Don’t Move The Embassy Mr Trump!


Can Trump move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

He can. But it would be criminal and a bad idea.

[Clip: “When the United States stands with Israel the chances of peace really rise and rises exponentially. That’s what will happen when Donald Trump is President of the United States. We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”]

There’s nothing “eternal” about Jerusalem. It was only the capital of all the territory of Israel for a mere 169 years.

And as ‘eternally promised’ to the Jews, God’s destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD mocks that myth.

And why do we want a “Jewish” State when the Bible calls earthly Jerusalem, “Sodom and Gomorrah where our Lord was crucified.”

That was a criminal act, and moving the Embassy to Jerusalem is criminal too.

For Jerusalem is under military occupation by the Israeli regime.

Under the Geneva Convention of 1949, of which America is signatory, an occupying force is forbidden to settle its citizens, and nations must press for a negotiated status before affirming legitimacy.

By moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, America breaks its own binding pledge.

Moral high ground falls to the ground when you can’t even honor your own word.

And those ‘American values’ that Israel claims to share flies out the window by violating “international law” crafted to protect the weak from vicious aggression.

Jews want all of Palestine for themselves—by theft, by genocide, by ethnic cleansing—for their Greater Israel agenda.

Now if Palestine were declared a State then Israel would be in breach of UN Charter’s Article 51 that grants to states the right of collective self-defense.

Bye-bye to Israel’s settlers, walls, fences, check points and soldiers from the occupied lands.

And, guess what?

A “Palestine Declaration Of Independence” was proclaimed by the governing arm of the Palestinian people in 1988 fixing its validity on the UN Partition Plan of 1948.

One hundred thirty six countries recognize the Declaration.

Now the UN must discharge its duty by fully recognizing the State of Palestine.

But as long as the tail, Israel, wags the dog, Jewmerica, that’s not going to happen.

We’ve had enough bad ideas. Making Israel a state was the first one.

And moving the Embassy to Jerusalem means more wars for Israel and more blowback in America’s face.

America hasn’t learned History 101 just quite yet.


US infant mortality rates down 15%

(CNN)Infant mortality rates have reached new lows, according to a report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.

From 2005 to 2014, the infant mortality rate in the US dropped 15%, from 6.86 infant deaths per 1,000 live births to 5.82. Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, declined by 29%, and there were drops in infant mortality rates across most racial groups.
“It’s good news, but on the other hand, we have so much more to do,” said Dr. Paul Jarris, chief medical officer for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit focused on the health of mothers and babies. “What is concerning, though, is that the inequities between non-Hispanic blacks and American Indians and the Caucasian population have persisted.”
The largest drop among racial groups, 21%, was in Asian and Pacific Islander populations. All race and Hispanic subgroups experienced reductions in infant mortality rates except American Indians or Alaska Natives, among whom there was not a statistically significant change. The report shows significant declines among non-Hispanic black populations as well as women of Cuban descent.
However, those reductions were not broad enough to close the racial gap. Infants born to non-Hispanic black women have a mortality rate more than double that of non-Hispanic white women. Among Hispanic subgroups, the highest rates are seen in Puerto Ricans, 6.68 per 1,000, while the lowest, 3.95, are in populations of Cuban descent.
“I think there was a public health push in the past decade to figure out ways to lower this rate, and it has made an impact,” said report author T.J. Mathews, a demographer at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “We know that there have been a lot of efforts across the country in cities and states where they’re trying to figure out ways where they can lower the infant mortality rate.”
Rates for four of the five leading causes of infant death went down. Congenital malformations, the primary cause of infant death, dropped 11%. Deaths from short gestation and low birthweight declined 8%, deaths due to maternal complications fell 7%, and cases of SIDS fell 29%. Deaths caused by unintentional injuries increased 11%, from 26.2 in 2005 to 29.2 in 2014.
One source of the decline, Jarris said, is the push to end medically unnecessary induced labor. “These are when a woman is induced to cause labor when there is no medical indication. They were very common around 2003 to 2005, and we have done a good job as a nation of reducing these dramatically so that women aren’t delivering early when there’s no need.”
Declines in infant mortality rates were observed in two-thirds of all US states and the District of Columbia, and no state reported a statistically significant increase. Infant deaths declined 11% percent or more in Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
“Overall, 33 states and the District of Columbia had significant declines,” Mathews said. “Some states with fairly high rates, such as South Carolina and Mississippi, are in those categories where they had some of the sharpest declines.”
Although the report does not share details on how those states achieved lower rates, in the case of South Carolina, Jarris said the deliberate effort is key. “They have a strong partnership between the state Department of Health, the state Medicaid office, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the hospital association in which they are coordinating their efforts.”
Tell us your story

