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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

IOM Recommends Full Coverage of Contraceptives, Other Reproductive Health Care Under Health Reform

In a new--and much-anticipated--report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is recommending that health reform guidelines for preventive care to be developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) include a full range of reproductive health services, including all methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) without a co-pay.  In developing these and other recommendations for women's preventive health care, the IOM took into account the recommendations of medical bodies and of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating important health needs and outcomes.

Apart from coverage of contraceptive supplies, the IOM also breaks new ground with recommendations on inclusion of screening for gender-based and domestic violence, education, testing, and counseling for sexually transmitted infections, and inclusion of other essentials to a broader package of "well-woman" care as part of basic insurance coverage.

In total, the IOM report recommends inclusion of eight preventive health services for women at no cost under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). The ACA requires plans to cover the services listed in HHS's comprehensive list of preventive services.  At the agency's request, an IOM committee identified critical gaps in preventive services for women as well as measures that will further ensure women's health and well-being.

HHS has set its own self-imposed deadline of August 2nd for release of these final guidelines.
Read more at RH Reality Check

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Birth Control Without Copays Could Become Mandatory

The Institute of Medicine is expected to make its recommendations about preventative health care services for women that will be included in the Affordable Care Act, and birth control without copays is service that is drawing a lot of attention.
Is there nothing in last year's Affordable Care Act that people won't fight over?

The latest battle is set to come to a head Wednesday, when the independent Institute of Medicine is expected to make recommendations about preventive health care services for women. And one service that's drawing a lot of the attentions is contraception.

Depending on the group's recommendation, contraception could become part of a package of preventive benefits that every health plan would have to cover without patient cost-sharing. In other words, it would become effectively free.
Read more at NPR

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in First Half of 2011

Using a mix of old a new strategies, 19 states have enacted 162 new laws related to reproductive rights and health in the first six months of 2011.  More are currently in the pipeline.
In the first six months of 2011, states enacted 162 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just 19 states.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dan Shapiro sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swore in Dan Shapiro as the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel on Friday, in a ceremony at the State Department.

Shapiro was until recently the director of the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. Before that he acted as U.S. President Barack Obama's adviser on the Middle East and Jewish community relations during Obama’s presidential campaign.

At the ceremony, Clinton said she has every confidence in Shapiro’s ability to represent the country and the Obama Administration, and to help them "write a new chapter in the enduring partnership between United States and Israel.”
Read more at HaAretz

Friday, July 08, 2011

House warns P.A. on statehood moves

In a bi-partisan resolution sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the US House of Representatives echoed a similar resolution by the Senate urging the Palestinian Authority to not bypass direct negotiations with Israel.  The resolution warned of potential serious implications for US-Palestinian relations should they continue to pursue recognition of statehood via the UN as opposed to direct talks.

The U.S. House of Representatives threatened to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority if it pursues recognition of statehood outside of negotiations with Israel.

A resolution passed Thursday night by a vote of  406 to 6 "affirms that Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations and pursue recognition of statehood prior to agreement with Israel will harm United States-Palestinian relations and will have serious implications for the United States assistance programs for the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority."

The non-binding resolution is similar to one passed last month by the Senate.

Read more at JTA

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Abortion Wars: Taking It To The States

Elections do matter, individual votes do make a difference.  This has become more apparent regarding reproductive rights in the last year than ever before.
The nation's abortion wars, simmering but largely quiet in recent years, have begun boiling again.

Nowhere has the battle been more pitched than in Kansas, where the Legislature this session passed four anti-abortion measures and attempted to adopt strict new licensing rules that this week came within hours of closing down the state's last abortion provider.

Late Thursday, Kansas officials agreed to license Planned Parenthood's Overland Park surgical facility, which provides abortions, after the organization scrambled to comply with the week-old clinic rules by Friday's deadline. That deadline was annulled Friday when a federal judge blocked the new licensing laws.
Read more at NPR

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Editorial: Palestinian Stunts Undermine Peace Efforts

A recent editorial in the Near East Report looks at what the Palestinian Authority has been doing to progress potential peace talks.
Over the past few months, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been waging a campaign that has nothing to do with peacemaking. Instead, the PA is trying to isolate the Jewish state in the international arena. This campaign consists of a number of stunts that make a peace agreement less likely. 

First, the PA has persisted in its refusal to engage in direct negotiations with Israel. If the PA wanted to make peace with Israel, it would talk to Israel, at a minimum. Despite PA President Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to sit down for face-to-face talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken far-reaching steps to demonstrate his commitment to negotiations. In the past two years, he has announced his support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel multiple times and reduced barriers to movement in the West Bank. Netanyahu also implemented a 10-month freeze on housing construction in the West Bank, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lauded as "unprecedented."
It's not just that Abbas refuses to talk. He has led an international campaign to bypass negotiations by winning support for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. These efforts focus on seeking a U.N. Security Council vote in September recommending that the U.N. General Assembly recognize Palestinian statehood and admit the Palestinian state as a full U.N. member state. In case the United States vetoes the motion at the Security Council, Abbas plans to seek General Assembly recognition of Palestinian statehood without full U.N. membership. (Under the U.N. charter, admission to full U.N. membership requires a Security Council recommendation prior to General Assembly approval.)
 Read more at Near East Report

Friday, July 01, 2011

Judge Blocks South Dakota's Abortion Counseling Law

Yesterday a federal judge blocked a South Dakota law scheduled to go into effect July 1st.  This law would have required women wait 72 hours after seeing a doctor to have an abortion, and require them to seek counseling from an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center prior to the procedure. 
On Thursday, a federal judge blocked a South Dakota measure that would have forced women to visit a counseling center and wait 72 hours before obtaining an abortion.
The law, set to take effect on Friday, required women to visit a so-called "crisis pregnancy center"—which are often run by religious and anti-abortion groups—before having an abortion. It also imposed the longest mandatory waiting period in the country. Judge Karen Schreier of the US District Court in South Dakota granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, ruling that the law is likely be found unconstitutional.
The law inspired outrage from abortion rights advocates, who note that crisis pregnancy centers are unregulated, frequently staffed by unqualified volunteers, have been found to provide false information, and often exist for the sole purpose of discouraging women from going forward with an abortion. The text of the law passed in South Dakota didn't really hide that goal, stating that the aim of the measure was to help women "maintain and keep their relationship with their unborn children."
Read more at Mother Jones

Oren presents Israel’s priorities for talks

During a conference call this week to Jewish leaders, Ambassador Michael Oren provided an overview of Israel's priorities and goals in framing a resumption of peace talks.
Israel's U.S. ambassador, Michael Oren, outlined for Jewish leaders his country's list of priorities in framing peace talks with the Palestinians.
Oren, speaking Thursday in a conference call, said Israel is looking into President Obama's recent proposals for renewing talks. Such talks, Oren said, should be framed by what he called the "terms of reference": the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; no return of Palestinian refugees; and a long-term military presence for Israel along the Jordan-West Bank border. Also, that an agreement would end all claims.
"Our negotiation teams together with the American negotiation teams are trying to find a viable frame work that we can agree on for renewing the negotiation," Oren said.
Read more at JTA

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Remarks By President Peres On American Independence Day

Israeli President Shimon Peres' remarks at the US Embassy's 4th of July Celebration in Tel Aviv.
There are more than two hundred and thirty five different things I can say about the wonder, the grandeur, the accomplishment and the spirit that is AMERICA -  the powerful nation and generous giver.

It is the history of a mighty – nay, the mightiest – country that never occupied but always contributed.

America is the great nation that was always sensitive to the grim. To the dire. To the impoverished. And made the world a less dangerous one.
Ready to overcome its flaws.

Some criticize the United States. All of us know that a world without the U.S. would be the greatest mistake of all.

For all of us.

Read more at Israelpolitik

Kansas abortion ban starts tomorrow

Kansas has passed the strictest abortion licensing regulations in the country and is poised to ban abortion across the state.   A lawsuit has been filed to block the regulations.
It looks like Republicans in Kansas are going to succeed in shutting down abortion in that state via red tape -- at least temporarily -- starting tomorrow when the state's new licensing regulations for abortion clinics take effect. So far, none of the the state's three remaining clinics has been approved for a license.

A clinic run by Planned Parenthood is the only one that was inspected under the new rules. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President Peter Brownlie tells us they haven't been told yet whether they'll be licensed.

A second abortion provider has sued to block the regulations and the third has sought to join the case. But the first hearing in that lawsuit isn't scheduled until tomorrow afternoon -- and the law kicks in tomorrow. So all three providers tell us they've decided not to schedule abortions procedure tomorrow for risk of running afoul of the new law.
 Read and hear more at Maddow Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Several States Forbid Abortion After 20 Weeks

In the past year, six states have passed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of gestation based on the heavily disputed theory that a fetus can feel pain at that point, and other states are looking at similar legislation.
Dozens of new restrictions passed by states this year have chipped away at the right to abortion by requiring women to view ultrasounds, imposing waiting periods or cutting funds for clinics. But a new kind of law has gone beyond such restrictions, striking at the foundation of the abortion rules set out by the Supreme Court over the last four decades.

These laws, passed in six states in little more than a year, ban abortions at the 20th week after conception, based on the theory that the fetus can feel pain at that point — a notion disputed by mainstream medical organizations in the United States and Britain. Opponents of abortion say they expect that discussion of fetal pain — even in the face of scientific criticism — will alter public perception of abortion, and they have made support for the new laws a litmus test for Republicans seeking the presidency.

“The purpose of this type of bill is to focus on the humanity of the unborn child,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee. “Fetal pain is something that people who are in the middle on the abortion issue can relate to.”
Read more at the New York Times

Here comes another lost tribe

Later this month, the Knesset will vote on a resolution to bring the remaining 7,000 members of B'nei Menashe, one of the lost tribes who settled in India, back to Israel.  Close to 1,700 members of this community have already made aliyah.
Thousands of kilometers to the east, in the furthest reaches of northeastern India, a long-lost community continues to nourish its age-old dream of returning to its ancient homeland, the land of Israel.

The Bnei Menashe, or “sons of Manasseh,” are descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, which were exiled by the Assyrian empire more than 27 centuries ago. The community, which numbers 7,232 people, resides primarily in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

Despite generations of wandering, the Bnei Menashe never forgot who they were, where they had come from, or where they aspired to return.
Read more at the Jerusalem Post

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Has Gilad Shalit Missed and What Have We Experienced?

Today is the 5th anniversary of the capture of Gilad Shalit, a 19 year-old Israeli soldier at the time of his capture.  A lot has happened in five years, but his release is not one of them. 
In 2006, Facebook had just 10 million users, Justin Bieber was 11, and Gilad Shalit was free. 

On June 25, 2006, Hamas terrorists captured Gilad Shalit, an Israeli corporal, in a cross border raid. He has remained captive since.

A lot can happen in five years.
Read more at Huffington Post

A video has been compiled to show how much he has missed.

Op-Ed: Obama’s path paves the way for a secure Israel

Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat who has served in several presidential administrations, recently wrote an op-ed stating President Obama's support for Israel and his goals "provide the key to a safe and secure Jewish state." 
A strong secure Jewish state of Israel, supported by the United States as a close ally, has been a central feature of my public and private careers.

