Afghanistan: Command of Peacekeeping Troops Switches to Germans and Dutch
Command of international peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan transferred from Turkey to Germany and the Netherlands today, reported Reuters. Under the leadership of German Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst, the 22-nation, 4,800-member International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will include 2,500 German and 700 Dutch troops. On Saturday, German Defense Minister Peter Struck called for NATO to assume larger responsibility after the German leadership expires in August.
ISAF remains confined to the capital city of Kabul, despite recent reports of rising violence in other regions of the country. According to the Washington Post,aid groups in Kandahar—anticipating heightened violence should a US war with Iraq break out—have started reducing staff and preparing evacuation plans. In addition, security concerns have thwarted infrastructure projects, such as construction of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway. Tomoji Hagiwara of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the group heading the highway project, told the Washington Post, “…[T]here is no way to build the road outside of Kandahar without more security.”
The United Nations, Feminist Majority and other women’s rights, human rights, and humanitarian groups continue to call for the expansion of ISAF beyond and within Kabul.
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. . . .