Tell us your story
We love to hear from our audience. Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter and Facebook for the latest health news and let us know what we’re missing.

The decline, Mathews says, is a public health success.
According to the National Institutes of Health, since 1962, infant death rates in the United States have dropped more than 70%. Although rates continue to fall, the United States maintains one of the highest rates of infant death among developed countries.
“In terms of preterm birth and infant mortality, the United States has the highest rates of any of the developed nations,” Jarris said. “Our rates are more similar to that of developing nations. So the message, from my point of view, is that we cannot be complacent.”

Boy who waited 211 days for new heart faces health issues as family is forced to tear down home

Ari Schultz, 5, was born with a congential heart defect.

Ari Schultz, 5, was born with a congential heart defect.  (Ari’s New Heart Medical Fund – Echo of Hope/GoFundMe)


A Boston boy who spent 211 days waiting for a heart transplant is now being treated for acute rejection while his parents deal with a major mold issue that has turned the family’s home into a “sick house.”  Ari Schultz, 5, has been at Boston Children’s Hospital since December, and received his donated heart on March 3.

“Ari is struggling mightily,” Mike Schultz, Ari’s father, wrote in a blog post. “He went downhill, and needed operations and procedures every day this week. On the day of procedures, kids can’t eat. Ari had his food and water taken away every day.”

Ari was born with a serious congenital heart defect and underwent two correctable surgeries in the womb. Since his 2012 birth, he has had three open-heart surgeries and 12 different procedures, Wicked Local reported. He was placed on the transplant list when doctors determined he was suffering from congestive heart failure.

The exact nature of the relationship between weight loss and your morning coffee is an ongoing topic of debate.

Schultz wrote that he began to think about being able to take Ari home last week when he had been showing signs of improved health. But, an ultrasound indicated his body was rejecting the new organ, and they began him on a treatment regimen that Schultz described as “horribly uncomfortable.” Additionally, Schultz and his wife, Erica, who had been alternating staying with Ari at the hospital and at home with their other two children, Lexi and Eli, discovered severe mold growing in their home.

“Well, when it rains, it pours. When it pours, little did we know, mold was growing in the walls, floors, and ceilings of our house,” Schultz wrote. “At first we thought we’d remediate the mold, fix the leaks, and put the house back together. Turns out, it’s not that simple.”

Schultz wrote that when they pulled out the mold, more health hazards revealed themselves behind the walls, including mold that now requires the family to tear the house down. He said their contractor called the conditions a “sick house.” A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family to help cover building expenses, while donations for materials, architectural designs and other building necessities are also being accepted.

“Someday, we’ll be able to express our gratitude properly,” Schultz wrote of the overwhelming support. “For now, our sincerest thank you will have to do as we turn our attention back to Ari, keep the family together, and build a new home for Ari to go to when he wins his terrible battle.”

Trump signs NASA bill aimed at sending people to Mars

President Trump just signed a bill authorizing $19.5 billion in funding for NASA — the first such authorization bill for the space agency in seven years.

The bill more or less aligns with the budget blueprint Trump laid out last week. NASA won’t face the same cuts as other science and medical agencies, which stand to lose huge portions of their budget under the president’s proposal. Sending humans to Mars by the 2030s remains NASA’s long-term goal, and Congress will continue to fund the construction of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule for that mission.

