January 5, 2018
Week In Review Commentary

2018 is starting off in an upside down world.

There are blizzards in the South and on the East Coast, while the Rocky Mountains are begging for snow. And our leaders deny climate change.

White House staff is coming and going, and publicly turning on each other.

We have a president tweeting at world leaders, potentially inciting war.

We have an opportunity to turn things right side up in November. It is our job to pay attention to elections. Local, state, federal - all elections matter. Let's work together to elect a Congress where the members make sense, and are committed to guiding us forward.

No U.S. Bill on Tightening Iran Nuclear Deal Imminent
U.S. Senators working to tighten an international accord on Iran's nuclear program have said no new bill was imminent. Senators said they were continuing talks with the White House and their European partners, but that a widely expected mid-January deadline was not going to be met. In October, U.S. President Donald Trump refused to certify that Iran was respecting its commitments on the 2015 nuclear agreement, but did not re-impose sanctions or abandon the deal itself.    
How Much Aid Does the U.S. Give Palestinians, and What's It For?

The United States is by far the largest donor of financial aid to the Palestinians, with this assistance touching nearly every aspect of life in the Palestinian Authority. But U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to end this aid to the Palestinians, angered by Ramallah's refusal to cooperate with the U.S.'s efforts to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in December.     
Islamic State in Sinai Declares War on Hamas in Gruesome Execution Video

The Islamic State branch in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday called on its supporters to attack Hamas in a gruesome execution video as long-simmering tensions between the rival Islamic terror groups erupted into the open.    
Continued Reading

U.S. Jewry Sees 70% Increase in Anti-Semitic Incidents
A total of 1,299 anti-Semitic incidents took place in the United States in the first nine months of 2017-an increase of almost 70 percent from the previous year, according to figures released by the Anti Defamation League (ADL). The statistics include assaults, destruction of property and attacks against Jewish institutions. The report was revealed Monday at a Knesset session of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and the Diaspora.    
2017 Saw a Surge of Pro-Choice Bills in State Legislatures
State lawmakers' efforts in 2017 to repeal or reform archaic and unconstitutional laws restricting access to abortion care were among several achievements by state-level policymakers to "advance reproductive health, rights, and justice policies," according to a new report by the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH).   
Republicans Are Using Fear of Eugenics to Attack Reproductive Rights

Anti-choice activists have found what they think is a winning wedge issue: Down syndrome and other "sympathetic" disabilities. The latest attack was in Ohio, where, in late December, GOP Governor John Kasich signed a bill that bans abortions after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Ten states have either passed similar bills or have presented them before legislatures.     
Bitter Pill

A s Americans were preparing to ring in the new year, the Trump administration fired a new retaliatory salvo in its war against undocumented teenagers who seek lawful abortions in contravention of the government's wishes. In November, the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to sanction the ACLU attorneys who secured one minor's right to abortion access, an unscrupulous act of attempted retribution. Now the DOJ wants to punish a minor by revealing her private medical information to an uncle who threatened to "beat" her if she terminated her pregnancy.    
Continued Reading

Trump Bible Study Leader: Government's Job Is to 'Quell Evil' and Punish Sin

Ralph Drollinger's Capitol Ministries is out with its first-of-the-year Bible study for public officials. Capitol Ministries runs weekly Bible studies for members of the Trump administration Cabinet and dozens of members of Congress, and has aggressive plans to expand its already significant reach at local, state and international levels.
FEMA Broadens Churches' Access to Disaster Funds

Less than four months after President Donald Trump suggested churches should be able to receive federal disaster relief funds, officials have changed federal policies to make it easier for religious institutions to qualify for such aid. With lawsuits pending in Texas and Florida from churches and synagogues challenging the limits, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Tuesday that it is removing language in its rules that has often disqualified religious groups from aid available to other nonprofits.   
2018 Is Already Off to a Violent Start

