JSPAN to Co-sponsor Medical Genetics Symposium

JSPAN Newsletter - August 23, 2013

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue
Newsletter: August 23, 2013
Save the Date: JSPAN to Co-sponsor Medical Genetics Symposium with Katz JCC, Cherry Hill
JSPAN, in partnership with the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center of Cherry Hill, is presenting a "state of the art" symposium about the future of medicine. The program will focus on the revolution in medical genetics and personalized medicine, hope for novel therapies and concern for ethical use. The event will be held at the Katz JCC, 1301 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, NJ, Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 7-9 PM.

Dr. Richard Malkin, JSPAN Vice-President and Chair of JSPAN's Healthcare and Bioethics Policy Center, will moderate the program. Dr. Malkin will present the current status of well- known prenatal genetic tests and amniocentesis, and provide a basic foundation for understanding genes, their purpose, and their regulation.

Two renowned medical scientists will discuss the future of medicine and medical genetics:

Dr. Generosa Grana, Director of the Cooper Cancer Institute, will address the issues presented by the discovery and ability to test BRCA genes and hormone receptors in breast cancer and the consequent individualization of cancer treatment, "Personalized Medicine."

Dr. John Gearhart, Director of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will proceed to the amazing possibilities of changing the control of our genes, actual genetic manipulation, ending at the frontier of creating new tissue, "Regenerative Medicine."

These presentations will be followed by a panel discussion, including the two medical scientists and Rabbi Richard Address, Senior Rabbi of M'kor Shalom, who has devoted 33 years of his career to bringing such issues before the public as Director of Caring Community and Family Concerns for the Union of Reform Judaism.

The mapping of the human genome in 2004, combined with recent understanding of how genes are regulated, has created one of the greatest revolutions in the history of medicine. The ability to individualize prevention and treatment, given an understanding of an individual's genes and the genes of specific tumors or infectious agents, is potentially dramatic. However, the possible ethical and social consequences of this research and how to perform it, as well as its future use, are profoundly challenging. Issues include the economic impact, the choice of who will receive potential therapy, and the possibilities of termination of a pregnancy for what may seem inappropriate reasons, as well as the potential to genetically engineer humans.

The program is free of charge and open to the general community. Pre-registration is encouraged by calling (856) 424-4444, extension 1281.


U.S. Backs Government Prayer
Posted by Lyle Denniston
August 7, 2013

The Obama administration, entering a major new test case on government-religion ties, has urged the Supreme Court to allow prayers at the beginning of government meetings, even if most if not all of the recitals are from one religion, such as Christianity. But, in a newly filed brief, it has also asked the Court not to allow citizens to join in such sessions with their own private prayers.

The Court in May agreed to decide, at its next Term, the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway (docket 12-696), involving the prayer practices at meetings of a town council in the upstate New York community of just under 100,000 people. The federal government is not directly involved in the case, but chose to enter it to offer its views, as it has in a number of other cases involving prayers in government settings.

The new brief at one level is a defense of the long-standing practice in Congress of opening daily sessions with prayers, but on a broader level it provides a full defense of religious-oriented prayers at government meetings — provided they do not seek to recruit believers or criticize a given faith. But it contended that it does not matter, constitutionally, that those attending hear only, or mostly, the expressions of religious belief of one sect or denomination.


[read more]



Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Stays in Limbo, Where It Belongs
The Patriot-News
August 19, 2013

In Pennsylvania's case, there's smoking gun evidence the new voting restrictions were designed to give one political party an advantage in elections.

The latest court ruling on Pennsylvania's burdensome new voting requirements puts the photo ID law where it belongs, in legal limbo. It deserves to stay there unless and until the state makes a credible, well-funded effort to put the necessary credential in the hands of every lawfully registered voter.

The so-called voter ID law was an admittedly partisan move by Pennsylvania politicians trying to tilt the election field in their favor.

They did so by hitting a gnat of a problem - theoretical possibility of voter impersonation -- with a sledgehammer of a law. It forces tens of thousands of lawfully registered voters to run a multi-step bureaucratic gauntlet just to exercise the most fundamental right that a citizen in a democracy possesses.


[read more]


Events Marking 50th Anniversary of March on Washington to Emphasize Dreams Unfulfilled
The Washington Post
By Carol Morello
August 20, 2013

Donald Cash was just a teenager in 1963 when he finished his shift at a downtown clothing store and joined the throngs marching toward the Mall.

