Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Richest Town in Each State - 24/7 Wall St.

Incomes vary tremendously not just across the United States but also within each state. There was at least one town in each state with a median household income thousands of dollars higher than the state’s median income. In some states the difference was even greater. The median income in Scarsdale, New York and Winnetka, Illinois — each the state’s richest towns — was more than $150,000 above the respective state income figure.

Many of these towns had other strong socioeconomic factors that are often associated with high incomes, such as high educational attainment rates. In 30 states, more than 50% of residents in the richest towns had at least a bachelor’s degree compared with the national rate of 28.8%. And the richest towns in all but six states had a college attainment rate greater than the national rate. In contrast, the poorest towns in only three states had a college attainment rate that exceeded the national rate.  Read more: The Richest Town in Each State  - More

The Richest Town in Each State - 24/7 Wall St.

مخالفت مجلس با تعدیل قانون منع پول‌شویی - سلام وطندار

شماری از اعضای ولسی جرگه که با طرح تعدیل مادۀ چهارم قانون منع پول‌شویی و جلوگیری از درآمدهای جرمی مخالف اند، خواهان عدم تعدیل آن از سوی حکومت شدند.

طرح تعدیل مادۀ چهارم این قانون که از سوی حکومت پیشنهاد شده بود، در جلسهٔ دیروز (دوشنبه) مجلس از سوی کمیسیون مالی و بودجه‌یی ارایه شد، اما با عکس العمل‌های تند شماری از نماینده‌گان روبه‌رو گشت.

قانون منع پول‌شویی در تاریخ 16 جون سال 2014 با اکثریت آرا از سوی ولسی جرگه تصویب شده بود.

ولسی جرگه این طرح را به حکومت فرستاده بود و حکومت برخی تعدیلات را در آن آورد که طرح تعدیل مادۀ چهارم نیز در آن شامل بود.

در مادۀ چهارم این قانون آمده است که پس از سال 1381 تمام اموال منقول و غیرمنقول باید بر بنیاد همین قانون بررسی شوند.
اما حکومت در زمان عملی‌شدن آن تعدیل آورد و پیشنهاد کرده که این قانون باید از سال 1392 بدین‌سو عملی گردد.

ولسی جرگه نظرهای گوناگونی در این باره داشتند. ظاهر قدیر، معاون نخست ولسی جرگه طرح تعدیل حکومت را به رای‌دهی گذاشت که با اکثریت آرا از سوی اعضای مجلس رد شد.

دلیل نماینده‌گان برای رد این طرح این بود که در ده سال گذشته پول‌های زیادی به افغانستان آمده و از سوی بسیاری‌ این پول‌ها چپاول شده است. به همین دلیل، باید این قانون از سال 1381 عملی شود؛ با این حال حکومت در سدد لغو این قید زمانی است.

محمد عبده، یکی از اعضای مجلس دربارۀ تعدیل این مادۀ قانون می‌گوید که اگر مجلس مهر تأیید به تعدیل این قانون بزند؛ در حقیقت به چور و چپاول‌های 13 سال گذشته مشروعیت بخشیده است. - Read More at طرح تعدیل مادۀ چهارم قانون منع پول‌شویی 
مخالفت مجلس با تعدیل قانون منع پول‌شویی

President Ghani: Afghan Women Play Genuine Role in Peace Negotiations

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani launched today the National Action Plan on implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women and Peace and Security.

In the ceremony that was held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning, the President said the Constitution obliges the government to ensure that every citizen enjoys equal rights under law.

Reiterating the Islamic nature of the Afghan Constitution, the President said that it reflects the creed, rulings, traditions and culture of the great civilization of Islam. He added that the goal of the National Unity Government is to fully implement the Constitution.

The President noted that creating conditions wherein Afghan women, alongside men, could form a prosperous, fair and purposeful society is a daunting challenge.

The President stressed that women’s views and ideas should be respected as independent individuals not just in their secondary roles as mothers, sisters or daughters. He also said that women’s perspectives should be an integral part of the decision making in the governing process. 

The President said that our goal is to bring sustainable changes, not just cosmetic, to people’s mindsets, relations and social participations.

Addressing the new generation of Afghanistan, President Ghani said: “please take misogynist thinking out of your minds. Misogyny still prevails in our new generation and often times the most educated happen to be the most misogynist, which needs a thorough discussion and fundamental change.”

President Ghani called on the Islamic scholar to have unified voice when it comes to the rights of the women and pledged to cooperate with them in this regard. 

The President said that Afghan women have suffered a lot during years of conflict. He underscored that alongside Afghan men, women too call for an end to the war imposed on Afghanistan. - Read More at President Ghani:

President Ghani: Afghan Women Play Genuine Role in Peace Negotiations - More
جمهور رئیس غني: د سولې په مذاکروکې به د ښځو ونډه او موقف تشریفاتي نه، بلکې واقعي وي

President Ghani: Women and Girls Should Have Access to Birth, Marriage, Divorce, Inheritance and Education Certificates 

Afghanistan must not be forgotten amid more pressing crises, warns UN envoy

29 June 2015 – The international community must not take its “eye off the ball” when it comes to Afghanistan, the top United Nations envoy there has warned, noting that the country faces numerous challenges that will take quite a bit of time to tackle.

Speaking to the UN News Centre, Mr. Haysom – the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) – said it would be “disastrous” if the country was forgotten amid today’s more pressing crises. Although there has been progress in meeting the country’s challenges in the economic, security and political fields, failure in any one of these areas would have consequences for the overall success of the Afghan transition.

Nicholas Haysom: Afghans are resilient. For 30 years they have been living in an unstable, insecure position. While they are resilient, there needs to be cause for hope. With hope, I think people can withstand quite difficult circumstances. So really, one is in the business of measuring, as it were, a ‘hope barometer,’ which looks at a wide range of factors including the state of the economy, the functioning of government and whether they think things are generally moving in the right direction.

Nicholas Haysom: I think we’re quite evenly balanced. There is cause for concern, which the Afghans express. But on the other hand, things are more or less on track. I think it would be accurate to say that Afghanistan is muddling through. And I would also not undervalue that. It may sound as if I’m dropping the bar but the truth is that Afghanistan first has to address serious economic problems. It has to sustain its overall coherence in its security agencies and security response. It has to make progress politically, which, given tensions within Government and the challenges facing it, are quite significant.

While they are, more or less, meeting the benchmarks and may be modestly succeeding them, I think that everyone is aware that if something were to go badly wrong in any one of those areas – if the government was to fall apart for some reason, the economy was to dip badly or there was to be some serious security reverses – all of those would go into the mix. -  Read More at Afghanistan must not be forgotten
INTERVIEW: Afghanistan must not be forgotten amid more pressing crises, warns UN envoy - More

Senior UN official urges global action to end years-long plight of 2.6 million Afghan refugees

29 June 2015 – Expressing concern over the plight of millions of Afghan refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called on the international community to boost its engagement, employ innovative solutions and pro-active joint advocacy to end the world’s largest prolonged humanitarian crisis.

"It is critical that the international community steps up to support the Afghan government in their efforts to create adequate conditions for Afghans to return home and restart their lives in safety and dignity," António Guterres said Friday at a press conference, wrapping up his three-day visit to the Pakistan.

Reinvigorated and continued support, Mr. Guterres stressed, was crucial to Afghanistan’s national building and reconciliation. He therefore suggested robust development initiatives, which create durable return in the long run and sustainable reintegration for returning Afghans, especially the youth.

The future of some 2.6 million Afghan refugees, with many having been living outside the country for over three decades, still hangs in the balance while fresh emergencies in the Middle East and Africa compete for global attention, warned Mr. Guterres.

Applauding Pakistan's goodwill and hospitality as a host country, he also noted that "the unwavering generosity of Pakistani people towards Afghan refugees has contributed to regional stability but also more broadly to the global refugee cause at a time when we witness increased asylum fatigue worldwide."

However, traditional approaches are no longer sufficient for solutions in 2015, given prevailing challenges in Afghanistan, said Mr. Guterres, adding that, “in an environment of shrinking humanitarian resources, it is vital to pursue innovative solutions and creative joint advocacy and resource mobilization." - Read More at UN

Senior UN official urges global action to end years-long plight of 2.6 million Afghan refugees

Monday, June 29, 2015

Barack Obama - A Hard Day's Work Deserves a Fair Day's Pay

It's been a good few days for America.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the Affordable Care Act. It is here to stay.

And, Democrats and Republicans in Congress paved the way for the United States to rewrite the rules of global trade to benefit American workers and American businesses.

We've got to keep expanding access to affordable health care. Right now, 22 states haven't expanded Medicaid -- even though, under the ACA, they can.

We've got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years -- and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year -- no matter how many hours they work.

This week, I'll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year.

As president, my top priority is to strengthen the middle class, expand opportunity and grow the economy. That's why I believe in middle-class economics -- the idea that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. It's driven me from day one. It's fueled our American comeback. And it's at the heart of the fundamental choice our country faces today.

America is at its best when we look out for one another. We soar when we strive to do better for one another. That's what I'm focused on and that's what I'll fight for every day for the next 18 months. - Read More at Huffingtonpost

A Hard Day's Work Deserves a Fair Day's Pay 

44th President of the United States 

Obama set to expand overtime pay for millions of workers

President Obama on Monday announced new rules that will require businesses to pay millions of additional American workers overtime wages.

The long-awaited regulation would make all salaried workers who earn less than $970 per week, roughly $50,440 per year, automatically eligible to earn overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. The cutoff under existing rules is around $23,660 per year.

"In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay," Obama wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post. "That's at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America."

President Obama will tout the proposal during an event Thursday in La Crosse, Wis.
The move could raise pay for nearly 5 million American workers and is a central part of a White House push launched last year to reduce income inequality.

Obama first announced his intention to overhaul federal overtime rules last March. The rules were due this February, but the Labor Department missed its deadline.

Under current rules, employees who make more than $455 a week, or $23,660 per year, and work more than 40 hours a week are considered management and are not eligible for overtime pay.

"Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve," Obama wrote. "That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years."

The new rules will be subject to a public comment period and could take effect in 2016.

Business groups and Republicans in Congress, though, oppose the change. GOP members of the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing earlier this month to blast the rules.  - Read More at thehill

Obama set to expand overtime pay for millions of workers

Afghans Protest After U.S. Forces Carry Out Raid on Strongman

KABUL, Afghanistan — Protesters in the northern Afghan province of Parwan blocked the main highway there on Monday after American forces raided the village of a local strongman and blew up a weapons depot belonging to him, officials and residents said.

The raid on Monday morning demonstrated that American troops in Afghanistan, months after President Obama declared their regular combat mission over, are engaged beyond their publicly stated role of advising the Afghan forces and carrying out targeted counterterrorism operations.

It also highlighted how, despite a lengthy campaign to disarm illegal militias, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, armed groups that have no apparent ties to Al Qaeda or even the Taliban are still considered by American forces to be a significant threat.

The target of Monday’s raid was Jan Ahmad, a local commander who fought the Soviets and then the Taliban. Hours after the raid, shops in Charikar, the capital of Parwan Province, just north of Kabul, remained closed as Mr. Ahmad’s supporters shouted “Death to America” and “Death to the enemies of Islam.” They expressed outrage at the manner of the raid, saying it was a matter that should have been dealt with by the Afghan authorities, not by foreign forces.

While the American military described the raid as force protection, former commanders and local elders in the north leveled accusations that the raid had been politically motivated and possibly a settling of scores from last year’s election crisis.

Mr. Ahmad has supported Abdullah Abdullah, who was President Ashraf Ghani’s rival in the bitterly contested presidential runoff. At the height of the crisis, Mr. Ahmad was among a group of commanders who threatened to use force to support a breakaway government led by Mr. Abdullah.

Echoing his calls for restraint during the election crisis, Mr. Abdullah, who is now the chief executive in power-sharing government with Mr. Ghani, on Monday called on the protesters to remain calm as he appointed a fact-finding mission and asked Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, to provide further information on the raid.

But in a show of support for Mr. Ahmad, Mr. Abdullah said the Afghan government would “not allow anyone to plot against the mujahedeen,” a reference to the commanders who fought the Soviets and the Taliban.

Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for General Campbell, said the raid had been conducted “to destroy a cache of munitions that could be used to conduct attacks against Afghans and coalition forces.”

The raid on Mr. Ahmad’s home, roughly three miles from Parwan’s provincial center, was carried out around 4:30 a.m. on Monday and involved United States forces descending from helicopters, an aide to Mr. Ahmad said on the condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak to the news media. After carrying out a search of the home, the soldiers blew up the depot.

“It was a lot of weapons — it must have been a lot to make the foreigners fearful and force them to take action,” said Hajji Khalil Fazly, a member of the Parwan provincial council who was involved in the negotiations between the government authorities and Mr. Ahmad to calm the protests. Protesters were cleared, and the highway reopened by noon, he said.

Elders in Parwan say the Afghan government has also increased scrutiny of strongmen in recent months on charges of hiding caches of weapons.  - Read More at NYT

U.S. raid on Afghan weapons cache incites protests

U.S. forces conducted a raid to destroy a cache of weapons north of Kabul early on Monday morning, a U.S. army spokesman said, giving rare details of unilateral activity in Afghanistan.

Afghan residents took to the streets in Parwan province in protest, briefly obstructing the highway to the capital.

Solo U.S. operations are legal under a bilateral security agreement the two nations signed last year, but only in exceptional circumstances.

"U.S. Forces conducted an operation ... to destroy a cache of munitions that could be used to conduct attacks against Afghans and Coalition Forces," public affairs director Colonel Brian Tribus said.

Little is known about the activities of U.S. counter-terrorism troops that have been authorised to continue fighting the Taliban and other militants after the NATO combat mission officially ended last year.  Local authorities complained they had not been consulted ahead of time.

Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah said the government had launched an investigation and promised to defend “the values of the jihad and the prestige of the mujahideen”.

U.S. army spokesman Tribus said the operation was conducted in keeping with bilateral military agreements.  These include provisions to fight the Taliban and other militants, and protect coalition forces.

The weapons were stored at a house owned by former anti-Soviet mujahideen commander Jan Ahmad in Charikar district, according to the governor’s office in Parwan.  - Read More at U.S. raid

U.S. raid on Afghan weapons cache incites protests

Afghanistan and U.N. agency agree on police funding plan

Afghanistan and the United Nations have reached agreement to transfer to Kabul's control a controversial multi-billion dollar fund intended to rebuild the police force and pay officers, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) said on Monday.

The deal transferring the fund over 18 months and to be signed by both parties on Tuesday is a breakthrough after months of negotiations over how rapidly it should pass to Afghan control. - Read More

Afghanistan and U.N. agency agree on police funding plan

NBC fires Trump over insults to Mexicans

June 29 (Reuters) - NBC ended its relationship with real estate developer and TV personality Donald Trump and his "Miss USA" and "Miss Universe" pageants on Monday after he made comments insulting Mexicans when he began his run for president. - Read More at MSN

NBC fires Trump over insults to Mexicans - MSN

سنگ‌های گرانبهای پنهان: بُعد وحشت

Sunday, June 28, 2015

OPINION: John Roberts, the Umpire in Chief - JEFFREY ROSEN

LIBERALS and conservatives were exercised and confused by the combination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s tax subsidies on Thursday and his dissent from the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing a constitutional right of same-sex marriage on Friday. Both sides accused him of voting politically: On Thursday he was taken to task by the right, and on Friday by the left.

In fact, the chief justice’s votes in both cases were entirely consistent and constitutionally principled. He embraced a bipartisan vision of judicial restraint based on the idea that the Supreme Court should generally defer to the choices of Congress and state legislatures. His insistence that the court should hesitate to second-guess the political branches regardless of whether liberals or conservatives win is based on his conception of the limited institutional role of the court in relation to the president, Congress and the states.

On Thursday, when Chief Justice Roberts wrote a 6-to-3 decision preserving a key part of the Affordable Care Act (for the second time), Justice Antonin Scalia accused him once again of engaging in liberal judicial activism. “The somersaults of statutory interpretation” the chief justice had performed in both health care cases, Justice Scalia wrote, signaled to America “the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”

The Roberts-Scalia debate is part of a longstanding argument about how judges should interpret laws passed by Congress. As Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York argues in his recent book, “Judging Statutes,” the chief justice embraces an approach called “purposivism,” while Justice Scalia prefers “textualism.” In Judge Katzmann’s account, purposivism has been the approach favored for most of American history by conservative and liberal judges, senators, and representatives, as well as administrative agencies. Purposivism holds that judges shouldn’t confine themselves to the words of a law but should try to discern Congress’s broader purposes.

Although the chief justice’s statement was subsequently mocked, both the Affordable Care Act cases and the marriage equality case show that he meant what he said. Whether writing for the majority or in dissent, he believes that judges should set aside their policy views and generally uphold laws unless they clash with clear prohibitions in the Constitution. In the long term, if he continues to pursue this conception of the deferential role of the court, he may help liberals and conservatives more readily accept their Supreme Court defeats. - Read More at NYT

John Roberts, the Umpire in Chief

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Developers can be required to include affordable housing, California high court rules

Citing an affordable housing crisis of “epic proportions,” the California Supreme Court made it easier Monday for cities and counties to require developers to sell some housing at below-market rates.

The unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, follows study after study documenting a lack of affordable housing in the state, especially in California’s coastal regions.

“It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with California‘s current housing market that the significant problems arising from a scarcity of affordable housing have not been solved over the past three decades,” the chief justice wrote.

“Rather, these problems have become more severe and have reached what might be described as epic proportions in many of the state‘s localities.”

The decision clears the way for Los Angeles and other cities to require developers to sell a percentage of the units they build at below-market rates as a condition of a building permit. Developers also could be given the option of paying into a fund for low-cost housing.

The law required developers building 20 or more housing units to offer 15% of them at below-market rates or pay into a city fund. Nearly 200 other cities and counties in the state have similar ordinances. 

The decision, a sweeping victory for cities and counties, came only months after the state’s Legislative Analyst reported that California’s housing was among the costliest in the nation.- Read More at Latimes

Developers can be required to include affordable housing, California high court rules

Friday, June 26, 2015

Release of the 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - state.gov

Release of the 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - More at  John Kerry, Remarks

Release of the 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - US Department of State

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  Afghanistan is an Islamic republic with a strong, directly elected presidency, a bicameral legislative branch, and a judicial branch. Presidential and provincial elections occurred on April 5, with a second presidential runoff-round held on June 14. Reports of fraud marred the elections and led to an audit of all ballot boxes 

The most significant human rights problems were widespread violence, predominantly indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and armed insurgent groups’ killings of persons affiliated with the government; torture and abuse of detainees; and targeted violence of and endemic societal discrimination against women and girls. 

Other human rights problems included extrajudicial killings by security forces; ineffective government investigations of abuses and torture by local security forces; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, including of women accused of so-called moral crimes; prolonged pretrial detention; judicial corruption and ineffectiveness; violations of privacy rights; restrictions on freedom of speech and press; restrictions on freedom of religion; limits on freedom of movement; pervasive governmental corruption; underage and forced marriages; abuse of children, including sexual abuse; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities; discrimination and abuses against ethnic minorities; societal discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS status; abuse of worker rights, including forced labor and child labor; and sex and labor trafficking. 

Widespread disregard for the rule of law and official impunity for those who committed human rights abuses were serious problems. The government did not prosecute abuses by officials consistently or effectively. - Read More at state.gov

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014. - Read More at state.gov
Release of the 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - More at Kerry

EU sidestep on migrants will do nothing to curb Mediterranean death toll

Four countries at Europe’s frontier will continue to bear brunt of crisis; refugees yet to make journey will still view sea as logical option
To misquote the first man on the moon: the EU’s new migration agreement is one small step forwards for European bureaucrats, and one giant leap sideways for mankind.

On the plus side, the decision by the majority of EU members to accept 40,000 asylum seekers currently in Italy and Greece is at least a start. With nationalism and xenophobia on the rise throughout Europe, the argument goes, the continent’s leaders were still brave enough to share at least a fraction of the Italian and Greek burden.

The agreement to welcome 20,000 Syrians and Eritreans who still lie beyond Europe’s borders is also seen as an important gesture. Resettlement has not hitherto been seen as a major role of the EU. But this move, amid the biggest global refugee crisis since the second world war, is a tiny admission that it might have to become one.

More worryingly still, the 40,000 asylum seekers due to be shared throughout Europe form only a small proportion of the 250,000 migrants likely to land in Greece and Italy this year. Thousands more will continue to arrive in Bulgaria and Hungary, two other EU states that are on the frontline of the migration crisis but which will not be covered by the scheme. So even if all 40,000 asylum seekers are successfully redistributed, the four countries at the EU’s border will continue to bear the brunt of what is essentially a European crisis.

Most significantly, the tiny number of refugees due to be resettled from outside the EU – 20,000 – will do nothing to curb the death toll in the Mediterranean. Time and again, refugees planning to make the voyage across the sea argue that despite the risks the Mediterranean is a more likely route to safety than the legal routes available to them. So few places are on offer to the four million Syrian refugees eligible for asylum from outside Europe (the UK has taken 187 so far) that the sea seems a more logical option. - Read More at the Guardian

EU sidestep on migrants will do nothing to curb Mediterranean death toll

Iran criticized for human rights abuses in State Department report

The State Department said Thursday that Iran practices “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” of its citizens, part of a a harsh critique of the country’s human rights abuses that was released on the eve of a final round of negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The annual human rights report was issued four months beyond the legal requirement for its publication, a deadline that is often breached but never before by so long

The State Department has said the delay was the result of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s heavy travel schedule. - Read More at Washingtonpost
annual human rights report 

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Uzbekistan burns Afghan drugs seized en route to Russia, Europe

Drug enforcement officers in Uzbekistan burned 1.4 tonnes of drugs on Thursday, as Central Asia's most populous nation fights to stem the flow of narcotics from neighboring Afghanistan to Russia and further on to Europe.

Heaps of drugs, including 133.3 kilos of heroin and 775 kilos of opium, were incinerated in a furnace at a metallurgical plant outside the Uzbek capital Tashkent before an audience of diplomats, workers at international organizations and reporters.

The drugs had already been used as evidence against drugs traffickers at their trials, according to Uzbek officials. "Afghan-made heroin mostly enters Uzbekistan from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan," Olimjon Turakulov, a spokesman for Uzbekistan's national security service told Reuters.

"There is also direct trafficking from Afghanistan, but a shorter border and natural obstacle – the Amu Darya river along the border - make it easier to control this route," he said.

Afghan heroin smuggled into Tajikistan flows via Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to end up in Russia or Europe. - Read More

Uzbekistan burns Afghan drugs seized en route to Russia, Europe

U.S. top court backs Obamacare, president says it's here to stay

The U.S. Supreme Court preserved President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law on Thursday, upholding crucial tax subsidies while turning aside a conservative legal challenge that could have doomed the law.

"After more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, wrote in the 6-3 ruling that Congress clearly intended for the tax subsidies that help low- and moderate-income people buy private health insurance to be available in all 50 states.

The court decided that the law, widely known as Obamacare, did not restrict the subsidies to states that establish their own online health insurance exchanges.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts wrote in the court's decision, adding that nationwide availability of the credits is required to "avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid."

Roberts was joined by fellow conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy and the court’s four liberal members in the majority. - Read More at the U.S. top court backs Obamacare

U.S. top court backs Obamacare, president says it's here to stay

NATO Defence Ministers confirm enduring support for Afghanistan - nato.int

Ministers welcomed the Afghan government’s ambitious programme of reforms, and encouraged them to implement these quickly and thoroughly. “They are determined to bring peace to their country,” said Mr. Stoltenberg, adding “we strongly support the Afghan government in their efforts.”

Our forces continue to provide training, advice and assistance,” said the Secretary General, adding “we are beginning to plan for the next stage of our Resolute Support mission.”

Recalling the decision made by Foreign Ministers in May to support Afghanistan’s security institutions after the end of the Resolute Support mission, Mr. Stoltenberg said: “we have confirmed our commitment to a civilian-led presence” in order to “further develop Afghan security institutions.”

Calling this a “time of changes and challenges”, the Secretary General concluded “together, we will rise to the challenges and we will stand together.”  Read More at  NATO Defence Ministers
NATO Defence Ministers confirm enduring support for Afghanistan

Defence Ministers decide to bolster the NATO Response Force, reinforce collective defence
Statement by NATO Defence Ministers - More at Nato