Mass shootings spark new gun control push – National & International News – WED 24Mar2021

New gun control pushes. Biden floats $3T for infrastructure. Israeli Arab could choose next PM. Admiral: China invasion of Taiwan sooner than we think.


Shootings spark new gun control push

Following the latest mass shootings in Atlanta and Denver, President Biden urged the Senate to pass two bills to close background check loopholes for gun purchases. Two bills addressing this have already been passed by the House. Biden also says he wants to work with Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban, as well as a ban on high-capacity magazines. However, it’s unlikely that any of these bills will get the 60 votes necessary to overcome the filibuster in the near future.

Having apparently grown impatient with years of inaction by Congress on gun control, some local and state governments are taking matters into their own hands. Denver has already suffered mass shootings in a theater as well as the Columbine High School massacre in a suburb. The city is now pushing its own assault weapons ban.

Gun control advocates in California are also pushing the state to enforce an existing state law to “microstamp” bullet casings. The law requires gun manufacturers in the state to implant a microstamp in their handguns. When a bullet is fired from the gun, the mechanism impresses a traceable stamp to identify the gun it came from. The law was passed in 2007, but gun manufacturers in the state have gotten around it by not introducing new gun models in the state since the law was passed.

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Biden floats $3T infrastructure investment

Biden is following up his campaign promise of a “generational” infrastructure plan, proposing $3 trillion in spending.

While many may balk at the price tag, Americans are already losing money due to a generation of neglect of the nation’s infrastructure.

Christina Swallow of the American American Society Of Civil Engineers says, “the average American household will lose $3300 a year over the next 20 years due to underperforming infrastructure”. This is due to things like potholes, water mane breaks, lost productivity, traffic jams and rising food transport costs. Add to this the lack of access to broadband internet in many areas of the country.

The ASCE has just awarded US infrastructure a grade of C-, up from D+ four years ago. According to the report, 8% of bridges are structurally deficient and 40% of US roads are in fair or poor condition.

Biden hopes to pass either a single bill or a series of bills with bipartisan support. But he will have to overcome GOP skepticism. Republicans are likely to object to tax raises to fund key parts of the proposal investing in “human infrastructure”. This includes things like massive investment in education and childcare to allow more women to enter the workforce. The GOP has also made clear that it will oppose significant investment in clean energy and carbon-free transport alternatives.

NPR audio; transcript available (opens in new tab).



Israeli Arab could choose next PM

Yesterday, Israelis went to the polls for their fourth parliamentary election in four years. The last three elections have failed to turn up an outright winner, forcing long-standing right-wing Prime Minister into a series of fragile coalitions. Many viewed the election as a referendum on Netanyahu’s leadership. Netanyahu currently faces corruption and bribery charges in the top Israeli court.

The results of yesterday’s vote have not been finalized, but point to another tight election result, either for Netanyahu or the coalition of parties who oppose him. This may put Mansour Abbas, the leader of a breakaway Arab party, in the position of kingmaker. During his campaign, Netanyahu broke with longstanding habit and reached out to the Arab community in hopes of splitting the Arab vote. Most of the Arab parties are with Netanyahu’s opposition. But Abbas’ new party, the United Arab List, has not yet declared for either side.

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Admiral: China may invade Taiwan sooner than we think

Adm. John Aquilino, the nominee to head the US Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate armed services committee yesterday that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan may be “closer than most think”. Aqulino says that retaking Taiwan is Beijing’s “number one” geopolitical priority and that “the rejuvenation of the Chinese Communist party is at stake”. Outgoing Indo-Pacom commander Adm. Philip Davidson recently commented that a Chinese invasion could take place with 6 years, but Aquilino believes it may come even sooner.

Aquilino urged Congress to implement a proposed $27 billion plan to boost US defenses in the region “in the near term and with urgency”. He argues that the US has a vested interest in preventing a Chinese takeover of Taiwan. The first is Taiwan’s position as a major corridor for global trade. The second is a loss of US credibility with Asian allies should the US allow China to invade Taiwan. Several major US allies, including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, are facing their own territorial disputes with China.

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