Jerusalem, Al Franken, medical marijuana and the color of the year

Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but emphasized that he was not pre-empting negotiations over the final status of the city. “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in a televised address from the White House, with Vice President Mike Pence standing behind him. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. I today am delivering.” Trump in the proclamation also directed the State Department to start planning an embassy in Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy is currently in Tel Aviv. The president said the decision should not impinge on efforts led by his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to bring about a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Trump said the proclamation does not presume the outcome of Jerusalem’s status in negotiations. “We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who welcomed the announcement, has said repeatedly that Jerusalem will remain undivided as Israel’s capital. Palestinian officials hope to establish the capital of a Palestinian state in the city’s eastern sector. Trump also made a point of urging the preservation of the status quo on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. The controlling authority on the Temple Mount now is the Muslim Waqf, and Jews are forbidden to pray on the site. —JTA

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Sen. Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken speaking to the media on Capitol Hill after returning to work in the Senate, Nov. 27, 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Calls for Franken’s resignation

Sen. Bernie Sanders said his colleague Al Franken’s announcement scheduled for today should include his resignation following accusations of sexual harassment from more than a half dozen women. “Sen. Franken has said that he will be making an announcement about his political future tomorrow. The right thing is for him to resign,” Sanders, I-Vt., who ran for president as a Democrat in the 2016 elections, said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. “We are now at a crossroads in American culture. And it is an important one. The way we treat women in our country has been abysmal in almost every way. We are finally addressing the issue of sexual harassment, and we need to get it right.” At least 22 Democratic senators, many of them women, have called on Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, to resign as of Wednesday afternoon. Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Dianne Feinstein of California also said Wednesday on Twitter that resignation was the “right thing” for Franken. Both are Jewish, as are Franken and Sanders. Following the calls for his resignation after another woman came forward on Wednesday to accuse him of sexual harassment, Franken’s office said he would make an “announcement” on Thursday. The office did not say what the nature of the announcement would be. Seven woman have come forward to accuse Franken of touching them inappropriately during photo opportunities and campaign events. The accusations date from between 2003 and 2010. On Dec. 6, Sen. Al Franken denied a report that he had decided to quit the Senate after a seventh woman alleged sexual misconduct and half the body’s Democratic caucus said he should go. Minnesota Public Radio quoted an official who had spoken to Franken as saying he would quit on Thursday, but Franken denied it on Twitter. “No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family,” Franken’s Twitter account said. “Please update your story.”

Read more:  Bernie Sanders says Al Franken should resign

Also see: Al Franken says report he is quitting the Senate is premature

Maryland’s medical marijuana shortage

According to WJZ-TV, The first licensed dispensary opened up in the state just days ago, but they’re unable to keep up with the high demand. Some medical marijuana patients say they’ve waited years for this to open up in Maryland, so waiting just a couple of weeks isn’t that big of a setback. Maryland’s medical marijuana dispensaries have almost completely run out of their supply within days of opening. “It is quite expected — the demand — in any new industry is not as consistent as one would like, and so the growers released limited product, and now a lot of folks, because of the high demand, ran out,” said William Askinazi, co-owner of Potomoc Holistics. Askinazi’s dispensary, along with the handful that just launched in Maryland, have experienced the same issue. That forced them to sell a smaller quantity to patients, or turn them away until their next shipment arrived. This is an issue even the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission expected at least in the beginning. The medical marijuana industry is confident this is just a minor setback that will be resolved shortly. The commission has pre-approved nearly 100 other businesses to dispense medical marijuana, but because of the rigorous process, it’s unclear when those will open up.

Read more: There’s Already A Shortage Of Medical Marijuana In Maryland

Masterpiece Cakeshop

Masterpiece Cakeshop Facebook page (screen grab)

‘Masterpiece’ theater

In a Dec. 6 blog post Michael Olesker wrote about the Masterpiece Cakeshop U.S. Supreme Court case.  Here are some of his thoughts: This is the week that attorneys at the U.S. Supreme Court literally served up food for thought. They asked, on behalf of the Masterpiece Cakeshop of Lakewood, Colo., whether a wedding cake is just a wedding cake — or grounds for defending what they call Christian beliefs. The folks who own the Masterpiece Cakeshop believe it is the latter. They make this claim in order not to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple. They say it violates their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. Are we talking here about a magical talking cake? In a sense, yes – according to the argument proposed this week by attorney Kristen Waggoner. She told the high court that the Masterpiece folks “intended to speak through that cake,” and that they were “creating a painting on that canvas that expresses messages.” To which Solicitor General Noel Francisco, speaking for the Trump administration, added his backup plea, arguing that “the cake rises to the level of speech.” What we have here, beside a recipe of bad puns – the cake rising, the bakery’s attorneys named Noel and Kristen defending alleged Christian beliefs – is an argument we thought the country had already settled. In a time when gays and lesbians have been given the go-ahead to legally marry, whoever imagined the wedding ceremony wouldn’t include the right to “let them eat cake”? Or as Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked this week: Since when has the Supreme Court ever “given protection to food”?

Read more: First Amendment Defense Seems Half-Baked in Cakeshop Case

Pantone picks purple

The Pantone Color Institute has picked the deep purple hue of “Ultra Violet” as its color of the year – Perfect for Prince and Ravens fans. The color wasn’t chosen because it’s regal, though it resembles a majestic shade. It was chosen to evoke a counterculture flair, a grab for originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking, Pantone Vice President Laurie Pressman told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement. “We are living in complex times,” she said. “We’re seeing the fear of going forward and how people are reacting to that fear.” Pressman wasn’t keen on talking politics. The color, she said, playing out in home design, industrial spaces and products, fashion, art and food, reflects the idea of living not inside the box or outside the box but with no box at all, according to U.S. News & World Report. Specifically, she called the color “that complexity, that marriage, between the passionate red violets and the strong indigo purples.”

Read more: Pantone Picks Deep Purple ‘Ultra Violet’ as Color of Year

Bunches of Lunches

Rose S., Hannah S., Lior G., Zachary W. (left to right) Photo by Melissa Halpern

Jmore Juniors

Jmore introduced its student journalism initiative this week. The partnership with Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation allows KSDS students interested in journalism to report on and write their own stories that are then featured online at This month, they wrote about a new Makerspace, the joys of Shabbat, forging friendships with seniors, working to end hunger and more. To see all of their work, go to



American Heart Association needs donors

The American Heart Association is spreading awareness about congenital heart defects by collecting donations to Handprints with Heart. Anyone who donates $25 or more online will receive a hand-made ornament. Additionally volunteers, or “heart warriors,” are gathering today at American Heart Association – Maryland offices to paint ornaments. Click here for more information, or call 410-246-6726.

Go to every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. to watch Need to Know with Editor-in-Chief Alan Feiler. Join the discussion on the week’s news and current events.


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