“I think it’s really more of a vote for stability,” said Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. He noted that the passage of the last NASA authorization bill in 2010 was fairly chaotic, since it involved ending the Constellation program that would have sent astronauts to the moon.

This year’s bill left NASA’s Earth science budget untouched — for now. Earth science would see a 5 percent cut in the president’s blueprint, and Trump made clear Tuesday that he thinks NASA should be focused on deep space, not Earth.

“It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of NASA, human space exploration, space science and technology,” he said. Later he added, “We support jobs. It’s about jobs.”

The bill, which was passed with bipartisan support, can be read in full here. Here are highlights from the bill signing:

Astronauts will get health care for life

The TREAT Astronauts Act included in the bill will finally mandate that NASA pay for monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of any health problems related to spaceflight for all former astronauts. The space agency has long monitored its astronauts for health problems after their time in space was over — that’s how we know about visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome, eye damage caused by microgravity. But NASA couldn’t treat any problems that were found; it could only refer astronauts back to their primary-care doctors. In 2010, then-administrator Charles Bolden asked Congress to guarantee lifetime benefits for astronauts. He was opposed by the union that represents many NASA civil servants, according to the Wall Street Journal, because his proposal benefited only a small group of people.

Now, NASA’s retired astronauts will receive lifetime health care for all space flight-related issues. This is good news not just for astronauts, but for scientists studying the health effects of space travel — something that NASA will need to consider as it prepares to send humans on a seven-month journey to Mars.

Trump will relaunch the National Space Council

Vice President Pence said at the bill signing that he will be heading a revamped National Space Council, an advisory board that serves as a go-between for NASA and the White House that hasn’t operated since George H.W. Bush was president. It’s not clear yet when the council will be established, or how it might promote the president’s space policy.

Pace, who served on the space council under Bush, said that the council helps address issues that cut across multiple federal agencies: for example, questions about cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS) that would involve both NASA and the State Department.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission is definitely dead

The authorization bill directs NASA to keep its sights on a human mission to Mars in 2033 (though it doesn’t specify whether that would be a landing or just a visit to Mars orbit). But Congress wants the space agency to come up with an alternative to the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which was supposed to send humans to lunar orbit as a steppingstone toward the Red Planet. NASA doesn’t need to be told twice — after the blueprint budget included no funding for ARM, acting administrator Robert Lightfoot announced that NASA will no longer pursue that mission.

But that means NASA is looking for other “intermediate” stops on the path from Earth to Mars. Will the moon be one of them? At the president’s request, NASA is currently studying the feasibility of adding astronauts to the first test flight of the SLS rocket, which is slated to fly around the moon next year.

Trump also referenced the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 on Tuesday.

“It was a big moment in our history,” he said. “Now, this nation is ready to be the first in space once again.”

NASA could soon be chartering commercial flights to the ISS

The authorization bill mandates that NASA can’t acquire space flight services from a foreign entity unless there are no NASA vehicles or U.S. commercial providers available. It also directs the space agency to look into ways to boost the private space industry.

Trump is not personally interested in a trip to space (though he’s willing to send Congress)

During the bill signing, Trump turned to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to comment on the difficulty of being an astronaut.

“I don’t know Ted, would you like to do it?” he asked. “I don’t think I would.”

Cruz shook his head, so Trump looked at Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

“Marco, do you want to do it?”

Rubio also declined. Both senators are co-sponsors of the bill, and their states are home to two major NASA centers: Johnson Space Center in Houston and Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

“You could send Congress to space,” Cruz suggested, apparently disregarding the fact that he’s a member of Congress.

“We could,” Trump said. “What a great idea that could be.”

Andrew Napolitano (White Freemason) reportedly pulled from Fox News over debunked wiretapping claims


Fox News has reportedly pulled legal analyst Andrew Napolitano from the air over his baseless claim, repeated by President Trump, that British intelligence officials spied on Trump at the request of President Barack Obama.

