Last March, the school board of the Perelman Jewish Day School held a meeting at which they decided to dissolve the teachers' union. This was done with no negotiation, no discussion and no participation of the people whose lives this would most directly affect: the teachers.
The board decided unilaterally to have each teacher negotiate his or her own contract, with tenure and seniority being eliminated and a general clause in the new handbook stating that any teacher could be terminated at will, with no due cause.
Perhaps one of the troubling aspects of this non-negotiation termination of the union is in what has happened to the once-warm and caring relationship that the teachers shared with parents and board members. People who once had close friendships are now avoiding each other and do not even make eye contact.
One Egg is a Fortune, edited by Pnina Jacobson and Judy Kempler, is three books in one: a high quality gourmet Jewish cookbook, a table book of magnificent food photographs, and an anthology of fascinating narratives from fifty contributing authors from around the world.
The editors put ten years into developing this beautiful volume, and it is perfect as a gift.
Taste test? The closest to that that we can do is to offer a section from the narrative of the former United States ambassador, Dennis Ross, and his excellent recipe as well. B'tayavon!
Ross' narrative and salmon fillet recipe follow the jump.
New Hampshire is the first state to have an all female delegation: Senator Kelly Ayotte (R, not pictured), Governor Elect Maggie Hassan D), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D), Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D) and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D).
Maggie Hassan will be the country's only Democratic woman governor.
(TPM) Voters Tuesday elected a record number of women to Congress, thanks largely to gains on the Democratic side of the aisle.
In the Senate, where every incumbent Democrat won re-election, there will be a record 20 women Senators come January - a net gain of three. Women will also set a new record in the House of Representatives with 78 women elected - a number that could rise as a final handful of races are called.
In addition to the 12 Democratic women already in the Senate, Democrats will welcome newcomers Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota and Mazie Hirono from Hawaii. While two Republican women retired — Texas's Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Maine's Sen. Olympia Snowe — Republican Deb Fischer won in Nebraska.
The gains, of course, could have been even higher if not for a few losses. Democrat Shelley Berkley lost an uphill challenge to incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada. In Utah, Republicans had hoped Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love would become the first black, Republican woman elected to Congress. Love fell short in her challenge to incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson. In addition, both parties a few female incumbents in the House.
— by Sari Stevens and Audrey Ann Ross
HARRISBURG, PA - President Obama's reelection is a historic victory for women's health, driven by a substantial gender gap, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC said Wednesday morning.
"This is a resounding victory for women. More than ever before, women's health was a decisive issue in this election. Americans on Tuesday voted to ensure that women will have access to affordable health care and be able to make their own medical decisions," said executive director Sari Stevens.
"This election sends a powerful and unmistakable message to members of Congress and the Pennsylvania legislature that the American people do not want politicians to meddle in our personal medical decisions, and that politicians demean and dismiss women at their own peril."
Women's health issues played a defining role in the presidential election, with preliminary data showing candidates and advocates nationwide aired broadcast ads 46,141 times highlighting the issues — a 350% increase in spending from 2008. Throughout the campaign, these issues have presented one of the starkest contrasts between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Obama vowed to fully implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure that millions of women get preventive care at no cost, require insurance companies to cover birth control, protect funding for Planned Parenthood and federal family planning programs, and protect access to safe and legal abortion. Romney took the opposite position on all of these issues, and then tried unsuccessfully to cast himself as more of a moderate on women's health in the final weeks of the campaign.
Chair of the Philadelphia Museum of Art trustees, the Honorable Constance Williams, joins His Excellency François Delattre, the French ambassador to the U.S., and Michael Scullin, Esq., Honorary French Consul in Philadelphia. Photo: Bonnie Squires.
— by Bonnie Squires
Jules Mastbaum, the Jewish philanthropist who, in the early 20th century, created and donated to the City of Philadelphia his fabulous collection of Rodin sculptures and the "jewel box" of a museum to house it, would have been very pleased with the number of Jewish philanthropists who turned out on September 15 for the Rodin Gala and fundraiser.
Mastbaum, who made his fortune as a movie theater mogul, spared no expense in having his "jewel box" of a Beaux Arts museum designed and built to house his collection.
"The Hunger Games" opened this weekend to robust ticket sales, taking in a record $155 million in North America, according to The New York Times. The film and the book of the same name is about a dystopian future society, Panem, that arose after North America had been destroyed. Panem is governed autocratically from the Capitol, somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. After a failed revolt some 74 years ago, the remaining 12 outlying districts are controlled by starvation rations and a cruel annual selection — the reaping — of one boy and one girl from each district to compete for their life in a televised survival competition called the Hunger Games. Beyond natural selection, they are subjected to man-made disasters — fire, creatures engineered to be more lethal, and artificially altered weather — as well as armed violence from the other contenders, the tributes, until only one survivor remains.
