Callie Enlow — 5 Things to Know Today
Happy weekend! If you’re not the type to sit back and watch the world burn, read up on these five important things you may have missed this week.
On Monday, we got real worried.
Some of us spent the weekend remembering fallen service members of the military. Some of us barbecued. Some of us tweeted about champagne popsicles. And some of us spent at least part of the weekend rending our garments after using Politico’s interactive tool to see all the ways the Trump administration has already started rolling back, delaying, or canceling Obama-era regulations. Scores of rules regulating everything from mercury pollution to the price to prison phone calls to financial executive pay are under review. While Russia and “covfefe” have dominated the news, Politico points out that “If successful, these efforts could represent the most far-reaching rollback of federal regulations since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, especially if Trump’s proposed budget cuts make it hard for a future Democratic president to reaccelerate the rule-making apparatus.”
On Tuesday, we met a robot priest named BlessU-2.
The Bono-worshipping bot (we kid) was unveiled recently in Wittenburg, Germany, as an effort to mark 500 years since Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Christian Reformation. While the robot’s main function is ostensibly to provoke thoughts about AI and spirituality, there is something revelatory about a touchscreen menu allowing sinners to choose their blessing with just a tap of their fingers. No confession to a human intermediary with God needed, which was, we gather, a main goal of the Reformation.
On Wednesday, we learned that rich jerks are indeed jerks.
To clarify, according to a new study by economists, the top .01 percent of individual wealth-holders don’t cough up about 30 percent of the taxes they actually owe, compared to a measly three percent among us non-kajillionaire taxpayers worldwide. The study was based on leaked financial information about the super-wealthy, including the Panama Papers, as well as detailed tax audits from three Scandinavian countries. Researchers believe that if tax data from more unequal countries (like the U.S.) was considered, it would show even more tax evasion than the Scandinavian data does.
Making Change this week: Should you travel to Cuba before it’s “too late”?
On Thursday, President Trump took a bold stance against the global effort to address climate change.
After weeks of breathless “will he or won’t he” speculation and reportedly smarting from a stiff handshake from France’s President Emmanuel Macron, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would leave the Paris climate accord. This is a real blow to the global effort to halt, or at least manage, climate change: the U.S. is responsible for 20 percent of Earth-warming emissions and is the second largest polluting country. While Trump framed his decision as one that would lead to “a deal that’s fair,” several European leaders immediately asserted that the accord was nonnegotiable and irreversible. The decision caused alarm not just among scientists, politicians, and environmental advocates who focus on delaying and reversing the damage of climate change, but also among business leaders, several of whom resigned as advisors for the administration. It’s unclear how the American public will react in the long run—the Paris accord seemed to be overwhelmingly popular among respondents to a post-election poll and it will take four years to completely withdraw from the agreement, at which point two major U.S. elections will have occurred.
On Friday, we woke up.
Among the disaffected Americans displeased with Trump’s reneging on the Paris accord were at least “30 mayors, three governors, more than 100 businesses and more than 80 presidents of U.S. universities,” who pledged to develop a plan to meet the greenhouse emissions goals outlined in Paris, federal support or not. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic organization committed up to $15 million to plug funding holes. A statement from Bloomberg read: “Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up—and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us.” If you’re among those similarly committed to reducing your carbon footprint, you don’t need millions to make a difference. Slate published a great guide for impactful choices individuals can make to curb their contribution to climate change.