Napolitano, a regular face on Fox News, has not appeared on the network since Thursday and will not be a guest in the near future, the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press reported Monday, citing anonymous individuals.

A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Monday night. The Dow Jones Newswire also reported the story, along with speculation that Napolitano wouldn’t be gone too long from Fox. The longtime commentator and purveyor of conspiracy theories has a significant following.

The move would distance Fox News from allegations that British officials, as well as National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers, have denounced as false. In tweets earlier this month, Trump accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in what he called a “Nixon/Watergate” plot.

Here’s how the White House has been defending Trump’s wiretapping claims

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has been repeatedly defending President Trump’s unproven claims that former president Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on him in 2016. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Pressed for details, the Trump administration has produced no evidence to support the allegations, citing only news reports from conservative media. On Monday, FBI Director James B. Comey testified before Congress that there was “no information” indicating that Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election. Rogers, asked in the same hearing whether he agreed that the allegation about British intelligence was “nonsense,” responded “yes.”

In a March 14 appearance on “Fox and Friends,” Napolitano, who calls himself “Judge Napolitano” because he was once a New Jersey Superior Court judge, claimed he had spoken to three “intelligence sources” who said Obama “went outside the chain of command” to spy on Trump. Instead of using U.S. intelligence services, Napolitano said, Obama used Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, to ensure there were “no American fingerprints on this.”

Napolitano doubled down on his claims in a column for Fox News, writing that “by bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Napolitano’s comments in a press briefing Thursday. Asked whether Trump would stand by his unproven wiretapping allegations, Spicer quoted directly from the Fox News transcript.

“All we’re doing is literally reading off what other stations and people have reported,” Spicer said. “We’re not casting judgment on that.”

In response, GCHQ, usually silent on intelligence matters, sharply denied that it had engaged in any of the activities described by Napolitano.

“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense,” the agency said in a statement Thursday. “They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

Comey: No information to support Trump’s wiretapping tweets

FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Reuters)

But that did not stop Trump from bringing them up again. In a news conference Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump pointed to Napolitano’s appearance on Fox News when asked to defend his wiretapping claims, as The Washington Post reported.

“All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for that on television,” he said. “I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox.”

“So you shouldn’t be talking to me,” Trump added, “you should be talking to Fox.”

At that point, Fox News tried to distance itself from Napolitano’s commentary, with anchor Shepard Smith saying the network could not confirm what Napolitano had said on “Fox and Friends.”

“Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop,” Shepard said on air.

The British government, meanwhile, said Friday that the White House had promised to stop suggesting that British intelligence services had spied on Trump, as The Post reported. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a news conference: “We have received assurances from the White House that these allegations would not be repeated.”

Closer US-Russia ties uncertain as Tillerson plans trip

WASHINGTON — With Russia-tinged investigations swirling around his administration, President Donald Trump has yet to fulfill a campaign pledge of closer cooperation with Moscow. A planned trip by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Russia could test if detente proves anything more than talk.

In a move alarming U.S. allies, Tillerson plans to skip a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Belgium next month, according to U.S. officials. The top American diplomat almost always attends such gatherings, and Tillerson will follow up his absence in Brussels by traveling to Russia’s capital shortly afterward.

The juxtaposition of the trips — one taken and one avoided — has reinforced concerns about America’s commitment to NATO, which Trump has repeatedly fueled by dressing down allies as deadbeats who aren’t paying enough for their own defense and who take U.S. help for granted.

Trump will take part in a meeting of NATO heads of state in Brussels on May 25, the White House announced Tuesday. Spokesman Sean Spicer said the president looks forward to discussing “issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism.”

As far as the U.S-Russia relationship, Trump has yet to make any major steps as president to bring the two nations closer together.

As a candidate, Trump opened the door to potentially rolling back the sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014, a move Democrats and Republicans in Congress oppose. But as president, Trump has tamped down such suggestions as long as Russia fails to live up to its various commitments to end the fighting in Ukraine.

