Why Hasn’t America Addressed Gun Control Like New Zealand Has?

In response to the horrific shooting at a Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand has very quickly made changes to their existing gun legislation and banned assault rifles. Many Americans want to know why the U.S. hasn’t done the same. More at The Guardian.

The N.R.A. (not to be confused with the vast majority of gun owners) will turn to its old smoke-and-mirrors standby, arguing that the killer’s hate, not his guns and bullets, were the real problem… In fairness, liberals have often been unhelpful, broadcasting their own ignorance about the firearms they propose to regulate, or speaking blithely of banning guns or of “gun control” in ways that drive responsible gun owners into the arms of the N.R.A.

…times are changing. The American people will no longer stand by lawmakers who lack the moral courage to do the right thing. In fact dozens of elected officials lost their seats in the 2018 midterm elections and Americans around the country — particularly those who have been directly impacted by firearm-related injuries and deaths — are now actively pushing their government to advance bold reforms.

First, define “assault weapon.” Words are important and certain laws come into play depending on which words are used, so define this.

Secondly, the US isn’t NZ. While they do not have an inalienable right to bear arms and to self defense, we do.

Will the Media Hold Hamas Accountable in Gaza?

Gazans are protesting for a better economy and better living conditions. Hamas, fearful of this political action, has been aggressively suppressing the protestors. Now many Israelis are wondering why the media, which often portrays Israel as the oppressor of Gazans, isn’t treating Hamas the same way.

That lack of accountability is chiefly a Palestinian failure. But it’s abetted by Western journalism that, with some honorable exceptions, for too long has been depressingly incurious about any form of Palestinian suffering for which Israel cannot be held responsible. That is sometimes a function of ideological bias, but it is also a failure of basic reporting.

It is the leaders of Hamas, and only Hamas, who are violating international law in and around Gaza. They are committing war crimes against Israelis, and they are committing crimes against their own people. It is time for the human-rights “experts” and foreign media to wake up to facts.

Hamas no doubt hoped that Israel’s strong military response to the rocket fire on Tel Aviv would turn Gazans’ anger against the Jewish state. But it was not to be. The local demonstrations resumed on Friday, spreading to the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Time will tell if these demonstrations continue and spread, or if Hamas’ cruel crackdown will bring a swift end to the nascent uprising. Either way, many see this as the opening shot in a long struggle to finally free Gaza from the clutches of its terrorist overlords.

Is AIPAC Too Powerful?

While some found Ilhan Omar’s criticisms of AIPAC hurtful and antisemitic, many Americans are in agreement with her that AIPAC has too much influence on American politics. Ahead of the upcoming 2019 AIPAC conference, here are three Jewish takes on AIPAC’s power and influence. More at the Forward.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the organization under discussion was one of the biggest political spenders in America. In reality, AIPAC is a public affairs committee and not a political action committee; as a result, the group itself donates nothing to candidates or campaigns. By far the largest pro-Israel donor to political candidates last election cycle was JStreetAC, which gave entirely to Democrats.

When I hear that Jews are too powerful, my response is, we are not powerful enough. When I hear that AIPAC is too influential a lobby, I say it must become even more influential. When I hear that Jews contribute too much money to support pro-Israel causes, I say we must contribute more.

When I hear that Jews control the media, I ask “Why is so much of the media so anti-Israel?” When I hear that Jews have too much influence on the outcome of elections, I say we need to increase our influence.

I’m going to AIPAC’s conference because American democracy not only affirms, but celebrates citizen advocacy, electoral involvement, petitioning and lobbying our elected and appointed officials so they can better represent the insights, convictions and priorities of the people who send them to Washington in the first place. As individuals, we can do only so much, but together, educated and mobilized, we can exercise our constitutional right and empower our representatives to serve us that much better.

What Will America Do with All Its Recycling?

China is no longer interested in taking in tons of American trash for recycling purposes, but America is unprepared to do that recycling itself. The garbage, meanwhile, is piling up. What to do? More at Wall Street Journal.

After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash… Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.

Most are choosing the latter.

There is another option for recyclables, but it veers away from the idea of repurposing used materials. Philadelphia gave up on its recycling program, but is still picking the stuff up. Instead, the city employs a different repurposing strategy — taking unsellable recyclables to the municipal incinerator, converting the trash to energy, which can be sold back to the electrical grid. But that, too, has a catch — an increase in local air pollution.

Conventional plastics are derived from fossil fuel, but they can also be made from renewable biological compounds that break down more easily, such as plant sugars. A key challenge with these products is making items that are strong enough to hold up during use but still biodegradable.

Contaminated Water or Climate Change: Which Problem Is More Serious?

Andrew Wheeler of the EPA has stated that water contamination is a bigger threat to Americans than climate change. Climate activists are outraged by this suggestion. Is Wheeler off base?

The chemicals at issue, PFOA and PFOS, have contaminated drinking water supplies across the country affecting millions of Americans. They belong to a class of synthetic chemicals called PFAS… These chemicals have been linked with numerous health problems, including cancers, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight and effects on the immune system. Studies show exposure to PFAS in children can dampen the effectiveness of vaccines – a topic my colleagues and I are currently investigating as part of a project called PFAS-REACH… What’s more, PFAS are highly persistent.

Wheeler’s comments implied that he doesn’t see the issue as a major priority, however. These climate change statistics reveal how urgent of an issue climate change is, and just how much devastation the effects will likely bring. NASA’s ongoing global temperature analysis has found that the average global temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. Notably, the agency found that two-thirds of this temperature increase has happened since 1975 — and five of the earth’s warmest years on record have occurred since 2010.

The EPA chief’s claim that water pollution is a better focus because it’s a crisis “we can solve” also falsely implies that climate change doesn’t fall into that category. Last year, thousands of scientists from around the world put out a report saying humanity can prevent the worst climate impacts of the next 50 to 75 years—but only if we rapidly decarbonize the planet within about a dozen years. And even if we don’t rapidly decarbonize within that time frame, we can still slow and prevent many terrible events by reducing emissions as quickly as we can.

What’s the Significance of Purim Masks?

Purim Sameach! A beloved Purim tradition is putting on costumes – especially masks – but what does this tradition really signify?

With the founding of the state of Israel, Jews finally took their masks off. This is who we are, we declared to the world, a free people who can practice our own tradition. After the catastrophe of the Shoah American Jews realized the cost of hiding. Part of the rise of anti-Semitism is the resentment of those who are angry at unmasked Jews. Many prefer the way things were in the age of the original Purim, the time of the frightened diaspora, to the Jewish situation today.

In English to be “two-faced” is an insult. In Hebrew it is a reflection of the complex and ever-changing nature of our responses to the world around us. Theologically it is important too, because elohim, meaning “God,” is also a plural word. Not that there are different gods. But that God interacts with us and we with God on so many different levels, moods, and experiences and facets.

Throughout its dark past, antisemitism has worn numerous masks, ranging from religion to science, from business to politics. We have been victimized for being rich and poor, communist and capitalist, isolationist and internationalists, religious and assimilated… This is our cue to double-down on a mosaic of impactful Jewish initiatives and provide meaningful opportunities for the next generation to connect. We must unmask the potential threats and engage young people so they remain rooted, resolute and proud. In this way, they will not only value our illustrious past but excitedly help us build a brighter future.

Today’s Hot Issues

Why Hasn’t America Addressed Gun Control Like New Zealand Has? Will the Media Hold Hamas Accountable in Gaza? Is AIPAC Too Powerful? What Will America Do with All Its Recycling? Contaminated Water or Climate Change: Which Problem Is More Serious? What’s the Significance of Purim Masks?