Campaign rhetoric over sex education heats up New Jersey’s gubernatorial race

 Politico

08/19/2021

Third graders do their work behind see-though partitions at a school in Jersey City, N.J. 

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There‘s no law or policy in New Jersey that mandates teaching kindergartners about sex acts. But in the heat of the gubernatorial campaign, a casual observer might believe there is.

Some Republicans have recently conflated two laws that require teaching about diversity and historical contributions of LGTBQ people with new sex education curriculum requirements for middle-schoolers, sometimes going as far as to claim or imply that New Jersey’s youngest school children are being taught about sexual acts.

“Phil Murphy has mandated that kindergartners and elementary school students be taught about explicit sexual acts,” Republican State Committee Executive Director Tom Szymanski said in a radio interview last Saturday with New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein.

Szymanski emphasized the point: “Kindergartners, David.”

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Cardinal Tobin & ex-CEO: Immigration reform is morally right and politically smart | Opinion

Published: Aug. 19, 2021

By Joseph W. Tobin and John Rowe

Cardinal Joseph Tobin (right), archbishop of the Newark Diocese, and John Rowe, former CEO Exelon Corporation, say it breaks their hearts to see refugees deported back to counties where they face certain death. And for those whose politics are more economically centered, they should recognize that a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is good for our wallets, too.

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If politics is known for bringing warring camps to the table when their interests align, there can be no better example than the Wall Street CEOs, small business owners, faith leaders, farmers, union bosses, civil rights advocates, immigrants, their families and allies, all united in support of the immigration reforms before the Senate – The Durbin-Graham DREAM Act, the SECURE Act and the Crapo-Bennet companion to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

After decades of congressional inaction on immigration, our growing ranks have lost patience and demand the solutions these bills offer. Inaction is not an option.

Some of us are driven by a moral compunction that demands justice for our nation’s 10.2 million undocumented immigrants. We are, after all, a nation of immigrants. Whether we were born here, brought here, or find ourselves making the United States home due to circumstances beyond our control, Americans intrinsically understand the plight of immigrants and refugees.

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COVID-19 vaccination mandate for teachers, school staffers likely within days

JOHN MOONEY, EDUCATION WRITER | AUGUST 20, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Aug. 6, 2021: Gov. Phil Murphy with Cheryl Brass and her son Zachary at Memorial Elementary School, East Brunswick, where the governor announced a mask mandate for schools.

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Since announcing a school-mask mandate two weeks ago, Gov. Phil Murphy left little doubt that he would next mandate vaccinations for teachers and other school personnel.

With schools set to open within weeks — and Murphy returning from vacation — details of the vaccination initiative are starting to emerge. Murphy is expected to announce that all teachers and staff must be vaccinated or be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing.

Left open are a number of questions, including whether the governor will suggest a vaccination mandate for students — a sure-to-be highly contentious prospect.

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Murphy has 16 point lead over Ciattarelli, new Monmouth Poll says

By David WildsteinAugust 18 2021

New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy, left, and GOP gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli, right. 

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Gov. Phil Murphy holds a commanding 16-point lead, 52%-36%, in his race against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, in a Monmouth University Poll released on Wednesday morning.

The poll makes Murphy the favorite to become the first Democrat in 44 years to win a second term as Governor of New Jersey against Ciattarelli, a still largely unknown former Republican assemblyman from Central Jersey.

At 48%-33%, Murphy has high favorables among New Jerseyans, although the number is just slightly down from his 56%-36% favorables in a Monmouth poll released in May.

Ciattarelli has statewide favorables of 26%-12%, with 61% of registered voters still having no opinion of him.

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N.J. African Restaurant Week aims to put cuisine ‘on the foodie map’

Posted Aug 18, 2021

Restaurants around New Jersey are coming together this week in celebration of African cuisine, and capping it all off with a giant food festival in Newark.

