JSPAN Newsletter-The Revolution in Medical Genetics

JSPAN Newsletter - August 9, 2013

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue
Newsletter: August 9, 2013
The Revolution in Medical Genetics and Personalized Medicine
Hope for Novel therapies, Concern for Ethical Use

The mapping of the human genome in 2004 and recent understanding of how genes are regulated have created one of the greatest revolutions in the history of medicine. Join us for a panel discussion about the amazing possibilities of the "Medicine of the Future," along with the challenging ethical, social, and economic questions that must be answered.

When: Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 7-9 PM
Where: Katz JCC, 1301 Springdale road, Cherry Hill, NJ

Admission free of charge


Striking Olympic Gold
The New York Times
August 6, 2013
By Op-Ed

Imagine this: it's the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. A huge television event, watched the world over. The American Olympians join the proud march of nations. They're our emissaries, our exemplars. And as the television cameras zoom in on Team U.S.A., one of its members quietly pulls out a rainbow flag, no bigger than a handkerchief, and holds it up. Not ostentatiously high, but just high enough that it can't be mistaken.

Another American follows suit. Then another, and another. Within minutes the flags are everywhere in the American delegation, subtly recurring bursts of color and of honor, a gay-rights motif with a message: we're here in Russia to compete, but we're not here in Russia to assent. We have gay sisters. Gay brothers. Gay neighbors and friends and fans and probably teammates, and we reject the laws of a land that deems it O.K. to arrest them for speaking their truth or us for speaking up for them.


[read more]



Student's Simple Stand Made History
The Philadelphia Inquirer
August 6, 2013
By Michael Matza

He was a 16-year-old junior at Abington Senior High School, just making a statement, utterly unaware that he was about to make legal history.

It was in 1956 that Ellery Schempp staged the classroom protest that yielded Abington v. Schempp, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning mandatory Bible readings in public schools. When Schempp's homeroom teacher read aloud 10 verses from the New Testament at the start of the day, as required by Pennsylvania law, Schempp brazenly paged through a Quran he had borrowed from a friend.

At the time, Pennsylvania was among three dozen states that required such readings in public schools. "When I started this protest, I had no idea it would lead to court, let alone the Supreme Court," Schempp, 72, a retired physicist now living near Boston, said in a recent interview on the court's decision, handed down on June 17, 1963. He looked back at what his dissent achieved and the price his family paid.


[read more]

Ted Mann, a member of JSPAN's Board of Directors, was part of the team representing Ellery Schempp in Schempp v. School District of Abington Township. Read an interview with Mr. Mann, reflecting on the case, conducted by Jeff Pasek, JSPAN's Chair of the Board Directors, in 2007: http://www.jspan.org/p/216 - Ed.


The Equality of Opportunity Project
July 2013
Principal Investigators:
Raj Chetty, Harvard University
Nathaniel Hendren, Harvard University
Patrick Kline, University of California Berkeley
Emmanuel Saez, University of California Berkeley

The United States has historically been viewed as the "land of opportunity," a society in which a child's chances of succeeding do not depend heavily on her parents' income or circumstances. But there is growing evidence that intergenerational income mobility in the U.S. is actually lower than in many other developed countries. Building on our prior research, we set out to study whether tax expenditures such as the Earned Income Tax Credit can increase the level of intergenerational income mobility in the U.S.

Some of the strongest predictors of upward mobility are correlates of social capital and family structure. For instance, high upward mobility areas tended to have higher fractions of religious individuals and fewer children raised by single parents. Each of these correlations remained strong even after controlling for measures of tax expenditures. Likewise, local tax policies remain correlated with mobility after controlling for these other factors.


[read more]

To view a detailed map showing upward mobility (or lack of mobility) of low-income families, click here.



Second Act for the Dream Act?
The Washington Post
August 5, 2013
Editorial Board

THE REPUBLICAN Party, champion of self-deportation for illegal immigrants, has made a special point of antagonizing so-called Dreamers - children brought into the country by their undocumented parents. A reversal of that stance would be welcome - even if it's impelled by self-serving motives.

