is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.
We have a Paris climate deal; Bowe Bergdahl faces a court-martial; and the French far right gets humiliated in regional elections.
The deal states that the world should try to have greenhouse gas emissions peak ASAP, maintains a lofty if implausible goal of avoiding 2°C of global warming, and includes transparency requirements to verify emissions cuts.
The deal is largely voluntary. Countries are required to submit plans to address climate change, but the content is up to the countries involved. That may sound like weak sauce, but it follows decades of failed efforts to get a binding global treaty on the issue.
If you believe, as environmental economist William Nordhaus does, that climate change is fundamentally a "free-rider problem" in which countries have strong incentives to cheat and emit more, a voluntary deal probably won't work.
Then again, it's pretty early to get so pessimistic. The Council on Foreign Relations' Michael Levi argues that the real test will come in 2020, when countries are supposed to submit new emissions-cutting plans. If the agreement pushes countries to submit ever-more-ambitious plans, then it could wind up making a big difference.
Vox's Brad Plumer sums it up well: "These climate talks, by themselves, won't fix global warming. They can't do that. They're not designed to do that. The actual goal is much more modest: to add structure and momentum to efforts that are already underway, in legislatures and laboratories and cities and boardrooms around the world, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
To recap: Bergdahl was a prisoner of war under the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years, and was returned in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. But the Taliban didn't capture Bergdahl while he was out on patrol — as the Army had said — but after he had wandered off the base.
Bergdahl will receive what's known as a "general court-martial." Earlier, an Army lawyer had recommended another type of trial known as a "special court-martial" with a maximum penalty of a year's imprisonment; the lawyer also recommended no jail time or punitive discharge. That lawyer's superior chose a more punitive course of action.
Leaving aside the question of whether Bergdahl did in fact desert, the ethics of desertion are subject to heated debate among philosophers. Jeff McMahan argues that morality "demands of potential volunteers, potential conscripts, and active military personnel that they consider with the utmost seriousness whether any war in which they might fight is just and refuse to fight unless they can be confident that it is."
In last Sunday's first-round elections, Front National had secured 28 percent of the vote, and won six regions. But the Socialists and right-wing Les Republicains joined forces and endorsed each other's candidates in the runoff, successfully foiling FN.
Under its founder, Marine's father Jean-Marie Le Pen, Front National, was openly racist and anti-Semitic; the elder Le Pen has been convicted on several hate speech charges, including some for Holocaust denial. But Marine had tried to move the party to the center.
Top Wall Street analysts' S&P 500 forecasts have been off, on average, by about 14.7 points per year. If you just assumed the market would rise 9 percent every year, you'd only be off by 14.1 points per year. Lesson: Wall Street analysts are not very good at this.
Leonard Strickland, a schizophrenic prisoner in New York, died after tumbling down a flight of stairs. Prisoners who witnessed this say he was pushed and then beaten by guards — and given how much the guards have lied about the case, that story is looking pretty damn credible.
"When the core belief is that accusers never lie, if any one accuser has lied, it brings into question the stability of the entire thought system, rendering uncertain all allegations of sexual assault. But this is neither sensible nor necessary: that a few claims turn out to be false does not mean that all, most, or even many claims are wrongful. The imperative to act as though every accusation must be true — when we all know some number will not be — harms the over-all credibility of sexual assault claims."
"After flattering Abdullah for his strength and importance in the country, Kerry said, “I will share with you a very personal experience: When I ran for President of the United States, in 2004, against George Bush, in the end, on Election Day, we had problems in the state of Ohio on how the votes were taking place. … The next afternoon, I had a meeting with my people, and I told them that I did not think it appropriate of me to take the country through three or four months of not knowing who the President was. So that afternoon in Boston I conceded to the President and talked about the need to bring the country together. ... One of the main lessons from this is there is a future. There is a tomorrow.” Several days later, Abdullah Abdullah conceded and joined the Afghan government.
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