Wednesday, August 21, 2019

MacKenzie Bezos signs the philanthropic commitment that her ex-husband long spurned

Less than two months after finalizing her divorce from the world’s richest person, MacKenzie Bezos has indicated that she intends to be a far more generous philanthropist than her husband has ever been. MacKenzie Bezos announced in a letter on Tuesday that she had signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give half of her $35 billion in assets, or at least $17 billion, to charity over her lifetime or in her will. Despite facing criticism for being the world’s richest man but having donated only a tiny fraction of his wealth, Bezos’ ex-husband, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has...

We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant...

Earlier this month brought a mind-blowing announcement in the world of power plants and pollution. In a nutshell: A nonprofit artificial intelligence firm called WattTime is going to use satellite imagery to precisely track the air pollution (including carbon emissions) coming out of every single power plant in the world, in real time. And it’s going to make the data public. This is a very big deal. Poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data have made it difficult to enforce pollution restrictions on power plants. This system promises to effectively eliminate poor monitoring and gaming of emissions data. And it...

Lindsey Graham proposes invading Venezuela to oust Maduro

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a close ally of President Donald Trump, suggested the president take a tough stance in dealing with the ongoing Venezuelan crisis: A US invasion similar to the one executed by Ronald Reagan in Grenada back in 1983. “Trump said rightly, Maduro’s not the legitimate leader of Venezuela. The entire region supports the Trump approach, that Guaidó is the legitimate leader,” Graham said on Fox News Sunday. “I would do exactly what Reagan did. I would give Cuba the ultimatum to get out of Venezuela. If they don’t, I would let the Venezuelan military know, you’ve got...

How do All in the Family and The Jeffersons translate to...

Every week, we pick a new episode of the week. It could be good. It could be bad. It will always be interesting. You can read the archives here. The episode of the week for May 19 through 25 is the ABC special Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Is nostalgia all we have left? If you were to watch Live in Front of a Studio Audience — a hyper-earnest attempt to replicate episodes of two of Norman Lear’s hit 1970s sitcoms with popular, contemporary actors — without recognizing its...

GOP senator applies for farm aid, but maintains support for Trump’s...

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, will apply for financial assistance offered by the Trump administration as part of the latest bailout package for farmers hurt by the White House’s ongoing tariff war with China. Grassley’s spokesperson, Michael Zona, told The Des Moines Register’s Stephen Gruber-Miller that the senator “receives no special treatment,” and that he is merely participating in programs for which he is legally eligible. “As a family farmer who experiences the same processes with the federal government after downturns like other farmers in Iowa, Sen. Grassley brings firsthand knowledge and experience on behalf...

Poll: Biden would beat every other Democratic candidate in a one-on-one...

Former vice president Joe Biden’s status as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 is highlighted in a new poll, which suggests he is not only the current favorite in the crowded field of candidates, but that he would remain the favorite even if he were running against a single Democratic opponent. The poll (conducted by Republican firm Echelon Insights) asked 1,005 Democrats — and independents who favor Democrats’ policies — about their preferred 2020 candidates. The poll found 38 percent of respondents would vote for Biden if the primary were to be held right now. This is...

Vox Sentences: Is Julian Assange a journalist?

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions. Charges against Julian Assange raise First Amendment concerns; Narendra Modi is reelected by a landslide in India. Julian Assange is indicted under the Espionage Act Jack Taylor/Getty Images The US government has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 17 new counts of violating the Espionage Act — which has raised some...

The fraught cultural politics of Disney’s new Aladdin remake

Disney’s live-action Aladdin, a remake of its 1992 animated film, has finally arrived in theaters, and on one level, it’s something of an achievement. The production, helmed by Guy Ritchie, had a hefty amount of cultural baggage to overcome, and has been dogged by controversy and skepticism over its premise and execution since before filming even began. All the backlash isn’t entirely the 2019 film’s fault. Although the original movie was a critically acclaimed masterpiece, it was also dripping in Orientalism and harmful racist depictions of Arabic culture. The new film has, for the most part, managed to shirk...

Vox Sentences: The end of the road for Theresa May

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions. A growing state-level push to sidestep the Electoral College; Theresa May’s days in office are likely numbered. The push against the Electoral College Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call 14 states and the District of Columbia have joined an effort to elect the president by popular vote rather than the Electoral College....

The Pentagon’s plan to send up to 10,000 troops to the...

The United States might ratchet up tensions with Iran by sending thousands of troops to the Middle East — a sign that the Trump administration may be preparing for a serious fight. According to multiple reports, the Pentagon will brief Trump administration officials Thursday on a plan to increase America’s troop presence in the region. It’s unclear exactly how many service members might be deployed, but reports put the number somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000. Of course, they won’t go anywhere unless President Donald Trump approves the plan, a still unclear outcome. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denies that the Pentagon...