RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

Council asked for discussion on allowing women to drive

Saudi women on the ultraconservative kingdom’s top advisory council have called for a discussion on the sensitive issue of allowing women to drive, a move that could embolden reformers pushing to lift the ban.

The official request was made this week to the head of the Shura Council, council member Latifa al-Shaalan said, to address all “excuses” raised to keep women from driving since Islamic law and Saudi traffic laws do not forbid it.

Women seeking the right to drive in Saudi Arabia have been energized by a campaign calling on them to drive on Oct. 26. Saudi law does not explicitly prohibit them from driving, but religious edicts by senior and influential clerics are enforced by the police, effectively banning it. Authorities do not issue driving licenses to women.

The campaign started as an online petition last month and has so far garnered nearly 15,000 signatures.

WASHINGTON

Admiral removed from post amid NCIS gambling probe

The deputy commander of U.S. nuclear forces, Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, was notified Wednesday that he has been relieved of duty amid a military investigation of allegations that he used counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino, the Navy said.

The move is exceedingly rare and perhaps unprecedented in the history of U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for all U.S nuclear fighting forces, including submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.

The Navy’s top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Giardina, who had held the job since December 2011, is being reassigned to the Navy staff pending the outcome of the probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The matter originated as a local investigation in Iowa in June.

As a consequence of being removed from his post, Giardina falls in rank to two-star admiral.

– From news service reports