More Peacekeeping Forces Desperately Needed in Afghanistan
Conditions in Afghanistan are described by international aid workers as dangerous and unstable. Delegates returning home from last week’s loya jirga have reported threats and intimidation especially to women. In light of these circumstances, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) restated a continued plea last night to the Bush administration and Congress for expanded US peacekeeping presence in Afghanistan – especially in the areas outside of Kabul. For the past several months, the Feminist Majority and other women’s organizations as well as the United Nations and the interim Afghan government have asked the Bush administration to expand US peacekeeping troops from 4,800 to 25,000 in order to protect the Afghan people.
“The Bush administration has refused to expand the international security assistance force beyond Kabul. The restoration of democracy and of rights for women in Afghanistan depends on maintaining security, reestablishing democracy, and creating a functional central government that can provide services and oversee reconstruction to that country,” Reid said, urging Bush to provide full US support to the war-torn nation. “To do less is to indicate that we do not care about Afghanistan and to underscore that we do not care about what is happening to the women of Afghanistan.”
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Peter Kessler described an “extremely precarious” situation in Afghanistan - exacerbated by the scarce and rapidly dwindling supply of food, water, and healthcare, according to the Dawn Group of Newspapers. Kessler said the agency was not encouraging refugees to return home: “The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has done a great job in Kabul but there are still security problems in many parts of the country.” There are an estimated 3.7 million Afghans still sheltered abroad, with approximately 2 million in Pakistan. Since March, about 940,000 Afghan refugees have returned home from Pakistan. Sixty-eight non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have written to the UN Security Council demanding expansion of peacekeeping forces, according to the Deutsche Welle newspaper. With ISAF presently limited to Kabul, foreign workers in other areas of the country are being targeted in robberies, assaults, and rape. Afghan women and children are especially vulnerable to such dangers. Some relief groups such as Northwest Medical Teams have evacuated due to attacks on foreigners.
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. The court's decision denied their request to temporarily block the legislation pending a final ruling on its constitutionality, rubber stamping the efforts of Oklahoma politicians to force doctors to use an outdated protocol for administering a medication abortion using the drug mifepristone - one that the medical community and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have rejected in favor of a new standard of care that calls for a significantly lower dosage. . . .
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state.
Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations.
More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .