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Pro- and anti- whaling nations set for clash in Brazil

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Nations on either side of the whale hunting debate are set for a standoff as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets Monday, with Japan hoping to overturn the 32-year-old ban on commercial whale hunting.

Japan will unveil proposals during the meeting in Florianopolis, Brazil, that outraged conservationists say are a blatant attempt to overturn the hunting moratorium that has largely held together since 1986.

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“If Japan’s proposals were accepted it would once again be open season on whales, so this is the most dangerous and reckless attempt to bring back commercial whaling that we have seen in decades,” said Claire Bass, head of Humane Society International UK.

Japan, which exploits a moratorium loophole to hunt whales for “scientific purposes,” argues that recovering stocks of some species justifies a return to “sustainable whaling.”

Brazil is instead trying to rally anti-whaling nations behind a “Florianopolis Declaration,” which states that commercial whaling is no longer a necessary economic activity, favoring increased investment in whale watching.

“Our challenge at this meeting is whether we can bridge the two different ideas or find a situation where we can agree to disagree so that we can see the future rather than just fighting each other,” Joji Morishita, the incoming Japanese commission chairman, told AFP

Other key issues being discussed in the week-long meeting are risks to whales of human-made underwater noise pollution, ship strikes, climate change and fishing gear entanglement.

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Nations opposed to whaling plan to renew a long-standing proposal for the creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, after previous proposals were knocked down by the pro-whaling lobby.

The Japanese delegation argues that stocks of Minke whales and other species have recovered, and proposes setting new catch quotas “for species whose stocks are recognized as healthy by the IWC’s scientific committee.”

– Rule change –

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Among Japan’s proposed reforms is a rule change that would allow decisions to be made by simple majority vote, doing away with the current practice of a three-quarters majority being needed.

Japan says the commission’s decision making ability is hampered by this rule, because of the rift between supporters and opponents of whaling.

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It also wants to set up a “Sustainable Whaling Committee” which would create catch-quotas for nations wishing to allow their nationals to hunt healthy whale populations for commercial purposes.

It would commit the IWC to re-establish commercial whaling quotas from 2020. Under its scientific whaling program, Japanese fishermen harpooned 333 Minke whales this year.

Iceland and Norway are the only countries that allow commercial whaling and are likely to come under renewed pressure at the IWC meeting, which runs until Friday.

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“This meeting is critical,” said Patrick Ramage of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

“Member countries must stand together and push progress towards whale protection, not let this commission be pulled back into the bygone era of commercial whaling.”

Conservation groups are opposed to a proposal before the IWC to increase annual whale kill quotas for countries where aboriginal subsistence hunting is practiced, including the United States, Russia, Greenland and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The IWC, set up in 1946, meets every two years. The African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe recently became the body’s 89th member.

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John Oliver explains how the Ukraine scandal so stupid even Fox News ‘idiot’ Steve Doocy should understand it

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver closed out his season with a special report for Fox News hosts who seem to be struggling with the basic understanding of things like "bribery" or the concept that attempted crimes are still actually crimes.

At the top of Sunday's show, Oliver played a clip of Fox News host Laura Ingraham who made the argument that if Trump tried to commit a crime and didn't manage to pull it off, then he's clearly innocent.

"Attempted bribery isn't in the constitution," proclaimed Ingraham, forgetting about what "high crimes and misdemeanors" covers. "Remember, Ukraine got its aid, it was 14 days delayed, big deal. And Ukraine never made any public statement about the investigation."

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This is the energy executive who first exposed Trump’s Ukraine scandal: report

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CNN host Chris Cuomo did a special investigative report by Drew Griffin looking at the money trail from Russia to President Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal.

"You probably don’t know Dale Perry, but history may record this energy executive as one of the first who sounded the alarm about what would become President Trump’s impeachment inquiry," said Griffin. "In April, Perry’s former business partner Andrew Favorov, now a director at Ukraine's state-owned gas company Naftogaz, says two shady characters had approached him, with a secret management plan to take over the management from the inside. Those two shady characters Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are two low-level, Soviet-born businessmen from south Florida. And they were trying to clear the way for their own gas business."

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‘A slam-dunk-case’: MSNBC analysts predict GOP will defend Trump — and ‘the guy is going to get off’

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More evidence was outed Sunday as the Wall Street Journal revealed emails from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who promised to keep the White House abreast of President Donald Trump's demand for an investigation by Ukraine. The news prompted an MSNBC panelists to explain that it wouldn't matter how much evidence was presented, Republicans will never vote to remove Trump.

Host Geoff Bennett asked about the witness testimony and preponderance of evidence that "all points in one direction at this point, that President Trump orchestrated this entire" Ukraine investigations.

"It's a slam dunk case, and yet we know the guy is going to get off," said Los Angels Times White House reporter Eli Stokols. "That's effectively what you're saying. Because all the testimony has lined up so closely, the fact that [EU Ambassador Gordon] Sondland has come to come in, and because testimony from [Ambassador Bill] Taylor and others, has had to change testimony, Republicans have no choice -- the president has no choice but to try to dismiss the entire thing as partisan."

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