Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah is in Washington this week to ask US officials to fulfill promises to help create economic and political stability for Afghanistan. In a forum yesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a speech at George Washington University, Abdullah emphasized that “the campaign against terror is far from over” and it “can’t happen without (US) support, it can’t happen without continued engagement in Afghanistan,” according to the Associated Press.
Abdullah noted that his country was in dire need of help with disarming sparring warlords and feeding the millions of returning refugees, among other things. Nations pledged $4.5 billion in aid to Afghanistan in January with $1.8 billion for this year alone–- one-third of which has yet to be delivered. In addition, Abdullah noted that a significant portion of these pledges was made in the form of credit rather than grants. The United States government is still debating long-term financial commitments to Afghanistan. While the House approved $1.15 billion over four years, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a bill that would increase funding to $2 billion for humanitarian aid and $1 billion to expand international peacekeeping troops. The full Senate has yet to vote on this bill.
Abdullah also made a trip to Orlando, Florida, where he said that the 10,000 US and international troops stationed in Afghanistan – as well as the 5,000 international peacekeeping troops stationed only in Kabul – are vital to promote security. The US has not committed support to the expansion of this international peacekeeping force, despite requests from Afghan women, the Afghan government, the United Nations, the Feminist Majority and other women’s and humanitarian organizations. Continued violence including the recent bombing of eight girls’ schools; 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 continued use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school show the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .