Category Archives: Religion

How Trump is opening the way for the Taliban to take Afghanistan back

Trump’s eagerness to ‘bring our boys home’ is leaving the Afghan government with little power to resist the Taliban afterwards.

By Paul Rogers. Published 7-31-2020 by openDemocracy

Goodbye Afghanistan | US Air Force photo by Clay Lancaster. Public domain.

One of Donald Trump’s main election pledges back in 2016 was to ‘bring our boys home’. Alongside this came criticism of Germany and other NATO states for not paying their way on military spending. He has followed up on both themes this week, by starting to reduce the US presence in Germany, albeit shifting some to Poland and leaving all the mechanisms of a rapid return in place, so that the extent of the ‘back home’ is far from what it appears.

Extricating US forces from Middle East is another matter. Many army units are consolidating in fewer bases in Iraq or moving to nearby Kuwait. The US Navy is holding on, too, mainly because of the confrontation with Iran. It currently has two carrier battle groups within reach of the region. Continue reading

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Landmark Measure to Repeal ‘Racist,’ Anti-Choice Helms Amendment Hailed as Step to a ‘More Equitable World’

“Abortion care is healthcare and healthcare is a fundamental human right.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-29-2020

Reproductive rights advocates on Wednesday cheered the introduction of the first-ever legislation to repeal the Helms Amendment, which has prevented millions of women across the globe from accessing safe abortion care.

Introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the “Abortion Is Health Care Everywhere Act” would rescind the 1973 amendment that blocks U.S. foreign aid funding for abortion and would help support comprehensive reproductive healthcare for women worldwide. Continue reading

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‘Cruelty of the Occupation Knows No Bounds’: Israel Demolishes Covid-19 Clinic in Epicenter of West Bank Outbreak

“There is no humanity in destroying grassroots attempts to support an already deprived health system suffocated by occupation.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-23-2020

Israeli army demolished a COVID-19 quarantine center in Hebron on July 21, Photo: via Twitter

Palestinians living near the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the occupied West Bank are without a badly-needed testing and quarantine center following the Israeli government’s demolition of a building that was meant to give relief to overwhelmed hospitals.

The Israeli Civil Administration demolished the building, being constructed on land belonging to Palestinian Hebron resident Hazem Maswada, on Tuesday, claiming the structure was being erected illegally without a permit. The building was set to open to the public next week. Continue reading

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Federal Court Strikes Down Trump’s ACA Rule Amounting to ‘Intentional, Targeted Attack on Abortion Access’

“It would have created a logistical nightmare for health insurers and individual enrollees and pushed abortion even further out of reach in the midst of a global pandemic that has upended our economy.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-11-2020

Photo: Charlotte Cooper/flickr/CC

A federal court late Friday struck down the Trump administration’s attempt to erect new barriers to abortion care, this time using the for-profit insurance industry.

US District Judge Catherine Blake in Maryland blocked the administration from implementing the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Exchange Program Integrity rule, after Planned Parenthood of Maryland joined several individual plaintiffs in suing the Department of Health and Human Services over the regulation. Continue reading

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‘Day of Rage’: Palestinians and Global Allies Rise Up Against Annexation Plan and Israeli Apartheid

“The Palestinian struggle today is not just about fighting annexation, which we must continue to do. It is about dismantling the entire system of apartheid.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-1-2020

Photo: Days of Palestine/Twitter

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip—backed by allies across the globe—organized protests on Wednesday against the Israeli government’s looming plan to further its apartheid policy by annexing up to a third of West Bank territory under U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called “vision for peace” for the region, which was unveiled in January and championed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Gaza City, the Associated Press reports, thousands of protesters marched with Palestinian flags and signs decrying the annexation plan as a “declaration of war” on the Palestinian people. Following that demonstration, which reportedly ended peacefully in the early afternoon, other rallies were planned in the West Bank. Continue reading

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‘This Is Deadly’: Trump HHS Scraps Protections for Transgender Patients and Those Seeking Abortions

“The Trump administration has made a mission out of putting politicians and religious beliefs above a patient’s healthcare.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2020

LGBTQ Americans and allies rallied outside the White House to protest President Donald Trump’s effort to ban trans people from military service. (Photo: Ted Eytan/Flickr/cc)

In a move widely decried by LGBTQ, reproductive, and human rights advocates, the Trump administration late Friday finalized a healthcare rule that revokes Obama-era nondiscrimination protections for transgender and nonbinary people, patients seeking abortions, and those who do not speak English.

