Norway has become the latest country to join an international campaign to counter U.S. President Donald Trump banning U.S.-funded groups from providing abortions or information on the practice worldwide, which critics say would result in unsafe and dangerous abortions.
In January, the Netherlands started a global fund to help women access abortion services, saying Trump’s “global gag rule” meant a funding gap of US$600 million over the next four years, and was the first to pledge US$10 million to the initiative.
“The government is increasing its support for family planning and safe abortion by 85 million Norwegian crowns (US$10 million) compared with 2016,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said. “At a time when this agenda has come under pressure, a joint effort is particularly important.”
Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada and Cape Verde have all also pledged funds for the initiative.
Last month, Trump reinstated a policy requiring overseas organizations that receive U.S. family planning funds to certify they do not perform abortions or provide abortion advice as a method of family planning.
Women’s rights advocates have warned that Trump’s gag order will have the immediate result of women seeking unsafe abortions, and not abandoning the practice.
Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington, told Reuters last month that the “global gag rule has been associated with an increase in unsafe abortions and we expect that Trump’s global gag rule will cost women their lives.”
The rule, formally known as the Mexico City policy, is one that incoming presidents have used to signal their positions on abortion rights. It was created under U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Trump Names Another General as National Security Adviser
U.S. President Donald Trump named Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster as his new national security adviser Monday, again turning to the U.S. military to play a central role on his foreign policy team.
Trump also named Keith Kellogg, a retired U.S. army general who has been serving as the acting national security adviser, as chief of staff to the National Security Council.
McMaster is a military tactician and strategic thinker, but his selection surprised some observers who wondered how McMaster, who is known for questioning authority, would deal with a White House that has not welcomed criticism.
He replaces a Trump loyalist. Michael Flynn, a retired army lieutenant general, who was fired as national security adviser on Feb. 13 after reports emerged that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about speaking to Russia’s ambassador about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration.
The ouster, coming so early in Trump’s administration, was another upset for a White House that has been hit by miscues, including the controversial rollout of a travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries since the Republican president took office on Jan. 20.
Trump spent the weekend considering his options for replacing Flynn. His first choice, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, turned down the job last week.
The national security adviser is an independent aide to the president and does not require confirmation by the U.S. senate. The role has varied from administration to administration, but the adviser attends National Security Council meetings along with the heads of the State Department, the Department of Defense and key security agencies.
McMaster is a West Point graduate with a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2014.
McMaster’s fame grew after his 1997 book “Dereliction of Duty” criticized the country’s military and political leadership for poor leadership during the Vietnam War.
Scripted Lies: Evo Morales’ Ex-Lover Admits Decade-Old Plot Against Him
In a series of shocking confessions, Gabriela Zapata, the former romantic partner of Bolivian President Evo Morales, claimed she was the key figure in a smear campaign scandalizing the personal life of the Bolivian leader since 2005, two years before they allegedly had a child together.
“I lied, I want to clarify this, because I have been used by (main opposition leader) Mr. Samuel Doria Medina through (his lawyer) Mr. Eduardo Leon,” Zapata claimed in an interview with the local broadcaster ATB, accusing the head of the right-wing National Union party of being behind the smear campaign.
Last February, the woman shot into the public eye when Morales’ opponents accused him of influence-peddling linked to a Chinese construction firm in which Zapata held a top post and which won multi-million dollar state contracts.
The leftist leader denied the allegations and called for an investigation into the claims while also going on the offensive and admitting that he had fathered a child with Zapata in 2007 during their two-year relationship, who died shortly after birth.
However, according to the women’s new claims, the existence of the child seems to have been invented as part of the scheme by the opposition leader that began in 2005, the same year Morales was running for president for the first time and also the year he and Zapata began their relationship.
That year, she was “approached by a group of people” while she was participating in the youth division of Morales’ Movement for Socialism party. “I want to confirm that there is no child,” she said. “This has been manufactured since 2005 to use at a certain time.”
She also claimed that she was given “a script” of what to say regarding the fact that she had a child with the Bolivian leader and that he was “a monster.”
The man who was behind the 2005 plan against Morales, according to Zapata, was his very own campaign manager Walter Chavez, who later left the campaign after he was accused of working in secret for Medina’s opposition party, an allegation that she also confirmed in the recent interview.
The scandal surfaced last year ahead of a referendum on whether or not to remove limits on presidential terms, and government supporters blamed the smear campaign for leading to the referendum’s defeat at the polls. Shortly after the fiction-like drama unfolded, Zapata was arrested over charges of influence peddling at the Chinese engineering firm CAMC.
In the interview, Zapata also claimed that Medina had paid for the costs of hiring a fake child — allegedly between US$5,000 and US$15,000 — to go for an interview with CNN last July in order to back her story. The interview was never aired and the journalists who did the interview admitted that they were set up.
“I want to tell the truth because I believe that the truth can set us free and if we have done something we will pay and I will assume responsibility for what I have done,” Zapata said as she concluded the interview.
“But I want people to realize that there is a person who has used me and never me helped me, he has promised to help me and he has only used me … to benefit him, to embarrass me, to embarrass others, perhaps to affect a president.”
From his Twitter account Monday, Medina responded to Zapata’s allegations, ironically claiming the government is using her to “launch a false accusation against” his party.