Afghan Support Organizations Urge Taliban to End Blockades, Improve Security
An alliance of humanitarian aid agencies called the Afghan Donor Support Group issued a statement urging the Taliban to remove blockades in northern, opposition-held sections of Afghanistan* and to improve security conditions for humanitarian aid workers. Thousands of Afghans are near starvation because the Taliban's blockades and dangerous conditions make it impossible for aid workers to reach the people who need help. A Washington Post article has since reported that the Taliban has agreed to lift its blockade and allow emergency food relief.
The group also stated its commitment to meeting the needs of women, vowed to "treat women as equal partners in Afghanistan's future recovery" and promised to concentrate on eliminating opium production there. "It's an open secret that while the leaders may condemn it, the Taliban benefit from drugs production, through the levy of taxes on poppy crops and from payments by traffickers to ensure their laboratories and drugs convoys can operate with impunity," said Junior British Foreign Minister Derek Fatchett. Fatchett urged members of the Afghan Support Donor Group to work together on their common goals.
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .