Virginia Uranium Debate Heats Up

first_imgThe dispute over whether or not to mine uranium ore in rural southern Virginia heats up this week as a law that would lift the ban on uranium mining will be introduce to the Virginia state legislature. By ending the three-decades long ban on uranium mining in Virginia, the largest known deposit of undeveloped uranium will be open for mining by Virginia Uranium, Inc., the company founded by the owners of the 3,500 acre farm where the uranium deposit lies. Mining would boost the economy of the region and help make the U.S. energy independent. However, environmental lobbyists and many public officials and citizens across Virginia worry about pollution and radioactive contamination in the water supply.The proposed mining plan has people fiercely divided into two sides, for and against the mine. Tell us what you think: pro-mine or anti-mine?last_img read more

Chile Purchases Vehicles to Expedite Disaster Response

first_imgBy Carolina Contreras/Diálogo May 15, 2017 The Chilean Army performed the largest overhaul of its field vehicle fleet by adding 313 new and modern multipurpose trucks with a service life of 15 to 20 years. The vehicles will be used to improve response capabilities during natural disasters and to deploy aid in peacekeeping operations outside of Chile. “The possibility of unforeseen events is constant. In light of that fact, the only serious response is to improve and refine the capacity of our institutions to react,” President Michelle Bachelet said on March 10th during the official presentation ceremony for the vehicles. She highlighted this investment as “necessary for the Chilean Army, not only for its defense duties but also to lend support in situations that impact the country.” “[With our old vehicles], we were having problems with reliability, availability, obsolete technology, and properly deploying our land forces,” Lieutenant Colonel Raúl Rosas, Army communications section chief, told Diálogo. These new transport vehicles, which represent an investment of $79 million, are part of projects Alfil and Cahuelmó, and were built to replace field vehicles at all of the Chilean Army’s combined arms units in service for 25 to 30 years. In fact, it was the president who made both projects a top priority in March 2015 following the flood that impacted the Atacama region in northern Chile. During a visit to the area, she witnessed the Armed Force’s work on the ground and “saw that our vehicles were not fulfilling their purposes as they should,” Colonel Claudio Orellana, from the Chilean Army Projects and Research Department for Project Alfil, told Diálogo. The other project, Cahuelmó, has been up and running since the earthquake that rocked the country in 2010. This project also included the purchase of machinery and tactical vehicles for Army Corps of Engineers battalions. “This is the most important overhaul in recent years, equivalent to 15 percent of the Army’s nationwide fleet,” said Col. Orellana. Multipurpose resources The 313 field vehicles were chosen for their operational capabilities to transport cargo and personnel, and to gather resources and take them to secure zones. They were tested in complex geographical environments such as in the high Andean plateau in the north and deep south of Chile. Project Alfil acquired 278 state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz trucks: 138 UNIMOG 4000s, 134 ATEGO N1023 4Ks, and six ZETROS 1833s with low, medium, and high tonnage, respectively. The 6×6 trucks have all-wheel drive, reduced traction, and locking differential systems – properties that allow the vehicles to grip surfaces and give it a high level of independent cargo stability. They can travel over snowy, flooded, and rocky terrain and are equipped with the emissions technology required by today’s international market for the type of fuel they use. Meanwhile, Project Cahuelmó finalized the purchase of 35 Mercedes-Benz trucks, between Actros 2632 6×6 dump trucks, Actros 3344 for transporting machinery, and off-road Zetros 1833s, as well as the procurement of 154 vehicles for engineering work such as bulldozers, excavators, front-end loaders, graders, 4×4 backhoe loaders, vibrating rollers, forklifts, crushers, and compressors with pneumatic tools. These machines are used for road building and/or replacing roads and bridges, among other operations carried out by Army Engineering Battalions throughout the country. With these new acquisitions, “the Army has incorporated a new multipurpose dimension into its investments and its overhaul of this equipment,” Col. Orellana said, since it will now be able to properly complete missions in its three strategic areas (defense, security and international cooperation, and Army and society). “We can develop, train, and maintain our land forces with a range of capabilities for efficiently carrying out military operations other than warfare,” Lt. Col. Rosas stressed. During the month of April, the military personnel in charge of operating and maintaining these new trucks received theory-based and hands-on training. Once this phase was completed, the vehicles were released for use. It should be noted that these new vehicles are from the same manufacturer as the old, decommissioned vehicles, which gives continuity to the maintenance, training, and capacity-building processes already mastered by military personnel. Units benefited Currently, all of the vehicles are available in the Army’s 34 combined arms units deployed from Arica, in the north, to Isla Grande in Tierra del Fuego, in the south. The number of trucks assigned to each unit was based on a prior analysis of the specific characteristics of their areas of use. Thus, for example, the Army Artillery School in Region VII had 15 of its tactical 4×4 vehicles replaced. In accordance with Army regulations, the retired vehicles are removed with all of their equipment by the Chilean Army in order to be demilitarized. They are then sent to public auction. Proceeds from the sale are used for maintaining the new vehicles. The Army has readied all of its 2017 annual training plans for its professional troops and conscripted soldiers, and the new trucks stand ready for these training activities at the Army’s various units. “We have modern and reliable equipment that affords Chile security,” Col. Orellana concluded.last_img read more