Though he never got beyond the periphery, too far to hear the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speak, he always considered himself a beneficiary of the march as one of the first African Americans hired to cut meat at a Giant supermarket.

Now 68 and a veteran labor and civil rights activist, Cash will be walking toward the Mall again this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the landmark protest that culminated with King's monumental "I Have a Dream" speech.

But the Supreme Court's recent ruling that struck down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the stark racial divide among Americans after a Florida jury acquitted a man who fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin have spurred debate over how much has changed and what more there is to do.


[read more]


Moral Monday Protesters Rail Against 'Mecklenburg trio'
In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as Governor of North Carolina, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches of North Carolina government as well for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has reversed decades of progressive legislation and policies in areas such as public education, access to abortion, unemployment benefits and taxation. Recently the legislature changed voting procedures to require voters to carry one of a narrow list of state-issued photo ID, limit early voting, end same-day registration, and make it more difficult to add satellite polling sites; measures that opponents of the legislation contend disproportionately hamper black, elderly and disabled voters. The Voter Information Verification Act signed by Governor McCrory is one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country.

These actions and more have been met with an uproar from the media kindled in part by a July 10, 2013 New York Times Editorial entitled The Decline of North Carolina reactions thereto and widespread demonstrations across the state by the "Moral Monday"; movement during which over 900 arrests have been made. - Ed.

The Charlotte Observer
By David Perlmutt and Jim Morrill
August 20, 2013

"Moral Monday" protesters on Monday gathered in the city that launched Gov. Pat McCrory's political star to speak out against laws passed by the Republican-led legislature - and backed by the Republican governor.

One of the city's largest protests - police estimated about 2,000 demonstrators - packed into uptown's Marshall Park. They sang protest and religious songs, waved signs of discontent and railed against the legislature's flurry of lawmaking they say is "waging war" on the poor, on voting and abortion rights, and on the state's public education system.

During the event, Gene Nichol, director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC Chapel Hill, blasted what he called "the Mecklenburg trio": McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius and Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews.

The three Republicans, he said, were dedicated "to waging war on poor people and granting more largesse to the wealthiest North Carolinians. Our governor and our General Assembly looked at those strong inequalities and decided to make them deeper."


[read more]


Days Away from Charlotte's Moral Monday, the NAACP Launches Social Justice Sunday
By Tenika Smith
August 16, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Just days away from the upcoming "Moral Monday" protest in uptown Charlotte, the NAACP announced its latest initiative called "Social Justice Sunday."

It's a push for religious leaders to support the NAACP's effort to challenge recent laws and motives of the Republican-led North Carolina legislature.

"Social Justice Sunday" is set for Aug. 23 and will involve three days of religious leaders and scholars from all denominations preaching and teaching on social justice and moral issues. Religious scholar Dr. Rodney Sadler helped to develop the lessons in what's being called the "Forward Together Lectionary Series."

[read more]


Revisiting King's Letter from Birmingham Jail
WHYY/Fresh Air
August 16, 2013
Guest: Jonathan Rieder

[REBROADCAST] Fifty years ago this year, from his cramped, dirty jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King, Jr. drafted a letter in response to eight, white moderate clergymen who had issued a statement criticizing the civil rights protests of blacks and called King an outsider and extremist whose efforts for equality as "unwise and untimely." King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" eloquently made the case for non-violent demonstrations and the urgency of the movement to end segregation. The letter has since become a beacon for peaceful protesters throughout the world. In his recent book, Gospel of Freedom, King scholar Jonathon Rieder tells the story of King's letter while providing a snapshot of its author at a time when King thought the civil rights movement was destined to fail.

Listen at: http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2013/08/16/revisiting-kings-letter-from-birmingham-jail-2/

See also Martin Luther King's 'Letter from Birmingham, The Atlantic, April 16, 2013'


Federation Meets Lawmakers to Talk About Food Stamps
The Jewish Exponent
By Bryan Schwartzman
August 14, 2013

With the future of federal funding for the food stamps program uncertain, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is lobbying two local congressmen who recently voted to cut funds for the program to reconsider their stances.

Federation staff members last week led a delegation of hunger advocates in a meeting with U.S. Jim Gerlach (R-District 6) in his Chester County office. Federation is also working on arranging a meeting with U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-District 8) of Bucks County.

"We have decided to focus our energies on educating those two elected officials," said Brian Gralnick, who directs the Center for Social Responsibility at Federation and who, along with Robin Schatz, the organization's director of government affairs, arranged the recent meeting with Gerlach.


[read more]


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