The cycle of violence began anew Monday as millions of merrymakers around the country welcomed 2018. By no means do the below incidents make a comprehensive list of violent events that occurred Monday in the U.S. However, they provide a sobering snapshot of lives cut short around the country in the first hours of the new year. 
Trump DOJ Could Effectively Be Reviving a Long-Term Attack on Voting Rights

An effort by conservatives to move states away from drawing districts using total population - with a lawsuit civil rights advocates said was designed to dilute the political power of minorities - seemed all but dead a year ago, after the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 against their argument. However, should the Trump Justice Department get its way in a new push to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, it could breathe new life into the effort.    
Trump Shuts Down Voter Fraud Commission, Citing 'Endless Legal Battles'

President Donald Trump abruptly shut down his signature voter fraud commission and instead kicked the issue to the Department of Homeland Security. The commission, formally called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, has been bedeviled by internal dissension, threats of litigation and the refusal of some states to provide information. Its last known meeting was Sept. 12.
Trump's True Priorities Revealed in Holiday News Dumps

The fireworks seen at Mar-a-Lago on New Year's Eve were paid for by billionaire industrialist David Koch, as part of another private party put on by an even more exclusive club. In the week that followed, Trump kept giving his members new reasons to celebrate. While cable news fixated on how much he was golfing, his political appointees back in Washington worked overtime to deconstruct the administrative state, eviscerate several of Barack Obama's signature achievements and roll back significant environmental protections.
Republican Wins Tied Virginia House Race after Random Drawing

Common sense suggests that politicians wouldn't rush to vote for a dramatic and highly consequential proposal that the American mainstream hates. Literally every Senate Republican backs the plan and the number of GOP dissenters is expected to be modest. Why is the Republican majority  so indifferent toward Americans' attitudes?
A Senior Republican Senator to Retire - Will Mitt Romney Win that Seat?
The announcement that Senator Orrin Hatch would retire rather than seek an eighth term representing Utah opened the door to a return to public office by Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and a sometimes harsh critic of President Trump. The contentiousness between the president and Romney has been so acute that Trump had publicly implored Hatch to run again, a barely veiled effort to deny Romney a route to the Senate. But at 83, having spent nearly half his life as a senator, Hatch spurned the president's request and made good on his long-ago vow to leave office at the conclusion of his current term. He will depart as the longest-serving Republican in the Senate's history.    
5 Ways the 2018 Midterms Could Change American Politics
The results of this year's midterm elections will be enormously important - not just in shaping the future of Donald Trump's presidency, but in shaping the American political landscape for a great many years to come.
Continued Reading

Japan's 'Schindler': A Genuine Hero Tangled in a Web of Myth   

In September 2017, the Tokyo Weekender asked 500 residents of Japan's capital to nominate their candidates for the "Greatest Japanese Person Ever." Beating out revolutionaries, monarchs, and even baseball stars for the top spot was Chiune Sugihara, Japan's World War II ambassador to Kovno, Lithuania.
Ringo Starr to Play Israel in June  

The upcoming tour for the ex-Beatle drummer's group Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band includes a June 23 concert in Tel Aviv. Other stops on the tour, which was announced in November, include France, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, Luxembourg, Monaco and Italy.
Continued Reading

The Last Word

"All across America people chose to get involved, get engaged and stand up. Each of us can make a difference, and all of us ought to try. So go keep changing the world in 2018."

Barack Obama, December 29, 2017
JAC 2018 Annual Meeting
Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, March 13th - Wednesday, March 14th, 2018
Special Pre-Conference VIP Tour
Monday, March 12th, 2018
Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of African American History and Culture

 Lunch with  
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) 
Friday, January 19th
12:00 pm 
Chicago, IL
Call the JAC office for details and to RSVP
Luncheon for
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) 
Monday, February 5th
12:30 pm
Call the JAC Office for details & to RSVP
Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a pro-Israel PAC with a domestic agenda. We support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and advocate for reproductive health and the separation of religion and state and incorporate other issues of importance to the Jewish community, including gun violence prevention and climate change. In addition to providing financial support for U.S. Senate and House campaigns, JACPAC educates our membership with outreach events designed to inform and activate their participation in the political process.
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