U.N. officials warned Afghanistan’s Taliban militia group that it will pull out of the country entirely unless the U.N. is “allowed to do its job.” This includes permitting women to work outside the home, opening schools to girls, and allowing women to obtain sufficient health care. U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that if the U.N. is not allowed to operate as it does in 184 other countries, “we should pack up and go.”
The U.N. already ended all its operations in southern Afghanistan last week. The move was a protest against attacks on its staff by the Taliban governor of Kandahar, Mullah Hassan Akhund, and a Taliban decree that prohibits foreign Muslim women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by her father, brother or husband.
Brahimi said that it is not just southern Afghanistan that poses a problem for U.N. workers, “Elsewhere we are not happy ... we are having more and more difficulty.” Brahimi said that the Taliban has tried to control U.N. operations and has continued to demand that it be recognized as Afghanistan’s official government. Currently, the U.N.’s Afghanistan seat on the U.N. Security Council is held by former Afghan President and anti-Taliban alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani. The anti-Taliban alliance holds 15% of the country.
Brahimi commented, “The international community has a standard and if you want to be a member of the club you have to abide by the rules.”
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked all governments to stop sending weapons to Afghan groups on either side of the struggle. Annan stressed that as long as the factions were receiving arms the fighting would continue and there would be no chance of either side engaging in “serious political dialogue with one another.”
Annan added that involvement of outside countries has only “exacerbated the tragedy of Afghanistan.”
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .