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Shelley Berkley spent 14 years in Congress representing the western swing state of Nevada. The lifelong Democrat is worried about her party’s ability in next year’s presidential election to maintain the traditional support of her fellow Jews.
“Growing up, I didn’t know anybody that was Jewish who wasn’t a Democrat. The two went hand in hand. If you’re Jewish, you’re a Democrat. Things have changed dramatically,” according to Berkley.
The party’s rising left wing is less inclined to reflexively support Israel, while President Donald Trump has decisively aligned with Israel’s right-wing president, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“There’s a lot of folks like Congresswoman Berkeley increasingly concerned about the direction and tone the Democratic Party is taking as it relates to the Jewish community and Israel,” says Matthew Brooks, national executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Throughout most of the 20th century, Jews were staunch Democrats, traditionally allied with the labor movement and religiously coming out to vote in force.
As important, according to American University professor of history Alan Kraut, “is the influence that Jews wield as opinion leaders, journalists, contributors and activists – as a people basically who are never afraid to raise their voices one way or another.”
Pollster Mark Mellman contends data show that has not changed, with the Jewish community remaining “strongly Democratic to this day, and certainly anti-Trump, even though some are appreciative of some of the things that Trump has done vis-a-vis Israel.”
Both Berkley and Mellman say most Jewish voters detest Trump’s policies in general, as well as his behavior and lack of intellectual curiosity.
But Trump is trying hard to woo them, portraying the Democratic Party as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.
“The reality is, the American Jewish community is not going to be voting for Donald Trump. … And for him to invest so much time, effort, energy, in trying to create a wedge between the American Jewish community and the Democratic Party isn’t really a very good use of his time,” says Mellman, who heads one of the most prominent Democratic marketing research and polling firms. But he acknowledges “there are some increasing doubts and concern.”
Berkley says her children remain strong Democrats but are concerned about whether they can continue to support their own party.
“Now that doesn’t mean they are embracing the Trump revolution. Hardly. But people like us, pro-Israel moderate Democrats, where do we go?” she asks.
At the RJC, Brooks is looking to lure those disaffected Democrats. He contends the rival party is overconfident about the Jewish vote.
“It’s going to be very hard for any of the Democratic candidates to have, like President Trump, an unvarnished pro-Israel agenda, because the grassroots in the base of the Democratic Party won’t allow it,” Brooks predicts.
“If we move 5% of the Jewish vote in Los Angeles or New York, it’s not going to make a difference,” Brooks says. “There’s no chance we’re winning New York state or California. So, our focus is very strategic and very targeted in the battleground states.”
At the forefront are Ohio and Florida, both with significant Jewish populations. Also seen in play: Arizona and Nevada out West, as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the Midwest.
“Since Trump has been in office, has he been able to attract and to peel away Jewish support from the Democratic Party? I believe the answer to that is yes,” says Brooks.
The head of the Republican Jewish Coalition says American Jews look not just at a candidate’s stance on Israel, but also at economic issues.
“I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to make these incremental gains,” Brooks tells VOA.
Mellman says Brooks and other Republicans are overly optimistic “when you have a community that has consistently voted Democratic for many years. And right now, even after all these things, hates Donald Trump. Now, could that turn around in 17 months? It’s possible. But there’s never been that kind of wholesale turnaround in public opinion.”
Kraut sees the best opportunity for Republicans with “older Jewish voters, men and women, who lean toward Trump because of Israel. And because he does seem to them to fly in the face of what they regard as the left wing of the Democratic Party that’s taking shape” around congressional first-termers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, according to Kraut.
“They don’t like these people. They don’t trust these people,” says Kraut of the older Jewish voters.
“I’m apoplectic about my party’s response to the comments Omar and others have made,” she tells VOA. “Members of the Democratic caucus have made anti-Semitic statements that were no accident. They actually believe what they’re saying.”
This sentiment likely will be more of a factor prior to the general election as Jews could have an outsized role in selecting the Democratic Party’s nominee.
While early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire have negligible Jewish populations, the big and solid Democrat states – New York and California – do.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is viewed by much of the Jewish bloc as stable and predictable with foreign policy, respected around the world, and representing their core social and moral values, according to Kraut.
“If I were a betting man, I would say that if Biden is the candidate of the Democratic Party, the Jews are going to flock to him” in the general election against Trump, Kraut says.
He sees Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as struggling for Jewish votes, despite him being the only Jew running for president.
Some may find that ironic.
“It’s worse than ironic. It’s very unfortunate, actually,” laments Berkley, who says she opposes Sanders’ candidacy “because of his lack of support for Israel.”
Mellman says Sanders has stated he is “100% pro-Israel, that he believes Israel has every right to exist in peace and security without being subject to terrorism.”
Jewish leaders acknowledge Trump’s embrace of Israel may also be motivated by his desire to retain the support of Christian evangelicals (who believe that Israel must continue to exist as a harbinger for the return of Christ as the Messiah).
“Being good to Israel has many, many political advantages in the United States,” notes Kraut. “The Jewish vote alone isn’t going to put Trump over the top.” (VOA)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)