In 2010, Republicans blocked the Dream Act, which would have allowed undocumented high school graduates to gain legal status over 10 years if they finish college or serve in the military. In June, House Republicans passed a measure that raised the specter of deporting every unauthorized youngster in the United States by reversing the reprieve they were granted by President Obama's executive order last year.

Now, having postured and threatened their way into the nightmares of a generation of Hispanic youths, to say nothing of their parents, some in the party are reconsidering. Gripped by the dawning realization that their long-established policy is electoral folly, a few House Republicans say they are prepared to talk about legalization or citizenship for Dreamers - just not (yet, at least) for their parents, who make up the bulk of the nationa's 11 million illegal immigrants.


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In Need of a New Hip, but Priced Out of the U.S.
The New York Times
August 3, 2013
By Elisabeth Rosenthal

WARSAW, Ind. - Michael Shopenn's artificial hip was made by a company based in this remote town, a global center of joint manufacturing. But he had to fly to Europe to have it installed.

Mr. Shopenn, 67, an architectural photographer and avid snowboarder, had been in such pain from arthritis that he could not stand long enough to make coffee, let alone work. He had health insurance, but it would not cover a joint replacement because his degenerative disease was related to an old sports injury, thus considered a pre- existing condition.

Desperate to find an affordable solution, he reached out to a sailing buddy with friends at a medical device manufacturer, which arranged to provide his local hospital with an implant at what was described as the "list price" of $13,000, with no markup. But when the hospital's finance office estimated that the hospital charges would run another $65,000, not including the surgeon's fee, he knew he had to think outside the box, and outside the country.

[read more]


Rick Perry Vetoed Texas Equal Pay Bill Under Pressure From Macy's, Kroger's
The Huffington Post
August 6, 2013
By Amanda Terkel

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) vetoed a bill this summer to help prevent wage discrimination after receiving letters against the measure from retailers like Macy's and Kroger Food Stores, according to documents newly obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

The bill would have brought Texas state law in line with the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for women to sue employers over wage discrimination.

Perry said in his veto statement in June that he objected to the bill because it "duplicates federal law, which already allows employees who feel they have been discriminated against through compensation to file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission." He also said he was concerned that it could lead to more regulations and hurt job creation.

The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D), told the Chronicle she was not aware that the retailers were opposed and sought out a gubernatorial veto. "I shop at Kroger's for my groceries," Thompson said. "I shopped there just last week. I'm going to have to go to [Texas grocery chain] HEB now. I am really shocked.

[read more]


Who's Afraid of Radical History?
Mitch Daniels's covert war on Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

The Nation
August 5, 2013
By Robert Cohen and Sonia Murrow

A recent Associated Press expose-drawing on e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act-revealed that in 2010, Mitch Daniels, then Indiana's Republican governor, covertly set out to ban Howard Zinn's best-selling A People's History of the United States from Indiana's classrooms. Daniels had privately responded to Zinn's death that year with unseemly glee; "This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away," he crowed. Daniels attempted to banish Zinn's book on the grounds that it was "a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page….

As governor, Daniels seemed unconcerned that purging Zinn from Indiana's educational system constituted a violation of academic freedom. But this issue emerged in the political storm unleashed by the AP story, in part because Daniels is currently president of Purdue University. Aware that trampling academic freedom is incompatible with leadership in higher education, Daniels sought to evade the issue by claiming (falsely) that he had respected academic freedom at the university level and only sought to keep Zinn out of the K-12 educational curriculum.

Some students admired Zinn's iconoclasm, while others challenged his version of the past. But whether or not they found his radical view of the American past convincing, most students found it liberating to learn that there was more than one way to think about history. As one student wrote Zinn, "American history has been entirely one-sided for too long. Your work showed me another side of history I never knew existed."


[read more]



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