During a visit to Germany by Secretary of State Colin Powell, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for the expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond Kabul. Since Germany currently leads the peacekeeping force of some 4,500 troops, Schroeder's statement prompted NPR reporter Emilie Harris to speculate on whether his announcement signals a possible shift in U.S. policy.
Despite murder of aid workers, attacks on de-mining operations, Taliban-like restrictions in some provinces, factional fighting, and the bombing of girls' schools, the US has refused to provide the support necessary to allow the expansion of international peacekeeping forces outside of the capitol of Afghanistan. Instead, the US is establishing provincial regional teams (PRTs) in 7 locations with 10-60 to provide some security and reconstruction assistance. PRTs have been established in only 3 areas thus far, and fall far short of the peace troop size that many believe is necessary to achieve and sustain peace and security in the country. In February, in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the U.S. called for 15,000 troops to provide peace keeping support. Last week, UN Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi repeated his call for expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul in order to ensure that the development of a new constitution, voter registration, and the 2004 elections proceed fairly and democratically.
The Feminist Majority continues leading the call for 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.
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .