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Less than Half of Americans Support North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): Survey

NATO has expanded to include countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc, and has also added countries that are further away, such as Turkey and Greece

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NATO
FILE - Flags of NATO member countries fly at the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

A new survey shows that less than half of Americans support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance originally designed to provide collective security against the Soviet Union, but now focused on Russia and non-state actors such as the Taliban and the Islamic State group.

The YouGov survey, released to commemorate the 70th anniversary of NATO, found that only 44 percent of Americans support the United States’ place in the agreement. That was down 3 percentage points from when the survey was conducted in 2017.

The poll also surveyed other NATO countries and found that support for the alliance had decreased significantly in the past two years among key European allies. Support for NATO dropped in Britain from 73 percent to 59 percent, in Germany from 68 percent to 54 percent, and in France from 54 percent to 39 percent.

NATO
Support for NATO dropped in Britain from 73 percent to 59 percent, in Germany from 68 percent to 54 percent, and in France from 54 percent to 39 percent. VOA

YouGov said there is a generational divide in the United States over support for NATO, with 56 percent of the Baby Boomer generation, who grew up at the beginning of the Cold War, believing that the treaty continues to serve an important role in defending Western nations. Only 35 percent of Millennials and 33 percent of Generation X members support U.S. participation in the alliance.

There is also a political divide, according to the survey, with 60 percent of Democrats in the United States agreeing the alliance serves an important role, while only 38 percent of Republicans believe the same.

YouGov contacted more than 1,200 U.S. adults for the survey, which was conducted online, as well as more than 1,000 adults in several European countries.

NATO
NATO has expanded to include countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc, and has also added countries that are further away, such as Turkey and Greece. VOA

NATO was formed to be an alliance of Western nations that would balance the military power of the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe. After the former Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, some experts questioned what part the alliance would play in international security, but the return of Russian assertiveness under President Vladimir Putin has partly changed that.

ALSO READ: On NATO’s 70th Birthday, Trump Takes Credit for Increased Burden Sharing in Defense Spending

NATO has expanded to include countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc, and has also added countries that are further away, such as Turkey and Greece.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the group, saying many NATO members do not spend enough on defense to fully meet their commitments under the agreement. (VOA)

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Whooping Cranes, Ravens, Peregrine Falcons are Celebrities of Sky in Eyes of Americans: Study

The ruffed grouse or purple martin? They're like friends you might chat with. The wrentit and the Abert's towhee are like the neighbors you don't talk to much

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FILE - An adult whooping crane, a critically endangered species, is seen in captivity at the Audubon Nature Institute's Species Survival Center in New Orleans, June 21, 2018. VOA

Whooping cranes, common ravens and peregrine falcons are among the celebrities of the sky in the eyes of Americans, even those who’ve never laid eyes them.

The ruffed grouse or purple martin? They’re like friends you might chat with. The wrentit and the Abert’s towhee are like the neighbors you don’t talk to much. As for the Hammond’s flycatcher and the Brewer’s sparrow, Americans don’t care much about them at all.

That’s the word from a new study that aimed to define “a range of relationships between people and birds” across the United States, said Justin Schuetz, one of the authors.

Results appear in a paper released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Schuetz, a biologist and independent researcher in Bath, Maine, did the work with Alison Johnston, who’s affiliated with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

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Birds classified as “neighbors,” whose few Google searches were confined to where they live. VOA

The project included studying Google searches performed from 2008 to 2017 to learn about what Americans think about 621 bird species. Researchers knew where each search came from. They also knew the natural range of each species and how often it is sighted in specific places, based on a national database.

One key question was whether the Google data revealed more interest in each species than one would expect in various locations, based on how often it is sighted in those places. Another question was how much the interest in each species was limited to its natural range, or spilled out beyond it.

So birds in the “celebrity” category are those that attracted more Google attention than one would expect from how often they’re seen, and whose popularity extended outside of their natural range. They have “a reputation beyond where they live,” Schuetz explained.

Next came the “friends or enemies” category, which included species that get more Google attention than expected, but mostly in the states where they live. As with the other categories, the researchers couldn’t tell whether the searchers’ opinions of these familiar birds were positive or negative.

Then came birds classified as “neighbors,” whose few Google searches were confined to where they live. Finally there were the “strangers,” birds that got little Google interest anywhere.

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Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, called the study “a fascinating framework for trying to understand how people are relating to birds.” VOA

The research also turned up other insights into what makes a species popular. Bigger bodies, colorful plumage and regular visits to birdfeeders helped. Species that served as mascots for professional sports teams reached celebrity status, but it wasn’t clear whether being a mascot encouraged popularity or the other way around.

The results also turned up some surprises. “People seem to have an inordinate fascination with owls we couldn’t account for entirely in our analysis,” Schuetz said. Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, called the study “a fascinating framework for trying to understand how people are relating to birds.”

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“I hope they’re able to use it to help people appreciate what’s right in their own backyard,” he said. “Most of us just aren’t keyed in to what is literally at our doorstep. “David Ringer, chief network officer for the National Audubon Society, also found the work interesting.

“It’s great to see how much we know and love some species, and it’s provocative to see how much we still have to discover,” he wrote in an email. “I hope that many bird `strangers’ will become `friends,’ and `neighbors’ will turn into `celebrities.” (VOA)