His administration also has resisted Russia’s calls to join forces against the Islamic State group in Syria, where the former Cold War foes have long backed opposing sides in a civil war. The Pentagon is continuing only what it calls U.S.-Russian “deconfliction” contacts, designed to ensure their forces don’t accidentally collide on Syria’s crowded battlefield and contested skies.

But Trump’s biggest roadblock to a new Russia approach may be the political realities at home.

In a remarkable public disclosure Monday, FBI Director James Comey said the bureau is investigating whether Trump campaign associates coordinated with Russian officials as Moscow sought to sway the U.S. presidential election. Several congressional committees are also investigating, ensuring the allegations of Russian meddling — and questions about Trump campaign collusion — stay in the spotlight for months to come.

Trump has denied any collaboration between his campaign and Russia. As a candidate, he spoke frequently of his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and said improving relations with the traditional U.S. adversary would be positive. He argued that Russia shared America’s goal of defeating IS extremists.

That’s about as far as the new relationship has gone.

“Tillerson will need to publicly outline what he hopes to accomplish when he visits Moscow and what is the basis for U.S. policy toward Russia,” said Heather Conley at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The prospect of Washington and Moscow teaming up, given Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine, has sent chills through much of Europe. Candidate Trump exacerbated concerns by calling NATO “obsolete” and suggested the U.S. might not defend allies if they aren’t paying enough for collective defense. As president, Trump has insisted the U.S. is fully committed to NATO.

Few are convinced. Western diplomats and some U.S. lawmakers expressed alarm Tuesday with Tillerson’s decision to skip the upcoming NATO meeting and travel shortly afterward to Russia. Some Europeans see the decision as a U-turn from Vice President Mike Pence’s pledges about safeguarding the alliance in Munich last month.

While other NATO countries send their foreign ministers — who include an ex-prime minister, top parliamentarians and several former defense chiefs — to Brussels, the U.S. will dispatch Tom Shannon, a career diplomat serving as the State Department’s No. 3 official. (The No. 2 slot of deputy secretary is among dozens of unfilled posts.)

“We’ll take care of the representation. This is something to be worked out, no problem,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Tuesday.

The State Department wouldn’t provide details Tuesday about the purpose of Tillerson’s trip to Russia or whom he would meet there.

Spokesman Mark Toner said Tillerson’s schedule would not allow him to attend the NATO meeting, saying the U.S. proposed alternative dates. He didn’t elaborate, but Trump is expected to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for a highly anticipated meeting around the same time.

In any case, Tillerson is meeting with almost every NATO country’s foreign minister in Washington this week, officials said. Yet that gathering is focused on fighting the Islamic State, not on NATO’s key concern: Russia.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2-ranked House Democrat, said Tillerson was sending a “dangerous signal to our allies and adversaries.”

“Vladimir Putin’s Russia has not done anything to merit such engagement,” Hoyer said.

Fact Check: Democrats’ Critiques of the Republican Health Bill

WASHINGTON — With the House vote on the Republican health care bill looming on Thursday, Democrats are unified in their opposition.

Lawmakers have echoed the same talking points, exaggerating the bill’s effect on insurance pools, employment and income inequality.

Here is an assessment of their claims.

Representative Nancy Pelosi claimed the bill would force 24 million people off health insurance.

“We can work with them to do that, but what they have put forth is a terrible bill, 24 million people kicked off of health insurance, which the speaker calls an act of mercy, an act of mercy.”

This is misleading. Ms. Pelosi, the minority leader, may have used the report from the Congressional Budget Office to criticize the Republican bill, called the American Health Care Act, but she overstated the causality.

The budget office estimated that the bill would increase the number uninsured by 14 million next year, and by 24 million by 2026.

Ms. Pelosi’s description of “people kicked off of heath insurance” could reasonably apply to those who would lose coverage from the bill’s changes to Medicaid, or those whose employers would no longer have to offer group plans.

But the 24 million figure also includes people who would choose not to have insurance, such as those who would forgo coverage absent the individual mandate to buy it, as well as those who would elect to not pay high premiums.

