Abington Memorial Changes its Mind

JSPAN Newsletter - July 13, 2012
Jewish Social Policy Action Network

In this Issue:
Newsletter: July 13, 2012
Abington Memorial Changes its Mind
In a proposed merger with Holy Redeemer Hospital, the ninety-year old non-profit Abington Memorial Hospital (AMH) agreed to discontinue all abortion services, including situations in which the mother's health is at stake. An outcry against the proposal arose from citizen activists in JSPAN, in our newsletter and throughout the community, resulting in cancellation of the merger plan. Lynn Zeitlin, President of JSPAN, issued the following statement:

In case you had not gotten this wonderful news, the Abington - Holy Redeemer merger/affiliation is off. I firmly believe this is the result of community pressure from neighbors and patients and the organized meetings attended by members of JSPAN and other organizations as well as outcries from the medical staff. JSPAN members reacted swiftly and forcefully in organizing a statement released to the press on deadline last Tuesday morning. JSPAN can claim some credit for shining the light of day on the deleterious impact this merger would have had on women's health and well-being. Congratulations to all who acted.


JSPAN Joins Brief in Voter ID Case
JSPAN and nine other non-profit agencies joined in brief amicus curiae to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in the pending challenge to the "Photo ID Law" enacted in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

The case was launched by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Viviette Applewhite and other voters who will be burdened by the new law. Applewhite , a 93- year old voter who has never driven a car, cast her first vote for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. There appears to be no record of her at the Motor Vehicle Bureau. Because she was born in another state, there is no birth certificate on file in Pennsylvania either. Before she can vote again, the Photo ID Law would require her to produce a birth certificate or other specific documentation to an office of the Motor Vehicle Bureau to convince that agency to issue her photo identification.

Applewhite and thousands of others like her face serious difficulty under the Photo ID Law. For many elderly people, the need to travel to a motor vehicle bureau and document their entitlement to a photo ID is a significant burden. For many others, securing the necessary voter ID before election day will prove to be impractical or even impossible.

The amicus curiae brief reflects extensive research on the disparate impact of the law on several hundred thousand elder voters who do not have the specific current photo identification called for in order to vote. The right to vote, the amicus brief argues, is a sacred right and is the foundation of democracy, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated that free and equal elections, guaranteed by the state constitution, preclude registration requirements that are so difficult as to amount to a denial of the right to vote. By requiring a registered voter who has no driver's license - or whose license has expired - to travel to a state office, provide a birth certificate or other specified documentation, and secure the specific photo ID - the law especially burdens and discriminates against the elderly.

The full text of the amicus curiae brief is available at www.JSPAN.org.

For further perspective see The Los Angeles Times, click here.


Religious Groups Condemn German Circumcision Ban
Jews and Muslims say a regional court's ban of the religious rite will damage country's image despite government's promise to reverse the decision.

By Melanie Sevcenko
Global Post, July 24, 2012

BERLIN, Germany - Mimi Lipis reflects the resurgence of Jewish life here. One of Germany's 200,000 Jews, the 38-year-old lives in what used to be called West Berlin with her American husband Leo and three children.

But she's worried about a recent development that has generated headlines around the world, along with consternation among the country's leaders: last month, a court in her home city of Cologne in the west of the country ruled circumcision to be a crime.

[read more]


SWISS ADOPT THE BAN: Two Swiss Hospitals Suspend Circumcision of Infants
Two Swiss Hospitals Suspend Circumcision of Infants

Published July 23, 2012
The Forward

Two hospitals in Switzerland decided to temporarily suspend circumcisions of infants unless it is medically required, following a German court ruling.

According to Swiss media, a Zurich children's hospital announced last week that it will abstain from performing the procedure, and this weekend St. Gall teaching hospital did the same.

"We are in the process of evaluating the legal and ethical stance in Switzerland," said Marco Stuecheli, spokesman for the Zurich hospital, the French news agency AFP reported.

Stuecheli said that the development is unlikely to affect the practice in Switzerland because it can be carried out in any hospital for a fee.

"Most Jewish patients go to specialist doctors known within their community," Stuecheli said, according to AFP, adding that the hospital carried out "only one or two circumcisions for religious reasons per month."

[read more]


Reform the Nominations Process
By Jonathan Bernstein
Washington Post Online

The Senate this evening is confirming a judicial nomination. This one is Michael Shipp, who will be a District Judge ... only the third confirmation this month, and there are over 70 seats on the bench still open. Shipp's nomination is typical of just how broken the system is. He replaces a judge who retired in August 2011; he was nominated in January; and he's being confirmed six months later. That's just too slow, all around. And it's just a typical case, not a particularly bad one. There are still a handful of seats that have been open since before Barack Obama was president, and dozens that remain open from the first two years of the Obama Administration.

Again, there's plenty of blame to go around. ...

[read more]


How the Magna Carta Became a Minor Carta, Part 1
The Magna Carta was a milestone in civil and human rights. Can we stop its principles being shredded before our eyes?

Noam Chomsky for Tom Dispatch, part of the Guardian Comment Network

The first scholarly edition of Magna Carta was published by the eminent jurist William Blackstone. It was not an easy task. There was no good text available. As he wrote, "the body of the charter has been unfortunately gnawn by rats" - a comment that carries grim symbolism today, as we take up the task the rats left unfinished. ...

The Charter of the Forest [from Blackstone's comments on the Magna Carta] imposed limits to privatisation. The Robin Hood myths capture the essence of its concerns ...

