Afghanistan: Country Struggles as Reconstruction Efforts Begin in Iraq
While the United States Office for the Reconstruction of Iraq sent teams to Iraq to establish offices in various parts of the country this week, Afghanistan continues to struggle for resources and security to make possible the rebuilding of its government and its country. According to the Washington Post “the military is splintered by factionalism, the police force is untrained, the justice system is dominated by religious conservatives who have more in common with the Taliban than with Karzai, and the tax collection is largely ineffective.”
The Washington Post reports that Asraf Ghani, the Afghan Finance Minister, stated that with $20 billion more in aid over the next five years “Afghanistan will become a prospering nation that can take care of itself entirely in 10 years” but if the international community forgets its commitments “Afghanistan will become a narco-terrorist state that will be a constant problem to the world.” The money spent by aid agencies and the United Nations in 2002 has not been enough to yield successful results. For example, the $50-60 million needed for the 2004 elections has not been raised and the Washington Post has reported that the Louis Berger Group, the U.S. firm coordinating the U.S. part of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway, announced that the $180 million pledged by the United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia is only enough money to rebuild part of the highway from Kabul to Kandahar. The Afghan government has requested funds to do the road work themselves in a more cost effective manner.
In addition, lack of security remains a major deterrent in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that a car bomb exploded on Saturday in eastern Afghanistan killing four people and an Italian tourist was shot dead last week while in a taxi in southern Afghanistan. The Feminist Majority has been leading the call for International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
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. . . .