Ms. Pelosi also asserted the bill would be a job killer.

“Not only would Republicans’ Trumpcare bill destroy the health coverage of 24 million Americans, it will destroy nearly two million jobs across America.”

This needs context. After Ms. Pelosi issued a news release citing a report from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, many congressional Democrats adopted this talking point. But the report’s findings come with a few caveats.

The center based its report on a more comprehensive study by George Washington University and the Commonwealth Fund conducted before details of the Republican bill were known. That study estimated that repealing federal funding for the Medicaid expansion and subsidies for health insurance would lead to almost three million fewer jobs by 2021 compared with “the baseline model.”

After the Republicans released their bill, the center adjusted the study’s findings to take into account the bill’s changes to tax credits and Medicaid, and concluded that it would lead to 1.8 million fewer jobs by 2022. Leighton Ku, a health policy professor at George Washington University and the lead author of the initial study, said he could not confirm the center’s analysis but agreed that the bill was likely to lead to substantially fewer jobs than under current law.

But that figure does not imply large, immediate layoffs. Rather, 1.8 million is the difference between the number of jobs that the United States would gain over five years by leaving the current law intact versus repealing it.

In other words, repeal would set back job growth by a year or two, said Josh Bivens, a labor economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “It’s clearly a fiscal drag,” he said.

The center’s estimate also fails to take into account the effect of the bill’s tax cuts on employment, said Joseph Antos of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Bivens’s analysis of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act estimated that tax cuts would lead to about 150,000 more jobs by 2019, but an overall loss of 1.2 million jobs.

Mr. Antos pointed to a 2014 Congressional Budget Office report that estimated that the Affordable Care Act would lead to a decline of 2.3 million jobs by 2024 (from people voluntarily leaving the labor force) that he characterized as careful and unbiased. Still, it was cited by John A. Boehner, then the House speaker, to claim that the law would “destroy” jobs.

“It’s the pot calling the kettle black,” Mr. Antos said. “Now they’ve switched positions on the stove.”

Senator Bernie Sanders characterized the plan as a giveaway to the wealthy.

“The G.O.P. bill is not a health care plan. It’s a $275 billion tax break for the wealthiest Americans. It must be defeated.”

This needs context. The Congressional Budget Office and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that tossing out a payroll tax increase and a tax on net investment income that affect just the top 5 percent of income earners would account for nearly $275 billion of the tax cuts.

But the other cuts affect everyone. The bill would also repeal the health insurance tax ($145 billion), a sales tax on providers of health insurance that largely affects people who buy their own insurance and those who work for small companies, according to the budget office. Repeal of the individual mandate penalty would primarily benefit low-income people, said Roberton Williams of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Still, Mr. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, has a point that overall the wealthy would see the most benefits. According to the Tax Policy Center, two-thirds of the cuts would benefit the top 20 percent of taxpayers, with 40 percent going to the top 1 percent of income earners.

Representative Mark Takano portrayed the bill as a giveaway to CEOs.

“Tax cuts for wealthy v. health care for seniors? Pharmaceutical CEOs v. the disabled? In the GOP bracket, the wealthy always win.”

This is misleading. Mr. Takano, of California, created a “Republicans’ March Madness” bracket on Twitter, pitting insurance executives against Medicaid and pharmaceutical chief executives against low-income families. But the chiefs of health care companies are not really playing.

As PolitiFact has reported, the bill would allow insurance companies to claim a greater tax deduction for executive pay, removing the Affordable Care Act’s $500,000 cap, effectively raising it to the $1 million general cap for other businesses.

So insurance executives would not personally benefit from this change, at least directly. It is possible, though, that companies would raise the salaries of their executives to claim the greater tax deduction.

Representative Linda T. Sánchez suggested insurers could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

“Trumpcare also means that insurance companies can jack their prices sky high for people with pre-existing conditions.”

This needs context. Insurers are barred from denying coverage to those with a pre-existing condition or from charging people more money based on their health history, and the Republican bill would not change this.