As a senior government official in several administrations, an American and a Jew, I see Israel from multiple perspectives. Israel plays a strategic role in advancing American interests in the Middle East and beyond; Israel and the United States share a common set of democratic values and have developed a partnership unique in the annals of history. Israel is the Third Jewish Commonwealth, returning the Jewish people to their homeland after 2,000 years of exile, and it is the home of relatives and close friends, and the final resting place of my great-grandfather and grandfather, both of whom made aliyah.

I fervently believe President Obama’s course is essential to achieve the hopes I have for Israel’s future in the 21st century and beyond -- notwithstanding the recent controversy over the president’s remarks about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and differences over Israeli settlement expansion.
Read more at JTA

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Obama: Israel-United States Bond Is 'Unbreakable'

President Obama reiterated his unwavering support for Israel and his pursuit of peace in the Middle East this week.
Seeking to reassure Jewish donors amid questions over his support for Israel, President Barack Obama pledged Monday that his administration would "devote all of its creative powers" to trying to bring about Mideast peace.

Obama made the comments at a high-dollar fundraiser at a Washington hotel hosted by Americans in Support of a Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship.

The appearance came a month after he clashed publicly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That handed ammunition to Republican presidential hopefuls who accused Obama of insufficient support for Israel.
Read more at Huffington Post

Monday, June 20, 2011

What If Jews Had Followed the Palestinian Path?

An interesting perspective on what the world would look like if Israel had not been created and instead the survivors of the Holocaust had taken a different path.
It is doubtful that there has ever been a more miserable human refuse than Jewish survivors after World War II. Starving, emaciated, stateless—they were not welcomed back by countries where they had lived for generations as assimilated and educated citizens. Germany was no place to return to and in Kielce, Poland, 40 Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in a pogrom one year after the war ended. The European Jew, circa 1945, quickly went from victim to international refugee disaster.

Yet within a very brief time, this epic calamity disappeared, so much so that few people today even remember the period. How did this happen in an era when Palestinian refugees have continued to be stateless for generations?

In 1945, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors living in DP Camps (displaced persons) across Europe. They were fed and clothed by Jewish and international relief organizations. Had the world's Jewish population played this situation as the Arabs and Palestinians have, everything would look very different today.
Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saving the Yale anti-Semitism institute

Yale just killed the country’s best institute for the study of anti-Semitism. If Yale doesn’t want it, Washington should grab the institute before it goes anywhere else.

For the past five years, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism has flourished in New Haven, Conn. On a small budget it has sponsored research, visiting fellowships, papers and presentations on the most abiding and lethal hatred mankind has ever known — the one that brought us the Holocaust and that is once again racing around the world.

A few institutes for the study of anti-Semitism have sprung up globally — a couple in Israel and some in Europe and North America. Yale’s is the first in the States and the first to be closed down.
Read more at The Washington Post

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hamas rejects Fayyad for Palestinian prime minister

Since signing a reconciliation accord more than a month ago, the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have made only slow progress in carrying it out, and on Sunday the pact hit its first significant snag with a public disagreement over who should be prime minister of a joint government.

The dispute over Fatah’s nomination Saturday of Salam Fayyad, a political independent who is the Palestinian Authority premier, cast a shadow over planned talks in Cairo on Tuesday on the composition of the new cabinet.

The candidacy of Fayyad is key to whether a unified Palestinian government will continue to have the Western backing that the Palestinian Authority has received during his term in office. The U.S.-educated economist is respected by foreign donors and has been credited internationally with revamping Palestinian finances and building government institutions necessary for statehood.
 Read more at the Washington Post

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Remembering Six Days in 1967

Ambassador Michael Oren reviews the history and lessons of the 1967 Six Day War on its anniversary.
"We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants," declared Palestine Liberation Organization leader Ahmad al-Shuqayri. "As for the survivors -- if there are any -- the boats are ready to deport them." A half-million Arab soldiers and more than 5,000 tanks converged on Israel from every direction, including the West Bank, then part of Jordan. Their plans called for obliterating Israel's army, conquering the country, and killing large numbers of civilians. Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Arif said the Arab goal was to wipe Israel off the map: "We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa."
This was the fate awaiting Israel on June 4, 1967. Many Israelis feverishly dug trenches and filled sandbags, while others secretly dug 10,000 graves for the presumed victims. Some 14,000 hospital beds were arranged and gas masks distributed to the civilian population. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike to neutralize Egypt, the most powerful Arab state, but the threat of invasion by other Arab armies remained.  
Israel's borders at the time were demarcated by the armistice lines established at the end of Israel's war of independence 18 years earlier. These lines left Israel a mere 9 miles wide at its most populous area. Israelis faced mountains to the east and the sea to their backs and, in West Jerusalem, were virtually surrounded by hostile forces. In 1948, Arab troops nearly cut the country in half at its narrow waist and laid siege to Jerusalem, depriving 100,000 Jews of food and water.
Read more at Foreign Policy

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

White House trying to restart Mideast peace talks based on Obama guidelines

Israeli and Palestinian representatives have been holding separate talks in Washington, as part of an American effort to restart direct negotiations and thereby forestall a Palestinian bid to obtain unilateral UN recognition as a state in September, according to a source at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Senior American officials met with each side separately in the White House or the State Department, the source said.
Israel is being represented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy, Isaac Molho. The Palestinians sent Saeb Erekat, their former chief negotiator, and Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman. 
Read more at Ha'Aretz

