Afghanistan’s Taliban militia group leaders met with their northern opponents this weekend for peace talks brokered by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson and sponsored by the U.N. and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Taliban and northern opposition leaders agreed to discuss a cease-fire, possible prisoner exchange and the resolution of the Taliban’s human rights violations that are leading to a decrease in international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, according to U.N. official James Ngobi.
Taliban leader Mohammad Omar said he believed peace in Afghanistan rested on finding a religious rather than a political solution to the conflict. The Taliban militia group gained control of the Afghan capital city of Kabul in September of 1996 and currently controls 85 percent of the country. Since the takeover, Taliban leaders have inflicted decrees that violate women’s human rights, including forbidding women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a husband, brother or son, prohibiting girls from obtaining an education and restricting women’s access to healthcare. From media reports, it was unclear whether restoration of women’s rights was discussed in the first day of negotiations.
Last week, President Clinton met with the President of Turkmenistan. The leaders discussed improving relations between the two countries and creating a transnational pipeline that would pass through Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A U.S.-based oil and gas company, Unocal, holds a 46.5 percent stake in the pipeline, which could earn the Taliban militia group $50 to $100 million a year.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
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. . . .