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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