My younger child was a reluctant reader, so I tried different strategies to get her to read. Her sister was willing to read anything I put in front of her, but she was choosy. I got a boxful of books from the library each week but they were not engaging her. However, she did gravitate towards my cookbook collection, especially the ones written for children and the themed ones based on beloved children's books, such as Babe, Little House on the Prairie, and the Boxcar Children. So, I started with cookbooks and expanded to books about geography, culture, and religion.
It has been several weeks since President Barack Obama first increased sanctions on Iran, effectively cutting off Iran's central bank from the global economy. To this point, the evidence is overwhelming that these sanctions have had a strong effect on Iran's economy and government.
Previously a major importer of steel, Iranian steel traders have found their business "grinding to a halt."
Ambassador Dennis Ross (left) accepts the Anti-Defamation League's Distinguished Public Service Award from Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in recognition of his role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East Peace Process. Mr. Ross, who recently retired from his role as a top Middle East advisor in the Obama Administration, is currently a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Mr. Ross was presented with the award, a crystal Eagle representing America's commitment to pursuing the ideals of freedom and democracy abroad, in a ceremony during the League's annual dinner, February 9, 2012 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: David Karp/ADL)
Dennis Ross, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, addressed the Anti-Defamation League's national conference and conveyed to the audience that the Obama Administration is standing squarely with Israel amid the changes taking place in the Middle East. Ross also outlined the Obama Administration's priorities for the Middle East and emphasized that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible with the current regional changes taking place.
Ross reiterated America's commitment and expressed similar sentiment as Defense Secretary Robert Gates regarding the current state of U.S.-Israel relations:
Our relationship with Israel becomes more important during a time of change and upheaval in the Middle East. Israel is an enduring partner whose stability can be counted on. We are bound by shared values and interests, and our commitment to Israel's security is iron-clad and unshakable. For the Obama Administration, those are not just words. Many of you may have heard what Secretary Gates recently said in Israel: 'I cannot recall a time during my public life when our two countries have had a closer defense relationship. The U.S. and Israel are cooperating closely in areas such as missile defense technology, the Joint Strike Fighter, and in training exercises such as Juniper Stallion-cooperation and support that ensures that Israel will continue to maintain its qualitative military edge.' Our cooperation contributes to Israel's security every day, signified by Israel's recent deployment of the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system, which we helped fund with more than $200 million in support this year. I too cannot recall a time when security cooperation between our two countries has ever been as intense or focused.
Ross also had strong words regarding Iran's recent provocative behavior:
Iran, in particular is trying to exploit the political changes in the Arab world, and using its proxy Hezbollah to enflame sectarian tensions in countries like Bahrain at precisely a moment when sectarian differences and legitimate grievances need to be overcome politically and not exacerbated. Iran has also been quick to criticize Arab governments for using the very repressive tactics it continues to employ against its own people. Indeed, it is the height of irony that at a time when Arab publics throughout the Middle East are finding their voice, the Iranian leadership seeks to quash the voice of Iranians who are asking only for their rights.
The Iranians are fooling no one. And, they are also fooling no one as they continue to pursue their nuclear program in defiance of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions. As National Security Advisor Tom Donilon stressed last week, 'Even with all the events unfolding in the Middle East, we remain focused on the strategic imperative of ensuring that Iran does acquire not nuclear weapons.' On our own and with others, we will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime. On March 24, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution appointing a special rapporteur charged with investigating and monitoring human rights abuses in Iran - a move that the ADL praised. Iran continues to contend with sanctions that are far more comprehensive than ever before, and as a result, it finds it hard to do business with any reputable bank internationally; to conduct transactions in Euros or dollars; to acquire insurance for its shipping; to gain new capital investment or technology infusions in its antiquated oil and natural gas infrastructure-and it has found in that critical sector, alone, close to $60 billion in projects have been put on hold or discontinued. Other sectors are clearly being affected as well as leading multinational corporations understand the risk of doing business with Iran and are no longer doing so.
Unless and until Iran complies with its obligations under the NPT and all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, we will continue to ratchet up the pressure.
In addition, Ross outlined the potential for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to flourish with the backdrop of a changing Middle East:
For too long, illegitimate governments have looked to blame others for their problems, to deflect attention from their own shortcomings by stoking hostilities toward the United States or Israel.
