Order targeting voter intimidation stands

The Supreme Court, without comment, turned down an effort by the Republican National Committee to end a 30-year-old court order aimed at preventing intimidation of minority voters. The order stems from a lawsuit filed by Democrats in New Jersey in 1981 that objected to a "ballot security" program the RNC ran in minority neighborhoods. Republicans said the order hampers efforts to combat voter fraud, but U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise said voter intimidation remains a threat and preventing it outweighs the potential danger of fraud.


Some citrus damaged amid bitter cold

As an unusual cold gripped the West Coast for the fifth day, some California citrus growers began to see damage. In the San Joaquin Valley, where farmers are fighting to protect about $1.5 billion worth of citrus fruit, temperatures dropped to 25 degrees in some areas. The California Citrus Mutual association said the orange crop seemed protected so far, but that "mandarin growers are going to see a range of significant damage."


Fighting edges toward Chinese border

Fighting between an armed ethnic rebel group and the military threatened to spill into Chinese territory, the insurgents said, with reports that shelling had killed three people in the border town of Laiza, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army, a rebel group. The breakdown of a cease-fire has been a setback for the government of President Thein Sein, who is trying to guide Myanmar toward democracy after decades of military rule.


Rape 'significant' part of war, report says

Rape has become a "significant and disturbing feature" of the war in Syria, one that many refugees cite as their leading reason for fleeing the country, said a report by the International Rescue Committee, a New York-based organization. It does not specify if those men are primarily from government forces or rebel fighters.


City may ban women straddling motorbikes

A plan by city officials in Lhokseumawe, in Sumatra's Aceh Province, to ban women from straddling motorbikes has prompted an outcry. But opponents said sitting sidesaddle is both less comfortable and less safe. Most Indonesians are Muslims, but Aceh is the only province that strictly enforces Islamic law, or Shariah. The province already has laws on how women may dress.