The Lion King Still Lingers, For Now

The Lion King Still Lingers, For Now

Africa’s wildlife not threatened by dentist, but miscommunication and land loss.
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On Wednesday, Aug. 12, animal lovers around the globe celebrated “World Elephant Day.” The timing couldn’t get any better. A dozen updates and shares on Facebook and I realized just how much last month’s media drama had affected folks on the Internet.

I admit it. Ever since, there has been echoing attempts to throw Dr. Walter Palmer, the killer of Cecil the Lion, in a pile of elephant poop — or however else people wanted to handle his actions to cause viral shame — and I have to say, it felt good in my all-cool-animals-matter heart. Unfortunately, however, the truth about sport hunting on the African savannah is rather more complex than a Minnesota dentist.

In fact, I recently visited the Northern circuit of Tanzania, with its couple of million abundant species. To my great (or rather so uneducated) surprise, hunting for fun does not necessarily have a negative impact on the biodiversity. As Martha Honey describes in her book “Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise?” (p. 244), sport hunting is the ultimate paradox of ecotourism.

She goes on to explain that, “Although some of those involved in conservation and nature tourism find hunting distasteful, cruel, and ethnically reprehensible, many admit that if properly managed, trophy hunting helps curb poaching, does less environmental damage, and brings in much more foreign exchange than do photographic safaris.”

As Honey says, this double-faceted relationship might help sustain the wildlife in the area. In so doing, hunters provide more revenue to the country than do the many clicks on the newly bought system cameras that hang around the necks of gawking tourists, who want nothing less than to capture the memory of a lifetime — sometimes so badly that they forget to put the lens down and enjoy being in it.

But who decides what is considered OK to shoot? An elder Canadian guy living in Moshi, Tanzania, described how he’d been out hunting at one of the game reserves. He had got the license certified for certain animals only (and here I was, thinking that anyone can fly over there and start firing bullets left and right).

The first herd of animals was at range, but they weren’t on the list:

  • GUIDE: Shoot it!
  • CANADIAN: But it’s not on the list…?
  • GUIDE: Ah, it doesn’t matter, friend. Shoot one for me, too.

Maybe I was right? For what's problematic with game reserves is not the idea of killing majestic animals, but the constant mismanagement that comes with it; problems that can be traced to cultural endeavors, others that have been snapped up from the introduction of Western corporations and their moneymaking greed in the area.

The true issue for many of these animals is land restrictions: tourism companies take over big chunks of land to build complexes for Westerners to enjoy; agriculture has become hip and an easy way of living lately, and climate changes affect the water supply in and around the national parks for both humans and wildlife alike.

And so, with the loss of crucial land outside of the national parks, greater animals such as the elephant will continue to decrease. Trapped within park boundaries, their mobile lifestyle cannot be satisfied. At the same time, weaponry dispersed decades ago during civil wars now come in handy to poachers, who see the giant tusks as a better future for themselves.

Thanks to an Asian invasion of Africa lately there are now even legalized routes to ship off a set amount of ivory to Asia. However, the illegal bi-product takes advantage of the scene, which makes it difficult to control how much actually ends up in China.

Dr. Charles Foley, a researcher at the Wildlife Conservation Society, has been working with an elephant project in one of the national parks, Tarangire, since 1993. He works to secure wildlife corridors outside of the parks (plots of land stretches strategically drawn after the movement of animals) to helps alleviate the tense situation between humans and elephants.

“Wildlife numbers will come back, but you have to protect the land,” Foley said determinedly, before zipping from his cup of tea. He seems hopeful about the future of the elephant, although the overall count has dropped drastically from 1.2 million in the ‘60s to only thousands today.

Foley mentions the importance of media to inform especially the Asian population about the ivory trade, as he believes they are not educated about the ongoing. Whether media companies can make elephants the “new panda” over there remains questionable. But Foley does not show any sign of worry.

“A country who can ban people from having two children can do anything,” he said with a laugh.

Cover Image Credit: Maxime Devillaz
Cover Image Credit: Maxime Devillaz
Cover Image Credit: Maxime Devillaz

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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Beto O'Rourke Is The Future For The Democratic Party

Democrats need a new voice, and now they have him.

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As a self-professed progressive, the 2016 presidential election was one of the darkest days of my life. Every day I wish that the election had turned out differently. But if there's a silver lining, the Democratic Party has almost completely reinvented itself and has a chance to move forward.

Barack Obama was an amazing leader for the party for a decade. Hillary Clinton was arguably the most-flawed candidate the modern-day Democratic Party has ever nominated, and she lost to the most-flawed Republican ever nominated. So now the Democrats need someone to look up to and lead the way past the regressive presidency of Donald Trump. That man is Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke is a representative of Texas's 16th congressional district, which covers the city of El Paso. But right now people in the political world know him as the guy who is running against arguably the most-hated man in the Senate, Ted Cruz. Former House Speaker and fellow Republican John Boehner once said that Cruz is "Lucifer in the flesh."

Cruz prides himself in being hated by Washington politicians, but hatred from his current colleagues could come back to bite him. "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," said Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina.

If O'Rourke wins in November, he'll take down Cruz, who is one of the most powerful and influential Republicans in Washington despite being hated. And it could launch Beto to even higher office someday.

Even if he loses to Cruz, Beto has an extremely bright future ahead of him because he's just what the Democratic Party needs right now. He's young, passionate, communicates extremely well and is a perfect representation of what the face of the party should be.

This year, O'Rourke has been setting an example of how Democrats should run their campaigns. Beto has traveled to every single one of Texas's 254 counties. Ever since the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC (2010), Democrats have pushed for campaign finance reform, and O'Rourke is leading by example with his campaign. Beto has taken $0 from Political Action Committees (PACs). All of his money comes from individual donors. Cruz has taken PAC money, but O'Rourke still holds a significant advantage in fundraising.

O'Rourke in his campaign emphasizes that Texas has among the highest immigration populations in the United States, but the senators from Texas, Cruz and John Cornyn, do not accurately represent the diversity of the state. O'Rourke has separated himself from Cruz by speaking out against the proposed border wall and the separation of immigrant children at the border.

I'm not from Texas, but I'm just as excited for this senate race as I was when Doug Jones won in my home state almost a year ago. Beto O'Rourke has an opportunity to make positive change in our country and actually bring people together. If he doesn't win in November, Beto should make plans for 2020 because he can become the face of the Democratic Party.

If you'd like to learn more about, join, or donate to the campaign, here is a link.

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