“This is deadly and all of us should be outraged,” declared ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling. “This is beyond heartless.” Continue reading

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Though ‘Children Need Peace Now More Than Ever,’ US and Russia Block UN Efforts to Impose Global Ceasefire

American and Russian diplomats have publicly praised calls for a global ceasefire, but say they cannot sign on to a blanket agreement.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-20-2020

Anti-war demonstration, 4/15/2018, Oakland, CA at Oscar Grant Plaza. Photo: Alex Chis/flickr/CC

The U.S. and Russia are reportedly standing in the way of an international agreement for a global ceasefire called for by the United Nations, claiming their militaries must retain the ability to attack enemies even as countries around the world face thousands of coronavirus cases.

The Trump administration is reluctant to agree to a universal ceasefire, Foreign Policy reported Friday, because of U.S. counterterrorism operations and partially because a ceasefire could impede key ally Israel’s ability to conduct military operations throughout the Middle East. Continue reading

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Muslim women who cover their faces find greater acceptance among coronavirus masks – ‘Nobody is giving me dirty looks’

A woman wearing a niqab and headscarf, with other shoppers in Istanbul, August 13, 2018. YASIN AKGUL/AFP via Getty Images

Anna Piela, Northwestern University

Americans began donning face masks this week after federal and local officials changed their position on whether face coverings protect against coronavirus.

This is new terrain for many, who find themselves unable to recognize neighbors and are unsure how to engage socially without using facial expressions.

But not for Muslim women who wear the niqab, or Islamic face veil. Suddenly, these women – who are often received in the West with open hostility for covering their faces – look a lot more like everyone else. Continue reading

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‘A Harrowing Warning’ to All as Hungary Hands Far-Right Leader Dictatorial Powers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

“We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-30-2020

Viktor Orban. Photo: European Parliament/flickr/CC

Human rights groups and activists issued dire warnings about the state of democracy in Hungary—and the rest of the world—after the nation’s parliament on Monday approved a sweeping emergency law handing far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán dictatorial powers as the European country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

The new law indefinitely suspends elections and parliament, imposes up to five years in prison for anyone who intentionally spreads what the government classifies as misinformation, and gives Orbán the authority to suspend laws by decree as he works to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The law easily passed Hungary’s parliament, which is dominated by Orbán’s far-right Fidesz party, by a vote of 137 to 53. Continue reading

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US Military Building Presence in Saudi Arabia for First Time in 17 Years

Some 2,500 US troops have arrived at their new home for the foreseeable future, the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

By Alan Macleod   Published 2-28-2020 by MintPress News

Royal Saudi Air Force’s Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Shablan, Prince Sultan Air Base installation commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Brent Chadick, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief, escort U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a tour of Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Feb. 20, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Charles)

Amid rising tensions with Iran, the United States is increasing its military presence in Saudi Arabia- separated from the Islamic Republic by only the Persian Gulf. Some 2,500 troops have arrived at their new home, the Prince Sultan Air Base, some 60 km southeast of Riyadh. On Iran, General John Walker, commander of the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing at the base, said: “We face a thinking enemy that is playing a real regional conflict for keeps, and they’re very good.”

While the U.S. government has not given any indication of how long it expects its forces to be there, temporary structures are being replaced with more substantial ones, and the arrival of fighter jets suggests they are there for the long haul. Roads are also being resurfaced to and from the base. Continue reading

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