Former Secretary of State James Baker issues a personal plea for the incoming administration to help save the endangered species...but how likely is that?
January 8, 2017

Former Reagan Secretary of State James Baker has been known to do a little big game hunting. However, he draws the line at hunting elephants, a rare redeeming quality in a man who has steeped himself in partisan politics for decades.

So Baker exercised his statesman emeritus status on Fareed Zakaria GPS to ask his counterpart in the incoming Trump administration (presumably he means Rex Tillerson, though he didn't name him directly) to take a lead in creating an international coalition to ban the ivory trade and prevent the hunting of elephants.

It's needed. In 2014, National Geographic was warning of the dangers:

Ivory-seeking poachers have killed 100,000 African elephants in just three years, according to a new study that provides the first reliable continent-wide estimates of illegal kills. During 2011 alone, roughly one of every twelve African elephants was killed by a poacher.

In central Africa, the hardest-hit part of the continent, the regional elephant population has declined by 64 percent in a decade, a finding of the new study that supports another recent estimate developed from field surveys.

The demand for ivory, most notably in China and elsewhere in Asia, and the confusion caused by a one-time sale of confiscated ivory have helped keep black market prices high in Africa.

So, yes, absolutely, to protect these amazing animals, there should be an international agreement banning the trade of ivory (it should be noted that China is leading in this particular cause, surprisingly). But come on, Jim, how likely is it that the Trump administration is interested in preventing the Trump boys from doing one of their favorite activities?

In fact, Donald Trump, Jr. is such a gun nut that he's going to help out his buddies at the NRA (you know, the ones that spent $6 million backing his dad, the single largest donation) make silencers much easier to get:

Now the gun industry, which for decades has complained about the restrictions, is pursuing new legislation to make silencers easier to buy, and a key backer is Donald Trump Jr., an avid hunter and the oldest son of the president-elect, who campaigned as a friend of the gun industry.

The legislation stalled in Congress last year. But with Republicans in charge of the House and Senate and the elder Trump moving into the White House, gun rights advocates are excited about its prospects this year.

They hope to position the bill the same way this time — not as a Second Amendment issue, but as a public-health effort to safeguard the eardrums of the nation’s 55 million gun owners. They even named it the Hearing Protection Act. It would end treating silencers as the same category as machine guns and grenades, thus eliminating a $200 tax and a nine-month approval process.

Yeah, you read that right. It's a health issue. Or maybe elephants aren't the only game Donnie Jr is interested in.

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