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Watching The Trump Storm From Across The Atlantic

Donald Trump speaking at Jan. 11 press conference in NYC
Donald Trump speaking at Jan. 11 press conference in NYC
Arnaud de la Grange


PARIS — As far as beginnings go, this is a terrible start. As a matter of fact, it's going badly before it has even started. Though American politics has no shortage of scandals, this is still unprecedented. One week before his inauguration, President-elect Trump finds himself under devastating fire. Accused of mixing with a foreign power — its dodgy agents as well as its promiscuous women. Suspected of being potentially blackmailed by Moscow because of this compromising material. A new grenade thrown on the red carpet leading to the Oval Office.

The whole thing, so far, is very nebulous. Even a part of the American press, which can hardly be suspected of "Trumpism," is advising precaution. What lends these claims extra weight is the fact that the CIA and FBI deemed it necessary to warn both the outgoing president and the newly-elected one. That, and the fact that it comes on top of other allegations of Kremlin interference in American politics such as Russia hacking that, eventually, Trump himself has admitted.

Like at the end of an overcomplicated spy movie, we no longer understand what has happened. And seen from our side of the Atlantic, the conduct of U.S. intelligence services seems a little unusual. Shortly before the election, the FBI had already taken everybody by surprise by embarrassing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, before clearing her at the very last moment. That didn't help her campaign ... And now, they've proceeded to drop another political bomb, all the while admitting that none of it has been confirmed.

A couple of facts emerge nonetheless from this dizzying chaos. First, Trump will be taking the reins on bad terms with his own spies, which is unfortunate. Second, the reconciliation he's been seeking with Russia is becoming more complicated, and he runs the risk of being endlessly labeled as Russian President Vladimir Putin's lackey. Third, America won't come out of this sequence greater or stronger, once again.

We're still a long way away from an impeachment. But the Trump era is beginning in a veritable political storm, which prompts the question: How long can the solid American system resist all this thunder and lightning?

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A Naturalist's Defense Of The Modern Zoo

Zoos are often associated with animal cruelty, or at the very least a general animal unhappiness. But on everything from research to education to biodiversity, there is a case to be made for the modern zoo.

Photograph of a brown monkey holding onto a wired fence

A brown monkey hangs off of mesh wire

Marina Chocobar/Pexels
Fran Sánchez Becerril


MADRID — Zoos — or at least something resembling the traditional idea of a zoo — date back to ancient Mesopotamia. It was around 3,500 BC when Babylonian kings housed wild animals such as lions and birds of prey in beautiful structures known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Ancient China also played a significant role in the history of zoos when the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) created several parks which hosted an assortment of animals.

In Europe, it wouldn't be until 1664 when Louis XIV inaugurated the royal menagerie at Versailles. All these spaces shared the mission of showcasing the wealth and power of the ruler, or simply served as decorations. Furthermore, none of them were open to the general public; only a few fortunate individuals, usually the upper classes, had access.

The first modern zoo, conceived for educational purposes in Vienna, opened in 1765. Over time, the educational mission has become more prominent, as the exhibition of exotic animals has been complemented with scientific studies, conservation and the protection of threatened species.

For decades, zoos have been places of leisure, wonder, and discovery for both the young and the old. Despite their past success, in recent years, society's view of zoos has been changing due to increased awareness of animal welfare, shifting sensibilities and the possibility of learning about wild animals through screens. So, many people wonder: What is the purpose of a zoo in the 21st century?

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