Friday, June 03, 2011

Obama’s commitment to Israel

Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff to President Obama and newly-elected mayor of Chicago, discusses the President's commitment to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
Days into my tenure as mayor of Chicago, with my focus on keeping our city’s streets safe, our schools strong and our finances stabilized, I expected my attention to be in the Midwest, not in the Middle East. But as an American and the son of an Israeli immigrant, I have a deep, abiding commitment to the survival, security and success of the state of Israel.
I am among the many who know that the Israeli people yearn for peace. They have taken risks for peace in spite of dangers. They will again, when they have a viable partner in the process and a region that recognizes a Jewish state of Israel with secure and defensible borders.
President Obama, like every student of the Middle East, understands that the shifting sands of demography in that volatile region are working against the two-state solution needed to end generations of bloodshed. The fragile stasis that exists today cannot hold.
Read more at The Washington Post

US administration says it will boycott UN world racism conference because of anti-Semitism

The United States will boycott the third "Durban" conference which marks the 10th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism originally held in Durban, South Africa due to continuing displays of anti-semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.
The Obama administration said Wednesday it will boycott a world conference against racism being held at U.N. headquarters in September because of concerns about anti-Semitism.
The U.N. summit marks the 10-year commemoration of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism that was held in the South African city of Durban. The U.S. and Israel walked out of that meeting over a draft resolution that criticized Israel and equated Zionism with racism.
The United States will not participate in the upcoming conference because the Durban process “included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism,” Joseph E. Macmanus, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Read more at Washington Post

Friday, May 27, 2011

Marshfield man who allegedly came to kill abortion doctor ordered held in custody

This week marks the second anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller.  Yesterday a Wisconsin man was arrested and admitted to planning to kill the doctor at a Madison Planned Parenthood.
The Marshfield man who drove to Madison allegedly to kill an abortion doctor was ordered held in custody Friday as federal prosecutors considered new charges against him.

Ralph Lang, 63, faces a misdemeanor federal charge of attempting to injure, intimidate and interfere with people providing reproductive health services, according to a criminal complaint.
But U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said prosecutors, working with the Department of Justice's civil rights division in Washington, are considering seeking a felony charge against Lang alleging that he interfered with a person's use of a program that receives federal funds.
Read more at Madison.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Speech by PM Netanyahu to a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress this week.  Below is the transcript of his speech.
I am deeply moved by your warm welcome.  And I am deeply honored that you have given me the opportunity to address Congress a second time.

Mr. Vice President, do you remember the time that we were the new kids in town?

And I do see a lot of old friends here. And I see a lot of new friends of Israel here.  Democrats and Republicans alike.

Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel.  We stand together to defend democracy.  We stand together to advance peace.  We stand together to fight terrorism.   Congratulations America, Congratulations, Mr. President.  You got bin Laden. Good riddance!
In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability.   In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American.   Israel will always be pro-American.
Read more at The Office of The Prime Minister 
Watch the speech at C-SPAN

Friday, May 20, 2011

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel After Bilateral Meeting

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Obama this week, following the President's address on the Middle East and North Africa.  The Prime Minister is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress next week.  Below are their remarks from their initial meeting today.
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let me, first of all, welcome again Prime Minister Netanyahu, who I think has now been here seven times during the course of my presidency.  And I want to indicate that the frequency of these meetings is an indication of the extraordinary bonds between our two countries, as is the opportunity for the Prime Minister to address Congress during his visit here.  I know that’s an honor that’s reserved for those who have always shown themselves to be a great friend of the United States and is indicative of the friendship between our countries.
We just completed a prolonged and extremely useful conversation touching on a wide range of issues.  We discussed, first of all, the changes that are sweeping the region and what has been happening in places like Egypt and Syria and how they affect the interests and security of the United States and Israel, as well as the opportunity for prosperity, growth and development in the Arab world.
We agreed that there is a moment of opportunity that can be seized as a consequence of the Arab Spring, but also acknowledge that there’s significant perils as well, and that it’s going to be important for the United States and Israel to consult closely as we see developments unfold.
Read more at White House Office of the Press Secretary

Kentucky Grants Creationist Theme Park $43M In Tax Incentives

The state of Kentucky has granted a "creationist theme park" $43 million in tax incentives.
Plans for the construction of a "creationist theme park" in Kentucky are moving right along, with the state's tourism board on Thursday granting the project $43.1 million in tax incentives.

The theme park -- dubbed Ark Encounter -- is backed by both Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Answers is Genesis, a Christian organization that also built a similar attraction, the Creation Museum.
Read more at TPMMuckraker

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giffords communicates after skull surgery

Representative Gabrielle Giffords continues to make remarkable progress in her recover.  This week, doctors replaced the piece of skull that was removed back in January.  This means she will be able to stop wearing a helmet to prevent additional possible injury.  JAC continues to wish Rep. Giffords well in her recovery process.
A day after surgery to repair her skull, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' doctor has dubbed her "gorgeous Gabby," encouraged by how she looks and is communicating after an operation considered a major milestone in her recovery from a gunshot wound.

Giffords had some pain and nausea shortly after the surgery, but a scan of her brain showed the operation was successful, said Dr. Dong Kim, the neurosurgeon who performed the intricate, three-and-a-half-hour procedure.
She's doing so well that doctors are beginning bedside rehabilitation therapy, and say she's on the path to being released, although they won't discuss a timetable.
Giffords' head was shaved for the surgery, and she'll be able to stop wearing the cumbersome helmet that was protecting her head from further injury. Kim described her new look as "cute."
 Read more at MSNBC.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

White House: Israel has a right to defend borders

The White House said Israel has a right to defend itself from unauthorized border crossings and blamed Syria for "inciting" violence.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday addressed incidents along Israel's Lebanon, Syria and Gaza Strip borders the day before in which Palestinians marking Israel's 1948 founding attempted to cross over.

"Israel, like all countries, has the right to prevent unauthorized crossings at its borders," Carney said. "Its neighbors have a responsibility to prevent such activity. We urge maximum restraint on all sides."
Read more at JTA

PM Netanyahu's Address at the Knesset Herzl Day

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Knesset yesterday.  Here are some excerpts.
Two days ago, on the Tenth of Iyar, it was the 107th anniversary of Theodore Herzl's death.  It is no coincidence that his is the only portrait hanging on these walls.  Herzl was the greatest leader the Jewish people has had in modern times.  He was well aware of the condition of the Jewish people.  He recognized the transformations that were taking place everywhere; and he clearly saw that a Jewish state was required in order for the Jewish people to survive, and that having an army was a necessity for the survival of this state.  And not just an army, but a strong, modern army, equipped with advanced technology.

...What can we learn today from Herzl's work?  What is relevant to us today?  The first lesson is that we must recognize changing reality.  The Middle East is changing rapidly and drastically.  Hundreds of millions of people around us yearn for political and financial freedom and are fighting to obtain these freedoms.  These are inevitable changes.  It is very possible that in the long term, these changes will be for the best, and I hope they will, for the good of these people and because at the end of the day, if this struggle is successful, it will promote the chance for peace and the peace's resilience.  But in the short term, in the interim, our situation could possibly worsen, be more problematic and more challenging.  We can see what is happening in Egypt, in Syria and in Lebanon.  Lebanon is now controlled by Hezbollah, under the sponsorship of Iran, when only five years ago there was such great hope for freedom and progress.  We saw what happened along the borders of Israel yesterday.  Thousands thronged against our fences in an attempt to invade our territory and challenge our sovereignty.  I must say that from the point of view of yesterday's rioters, 63 years of Israeli independence have changed nothing.
... I know that a huge majority of people understands that we can only make peace with those who want to make peace with us.  Those who wish to obliterate us are no partners for peace.  A Palestinian government with half its members declaring daily that they plan to annihilate the Jewish state is not a partner for peace.  Those who say, and I am familiar with the saying, that you only make peace with your enemies, must complement the statement with a small but important remark. You only make peace with an enemy, but with an enemy who has decided to make peace. 
Read more at the Prime Minister's Office

Monday, May 16, 2011

MYTH: "Hamas-Fatah reconciliation paves the way to peace negotiations with Israel.'"

MYTH:   "Hamas-Fatah reconciliation paves the way to peace negotiations with Israel.'" 

FACT:  In uniting for the first time since 2007, Hamas and Fatah, rulers of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, respectively, have theoretically made negotiating a final peace deal with Israel
more realistic. Previously, Israel negotiated exclusively with Fatah, which, even if willing to do so, could not sign an agreement that would end the conflict because Hamas  opposed peace with Israel.
The reconciliation pact, signed in Egypt on May 4, 2011, joins the two leading Palestinian parties in a caretaker government until long overdue parliamentary elections can be held. Former President Jimmy Carter and others contend the pact "will help Palestinian democracy and establish the basis for a unified Palestinian state ... that can make a secure peace with Israel." 543 Practically, however, the reconciliation agreement does little to create the framework for a democratic Palestinian state and makes peace with Israel virtually impossible to achieve.

Read more at AICE Myths & Facts

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Middle East peace: The wrong pact

Ambassador Michael Oren comments on the new pact between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, stating 'Unity between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is a devastating blow to peace.' 
The world shared the American people's gratitude for the special forces who rid us of Osama bin Laden, but there was one flagrant exception.

"We condemn the assassination of an Arab holy warrior," declared Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas regime in Gaza, who also deplored "the continuing American policy … of shedding Muslim blood."
This is the same Hamas that has launched hundreds of suicide bombers and thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Hamas terrorists have held Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, in solitary confinement for nearly five years without a single Red Cross visit. And just last month, they fired an antitank rocket at an Israeli school bus, killing 16-year-old Daniel Viflic. Such atrocities have affected the lives of all Israelis. My own sister-in-law, Joan Davenny, a visiting teacher from New Haven riding on a bus to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was murdered by a Hamas bomber.

In spite of these scars, we still seek the creation of a Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in mutual recognition, security and respect. This is of paramount interest to Israel. We are willing to make painful sacrifices to achieve it and to put forth new ideas for advancing the peace process. And the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, we hoped, would be our partner.
Read more at the LA Times

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How Did Your Representative Vote on HR 3?

HR 3, also called the 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,' passed the House on May 4th.  This bill redefines rape so that only acts of 'forcible rape' would be included in any rape exception for abortion coverage (the original clause was removed, but a "back door" was left open in committee), removes the tax credit of employers who offer health benefits that include abortion provisions, and would require anyone using Health Savings accounts to pay for abortions to pay taxes on those funds. This bill now goes to the Senate, where it will likely not pass.

Here is a summary from Open Congress:
This bill would make permanent and expand the Hyde amendment restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortions. It seeks to prohibit even indirect funding streams that may potentially come in contact with abortion services. For example, it would deny tax credits to companies that offer health plans that cover abortions and it would block anybody with insurance that covers abortions from receiving federal subsidies or medical cost tax deductions, even if the abortion portion is paid separately with personal funds. Women who use tax-free Medical Savings Accounts would have to pay taxes on the costs of abortions.
How did your Representative vote?  Check here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

H.R. 3, Wide-Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill, Facing House Vote

H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act," is scheduled for a vote today in the House of Representatives.  This is bill, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), gained notoriety for including language that would redefine rape.  According to reporting from Mother Jones, while the specific rape language has been removed, the bill's sponsors have taken steps in committee to ensure the redefinition of rape will stand if challenged in court to apply to only "forcible rape."
A closer look at a House bill marketed to the public as a "common-sense" ban on taxpayer-funded abortions reveals an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to restrict insurance coverage for and reduce access to abortion.
H.R. 3, also known as the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act," would go beyond making the Hyde Amendment, which has already banned federally-funded abortions for the past 30 years, a permanent federal law. The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), would also enact strict procedural requirements for private insurance companies that cover abortions and deny tax credits to small businesses that purchase health insurance plans offering abortion coverage. Eight[y]-seven percent of private insurance plans currently include such coverage.
Read more at Huffington Post

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yale's Secret Society That's Hiding in Plain Sight

Founded in 1996 as a place to serve Shabbat dinner for the most interesting Jews on Yale's campus, Eliezer has grown into a global network of people who care about the Jewish people and making the world a better place.
On the storied ivy-laden, well-manicured grounds of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., something secretive is going on. Granted, this cradle of American intellectualism has long been the keeper of secrets. Since 1832, when the now infamous Skull and Bones society was formed, the best and brightest students of one of the best and brightest institutions in the world have shown that, if nothing else, they know how to keep mum.

In the shadows of Skull and Bones — an organization that boasts Presidents William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and FedEx founder Frederick Smith as members — a secret society of a different stripe is flourishing as the modish club du jour. And this one was started by four men who 60 years ago would have been shunned by Bones.

Meet Eliezer, the secret Yale society that's hiding in plain sight. The "secret" lies in the private networking and intimate bonding among a cohesive, self-selecting, truly diverse membership. A list of who belongs to Eliezer exists, but the contents are strictly off the record. Everything is word of mouth and by invitation only, not to exclude but to include the most interesting Yalies from over the walls of Yale's various courtyards: college, graduate schools and faculty.

Read more at Time

Friday, April 15, 2011

Netanyahu to spell out peace policy to US Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress in May.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he would use a rare speech to a joint session of the US Congress in May to spell out his plan for forging a lasting peace with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu, in televised remarks to his Likud party, said he aimed for a durable end to the decades-old conflict, not just "peace on paper," and that he had "set some conditions to ensure that we have such an agreement."
"The two most important of them are, first of all, Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is real security arrangements on the ground," he said.
Read more at Yahoo News

States Seeking To Limit Abortion Rights To Unprecedented Degree In 2011: Report

916 bills or measures have been introduced across the country since January.  Of these 56% restrict abortion rights in some way.
In the wake of the election of a new wave of conservative state legislators, lawmakers across the country have advanced abortion-limiting legislation to an unprecedented degree, according to a new report.

Of the 916 measures related to reproductive health that have been introduced since January, a record 56 percent restrict abortion rights in one way or another, the Guttmacher Institute report found. In 2010, 38 percent of bills relating to reproductive health restricted abortion rights, according to the report.

"This is a big jump, and it says that anti-abortion legislators want to be very active on this issue and they have some momentum," Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told HuffPost. "They used to chip away at Roe v. Wade, and now they're hacking away at it with a cleaver."
Read more at Huffington Post

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Obama meets with Peres, calls for urgent peace efforts

Israeli President Shimon Peres is in Washington, DC this week where he met with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
US President Barack Obama urged Israel to forge a peace in the Middle East as revolution roils the region, following a meeting with President Shimon Peres at the White House Tuesday.

“With the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Obama said following their meeting, which included a private 45-minute conversation and a lunch
where they were joined by officials from both sides.
Read more at The Jerusalem Post

Monday, April 04, 2011

Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes

Last week Richard Goldstone, author of the UN Goldstone report and chairman of the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission commissioned to investigate Operation Cast Lead of 2008-2009, wrote that the report is flawed. 
We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
 Read more at The Washington Post

Thursday, March 31, 2011

U.S.-Israel Open Skies Agreement Enters Into Force

The US-Israel Open Skies Agreement has gone into effect.  This expands already strong trade and tourism links between the two countries and is beneficial to both American & Israeli businesses.
The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Transportation announce that on March 29, the United States and Israel completed an exchange of diplomatic notes that brought into force the U.S.-Israel Open Skies Agreement ("the Agreement"), which was signed on December 1, 2010. The Agreement, which entered into force immediately, will liberalize our bilateral aviation relationship.

The Agreement strengthens and expands our already strong trade and tourism links with Israel and will benefit American and Israeli businesses and travelers. It will expand air service and encourage vigorous price competition by airlines, while safeguarding aviation safety and security.
Read more at US State Department

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anti-Abortion Group Features President Obama on Chicago Billboards

The anti-abortion group Life Always has unveiled its newest controversial billboard campaign in Chicago, featuring a likeness of President Obama.
The organization behind controversial anti-abortion advertisements targeting African-Americans has unveiled its newest campaign, this time featuring an image of President Obama on billboards throughout his hometown of Chicago. 

Texas-based Life Always revealed the first of 30 planned billboards Tuesday, plastering three of the posters on a building in Chicago's South Side. "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted," reads the text alongside the president's image. 
Read more at ABC News

The GOP's Plan to Fund Anti-Abortion Activists

While Congressional Republicans have proposed cutting funds going to support women's health and family planning and citing the need for fiscal reform, they have been introducing bills that will provide federal funding to crisis pregnancy centers whose main focus is to dissuade women from seeking an abortion, often in unregulated and uncertified offices that look like medical clinics.
Congressional Republicans have made a big deal about slashing funds for Planned Parenthood and other family planning programs, claiming that these cuts are necessary to address the federal deficit. But one of those lawmakers has been pushing his own measure to provide additional federal funds to so-called crisis pregnancy centers—unregulated and uncertified clinics that try to deter women from seeking abortions.

A bill that Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced in January would provide federal funds for the purchase of sonogram machines at organizations that counsel women against having an abortion (the American Independent reported on this bill last week). These crisis pregnancy outfits, sometimes called "pregnancy resource centers," are often run by religious groups; many have been found to provide women with false and misleading information to dissuade them from having an abortion.
Read more at Mother Jones

Friday, March 25, 2011

Better Place unveils plans for 9 stations in Israel

Israel is making advances in electric cars - not only plug-in recharging stations and parking spaces, but now battery-swapping on the run!
Better Place announced yesterday details of its plan to open a series of electric-vehicle charging stations in Israel.
The company offers EV charging stations that, through a subscription service, give electric-vehicle owners the option of a quick battery swap instead of plugging in and waiting for their car's battery to charge over time. Most stations also offer fast-charging plug-in spots for nonmembers. It takes only a minute to make the swap. The depleted batteries are then recharged and used in other cars, according to Better Place.
The service may be seen by some as a substantial convenience considering it takes 15 to 30 minutes to recharge an EV battery pack to 80 percent capacity from a rapid-charging station depending on the vehicle, and even longer from a standard home outlet.
Better Place announced that it will have 40 of these commercial battery-switching stations in Israel by the end of 2011.

Read more at CDNet

Israelis, Palestinians play as one

With the recurrence of missile launches from Gaza into residential areas in Israel, the seizing of weapons meant for Gaza by the IDF on the ship Victoria, the bomb near the Jerusalem bus station, and the slaying of a family in the West Bank, this story gives us some hope and a reason to cheer.
Only week after Itamar massacre, championship game of American football league in Israel again brings together people from opposites sides of political spectrum - this time in celebration.

The cheers from the skullcapped settlers and armed soldiers filled the air. Jewish and Palestinian teammates worked in collaboration. And the Judean Rebels walked away as champions of Israel Bowl IV.

Only a week after five members of a Jewish West Bank settler family were killed in a knife attack, the championship game of the American football league in Israel again brought together people from opposites sides of the political spectrum.

This time in celebration.
 Read more at Ynet

9 Bills That Would Put Creationism in the Classroom

State governments are grappling with massive budget deficits, overburdened social programs, and mountains of deferred spending. But never mind all that. For some conservative lawmakers, it's the perfect time to legislate the promotion of creationism in the classroom. In the first three months of 2011, nine creationism-related bills have been introduced in seven states—that's more than in any year in recent memory:
Read more at Mother Jones

Wave of anti-abortion bills advance in the states

If it seems like there have been more bills introduced by state legislatures to limit or eliminate access to abortion, that's because there are.  And many of them have a strong likelihood of becoming law.
Dozens of bills are advancing through statehouses nationwide that would put an array of new obstacles—legal, financial and psychological—in the paths of women seeking abortions. 
The tactics vary: mandatory sonograms and anti-abortion counseling, sweeping limits on insurance coverage, bans on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. To abortion-rights activists, they add up to the biggest political threat since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide.

"It's just this total onslaught," said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks state legislation for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research organization that supports abortion rights.
Read more at San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Israel answers Japan's call for aid

Along with medical supplies and a field hospital, Israel is sending needed supplies, including gloves, coats, blankets, and portable toilets to tsunami-hit areas in Japan.
On March 20, Israel sent a medical team to earthquake-damaged Japan along with a shipment of crucial emergency items -- portable toilets, blankets, winter coats and gloves - bound for an area of devastation near the Fukushima nuclear reactor site.

Two medical doctors and a Homefront Command officer from the Israel Defense Forces were dispatched by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and seen off at Ben-Gurion International Airport by the Japanese ambassador to Israel, Haruhisa Takeuchi. It was a moving and emotional event, says Hagai Shagrir, director of the ministry's Northeast Asia Division, who coordinated the humanitarian relief.
Read more at Israel21c

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

GOP Bill Would Force IRS to Conduct Abortion Audits

HR 3 would not only extend the reach of the Hyde Amendment, it would have IRS agents asking women who have abortions if they were raped or victims of incest during an tax audit.  (Yes, it's the same HR3 that tried to redefine rape.)
Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they'd have to detemine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.
Read more at Mother Jones

Israel first to set up field hospital in Japan

The first field hospital to aid victims of Japan's earthquake and subsequent tsunami has been set up by Israel about 500 km north of Tokyo.
A field hospital Israel is establishing in Japan is the first to be set up by any of the nations offering outside assistance, Israel’s ambassador to Japan, Nissim Ben Shitrit, said Monday, adding that the Japanese were extremely appreciative.

Ben Shitrit said the hospital was being established at Minamisanriko, a fishing city some 500 km. north of Tokyo that was utterly overwhelmed by the quake and tsunami, and where some 10,000 people are dead or missing.
Read more at The Jerusalem Post

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where Is The Outcry Against Arab Apartheid?

While Israel Apartheid Week goes on around the world, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy in Lebanon died at a hospital entrance in Lebanon because his family lacked the funds to pay for medical treatment.  Where is the cry of outrage about the treatment of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan?
Mohammed Nabil Taha, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, died this week at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment.
The tragic case of Taha highlights the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in impoverished refugee camps in Lebanon and who are the victims of an Apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care.
Ironically, the boy's death at the entrance to the hospital coincided with Israel Apartheid Week, a festival of hatred and incitement organized by anti-Israel activists on university campuses in the US, Canada and other countries.
Read more at Hudson New York

Friday, March 11, 2011

Obama taps Shapiro for U.S. envoy to Israel

President Obama has announced his nomination for US ambassador to Israel is Daniel Shapiro.
President Obama said he is nominating Daniel Shapiro to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel, signaling an intensification of American involvement in the region.

Obama made the announcement Wednesday; it had been rumored for weeks. Shapiro, currently the top National Security Council official handling Israel and the region, would succeed James Cunningham.

Shapiro, 41, is active in the Washington Jewish community and would be the first Jewish ambassador to Israel since Daniel Kurtzer, who served from 2001 to 2005.
Read more at JTA

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Rachel's Sabbath and the Far Right's Attack on Women

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, congregations across the country are designating the weekend of March 4-6 as Rachel Sabbath. In the Bible, Rachel is the matriarch who dies in childbirth.

The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the crisis in reproductive health services and care around the world. Rachel Sabbath supports the United Nations goal of improving maternal health by doubling current global investments in family planning, reproductive and health services to women around the world. The effort could save $1.5 billion in long-term medical costs and it would save the lives of 400,000 women and 1.6 million infants each year.
Read more at RHReality

Giffords making more progress, singing ‘American Pie’

Singing "American Pie" and eating chicken soup, Representative Gabrielle Giffords is continuing her long road to recovery following the shooting in Tucson in January.
Gabrielle Giffords has been singing "American Pie," eating chicken soup and "is making the kind of progress that all of us would anticipate" after being shot in the head in January, according to a rabbi who has been visiting the congresswoman regularly.

Rabbi David Lyon, of Congregation Beth Israel in southwest Houston, has been visiting Giffords about three times a week as she recovers in the TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital, Houston TV station KHOU, a CBS affiliate, reported.
Read more at MSNBC.com

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quartet tries new Israeli-Palestinian peace bid

Envoys from the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia are hoping to hold separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to try to revive peace talks, the U.N.'s Mideast coordinator said Thursday.
Robert Serry said the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators has proposed meetings with the two sides on all core issues blocking a peace settlement. They include borders of a Palestinian state, security arrangements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
Read more at Yahoo News

Netanyahu: Israel will not suffer the bombardment of its citizens

Israel will not tolerate the bombardment of its citizens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, following the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza strike, a  retaliation for a missile attack on the southern city of Be'er Sheva.
Earlier Thursday, the IDF confirmed Palestinian reports that the Israel Air Force bombed targets in eastern Gaza City, wounding three Islamic Jihad militants.
The strike came after two Grad rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva on Wednesday evening, with so far only one missile known to have landed in the city. The missile hit a building in a residential area, causing damage, in an attack which marked the first time Be'er Sheva was hit since the Gaza war in 2009. 
Read more at The Jerusalem Post

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Dinosaurs Still Looking for Israeli Sharks and Vultures

During the last few months, we have witnessed some bizarre conspiracy stories in the Arab world. Towards the end of last year some in Egypt called the shark attacks on tourists in the Sinai Peninsula a Mossad plan. This was closely followed last month by the "arrest" of a vulture in Saudi Arabia as an alleged Israeli agent. Unfortunately, these are just two recent examples of those in our region that identify Israel's hand in almost everything that happens in the Middle East.

While these conspiracy theories have long been part of an authoritarian diversionary tactic from the true ills of their societies, some in the West are led by this Israel-blinkered trend, if not the actual details. 

While few European or American analysts believed or paid any credence to these Zionist Dr. Doolittle stories, some still see every event in the Middle East, minor or major, as connected to Israel. Many of these analysts are so preoccupied with Israel or the so-called "Middle East conflict", a term that ignores or dismisses all other conflicts in the region as irrelevant and non-newsworthy, that they have no understanding of the region beyond Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
 Read more at Huffington Post

Monday, February 21, 2011

How Did Your Representative Vote on Title X Funding?

Several people have asked what the roll call was for the vote on Title X funding last week in the House of Representatives.  This is the bill that would strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood and family planning clinics that offer reproductive health services, cancer screenings, birth control access, STI screening and counseling, and abortion services.  This amendment, offered by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), passed in the House last week and is part of the Continuing Resolution to fund the government that has been sent to the Senate.  Several Senators have stated they will not support the Title X amendment and have the votes to defeat it.

Read the amendment and the roll call at GovTrack.

Friday, February 18, 2011

U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution

The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as illegal.

The Security Council resolution, which was brought to a vote Friday afternoon, earned the support of the council's other 14 members.
Read more at JTA

House Passes Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood

While this amendment is not likely to pass the Senate following the final vote on HR 1 by the entire House, this is a blow to family planning clinics and women around the country. 
By a vote of 240-185, the House passed Rep. Mike Pence's (R-IN) amendment to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding.

According to MSNBC, ten Democrats voted to pass the measure, while seven Republicans voted against it.

The bill is not likely to make it through the Senate, where the Democrats have the majority, or to survive a veto by President Obama if it comes down to it.
Read more at TPM

Thank you, Rep. Speier

Thank you, Representative Speier, for speaking out against the Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood and family planning clinics, and for sharing such a personal story on the floor of the House.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Using force to get their way, in America

Rachel Maddow has been tracking two difficulties facing one Kansas doctor who has decided to offer abortion services in Wichita, following the murder of Dr. George Tiller.  So far, Dr. Milla Means has been sued by her landlord, is unable to rent another facility, has faced protests at her clinic, and has had her personal information splashed across anti-abortion websites.  And now protesters have shown up at her home.  Maddow asks an important question: is this really the way we do things in America - through violence and intimidation?
Anti-abortion activists showed up Tuesday night at the home of Dr. Mila Means, a family practitioner who'd like to offer abortion services in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Means would be the first open provider in Wichita since the last one, Dr. George Tiller, was murdered in 2009. She had talked to us on the show the night before.

As we reported Wednesday, the protesters turned up at Dr. Means' house without much attempt to deliver their message to anyone but her. "She is killing babies right now in Ks. City, and plans to kill in Wichita," protest leader Rob Rotola e-mailed us later. "We will notify her neighbors and all who do business with her."
Read more at Maddow Blog