The bill, however, would allow insurers to charge more for people who have been without coverage for more than 63 days. This could affect people who, for example, have to leave work because of an illness or injury and lose employer-based coverage.

As The New York Times has reported, the bill’s overall theme of deregulating the insurance market could cause more uncertainty. But as even Ms. Sánchez, of California, went on to note, insurers would “still have to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions.”

Is Eric Trump’s wife Lara Jewish?

(JTA) — Is Lara Trump, the pregnant wife of Eric Trump, Jewish?

The answer, it turns out, is no.

Though media outlets (including JTA) widely reported that she is Jewish, she is in fact not a Jew, a White House Press Office representative confirmed to JTA on Tuesday. The representative declined to give her name.

Following a Monday announcement by the couple that they were expecting a baby boy, it seems Jewish media outlets went into a bit of a baby frenzy.

The false impression that Lara Trump (nee Yunaska), a former personal trainer and producer for CBS’s “Inside Edition,” is Jewish seems to trace back to a 2014 Page Six article in the New York Post that said the couple wed under “a crystal-embellished chuppa” (with Jewish brother-in-law Jared Kushner officiating). It’s not clear whether the canopy was, in fact, inspired by Jewish custom, but following the publication of that article, Jewish media outlets (along with some anti-Semitic ones) referred to her as Jewish., a website that traces the ancestry of celebrities, debunked the claim in July — reporting Lara instead to be of Slovak, English, German, remote Swiss-German and Dutch heritage — but that didn’t put the rumor to rest.

At JTA, we should have checked before running with the unsubstantiated information.

Lara and Eric’s baby will still be surrounded by plenty of Jewish influences. He will have three Jewish cousins: the children of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a convert to Orthodox Judaism, and her husband, Jared. Plus, another Trump daughter, Tiffany, is dating Ross Mechanic, who is Jewish.

Trump era prompts Jewish donors to step up giving to liberal causes

ATLANTA (JTA) — For decades, the Lippman Kanfer family has focused its philanthropy on local Jewish communities and national initiatives to teach Torah — funding causes from the Anshe Sfard Congregation in Akron, Ohio, to a Jewish day school network.

But since Nov. 8, Election Day, the family has been talking about another set of issues — refugees, voting rights and civic engagement. Like so many other things, its giving has been shaken by the Donald Trump administration.

“When it’s time to step up, we have to step up,” said Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, the founding director of the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah. “We’re grappling with how much we step up fast, where the urgency requires us to act quickly.”

Trump’s election has pushed the Lippman Kanfer family and other Jewish mega-donors to refocus their giving on domestic causes that reach beyond the Jewish community. The donors, some of whom had already funded liberal causes, cite the country’s political divides, the president’s policies targeting minorities and a proposed federal budget that reduces funding for social services and the arts. But Trump’s support for school choice could also aid funders supporting Jewish day school.

“I don’t think private foundations can make up for draconian social service cuts in the federal budget,” said Susie Gelman, who chairs the center-left Israel Policy Forum and whose family funds programs for Jews in their 20s and 30s. “But I think funders can be strategic and smart, and form partnerships and try to address some of the issues now under threat.”

Discussions of Trump’s election and its fallout have coursed through the Jewish Funders Network International Conference here this week. Several sessions dealt with bridging political divides and promoting civil conversation. Others addressed a perceived spike in anti-Semitism and the increasing need for security at Jewish institutions. On Tuesday, a session on government funding and American Jewry forecast that deep cuts in federal domestic spending could spell trouble for Jewish social service groups.

The funders network’s focus on civil discourse grew during the election campaign. The group, which serves as a resource and hub for Jewish donors and foundations, issued guidelines in August for how philanthropists should conduct themselves. The principles included “Consider and honor diverse viewpoints” and “Fund positive change, not hostility.”

“Funders themselves sometimes use their power from their funding to force ideological positions,” said the network’s president, Andres Spokoiny. “Funders can [instead] fund organizations and people that strengthen civil discourse, that create spaces for dialogue and conversation.”

