At today's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the $87 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) raised concerns about vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including women. She pointed to a Human Rights Watch Report and threats against girls going to school as examples of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
At the hearing today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pointed out that 75 percent of the $87 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq will go to the troops "who are risking their lives in this struggle" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only $1.2 billion is included for Afghanistan, out of which only $300 million is designated for the construction of roads, school and clinics.
Even though Rumsfeld stated that what the international peacekeeping troops (ISAF) are "doing is important for Afghanistan" and the commander of the United States Central Command, General John Abizaid, acknowledged that Al Qaeda and Taliban forces "are conducting low-level guerilla and terrorist attacks" in Afghanistan "to obstruct reconstruction efforts and incite chaos," neither made any mention of the desperate need to expand the international peacekeeping troops (ISAF) beyond Kabul.
Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, 45 women presented President Hamid Karzai with their own Afghan Women's Bill of Rights in Kandahar. This document guarantees an education, health care, personal security, and support for widows with the freedom to vote, to speech, and with a guarantee of right to orphans, disabled women and widows.
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. . . .