The first-ever New Jersey African Restaurant Week runs now through Sunday with 23 different eateries taking part, some with special menus and deals, stretching as far north as Hackensack all the way down to Trenton. The end of the week will be celebrated with a festival outdoors at Bisrate Gebriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Newark, taking place Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. and feature vendors selling food, art, clothing and other goods as well as musical performances.

“It becomes a community affair, for people to get to come and experience foods they might not have tried before,” African Restaurant Week CEO Akin Akinsanya said. “And get to know all the people on the culture.”

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The third COVID-19 shot: What we know

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | AUGUST 19, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Vials of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines

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Federal health officials are calling on American adults vaccinated against COVID-19 to receive a booster shot starting this fall, a process that will begin with health care workers, long-term care residents, senior citizens and other vulnerable groups.

The New Jersey Department of Health is preparing to offer booster doses of the vaccines to the general public, it said in a statement Wednesday following the announcement earlier that day from clinical and public health officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More than 5.4 million New Jerseyans are now fully vaccinated, according to state data.

“Details will be forthcoming,” the state health department said Wednesday.

The protocol for what will be third shots for most immunized individuals must still be approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, which has begun the review process for one of the available vaccines. The New Jersey health department said it is also awaiting recommendations from an advisory committee of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Racial Inequities Persist in Health Care Despite Expanded Insurance

Health workers demonstrating in Washington in 2020. Racial health gaps did not narrow significantly between 1999 and 2018, according to one study.Credit...
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Two decades ago, only 9 percent of white Americans rated their health as fair or poor. But 14 percent of Hispanic Americans characterized their health in those terms, as did nearly 18 percent of Black Americans.

In recent years, access to care has improved in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, which reduced the number of uninsured Americans across all racial and ethnic groups. But the racial health gap has remained, according to a series of studies published on Tuesday in the journal JAMA.

A dismal picture of persistent health disparities in America was described in an issue devoted entirely to inequities in medicine. The wide-ranging issue included research on spending and patterns of care, comparative rates of gestational diabetes and the proportion of Black physicians at medical schools.

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Biden’s increase in food stamp funding means $376M more for N.J. households

Posted Aug 17, 2021

The more than 700,000 New Jersey households now receiving aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the program formerly known as food stamps, will see an increase in benefits beginning Oct. 1.

That will mean an extra $36.24 per person per month, according to the state Department of Human Services.

The increased benefits “will improve the food security of many New Jersey children and families enrolled in NJ SNAP,” Acting Health Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard to make sure families receive additional pandemic food benefits as quickly as possible and will continue to do so.”

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Ocean County set to buy voting machines its experts said not to

JEFF PILLETS | AUGUST 18, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Republicans who control the Ocean County Board of Commissioners are expected to bypass the recommendation of the county experts and award $2.6M contract for new voting machines to Dominion Voting Systems.

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Against the best advice of its own technical and ballot security experts, Ocean County this week is expected to award a $2.6 million contract for new voting machines to Toronto-based Dominion Voting Systems.

Public documents reviewed by New Jersey Spotlight News show that staff professionals working for the county Board of Elections raised a series of red flags during a public meeting of the board in late June, warning against the Dominion purchase.

The experts, who had spent more than a year studying the purchase and evaluating competing brands of voting machines, said the Dominion models would be less secure, harder to use for most voters and more prone to mechanical breakdown. Staffers also said it would be harder to train poll workers on the Dominion system than on their major competitor’s machines.

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N.J. reports 1,145 COVID cases, 4 confirmed deaths as hospitalizations increase again, to more than 850 patients

Posted Aug 16, 2021

New Jersey on Monday reported another 1,145 confirmed COVID-19 cases and four more confirmed deaths on Sunday, while statewide coronavirus hospitalizations topped 800 for the first time in more than three months.

The state’s seven-day average for newly confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 1,499. That’s up 23% from a week ago and 324% from a month ago as officials say the highly transmissible delta variant continues to drive increases.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is serving as acting governor while Gov. Phil Murphy is on vacation in Italy, delivered the updated numbers during an appearance alongside U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in New Brunswick.

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