Rather than make up for lost federal funding, some donors plan to focus on advocacy to prevent government budget cuts. The Nathan Cummings Foundation, which already funds a number of liberal groups — including some Jewish ones — hopes to encourage minority advocacy groups to unite around a common advocacy agenda.

“Philanthropy can’t replace the NEA,” said the foundation’s president, Sharon Alpert, referring to the National Endowment for the Arts. “What philanthropy has always been poised at is creating partnerships with government that demonstrate how important government action and programs are to our lives. We need to engage even more deeply in making that case.”

Mark Reisbaum, who donates to Jewish and LGBT arts initiatives in Northern California’s Bay Area, said he and other donors he knows now plan to donate to politicians who support arts funding.

Marcella Kanfer Rolnick

“For many funders, the political and public sector environment over the last decade was supportive and inclusive of their vision, so they didn’t feel the need to operate in that sphere,” he said. “In the current environment, they realize they can’t only fund the arts directly. They also have to try to influence the political sector.”

Spokoiny noted that Trump’s policies may also serve Jewish interests, given Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ support for tuition vouchers for private schools. Jewish leaders have long fretted about rising tuition making Jewish day school prohibitively expensive.

“There could be some positive things in terms of funding,” he said. “Day school funding could receive a boost from a government that believes in school choice.”

Even Jewish programs with no political dimension have made adjustments in the Trump era. PJ Library, a program that sends Jewish books to children, has posted guidelines on its Facebook page helping parents broach the topics of anti-Semitism and hate with their children.

“We’re terribly saddened that children’s lives are being disrupted and that parents have to face this issue and be prepared for their children’s questions,” said Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, president of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which funds the program, referring to the some 150 Jewish community centers and other institutions that have been hit with bomb threats since the start of this year. “But if we’re a trusted source in engaging around parents’ topics, this is a topic we have to address.”

Combating Trump’s agenda may be a boon for organizations seeking to engage younger philanthropists. Michael Littenberg-Brown, 35, president of the Council of Young Jewish Presidents, a consortium of young donors, said his generation is more attracted to groups that provide a Jewish entry point to addressing global injustice, like HIAS, which advocates for refugees, or the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism.

“The burden is to use this moment to help create the space for young funders,” he said. “Young people see themselves as global citizens, and that becomes a very important identity to them in addition to their Jewish identity.”

Donors said that even with the shift to broader issues, parochial Jewish causes may not suffer. Reisbaum said that some of his fellow philanthropists have committed to donating more, corresponding to the spike in the stock market since Trump’s election.

“For some people, that’s tainted money,” he said. “If I have these ill-gotten gains, I want to do more with them.”

Co-founder of BDS movement arrested in Israel for tax evasion

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel was arrested in Israel for tax evasion.

Omar Barghouti, a Qatari-born Palestinian who lives in northern Israel with his Israeli-Arab wife, was arrested Monday and questioned before being released a few hours later on bail, the Israeli business daily Globes reported. He was banned from leaving the country and required to leave his passport with the court in Haifa, according to reports.

He received permanent residency status in Israel in 1994.

Barghouti, of Acre, is accused of failing to report about $700,000 in income over the past decade that he earned while working as the director of National Computing Resources in Ramallah, according to Globes. He allegedly deposited the money in a Ramallah bank, which kept it hidden from Israeli authorities. He also deposited speaking fees he made from lecturing around the world in a U.S. bank.

A search of Barghouti’s home found documents and credit cards that supported suspicions that he had an undeclared bank account in the United States, Globes reported.

Barghouti is scheduled to travel to the United States in April to receive the Gandhi Peace Prize at Yale University, which is awarded annually by the government of India to individuals or organizations that have engaged in political, economic or social change in nonviolent ways.

Barghouti rejects the concept of Israel as a Jewish state as well as a two-state solution, favoring instead one secular state for both Jews and Palestinians, according to Globes.

The BDS movement was launched in 2005.

%d bloggers like this: