighted the need to balance data privacy and protection concerns against the public's right to know. It also raised thorny questions about how to enforce differing legal jurisdictions when it comes to the borderless internet.

Google's senior privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said the company acknowledges that the right to privacy and public access to information "are important to people all around the world ... We've worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99 percent effectiveness."


The Supreme Court is ordering a federal appeals court to re-examine the case of a convicted killer in Ohio whose death sentence was thrown out after he was found to be mentally disabled.

In an unsigned opinion Monday, the justices said that the federal appeals court in Cincinnati applied the wrong standard when it concluded that inmate Danny Hill was ineligible to be executed.

The high court said the appellate judges wrongly relied on a recent Supreme Court decision, but should have instead based their decision on rulings that were in effect at the time that state courts judged Hill not to be mentally disabled.

The Supreme Court banned the execution of mentally disabled people in 2002, but states still retain significant discretion in assessing mental disability.

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