One of the most remarkable features of the peaceful protests movements across the region has been their focus on domestic issues - the abuses of security forces, government corruption, and the limited opportunities to participate in government decisions. I fully expect that when these populations are empowered and responsible for shaping the future of their countries, they will also see the importance of pursuing peace and cooperation as essential to their own political futures. The more that countries are able to invest their resources in their own future and the less they invest in conflict, the more they will be able to address the needs of their people that prompted the revolts of the Arab Spring.
Many of you will remember how Shimon Peres - who is having lunch with President Obama tomorrow - spoke about the New Middle East in 1993 that would be built on the foundations of peace, cooperation, and trade. Unfortunately, Peres's vision was not realized two decades ago, because such a future could not be built on an authoritarian foundation. The Middle East today has very little internal trade and investment. The region also has very few domestic or transnational institutions when compared to other parts of the world. All that needs to change, and the democratic movements today offer the prospect of a truly new Middle East - a vision that we must strive to realize. The United States can help support this process by facilitating the work of civil society and non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, and private-public partnerships to help countries in transition secure the resources and knowledge needed for a better future.
Specifically, Ross emphasized that any peace agreement take into account Israel's security:
Peace is essential in the region not only to enhance the prospect of trade and cooperation, but to ensure that as a new generation of leaders emerge, they recognize the prospect that Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs can coexist in their own states without the ever-present prospect of renewed hostilities. New leaders need to see that peace is possible and not impossible. They need to see that negotiations can take place and actually produce. And, Israelis and Palestinians need to feel that their respective requirements for peace are understood clearly by each other and will actually be addressed. Israelis, particularly during a time of change with inherent uncertainty, must see that their security will be addressed meaningfully, and in a way that does not leave them vulnerable to the uncertainties of the future. Palestinians must know that they will have an independent state that is contiguous and viable. For Palestinians, that prospect is certainly made more credible when tangible steps are taken to show that the occupation is receding.
Ross concluded by summarizing the United States' priorities in the Middle East:
We clearly have a full plate of challenges in the Middle East today. But our agenda is clear: support coalition forces in their mission to protect the civilians of Libya and support a peaceful, inclusive, and democratic transition there; help Egypt and Tunisia to conduct a successful, orderly, and credible transition; encourage others in the region undertake meaningful reform now before they too face destabilizing unrest; work to expand economic opportunities; continue the push for peace between Israelis, Palestinians, and their Arab neighbors; and build the pressure on Iran. This is a complex and demanding agenda, but it has the complete attention of the President and his full national security team.
Ambassador Dennis Ross is Special Assistant to the President and the Department of State's Senior Director for the Central Region. He spoke today at J Street's Annual Conference in Washington, DC
When J Street began planning this conference, I'm sure you had in mind discussing a very different reality in the Middle East than exists today. But a few months can feel like an eternity in the Middle East, and we have seen a remarkable transformation in the region over the last several weeks. For the first time in generations, people in Tunisia and then Egypt took to the streets and unseated their leaders through popular, peaceful protests. Thousands of people have followed them from Algeria to Bahrain to Yemen where we have seen governments begin to respond with different degrees of effectiveness. And we have also seen utterly appalling violence in Libya where a detached and brutal leadership has chosen a desperate and irresponsible response to its people's legitimate demands.
A few months ago, it was difficult to envision a Middle East without Ben Ali and Mubarak, stalwart representatives of an old order who governed with the belief that intimidation could preserve their rule. Now, as we enter a period of uncertainty, and seek to ensure that the transitions in Egypt and Tunisia are peaceful, orderly and credible, we need to begin thinking about the Middle East in new ways. As President Obama said a couple of weeks ago,
"The world is changing; you have a young, vibrant generation within the Middle East that is looking for greater opportunity, and that if you are governing these countries, you've got to get out ahead of change. You can't be behind the curve."
This morning I would like to talk to you about what has happened in Egypt, its impact on the region, and the actions taken by the Obama Administration in the region and beyond.
Remarks by Dennis Ross, Special Assistant to the President at the AIPAC Summit in Hollywood, Florida on October 25, 2010
It is always a pleasure to speak to AIPAC, one of the most active and well-informed foreign policy groups in the country.
I want to spend some time talking to you today about an issue you care deeply about and where the AIPAC membership has been deeply engaged: Iran. It is also the issue on which I spend much of my time.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to your Policy Conference in Washington six months ago, she laid out the Obama administration's fundamental approach to what is one of the most complicated and serious challenges facing the United States today. It is an approach rooted in the fundamentals of diplomacy and statecraft: building leverage through creative and persistent diplomacy to change the behavior of a government insistent on threatening its neighbors, supporting terrorism, and pursuing a nuclear program in violation of its international obligations.
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