Afghan Security Advisor, New York Times Call for Troop Expansion
Afghan National Security Advisor Zalmai Rassoul visited Washington this week to meet with high-ranking officials to urge the Bush Administration to follow through on its promise to rebuild Afghanistan even with a foreign policy shift toward war in Iraq. He stressed the importance of expanding international peacekeeping troops in restoring stability to the war-torn country, telling the Washington Post that “the Taliban have been defeated, but the war continues.”
Last week, Congress passed the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002, which provides $2.3 billion in funding for humanitarian aid and $1 billion for the expansion of international peacekeeping forces. The bill also includes an amendment that makes Afghan women a funding priority. Introduced in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the amendment earmarks $15 million each year for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and $5 million each year for the Independent Human Rights Commission. The Bush Administration’s 2003 budget forwarded to Congress does not include any funding for Afghan reconstruction or expansion of ISAF. This authorization is a major step in securing the funding necessary for Afghan reconstruction and security. In an editorial published yesterday, the New York Times urged President Bush to call on the new Congress to appropriate “these urgently needed funds without delay when it convenes in January.” The Times further called on Bush to fulfill his promise “not to repeat the mistake of the late 1980s when America abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviet military withdrawal.”
Incidents over the past few days indicate that the security situation in Afghanistan is still volatile. An explosion in Kandahar injured 11 people in Afghanistan yesterday, three of them seriously, according to Reuters. Local authorities blame the explosion on terrorists. Two Afghan children died on Tuesday after picking up an unexploded bomb in Kabul, and a third lost his hand from an exploding butterfly mine, according to the Associated Press. The Pentagon estimates that between 75 to 90 percent of Afghanistan is stable enough to begin rebuilding hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure, the Post reported. The Afghan government still sees Taliban sympathizers and al Qaeda as threats to the country’s security, according to Reuters. The recent elections in Pakistan added to the fears in the country, as pro-Taliban factions gained power in Pakistan’s government, Rassoul told the Post.
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. . . .