Despite pledges of $4.5 billion in emergency assistance and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan, the international community has only released about $660 million so far. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell pledged to speed up disbursement of the promised funds. The United States has delivered around $400 million in emergency assistance to the struggling nation, but with most of it for humanitarian assistance through the UN and other nongovernmental organization – and very little to assist the Afghan government with reconstruction. The cost of reconstruction of Afghanistan is estimated at $14-18 billion over the next decade.
The newly formed Afghan government, under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, is currently trying to rebuild the country as well as bring an end to the violence and corruption of warlords that the US counted as allies in their war against Al Qaeda. The assassination of vice president Haji Abdul Qadir in full daylight in Kabul earlier this month; threats to Loya Jirga delegates who spoke out for human rights; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school in Kandahar show the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is desperate.
“You’re not going to get economic development if roads aren’t secured, if there’s banditry and lawlessness, if warlords are running everything, if it’s corrupt and if you’ve got to pay them off,” stressed Roberta Cohen, a specialist in humanitarian issues at the Brookings Institution, in the LA Times. Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, told the New York Times that in order to keep stability in Afghanistan, “Washington will have to help Karzai, and the only help that counts in Afghanistan is troops.”
Currently, there are only 4,500 peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan who are all stationed within the capital city Kabul. The US has rejected Karzai’s requests for more troops outside of Kabul. The Feminist Majority, the United Nations and other humanitarian aid organizations have joined the Afghan government in repeated pleas to President Bush to expand the peacekeeping troops in 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. . . .