Donald Trump Jr. Killed an Endangered Mongolian Sheep
ProPublica, which broke the news of the kill Wednesday, reported it was unusual for the Mongolian government to issue permits after a hunter has left the region. Trump Jr. was given other forms of special treatment. He was protected on his hunt by both U.S. and Mongolian security services, and afterwards had a private meeting with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga.
"What are the chances the Mongolian government would've done any of that to someone who wasn't the son of the United States' president?" Kathleen Clark, a legal ethics professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, asked ProPublica.
Argali sheep are beautiful and deeply endangered. They live in remote western Mongolia. Don Jr. went there and sh… https://t.co/w9dM8CeT4b— Eric Umansky (@Eric Umansky)1576066942.0
Trump Jr.'s spokesperson said the trip was purchased at a National Rifle Association charity auction before his father ran for office. It is not clear if the trip included meetings with government officials or the chance to kill an argali. Trump Jr. also killed a red deer on the trip, a kill that also required a permit.
The argali is the largest sheep in the world, with curving horns that can measure more than six feet. The species overall is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but the Mongolian subspecies is considered regionally endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The U.S. Endangered Species Act lists the argali as threatened. Between 1985 and 2009, their Mongolian population more than halved from 50,000 to 18,000, ProPublica reported.
Mongolia issues permits to hunt the sheep, a practice which is ostensibly intended to fund conservation. Those familiar with the permitting system told ProPublica that it encouraged favoritism.
Jandos Kontorbai Ahat, a member of the current president's political party who arranged the trip Trump Jr. won, said Mongolian trophy hunting permits were "very political."
There are also sometimes discrepancies between hunting quotas and the number of permits issued. While the hunters' fees are supposed to go to programs like population surveys, argali researcher Amgalanbaatar Sukh told ProPublica he had never received government funding for such a survey.
ProPublica could not determine if Trump Jr. imported the trophies from his argali kill into the U.S. To do so, he would have needed to apply for permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But his kill comes as U.S. law concerning the importing of hunting trophies is in flux, as The Guardian explained:
The legality of the importation of big game trophies into the United States has been, like many other issues in the Trump administration, confusing and ever-changing. The president himself has spoken out against the practice, calling such hunting practices a "horror show" despite his two sons being avid trophy hunters.
In order to import trophies of animals on the endangered species list, a U.S. hunter must show that its killing would be beneficial overall to the species at large. In 2017, the Trump administration pushed back against such restrictions on trophy hunting from the Obama era before reinstating the ban. A court ruling found thereafter it was done improperly, allowing imports to continue.
Environmental groups have criticized the Trump administration for its trophy hunting policies, including its decision to allow the import of lion and elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia and its creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council designed specifically to promote trophy hunting.
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It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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