Afghanistan: US Bomb Kills Civilians, Rebuilding Efforts Continue
US bombs were responsible for the deaths of 11 civilians in Afghanistan earlier this week, according to the Agence France Presse. Considered the most serious mistake by the US military in Afghanistan since the accidental bombing of an Afghan wedding party last June, the 1,000-pound laser-guided bomb struck a civilian home, killing seven women and four men inside. Coinciding with mounting civilian casualties in the war with Iraq, the incident highlights the painful consequences of war. Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement yesterday urging an investigation of the misfire. AI also stressed that “Civilian casualties cannot be allowed—neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq—to become an acceptable feature of war,” according to a press release.
Elsewhere in war-torn Afghanistan, much work remains to be done. The Afghan Rural Reconstruction and Development Minister Hanif Atmar yesterday announced the new National Solidarity Program (NSP), which will provide 4,000 rural villages with $95 million in federal grants. Unlike many foreign humanitarian projects, under the NSP, village leaders will have the authority to distribute monies, as they deem appropriate. The World Bank has already agreed to fund $22 million for the project; Norway and Denmark are expected to fund the remaining $73 million, reported the Associated Press. However, there is a concern among advocates for Afghan women, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Afghan women will be excluded from this grant program.
Meanwhile, at Kabul University, 17 students including seven women, recently earned computer networking skills certificates from the Cisco Networking Academy, developed to train 200 students on IT. One program graduate, Rita Dorani told Reuters, “My message for all Afghan women is to try as much as possible to learn about computers, because it is essential for every man and woman to be aware of this global technology.” Supervised by the UN Development Program (UNDP), project director Marc Lepage said plans are in the works for similar programs in other regions of the country, reported Reuters.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
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. . . .