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Monday, November 23, 2009

Banished at Turtle Bay - A U.N. critic has her credentials stripped.

As part of our public-service reports on the workings of your favorite world body, allow us to introduce you to Anne Bayefsky. The Toronto native is an expert on human-rights law and an accredited United Nations observer. She is also a friend of Israel, which makes her persona non grata as far as the folks at Turtle Bay are concerned.

Ms. Bayefsky's sin was a two-minute talk she delivered at the U.N. earlier this month after the General Assembly had issued a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, which levels war crimes charges at Israel for defending itself in the face of Hamas's rockets. "The resolution doesn't mention the word Hamas," she said. "This is a resolution that purports to be even-handed; it is anything but."

Abortion ban must be stricken from health care bill: Connie Schultz

Language matters, so let's be clear: Women's reproductive health is not a "social issue."

Deciding whether to carry the red purse or the black bag to dinner Saturday night? That's a social issue. Wondering why your child wasn't invited to her classmate's birthday party? That, too, is a social issue.

Attempting to limit women's access to legal and safe abortions? Not even remotely a social issue. So let's stop calling it that as we debate the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which is the latest effort in Congress to prohibit insurance coverage for abortion. The sooner we reject this dismissive casting of a woman's essential right, the sooner elected officials will understand it's not theirs for the tinkering.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

U.S. House backs resolution to condemn Goldstone Gaza report

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday condemned a UN report that accuses Israeli forces and Palestinian militants of committing war crimes in Gaza early this year as irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.

With a 344-36 vote, the House passed a nonbinding resolution that urged President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to oppose unequivocally any endorsement of the report. Twenty-two representatives voted present.

The report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, accuses both I
srael and the Palestinian Hamas group of war crimes but presents Israel's actions as much more serious.

The report "paints a distorted picture," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. It "epitomizes the practice of singling Israel out from all other nations for condemnation."

Activists Gear Up for Fight

Lately, Donna Crane hasn’t been making it home early. The policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America has been lobbying nonstop to ensure that the House does not slip anti-abortion language into its health care legislation, which the chamber is expected to vote on this weekend.

“We’re working a lot of late nights,” Crane said.

Lobbyists on both sides of the emotionally divisive issue have been feverishly rallying their grass-roots supporters this week to chime in on the debate on how restrictive the House bill should be regarding abortion.

The House bill says private health insurance plans may neither be required nor prohibited from covering abortion services. The proposed public health insurance option would be required to cover abortions that are covered by the Hyde amendment, such as in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. The secretary of Health and Human Services would have discretion over whether elective abortions are offered under the public option. However, all plans including the government plan would have to use private money from insurance premiums to pay for the abortions.