Senator Raises Concerns That US Not Spending Enough In Afghanistan
At yesterday's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the $87 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) raised concerns about the $20 billion for Iraq's reconstruction compared to the $800 million for Afghanistan's. He questioned whether the United States should think about spending more money in Afghanistan than Iraq because Iraq and Afghanistan's populations are not much different and Afghanistan is a much poorer country.
According to Rumsfeld, 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.
At this hearing, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) again raised concerns about vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including women. She pointed to a Human Rights Watch Report and the raping and threats targeted at girls by armed men as examples of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. Murray asserted that families are living in fear and are keeping girls home leaving them uneducated and asked what is in the supplemental to make sure families stop living in fear. Murray stated that she hopes that "we have the right kind of funding to allow young women to be educated and participate."
Meanwhile, at a conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, international experts and aid organizations called for the expansion of ISAF. According to the Washington Post, they said "it was urgently needed to ensure that Afghanistan continues moving toward national election and economic reconstruction."
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. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .