State Department Issues Report Questioning Expansion of Peacekeeping Troops in Afghanistan
The US State Department issued a new report on Afghanistan to Congress recently questioning the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond the capital of Kabul. The report suggests that establishing security in outlying areas will be up to the Afghan government. “Providing security to the rural hinterlands in Afghanistan would be almost impossible for any outside force,” the report reads. “It is therefore up to the Afghans themselves to extend security to all of Afghanistan through an effective and responsible national army.”
The ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), called the report a “whitewash,” according to the New York Times. The report comes as surprise to many because the State Department was seen as being more sympathetic to the expansion of peacekeeping troops than the Pentagon, according to the Times. Last month, Bush Administration officials indicated possible support for the expansion of international peacekeeping troops as a necessity for Afghanistan’s security.
The Feminist Majority, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, UN officials, and women's rights and human rights organizations have urged a full-scale expansion of peace troops to as many as 25,000 spread throughout the country to ensure security and enable reconstruction to move forward. Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have been leading US Senate efforts for peace troop expansion and reconstruction assistance. In late July, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously to support international peace troop expansion, increased funding for reconstruction, and funding earmarks for the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs and the independent Human Rights Commission.
Afghan women have indicated that security is their top priority. Threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including Minister of Women's Affairs Dr. Sima Samar; the assassination of two government ministers; 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 show the need for expansion of peace keeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is desperate.
10/13/2015 EEOC Launches Hollywood Gender Discrimination Probe - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has contacted several women directors in Hollywood in an effort to determine whether legal intervention is necessary to disrupt the industry's discriminatory hiring practices.
In a letter sent to some 50 women filmmakers, the EEOC - which is responsible for protecting individuals from employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion and national origin through enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - requested interviews with them to "learn more about the gender-related issues" women behind the camera face in both the film and television industries.
In May, following the release of a study by the San Diego State University Center for the Study of Women in Television in Film revealing only 7 percent of 2014's 250 top-grossing movies were helmed by women, the ACLU of Southern California and the national ACLU Women's Rights Project urged state and federal rights agencies to investigate Hollywood's failure to hire equal numbers of women. . . .
10/12/2015 Report Finds Texas' HB2 Increases Abortion Wait Times - A new report released by the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Policy Evaluation Project found patients seeking abortions in Texas have experienced an increase in wait times since the passage of HB2, the 2013 Texas omnibus anti-abortion bill that attempts to cut off abortion access by requiring abortion providers in the state to fulfill medically unnecessary ambulatory surgical center requirements and secure hospital admitting privileges.
More than half of 42 clinics providing abortion in Texas have been forced to shut their doors since HB2 passed two years ago, leading Texas women to wait up to 20 days for a first consult at one of the surviving 18 reproductive health clinics operating in the state, the second most populous in the nation. . . .
10/9/2015 Federal Judge Orders Anti-Abortion Group to Cede Footage to NAF - On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its leader David Daleidan must turn over all previously unreleased "sting" videos and outtakes of National Abortion Federation (NAF) meetings the group obtained surreptitiously as part of a smear campaign against the abortion provider.
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