What’s In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement?

A group of bipartisan senators have announced a major breakthrough in formulating a compromise on an infrastructure bill, which has so far proved elusive. Here’s what it involves:

The bill would invest $73 billion in the nation’s power structure, to build thousands of miles of new power lines and expand renewable energy. It would provide $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure, replacing lead service lines and pipes so that communities have access to clean drinking water.

President Joe Biden and the 50-50 divided U.S. Senate are now on the cusp of their first real bipartisan achievement — $550 billion in new spending on roads, rail, transit and other hard infrastructure.

“Of course, neither side got everything they wanted in this deal,” Biden said. “But that’s what it means to compromise and forge consensus – the heart of democracy.”

[.] Not many issues unite Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill like crumbling roads, airports and transit systems back home.

Should We Mandate Masks? Vaccines? Both? Neither?

Mask mandates have returned in LA and around the country while limited vaccine mandates are being discussed as well.

Like any dynamic duo, masks and vaccines share a goal—preventing infection, disease, and virus transmission—and they accomplish it in complementary ways. “They should be seen hand in hand, as helping one another,” Abraar Karan, an infectious-disease physician at Stanford University, told me.

…vaccines are here. And the changed circumstances of summer 2021 call for new approaches. Any entity thinking about a mask requirement — from private businesses to local, state, and federal governments — should consider mandating something else first: vaccination.

Yes, unvaccinated people who refuse to wear masks put themselves at risk, but not people who are vaccinated. And those who want to get vaccinated but are unable can wear N95 masks — the same used in hospitals pre-vaccine to great effect.

Are Ben and Jerry Anti-Israel?

In a new op-ed in the New York Times (below), Ben and Jerry themselves defend the decision of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to stop selling in Jewish West Bank settlements.

We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews… it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government.

While Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield may truly support Israel and oppose BDS, the actions of the company they founded have undoubtedly contributed to a global campaign of hate. Unfortunately, this is true whether it was their intention or not.

Give us all a break in 2018 your board chair clearly expressed support for the BDS movement (photo of her words), Unilever and Ben and Jerry’s need to cut ties with her antisemitic singling out of Israel. Clearly, she has an issue with Jewish people.

Can Israelis and Palestinians Come Together for the Environment?

Israelis and Palestinians share a love of the land — can they come together to protect it from climate change?

Our land that we claim to love is dirty and polluted and overflowing with sewage and waste instead of milk and honey. It has always bewildered me that we are ready to shed our blood for this land and yet we treat it so badly.

These conditions have had a destabilizing effect on countries, both internally—by driving demonstrations and economic instability—and by increasing tensions between countries. Disputes over water resources, for example, increase tensions between Israel and the Palestinians…

Collectively addressing the destabilizing consequences of climate change should be a pillar of Israel-Jordan relations, and both sides should be applauded for their initial efforts to reset ties in the post-Netanyahu era. But rebuilding trust won’t happen overnight, and much depends on Israel’s willingness to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority.

Has Israel Lost American Jews?

A recent poll revealed that many Jews think of Israel as an “apartheid state.” Is it possible to change course, or must Israel reconcile itself to the fact that it is losing the support of American Jews?

The criminalization of Israel is becoming a mainstay for growing parts of the progressive American Jewish discourse. Many liberal American Jews accuse Israel of apartheid, even ethnic cleansing and genocide, against Palestinians.

…the Jewish community strongly cares about Israel. Furthermore, the most important surveys are those that examine voting habits over decades, which illustrate the importance that Israel holds among American Jews.

The loss of identification with Israel among young Jews in the United States is a direct result of the spiraling intermarriage rates in the last half-century.

Should We Be Worried Over America’s Falling Life Expectancy?

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that life expectancy in the US dropped 1.5 years in 2020, the biggest drop since WWII.

The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history…

Last week’s period life expectancy figures tell us what we already know: Covid killed a lot of people in 2020. But it also led to advances in our knowledge of vaccines and viral medicine, which will increase future life expectancy. But as reporters know, good news doesn’t draw as many clicks.

What Americans should worry about is the longer-term trend. US life expectancy has been stagnant for the past decade, and had actually declined by 0.1 years before the pandemic started, from 2014 to 2019. Though smaller in magnitude, that drift downward says something much more worrying about health in the US.

Today’s Hot Issues

What’s In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement? Should We Mandate Masks? Vaccines? Both? Neither? Are Ben and Jerry Anti-Israel? Can Israelis and Palestinians Come Together for the Environment? Has Israel Lost American Jews? Should We Be Worried Over America’s Falling Life Expectancy?