I Now Pronounce You And You And
May 28, 2019
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” -Benjamin Spock
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” -Umberto Eco
South Africa Is Making A List And Checking It Twice, The Naughty Are Getting Taxed
The vast majority of scientists agree that carbon emissions are a key contributor to climate change, and economists argue that taxing carbon emissions would result in a shift toward cleaner sources of energy.
On June 1, South Africa will become one of about 40 countries to adopt a carbon-pricing program. President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the measure into law on Sunday. The policy will be phased in, and South Africa’s National Treasury will assess the impact of the tax and the country’s progress toward emissions goals. Energy-intensive industries oppose the tax, claiming costs would rise too much, but the treasury said it did not expect the measure to increase the price of electricity.
South Africa is one of nearly 200 nations to sign the comprehensive Paris Agreement, the goal of which is to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, preferably no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels.
Small island nations believe a 2-degree increase would decimate them. Climate advocates say South Africa’s policies aren’t going far enough. The Climate Action Tracker, which measures countries’ progress toward meeting the Paris goals, has said South Africa is not currently meeting its targets.
The EU implemented a different carbon pricing method, cap-and-trade. Britain has been even more aggressive, tacking on its own tax of about $25 per ton. The policy has helped drive greenhouse gas emissions in Britain to their lowest level since 1890. A former US congressman said gathering Republican support for a carbon tax would be difficult, given President Trump’s commitment to the coal industry.
I Now Pronounce You And You And You And You And You And
- Part of Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen’s 2016 campaign platform was marriage equality. In 2017 Taiwan’s high court ruled that forbidding the marriage of same sex couples violated Taiwan’s constitution, and early in May 2019, the legislature voted 66 to 27 to recognize same-sex marriages.
- On Saturday more than a thousand people participated in a mass wedding banquet, that followed a wedding ceremony for about 20 couples, in celebration of the island becoming the first place in Asia to legally recognize same-sex unions. Promises kept. (NPR)
Banana Republic in Venezuela
- This week Norway is hosting delegates for President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó as they meet for another round of talks on ending Venezuela’s political crisis.
- The Norwegian government is serving as mediator, making the announcement after an initial round of meetings in Oslo two weeks ago. Maduro was reelected in 2018 amid allegations of widespread voter fraud. Guaido is recognized by the US and more than 50 other countries as Venezuela’s rightful head of state, but massive street protests and calls for the military to abandon their support for Maduro failed.
- The opposition is skeptical current negotiations will work, claiming Maduro has used past negotiations, including meetings in the Dominican Republic two years ago, to stall for time while refusing to make concessions. (NPR)
Sometimes Stale Conflicts Need A Fresh Start
- Last month Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rightwing and religious allies won a general election. By law he is required to announce a new coalition by Wednesday. Failing that, the Israeli president may assign another legislator to attempt the task.
- Netanyahu needs support from both Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties and former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist secular party for a majority government in the Knesset, the country’s parliament. But after negotiations between the parties deadlocked, the PM threatened to call fresh elections if politicians do not come together and help him form a government. (Guardian)
Additional World News:
- World’s rivers ‘awash with dangerous levels of antibiotics’: Largest global study finds the drugs in two-thirds of test sites in 72 countries (Guardian)
- ‘It Was Like a Zoo’: Death on an Unruly, Overcrowded Everest (NYT, $)
- Nigel Farage’s Populist Brexit Party Wins Big in European Parliament Elections (NYT, $)
- Britain on the Brink of Boris Johnson and Chaos: Theresa May exits but the Brexit impasse will endure for the simple reason it makes no sense. (NYT, $)
Trump & Abe: A Political Odd-Couple
- President Trump and First Lady Melania are on a state visit in Japan, showing the two allies remain close at the start of a new Japanese emperor’s reign. The US president is the first state guest to visit since Emperor Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.
- Sunday Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played golf, attended a sumo wrestling match and had a barbecue dinner.
- On Monday the president and first lady attended a state banquet with the emperor and empress. Prior to the banquet, however, the two leaders held a joint press conference that revealed differences over a number of policy issues, particularly bilateral trade, North Korea and Iran.
- Trump’s trade war with China has hurt American agriculture, while Japan has signed trade agreements with big agricultural producers like Australia and Canada, allowing their farmers and ranchers to grab market share from their US competitors.
- The Obama administration had negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact that would have insulated America from a US-China trade war, but Trump walked out of it. As one strategies expert said: “What you’re looking at is a U.S. government that is demanding what it could have had, and is unfortunately not in a position to acknowledge that.” Trump is now threatening tariffs on Japanese car exports to the US if Japan hasn’t agreed on a trade deal in six months. (NPR)
- “Donald Trump welcomes Japan’s offer of mediation with Iran.” (Guardian)
- “Trump Circumvents Congress to Sell Weapons to Middle East Allies. President Trump circumvented Congress on Friday by declaring an emergency over Iran and moving forward with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan that had been blocked by Congress since last year.” (NYT, $)
Additional USA News:
- Scientists Wanted: Recruited by Juul, Many Researchers Say No (NYT, $)
- Inside Trump’s Air Force One: ‘It’s like being held captive’ (CNN)
- How an internet mob falsely painted a Chipotle employee as racist (CNN)
- Facebook begins telling users who try to share distorted Nancy Pelosi video that it’s fake: But they still refuse to remove it (The Verge)
- Putin out-prepared Trump in key meeting, Rex Tillerson told House panel (WaPo, $)
The Psychology & Interpretation of Life
- How you interpret your life, and tell its story, has profound effects on what kind of person you become. Northwestern University professor Dan McAdams, a personality expert and pioneer in the field of narrative psychology, explained this two decades ago in his seminal paper The Psychology of Life Stories: “People differ from each other with respect to their self-defining life stories in ways that are not unlike how they differ from each other on more conventional psychological characteristics such as traits.”
- In a chapter for the APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology, McAdams wrote: “Life stories do not imply reflect personality. They are personality, or more accurately, they are important parts of personality, along with other parts, like dispositional traits, goals, and values.”
- Other research has illustrated the significance of the idea of self-stories as part of personality, since the way we tell our personal stories turns out to have implications for our mental health and overall wellbeing.
- Takeaway: People who remember the positives that might come from a negative experience are more likely to enjoy a greater sense of well being and satisfaction in life. In fact, helping people to re-interpret their personal stories in a more constructive light is the basis of what’s known as “narrative therapy”.
- Modify your story as you tell it in your mind, and perhaps you can change the kind of person you are. (BBC, The Atlantic)
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