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Sen. Arlen Specter, one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, has converted — to the Democratic Party. The longtime Pennsylvania senator’s surprise move will give Democrats 60 votes in the Senate, assuming that Al Franken wins his ongoing court case in Minnesota and is seated, which would give Senate Democrats the power to stop filibusters.
Jean Blum, a 73-year-old retired teacher living in Paterson, N.J., corresponded with and took desperate collect phone calls from illegal immigrants who were being detained at her local jail to await deportation. Blum responded to their pleas by nagging local officials to improve the prisoners’ living conditions. When she heard about the death of Ahmad Tanveer, a 43-year-old Pakistani New Yorker, she collected accounts from witnesses and sent her evidence to the government.
The Reform movement’s seminary is looking into closing two of its three U.S. campuses as part of an effort to close looming budget gaps caused by the recent economic downturn.
If there is an enduring present-day image of New York’s Liberal Party, it is likely that of former party chief Raymond Harding — an enormous, white-haired man in a black raincoat and handcuffs — being led into state court in April for an indictment on charges of influence peddling. It could have almost been an old caricature of the corrupt Tammany Hall bosses that the Liberal Party was founded to help unseat.
A group of contemporary labor leaders are at the head of a new Jewish labor movement, recalling an era before World War II when Jews were leading some of the most progressive, innovative unions in the country.