What People Around the World Think of America Since Trump's Baffling Rise
Americans are no strangers to embarrassing exports (sorry for "Grey’s Anatomy" and Papa John’s pizza, Planet Earth). And our political nutbaggery is no exception. But when it comes to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, we may have outdone ourselves. The GOP frontrunner is a woman-hating reality TV star whose campaign has mostly focused on his lust for ethnic cleansing.
When it comes to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, we may have outdone ourselves. Photo credit: Shutterstock
The global reaction to Trump mania has been a sense of disgust; Trump is the native son of a country that worships selfishness above empathy, corporate interests over justice and notoriety over prestige. As French author Marie-Cecile Naves put it to Politico, “Trump represents the America we love to hate … He is our negative mirror image, a man we see as brutal, who worships money and lacks culture—someone who lets us feel a bit superior about being European."
In short, the rest of the world seems as flabbergasted about Trump’s rise as we should be. Here’s how seven other countries have reacted to his befuddling popularity.
Mexicans have a special right to resent Trump, given his well-documented disdain for them. He’s pushed blackmailing Mexico into paying for a border fence, called undocumented Latinos “rapists” who are “bringing drugs and crime” and even vowed to implement a mass deportation of millions of undocumented people and their American children. One July issue of Mexican comic book El Peso Hero featured its hero slugging Donald Trump in the mug on its cover, just as Captain America once socked Hitler. Not to be outdone, Mexican artist Dalton Javier Avalos Ramirez designed a special Donald Trump piñata so people can fulfill their dreams of bashing Trump with a stick.
France’s Liberation Newspaper didn’t go for subtlety in its Aug. 27 cover story, “Trump: The American Nightmare.” Text that ran alongside his pink grimace declared him to be “vulgar and opportunistic.” Resentment against Trump has long been brewing in the land of brie and berets: back in January, he sparked widespread outrage when he blamed the Charlie Hebdo murders on strict gun laws. (Say quoi?!) More recently, Trump’s nationalism and tendency to make outrageous comments in the media led a columnist at Le Figaro to dub him the American Le Pen, a comparison to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the notorious patriarch of France’s far-right. Le Pen could also give Trump a master class on how to alienate practically everyone with reactionary bullshit: over the past year, Le Pen has gone off the deep end by denying the Holocaust and singing the praises of Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government occupiers who deported thousands of Jews during WWII.
The Latin American country has come under fire for draconian anti-trafficking policies that critics say amount to abuses of Colombians, including sealing their shared borders and deportations. Some observers couldn't help but notice that President Nicolas Maduro’s vicious anti-immigration policies are awfully similar to the vitriol that’s been spewing from the Donald. Opposition politician Saverio Vivas thinks the shoe fits: “Maduro criticizes Donald Trump, but his acts against Colombian immigration are worse than the magnate's words." But Maduro takes issue with the comparison. As he said during an August TV spot, “They’re saying Maduro is like Donald Trump. Imagine! I don't even have his hairstyle and least of all his bank account.” Um, fair enough, but nothing says “unpopular” quite like being more offensive than human rights violators.
Trump has made no secret of his distaste for China. He’s grumbled about how America keeps losing to China, in contrast with Trump’s record of “always beating [them].” He claimed the Chinese are “ripping us off left and right” and their diplomats ought to be taken to McDonald’s instead of to state dinners. As the Washington Post reports, the Chinese are beginning to snark back. Besides mocking Trump’s hair (“This guy’s hair is so strange. I thought it was photoshopped at first,” one Chinese national quipped on social media) the Chinese have become increasingly critical of Trump’s flaunting of his wealth. One state newspaper put it this way: “The theme of Trump’s speech for running for president: I really am very rich.” Spokespeople for the Chinese government have been dismissive, rebutting his claims that Chinese policies swipe jobs and saying that they care more about the opinions of those who actually matter.
Much has been made of the fact that Trump’s anti-immigrant rabble-rousing discounts his own family history. Not only did Trump descend from immigrants, he also married two of them. (His first spouse Ivana was born in the Czech Republic and he is currently married to Melania, from Slovenia.) But less is said of the fact that his Grandpa Drumpf, after building up a nest egg, actually tried to move back to his native Germany and was denied. As Deutsche Welle reports, Drumpf’s propensity for self-serving corner-cutting seems to have resulted in a grandson bent on erecting 100-story golden calves into the skyline of any city whose legal limits he can push. It’s exactly that flamboyance that fuels German distaste for “The Trump Show,” as his soundbite-optimized campaign was called by the tabloid Bild. A few weeks after Trump announced his candidacy, Suddeutsche Zeitung was feeling lost: “Weird, egomaniac, racist … yet he leads in the polls; how can that be?” the paper asked. Wunderbar question.
Given the fact that Trump’s venom has spared practically no one, it’s notable that he’s been less critical of Russia and President Vladimir Putin than practically any other global politician. (“I was over in Moscow two years ago and I will tell you—you can get along with those people … you can make deals with those people. Obama can’t,” he recently explained.) Trump has tacitly sided with Russia in the Ukraine conflict, having affirmed his indifference over whether or not Ukraine enters NATO and landing on an "enemies list" in Ukraine for his pro-Russia comments in the press. Pro-Russian publication Russia Insider even recently suggested a Trump presidency could be good for Russia, since Trump will negotiate based on pragmatics instead of emotion or ideology. The Kremlin-friendly pub also praised the fact that Trump “harbors none of the ridiculous and hysterical Russophobia, which of course is a hallmark of every other Republican candidate.”
Down under, some people have a cynical, sarcastic reason to root for Trump: it distracts the planet from the awfulness of their own recently deposed prime minister, Tony Abbott. As one bloke put it to the Unaustralian,“Trump would take the heat off Abbott so no Australian ever needs to pretend to be a New Zealander ever again.” Another claimed electing Trump “would be so embarrassing for America, they’d all be like ‘ugh, we elected this guy? Awkward.'" Fair enough. But why were Aussies so disgruntled at Abbott, anyway? Sydney Morning Herald columnist Julie Szego wrote that both represent ugly aspects of conservative values, particularly a high-profile disrespect of women. Trump’s center-stage battle against Megyn Kelly at the first Republican debate caused decent human beings to recoil in horror, as they do toward what Szego called Abbott’s “inability to self-censor his natural tendency to link women with domesticity.”
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The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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It can grow to a maximum of six inches (16 centimeters), change color depending on mood and habitat, and, like all seahorses, the White's seahorse male gestates its young. But this tiny snouted fish is under threat.
Building an Ocean Seahorse Destination<p>Seahorses are found in tropical and temperate coastal water worldwide, but are most abundant around Australia, China and the Philippines. </p><p>Trade in the tiny creatures is strictly regulated because of their use in traditional medicine, aquariums and their sale as dried curios. But because they are poor swimmers and cannot easily move elsewhere, habitat loss is a particular threat for these curious animals. </p><p>Seahorses wrap their tails around seagrass and corals to avoid being carried away on currents. They use the habitat to spawn and hide from predators such as crabs, while also feeding on riches of plankton and small crustaceans living in the reef.</p><p><span></span>Where corals aren't available, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aqc.1217" target="_blank">scientists</a> found seahorses taking up residence in fishing nets and old crab traps abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. </p>
Mixing With the Locals<p>Baby seahorse mortality is high in the wild because they are easily caught, so those bred in the protected environment of the aquarium weren't ready to be released into the wild until early May.</p><p>The team released 90 new arrivals into Sydney Harbor, placing some directly into the purpose-built hotels, and others onto a net that wild seahorses had already settled on.</p><p>Before setting them free, the researchers marked each young seahorse with a fluorescent tag with unique IDs inserted just beneath the skin to track how they get on in the different environments. </p><p>"The most exciting part was being able to put these animals into the wild and then go back a month later and still see them surviving and growing," said McCracken. </p><p>The seahorses will be old enough to mate and reproduce around October or November 2020. And researchers hope that by then, they will be able to breed with the wild population. </p>
Building a Global Seahorse Hotel Chain<p>With seahorses everywhere facing the loss of their coral reef homes, similar projects have sprung up in places like Greece and South Africa, home to the world's most endangered seahorse, the Knysna seahorse. </p><p>"The endangered South African seahorse is benefiting from something quite similar, even though it wasn't intentional," said Peter Teske, professor at the Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg.</p><p>In the South African <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322649251_An_endangered_seahorse_selectively_chooses_an_artificial_structure" target="_blank">case</a>, seahorses have bedded down in "Reno mattresses" — wire cages filled with rocks — that were used to build a new marina. Researchers from NGO Knysna Basin Project found the structures acted as a refuge for the animals.<span></span></p><p><span></span>While Teske describes the seahorse hotels as "a positive news story" and a great way to create public awareness of conservation, he added that establishing artificial habitats in some areas will only prevent the extinction of local populations.</p><p>"For a complete recovery, it is necessary to give the natural habitat a chance to regenerate," said the seahorse expert. </p>
Underwater Mascot<p>In Australia, the researchers hope the project could provide an opportunity to raise awareness not only of the plight of the Sydney seahorses but the other animals with which it shares its ocean habitat.</p><p>The waters around Sydney and the east coast are rich in biodiversity and include several threatened species like the weedy seadragon — a relative of the seahorse — and the grey nurse shark. Like the seahorse, they're also under pressure from pollution, ocean traffic and habitat loss through storms and coastal construction. </p><p>"It's a good thing to get people's support and interest. The seahorses are a useful vehicle to get people concerned if the harbor is in trouble," said David Booth, professor of marine ecology at the University of Technology Sydney who is also working on the project. </p><p>The hotels have become an attraction for divers hoping to catch a glimpse of these small but near mythical creatures. </p><p>"Everyone loves seahorses," added Booth, "they are so popular." </p>
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