RAP Sheet

Both Lobbyists and Obama Officials Appeal to Jewish Democrats on Iran

posted on July 29, 2015

In The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian reports that pro-Israel lobbyists and the Obama administration are competing on Capitol Hill for the votes of Jewish Democratic lawmakers on the Iran nuclear deal. At a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry strove to “convince lawmakers being pressured by pro-Israel lobbyists that there is nothing anti-Israel in supporting the deal,” Demirjian writes. “It was clear at Tuesday’s hearing that many Democratic lawmakers still had serious concerns about how well the deal would protect Israel.”

Read at The Washington Post

GOP Introduces Legislation to Defund Planned Parenthood

posted on July 29, 2015

POLITICO’s John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer report that Senate Republicans “have introduced legislation to cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood, the abortion rights group at the center of a political firestorm over alleged fetal tissue sales.” The bill, which should be voted on next week, would take approximately $540 million in funding from Planned Parenthood. According to a statement from Senate Republicans, “Funds no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be offered to other eligible entities to provide such women’s health care services.”

Read at POLITICO

A Dream Undone

posted on July 29, 2015

In The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg writes on the American civil rights story and on the steps taken by some Republicans in Congress to weaken the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The story “involves a largely Republican countermovement of ideologues and partisan operatives who, from the moment the Voting Rights Act became law, methodically set out to undercut or dismantle its most important requirements,” Rutenberg writes. The effects of this countermovement include a new North Carolina voting law that has been called one of the “most restrictive since the Jim Crow era.”

Read at The New York Times

A Skeleton, a Catholic Relic, and a Mystery About American Origins

posted on July 29, 2015

In The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance reports that archaeologists have found a small Catholic reliquary, buried with the remains of Captain Gabriel Archer, a prominent leader at the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Researchers “may have just discovered proof of an underground community of Catholics – including Archer and perhaps the person who buried him with the relic – who pretended to be Protestants,” LaFrance writes. The relic calls into question researchers’ “understanding of Archer as an individual, and of Jamestown and the trajectory of Catholicism in America more broadly.”

Read at The Atlantic

How Jonathan Pollard Freedom Crusade United American Jews

posted on July 29, 2015

At The Forward, Nathan Guttman writes on the efforts conducted by the American Jewish community to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison. “The unified response to Pollard’s release might lead one to believe that the community had pushed together for three decades to win Pollard’s freedom,” Guttman writes. “But in fact, the American Jewish community was pointedly slow to take on his case as its own – and only the past decade had it began to lobby for his release in earnest.”

Read at The Forward

Death of Taliban Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar Confirmed by Afghan Officials

posted on July 29, 2015

In The Washington Post, Pamela Constable and Brian Murphy report that Afghanistan’s intelligence agency confirmed Wednesday that the Taliban’s longtime leader Mullah Omar died in a Karachi hospital in April 2013. The news comes after two years of statements from the Taliban’s official spokesmen, denying Omar’s death, and precedes a “scheduled session of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government seeking to end 14 years of fighting,” Constable and Murphy write. “Omar’s death could complicate the peace bid amid potential succession battles within the Taliban.”

Read at The Washington Post

US Bureau of Prisons Agrees to Recognize Humanism as a Religious Preference

posted on July 28, 2015

The Associated Press’s Steven Dubois reports that the federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to include a section on humanism in its manual on “intimate beliefs and practices.” The agreement settled a lawsuit brought by the American Humanist Association, who claimed that humanist prisoners in Oregon were forbidden to form a study group. Under the agreement, prison officials will “consider requests from humanist inmates for access to study materials, observance of holy days, and time and space for religious activities,” Dubois writes.

Read at The Associated Press

Gay and Transgender Catholics Urge Pope Francis to Take a Stand

posted on July 28, 2015

In The New York Times, Laurie Goodstein reports that a group of LGBT Catholics are asking the pope to take a stand on the issues of gender and sexuality that have been causing discord between Catholics and within the church. The group claims that the church in America is “in the midst of a ‘pastoral crisis’ over gay issues,” Goodstein writes. They want Francis to “acknowledge their rejection by the church, and to welcome them as full members with equal access to sacraments like baptism and marriage.”

Read at The New York Times

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