With the commons no longer protected for co-operative nurturing and use, the rights of the common people were restricted to what could not be privatised, a category that continues to shrink to virtual invisibility. In Bolivia, the attempt to privatise water was, in the end, beaten back by an uprising that brought the indigenous majority to power for the first time in history. The World Bank has just ruled that the mining multinational Pacific Rim can proceed with a case against El Salvador for trying to preserve lands and communities from highly destructive gold mining. Environmental constraints threaten to deprive the company of future profits, a crime that can be punished under the rules of the investor-rights regime mislabeled as "free trade." And this is only a tiny sample of struggles underway over much of the world, some involving extreme violence, as in the Eastern Congo, where millions have been killed in recent years to ensure an ample supply of minerals for cell phones and other uses, and of course ample profits.

[read more]


What to do About Spree Killings
JSPAN supports better gun controls and the program of CeasefirePA to encourage communities to adopt ordinances addressing lost and stolen weapons. The disaster last week at a movie theater in Colorado points up the need to eliminate assault weapons and other extreme armament from sporting arsenals. - Ed.


More Treatment Programs
By David Brooks, New York Times, July 23, 2012

Early in the morning of Sept. 4, 1913, Ernst Wagner murdered his wife and four children in the town of Degerloch, Germany. Then he went to Muhlhausen, where he feared the townsmen were mocking him for having sex with an animal. He opened fire and hit 20 people, killing at least nine.

This is believed to be one of the first spectacular rampage murders of the 20th century. Over the next 60 years, there was about one or two of these spree killings per decade. Then the frequency of such killings began to shoot upward. There were at least nine of these rampages during the 1980s, according to history Web sites that track such things, including the 1982 case of a police officer in South Korea who massacred 57 people.

When you investigate the minds of these killers, you find yourself deep in a world of delusion, untreated schizophrenia and ferociously injured pride.

[read more]


Little Traction on Gun Control
Gun control continues to lack support despite Colorado shootings

Newsday, July 23, 2012

ASSOCIATED PRESS. The lethal arsenal of the Colorado movie theater shooter was quickly identified Friday.

He was armed with a Smith & Wesson assault rifle, a Remington shotgun, and a pair of .40-caliber Glock handguns, all expensive, all bought legally.

Analysts say another thing appears clear: Even with 12 dead and 58 wounded, it's unlikely the shooting will spur more national gun control -- even a reinstatement of the ban on assault rifles that lapsed eight years ago.

Despite periodic mass shootings -- five slain in May in Seattle, 13 dead on an Army base in Texas in 2009, and the deadliest U.S. mass shooting ever at Virginia Tech in 2007 with 32 slain -- the political calculus seems locked down. Most Republicans adamantly oppose tighter gun controls, and most Democrats would prefer to focus on other issues.

[read more]


And a Review of the Fateful Movie
The Aurora killing happened at a first run showing of the latest Batman adventure movie, replete with guns and violence. We do not minimize the tragedy by considering the pop culture locale chosen by the shooter. This movie reviewer seeks links between the themes about weapons in the make-believe movie adventure, and the real violence that took human lives in the theatre. He interprets the fable as a message of warning to us all. - Ed.

What 'The Dark Knight Rises' Says About Killing and Gun Control

Jul 24, 2012 THE DAILY BEAST

Yes, Batman may be violent-but that's not why a madman shot up a Colorado theater. Will Brooker writes that the nuanced 'Dark Knight' trilogy offers up more complicated answers.

There are connections to be drawn between the tragic events at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last week, and the movie those people had come to see, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. But they're not the obvious ones.

Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises can offer a nuanced perspective on contemporary debates around gun control and the way media can influence individuals. Like his earlier Batman movies, it explores the gray area between opposing positions, and shows us how easily those seeming opposites can become blurred or even switch sides.

We've seen these themes before, in Nolan's previous installments. Batman's counterterror measures, in The Dark Knight, start to look a lot like Joker's terrorism, and his use of fear as a weapon in Batman Begins is no different from Scarecrow's modus operandi. Who is the real hero and the real enemy here? The Dark Knight Rises plays repeatedly on this motif of switching sides, with cops becoming an underground army, prisoners becoming hostage-takers, billionaire Bruce Wayne becoming a bum, waitress Selina Kyle rising through society ranks, and beat cop John Blake leaving the police force. The movie shows explosives ripping up a football field and revealing the city's industrial underbelly; the distinction between recreation and work, surface and structure, Nolan reminds us, can be broken down in seconds. Even Bane, the film's villain, boasts that despair is nothing without its opposite-a glimmer of hope.

[read more]


London Olympics - Remembering Munich
Bob Costas plans to honor Israelis


NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas says he plans his own on-air commemoration this week of the Israelis killed in Munich 40 years ago despite the refusal of Olympic authorities to do so during Friday's opening ceremony for the London Games.

A bid to honor the athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian gunmen during the 1972 games with a moment of silence has gained momentum recently, even drawing President Barack Obama's support.

Costas, who called the International Olympic Committee's decision baffling, told the Hollywood Reporter that he intends to note that denial on Friday when Israeli athletes enter the Olympic Stadium. Costas has been the lead host of NBC's Olympics coverage for 20 years.

[read more]


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The newsletter contains articles and links to articles that we think will be of interest to JSPAN members. They are included for informational purposes, but unless otherwise stated, they do not necessarily reflect official JSPAN policy.

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