17 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

How Vladimir Putin outfoxed Donald Trump at Helsinki before their meeting even began

By Michelle Bentley, Royal Holloway

Well played. EPA/Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva Hando

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s summit with US counterpart Donald Trump was never going to be a balanced negotiation.

Putin had everything to gain, and Trump everything to lose. The Russian president controlled the agenda from the start, and Trump apparently didn’t even realise he needed to prepare. Putin came to the negotiations fresh from the diplomatic triumph of the World Cup (which even overshadowed the latest Novichok poisonings in the UK); Trump came fresh from a disastrous NATO summit and a terrible visit to the UK, where he was met by throngs of balloon-wielding protesters. It isn’t hard to see who’s running this show.

The week before the meeting, aboard Air Force One, Trump announced the issues he was prepared to negotiate on, including Crimea and Syria. He couldn’t have picked a better agenda for Putin, who wants concessions on all these matters and now has the opportunity to get them.

While this could have been a chance for Trump to reign in Russian power, no one ever seriously expected him to do so. Despite the president’s claim that he’s a great deal maker, he has been widely criticised as a useless diplomat who gives away US interests without a fight. Against the canny and experienced Putin, he’s political fresh meat.

Donald the unready

Trump also arrived in Helsinki direly unprepared. Whereas Russia has been strategising about this meeting since it was announced, Trump has not put together a concrete plan of action. Past diplomatic progress between the US and Russia has depended on preparation, such as Barack Obama’s 2009 summit with Russia’s then president, Dmitry Medvedev. Calling that summit a success might be pushing it, but Obama did still walk away with the beginnings of a new nuclear agreement, undeniably a major diplomatic win. Yet this achievement was only possible because of the incredible amount of planning that happened before the summit. Trump did not do this work, and so he came into the summit at a significant disadvantage.

Hardly surprising then that key experts on US foreign policy like Jon Wolfsthal are concerned that Trump is about to sell the proverbial farm. Specifically, they are worried that Trump could recognise Russia’s claims in Crimea and undermine US assurances to Ukraine.

Trump might also destabilise the fragile US-Russian relationship on nuclear weapons or allow Putin to interfere even further in Syria. He could even threaten his own recent denuclearisation agreement with North Korea if he doesn’t come down hard on Putin’s violation of sanctions against Kim Jong-un. None of these outcomes are good.

The agenda, however, is only a part of the problem. Just holding the summit is a major setback for international politics. Putin wants to disrupt the Western alliance, and he has advanced that cause simply by getting Trump to show up.

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As hunters hold immense clout in the Trump administration and most of the council’s members are advocates of the sport, critics worry the board will protect their hobby, not the animals

Donald Trump Jr on a Zimbabwe hunting trip.

Donald Trump Jr on a hunting trip in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Hunting Legends

Donald Trump has called big-game trophy hunting a “horror show”, despite his own sons’ participation in elephant and leopard hunts, and in 2017 he formed an advisory board to steer US policy on the issue.

But rather than conservation scientists and wildlife advocates, it is composed of advocates for the hunting of elephants, giraffes and other threatened, charismatic species. And observers say that since Trump took office, court rulings and administrative decisions have in fact made it easier for hunters to import the body parts of lions, elephants and other animals killed in Africa.

Members of Trump’s advisory board, called the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), argue that the sport, in which wealthy hunters pay tens of thousands of dollars to shoot endangered megafauna, is a laudable method of conservation abroad.

“This council will be focused on making hunting a better tool for conservation,” said John Jackson III, a member of the IWCC and founder of Conservation Force, an international hunting non-profit. Only two of the council’s 16 members are not active advocates for trophy hunting – the rest belong to groups such as Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association. Instead of discussing whether the sport should be limited, the group is focusing on how to broaden its reach.

Awareness of trophy hunting has increased thanks to social media. In 2015, a Minnesota dentist ignited debate when he shot Cecil, an enormous, black-maned lion immensely popular with camera-wielding tourists and a focus of research. More recently, a Kentucky woman has been criticized for triumphantly posing next to a giraffe she killed; conservationists estimate giraffe populations have fallen 40% since 1990.

Trophy hunters hold immense clout in the Trump administration. The president’s sons, Donald Jr and Eric, frequently hunt in Africa. And the hunting advisory council operates under the auspices of the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, who received $10,000 from the Safari Club during his 2016 congressional campaign. The lopsided composition of the council has critics worried its decisions will protect their chosen pastime, not the animals.

Walter Palmer, right, with one of his kills – a White Rhino. He also hunted and killed Cecil, an enormous, black-maned lion popular with tourists and a focus of research, in 2015 in Zimbabwe.

Walter Palmer, right, with one of his kills – a white rhino. He also hunted and killed Cecil, an enormous, black-maned lion popular with tourists and a focus of research, in 2015 in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

“People who consider themselves conservationists don’t consider trophy hunting conservation,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s an elite, bourgeois activity.”

The US cannot ban its residents from hunting in another nation, but it does regulate the importation of trophies – the body parts of animals killed abroad. Hunters seeking to import the remains of species protected under the Endangered Species Act must provide proof that killing an individual animal broadly enhances the species’ odds of survival.

In 2017, Trump’s interior department eased Obama-era restrictions on trophy hunting, and the president used Twitter to voice displeasure with the practice, writing it was unlikely he would “change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal”. The department then reinstated the ban, but a subsequent court ruling found that it was not based on proper rule-making procedures, and imports continue………………As evidenced by the controversy surrounding recent high-profile kills, sport hunting poses an ethical conundrum as well. Sanerib sees the activity as a “pay-to-play” system that counters the Endangered Species Act’s intent. “As long as you have enough money, and you allegedly are putting it toward the conservation of the species, you can do whatever you want,” she said.

Jackson, the IWCC member, sees it another way. Politicians and the mainstream media have “put out bad information, and people have no idea that they’re attacking a paradigm that saves more wildlife than anybody, and to which there is no alternative,” he says. “I’ll repeat that – no alternative. When the hunting community is disenfranchised, that’s the end of most of the habitat, and most of the wildlife.”

Jackson’s hunts over the years may have resulted in the death of more than a dozen bull elephants – but he believes his cash has saved hundreds of others.

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More on the Environment:

World Politics

United States

Trump ‘treasonous’ after siding with Putin on election meddling>>

John McCain, chairman of the Senate armed services committee and a former Republican presidential nominee, said: “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivety, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”

‘No collusion’: Trump and Putin deny election meddling in TV interviews>>


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