Bush Requests Minimal Additional Funding for Afghan Reconstruction
While the Bush administration has requested an additional $66 billion to support its continuing military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has asked for only an additional $300 million for its reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, including roads, schools, health clinics, and local, small-scale projects. The US has only distributed $900 million in aid to Afghanistan since October 2001, and most of that aid has been emergency humanitarian and food assistance rather than the kind of major reconstruction aid needed to rebuild the country.
Humanitarian and women's rights groups have expressed concern that this additional funding falls short of the needs and Afghanistan is being shortchanged. Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani says that $30 billion is needed for reconstruction. So far, the international community has provided only $1.8 billion, with only a little of that money going to the Afghan government.
While Afghanistan has been making slow progress towards having national elections and rebuilding its country, attacks on girls' schools, increased crime, bombing of a civilian bus, rule by regional warlords, and threats against the United Nations and other humanitarian workers continue to threaten Afghanistan's recovery. The administration request includes over $400 million to train and support the Afghan National Army and national police, border, and highway patrol, but it contains no funding for the expansion of international peacekeeping troops (ISAF). According to BBC News, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently agreed that "an expansion of ISAF would be a good thing" but he sees that "the security situation in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Afghan people." NATO, which now commands ISAF, has said they will "study" the possibility of ISAF expansion.
The Feminist Majority is leading the call for International Security Assistance Force (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.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .