Afghanistan: Criticism Builds as Possible War with Iraq Looms
UN officials are growing increasingly concerned that a war with Iraq could have severe consequences on humanitarian efforts elsewhere, particularly in Afghanistan, Angola, and the Ivory Coast, reported the BBC. Reports last month indicated that Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, received warnings to prepare for Iraqi refugees, but “There’s not one government who has come to me with money,” he said. The BBC reports that some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are refusing funds from countries sponsoring war with Iraq, preferring instead to contend with existing emergencies elsewhere.
The Feminist Majority and other progressive feminist organizations continue to call for the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond and within Kabul. Currently, ISAF consists of 4,800 troops, supported by 22 nations, according to the Wall Street Journal. Critics of the US effort in Afghanistan argue that without commitments from the US, the effectiveness of ISAF will continue to be limited. Rafael Robillard, head of the coalition group Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, criticized that the Pentagon’s recently-unveiled Provincial Reconstruction Teams—which consists of 60 troops working alongside regional Afghan commanders—is “driven more by developing events in Iraq or Washington than the reality on the ground in Afghanistan,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai may not run for re-election next year, the Washington Post reported today. His term, which began in late 2001, is set to expire in mid-2004 after the Loya Jirga meets to draft a new constitution. In his interview with the Post, Karzai expressed reservations about running again for President: “I don’t want this country to develop personality cults or icons, I don’t like that…” He continued, “I want leaderships in Afghanistan, a multiplicity of leaderships…I want the Afghan people to have choices. I don’t want them to be stuck with one man… because of a lack of choice.”
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. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .