JACPAC News & Opinion Digest

December 13, 2013   

JAC Around Town
aroundtownJAC partnered with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum for this month's Talking Points with a special program called "Do Words Kill?" featuring Mike Abramowitz and Susan Benesch.

On Our Radar

Federal Legislation we are watching:

* Federal 20-week abortion

* Employment  
   Non-discrimination Act
* Sexual Assault in the

* Syrian Chemical Weapons
* Voting Rights Act
* Farm Bill - food aid (SNAP)
* HR 1565 - Public Safety &  
   2nd Amendment Rights Act

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One year since the tragedy at Newtown, over 11,000 people killed by gun violence*, 10 more schools have seen shootings, and Congress has remained mostly silent.

Call today and demand an end to the silence. Common Sense Gun Legislation must be passed. 
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Call today. 
(202) 224-3121 
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* source Slate.com

Upcoming JAC Events

Membership Meeting
January 2014
Details to follow

Louisville Meeting
January 2014
Details to follow

Want to host an event in your area?  Contact the JAC office.  

Upcoming Candidate Events

Meet & Greet with
Rep. Brad Schneider
December 15th
11:00-1:00 pm
Highland Park, IL

Reception with
Rep. Ron Barber (AZ-2)
and special guests
Gabrielle Giffords &
Mark Kelly
December 18th
5:30-7:00 pm
Tucson, AZ

RSVP to the JAC office at 847.433.5999  

People You Should Know
This week we profile Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for the Senate seat in Iowa following Tom Harkin's retirement.  read more
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Why It Matters: 
Voter ID Laws  
34 states have voter ID requirements.
While it may seem reasonable that voting in U.S. elections requires a government-issued I.D., there are three main reasons we oppose such laws.
  1. Voter I.D. laws disproportionately affect the poor, the elderly, young adults, & minorities. These are the groups with the least access to government offices to obtain an I.D. 15% to 25% of the people in each of these groups do not currently have a government-issued I.D.
  2. Voter I.D. laws disproportionately affect women, as most women who marry take their husband's name. If a woman's name is not properly or consistently updated, it can prevent her from exercising her right to vote.
  3. 3: Voter fraud is extremely rare in this country, with fewer than 0.00000013% of known cases. To spend time and money fighting something that effectively doesn't exist is a monumental waste of resources.
How did your elected officials vote? Find out in the JAC Education Foundation's Jewish Community Voter Guide.

Remember to check out our blog to keep up with current issues and opinion and to sort fact from fiction on the Internet.  Be sure to read Presidential Ponderings, thoughts and observations from JACPAC President Janna Berk.


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Have something you want to say, submit it to Open Mic today!

This week's issue highlights these key developments here and in the Middle East:
This week's EZ Read brings you these stories and some that may have slipped past your news feed.
Israel & The Middle East 
 Kerry meets Netanyahu in snow-covered Jerusalem; follows talks with Abbas
Photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash 90
US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday morning in Jerusalem amid a severe winter storm which has left thousands without power and stranded hundreds of travelers on roads leading to and from the capital.      

US Defense Budget Increases Aid for Anti-Missile Systems

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
A defense bill proposed Monday by US lawmakers would increase the budget on homeland security to $9.5 billion and allow for more aid to US-Israel military cooperation, according to the Chicago Tribune. The bill would go into effect in the beginning of 2014.    

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
Read Full Article

We're Not Easing Sanctions on Iran, by David Cohen 

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy

The intense pressure of international sanctions, led by the United States, brought the Iranian government to the negotiating table in Geneva, where, on Nov. 24, the six major powers and Iran agreed to a Joint Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear program. As the principal U.S. official charged with crafting and enforcing our sanctions program, I am confident that the sanctions pressure on Iran will continue to mount. Iran will be even deeper in the hole six months from now, when the deal expires, than it is today.

Read Full Article

abbasAbbas: Don't Boycott Israel  

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy

While in South Africa this week for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stunned reporters and Palestinian activists alike when he stated that the Palestinians do not support a boycott of Israel.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/05/09/4031477/islamic-cleric-in-gaza-rejects.htmlstorylink=cpy
Read Full Article
Reproductive Rights
The Year in Preview: Taking the Offensive on Reproductive Rights

The four horsemen haven't appeared on the horizon yet, nor has the sea turned to blood, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to reproductive justice in the United States, the end times are just around the corner. In 2013 alone, states enacted gobs of restrictions on early access to abortion. From Texas to Ohio to Iowa, dozens of clinics shut their doors. The courts are abortion-rights advocates' best hope for stemming the tide of regressive legislation, but as Scott Lemieux has extensively documented here at the Prospect, their judgments have been decidedly mixed. 

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/20/4133089/kansas-abortion-bill-is-cruel.html#storylink=cpy
michoiceNew Michigan Abortion Law Requires Women to Buy Something That Doesn't Even Exist Yet       

Michigan women will have to purchase a separate rider if they want their health insurance to pay for an abortion, after the state's Legislature on Wednesday banned most public and private plans from covering abortion as a medical procedure. Women must buy the rider before they become pregnant in order to have abortion coverage, once the law goes into effect in March. Women who become pregnant through rape or incest must already have the rider in place for an abortion to be covered, leading some opponents to dub the riders, "rape insurance."

Read Full Article     


Millions of Women Now Pay Nothing for Birth Control. Thanks Obamacare!

The percentage of privately insured women who didn't pay a dime for birth control pills almost tripled this year, rising from 15 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2013. That's according to a new study from the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that backs abortion rights. The study, which was published in the journal Contraception, examined the effects of an Affordable Care Act rule requiring private insurers to cover contraceptive products and counseling with no co-pay.  
Read Full Article

Huelskamp joins students to protest abortion at Wichita women's clinic

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/12/06/3162632/huelskamp-joins-students-to-protest.html#storylink=cp

On one side of the driveway were students from Catholic schools in Beloit and Wichita. On the other were supporters of South Wind Women's Center. Both sides held signs and sang in the 15-degree weather - roughly 100 people opposing abortion and a couple dozen supporting choice. Neither side was likely to change the other's mind about abortion.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/12/06/3162632/huelskamp-joins-students-to-protest.html#storylink=cp  
Separation of Religion & State
CAcrossJudge syas giant cross must be removed from San Diego mountain

A giant cross that has stood on a Southern California mountain for decades must be removed because it violates the constitutional separation of church and state, a judge ordered this week.

The order Thursday by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns continues a long legal battle about the 43-foot cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego.

Read Full Article

Michigan Religious Freedom Bill Would 'Give' Students Rights They Already Have 

A Michigan Senate bill introduced Tuesday seeks to guarantee students the freedom to express their religious beliefs at school -- a right that students already have. The bill, which was referred to the state's Senate Committee on Education, says its purpose is to "ensure the freedom of worship and religious belief" guaranteed by the Constitution and to prohibit a public school or university from "[discriminating] against a student ... on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression."

Read Full Article

Catholic bishops call 'baseless' ACLU lawsuit over abortion doctrine, woman's miscarriage at Muskegon hospital  

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls "misguided" and unfounded an ACLU-backed federal lawsuit stemming from a woman's alleged experience at Muskegon's Mercy General Health Partners before she miscarried in 2010. The ACLU lawsuit against the U.S. bishops' conference, filed on behalf of Tamesha Means of Muskegon, claims the conference's religious-based policy banning abortions prevented her from getting appropriate care.  

Read Full Article
Political Byte
New York's Junior Senator, Doggedly Refusing to Play the Part

If there were a chutzpah caucus in the United States Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York would be its natural leader.
Read Full Article


confirmationsSenate confirms first Obama 'post-nuclear' nominee in 56-38 vote

The Senate voted 56-38 Tuesday to confirm Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court, making her the first nominee of President Obama's to clear the Senate since Democrats unilaterally changed the rules in a vote last month. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) voted with Democrats. The rule change means only 51 votes are needed to end a filibuster on nominations below the level of the Supreme Court.

Read Full Article

North Carolina's choice

It would be tough to find another state where the political terrain has shifted as dramatically as it has here - from kindling hopes of a Democratic revival in the South just a few years ago, to becoming a conservative hotbed that banned gay marriage, tightened restrictions on abortion clinics and enacted a sweeping voter ID law.

Read Full Article

Gun Violence Prevention
One Year since Sandy Hook, has the NRA made any progress on its plans to curb gun violence?  

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

In the National Rifle Association's first public statement since the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre echoed the urgency of would-be gun control reformers in the White House and Congress, while pushing for a drastically different course of action. In a 20-minute statement, the face of the NRA laid out a case for upping the number of armed personnel in schools - both police officers and armed armed school personnel - and heaped blame for gun violence on a failing mental health system, sensationalist media and violent video games and films. 

Read Full Article 

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/02/5875831/gun-violence-goes-on-and-so-does.html#storylink=cpy     

newtownNewtown anniverary: Daily drumbeat child homicides gets little notice

To mourn the 20 children and six educators killed a year ago at Sandy Hook elementary, residents of the Connecticut suburb of Newtown will take a quiet action on Saturday: placing candles in windows to remember the lives lost. But who will put a candle in the window for the hundreds of American children each year killed in everyday violence, closer to home, usually by someone they knew?

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/02/5875831/gun-violence-goes-on-and-so-does.html#storylink=cpy     
Beyond The Core

votingrightsNorth Carolina Shows Why the Voting Rights Act Is Still Needed

A federal judge in Winston-Salem today set the schedule for a trial challenging North Carolina's sweeping new voter restrictions. There will be a hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction in July 2014 and a full trial a year later, in July 2015.

This gives the plaintiffs challenging the law, which includes the Department of Justice, the ACLU and the North Carolina NAACP, a chance to block the bill's worst provisions before the 2014 election. Earlier this year, in July 2013, the North Carolina legislature passed the country's worst voter suppression law, which included strict voter ID to cast a ballot, cuts to early voting, the elimination of same-day voter registration, the repeal of public financing of judicial elections and many more harsh and unnecessary anti-voting measures.


CERN accepts Israel as full member 

Israel was admitted Thursday as a full member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, after the governing council of the prestigious facility voted in favor of accepting an application submitted by the Israeli government.  

How Mandela Won Over the Jewish Community

Nelson Mandela will always be remembered as a symbol of courageous resistance to the racist policies of apartheid South Africa. He was a true hero of conscience. But he also will always have a special place in the memory of the Jewish community.   
Read Full Article

bidenBiden: White House to help Holocaust survivors

Vice President Joe Biden said the White House will work with the Jewish community to help Holocaust survivors living in poverty.

Speaking at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's Centennial on Tuesday, Biden said the White House will appoint a special envoy at the Department of Health and Human Services to act as a liaison for survivors and the nonprofit community organizations that serve them.

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Janna Berk, President
Marcia Balonick, Executive Director
Joy Malkus, Research Director 

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Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a national network committed to the special relationship between the US and Israel and a social agenda that includes reproductive rights and separation of religion and state.  JACPAC supported US Senate and House candidates who uphold this agenda and maintains ongoing dialogue with those it helps elect.  In addition, JACPAC serves as a political resource for the Jewish community, furnishing information about candidates, elections and issues.