At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Afghanistan on Wednesday, several witnesses asserted that security is the main concern in Afghanistan. Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group stated that efforts in Afghanistan “may fail because the administration has been unwilling to recognize the magnitude of threats which we face and to direct sufficient political, military, and financial resources to overcome them.”
Schneider urged an expansion of international security assistance forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan, stating that the expansion of “NATO/ISAF remains the lynchpin to greater progress on peace, political transformation, relief, and reconstruction.” According to Robert Perito of the United States Institute for Peace, “Warlords and militia commanders are a major source of insecurity and a threat to the central government … US military support for ‘regional influentials’ is in conflict with our overall policy of promoting national unity and a strong, democratic, central government.”
Only 20 percent of the 10.5 million eligible Afghan voters are currently registered, of which 30 percent are women. Poor security has not only delayed voter registration, but the Afghan election itself. The first post-Taliban elections that were to take place in June were postponed until September due to the lack of security. Despite the dire security situation in Afghanistan, peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan remain a small contingent of some 6,000 soldiers.
The Feminist Majority and other leading women’s rights and human rights advocates argue that without security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to obtain their rights and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.
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. . . .