Experts at DC panel deny lax US border controls are to blame

first_imgRelated posts:Central American child migrant crisis ‘one of the greatest tragedies,’ says Costa Rica’s Solís Central American foreign ministers meet in Washington to lobby Obama on immigration crisis For Central America’s migrant women, life can change in a second US to grant refugee status to Central American child migrants WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the presidents and foreign ministers of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala prepare for Friday’s White House roundtable with President Barack Obama, experts here met to discuss how to stem the influx of Central American children that has overwhelmed U.S. border officials, sparking a humanitarian crisis.Rubén Zamora, El Salvador’s envoy to the United Nations, shared the podium with Doris Meissner, founder of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, at a July 16 panel organized by Washington’s Inter-American Dialogue.The two, speaking before a packed audience that included officials from a dozen embassies, claimed that the crisis cannot be blamed on lax border enforcement – despite the rhetoric many Republicans and even some Democrats in the U.S. Congress are spouting.“The argument that the U.S. Border Patrol is inefficient is absolutely wrong. The Border Patrol is the most efficient thing I’ve ever seen in the United States,” said Zamora, who served as El Salvador’s ambassador in Washington before being reassigned to New York earlier this year as his country’s envoy to the United Nations.“They know when the people are coming. There are 40 TV screens along one section of the Río Grande alone, and as soon as there’s movement, all of them move into focus and can detect immediately what’s coming,” Zamora said. “When I was ambassador here, I asked the immigration people how they measured that migration from El Salvador was on the increase, and they said it was because they were catching more and more people every day.”Hondurans comprise the largest group of kids (followed by Salvadorans and Guatemalans) among the nearly 58,000 unaccompanied minors who have showed up at the U.S-Mexico border since October. The presidents and foreign ministers of all three countries will press the Obama administration this week for more aid to stop the unprecedented influx.Meissner, who was commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Clinton administration, said the issue of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border is not new.“Migration emergencies have happened before, and will happen again, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with,” she said. The problem now is that the average wait time for a child migrant to appear before a judge is 578 days. At the same time, funding for immigration enforcement programs has jumped by 300 percent in recent years, while the money available for hearings has risen by only 70 percent.“If you’re coming from Mexico or Canada, the enforcement officials can ask you questions but you can be voluntarily returned. That is not the case with other countries,” she said. “Special protections have to do with the fact that children are vulnerable. They are much less likely to understand the legal options available to them, so they cannot be returned voluntarily to their home countries in the way adult migrants can. They are also not allowed to be subjected to expedited procedures.”Meissner said that 82 percent of the kids who have crossed the border are now in the care of either parents or close relatives.“What we have on the southwestern border is young people coming to turn themselves in, not evade enforcement,” she said. “They’re coming to find an agent to bring them to a Border Patrol station so these proceedings can begin.” A protest sign greets visitors to a southern Arizona desert camp that assists Mexican and Central American migrants suffering from dehydration and other illnesses. Larry Luxner/The Tico TimesZamora suggested that the real reason the kids are coming is the dramatic rise in gang violence throughout the northern tier of Central America.“Gangs create a very serious problem on the peripheries of big cities, where they control the territory. They decide who lives and who doesn’t,” he said. “Let’s say a 12-year-old boy sees the gangs approaching him, and telling him, ‘Work for us or we’ll kill your mother.’ What’s he going to do, move to another place? Usually, these are poor people. What are the alternatives? They know they have a relative in the U.S. who is ready to accept them, so they go.”Another factor is the improving economic conditions for Central Americans who have already migrated to the United States years ago.“The father or mother has special status in the U.S., but they left their child in El Salvador. Now they have the capacity to have the kids live with them in their own home,” he said. “What father wouldn’t ask for his own child? The upward mobility of our community has created the conditions for that phenomenon.”Julio Ligorria Carballido, Guatemala’s ambassador to the United States, told The Tico Times later that the problem is not one of inadequate U.S. border enforcement.“You cannot blame this crisis on any one thing. If you speak with ambassadors from the Northern Triangle countries or Mexico, everyone will tell you we all have a shared responsibility,” he said. “But everyone has a lot to gain by resolving this.”Ligorria said that six weeks ago, Guatemala’s foreign minister, Luis Fernando Carrera Castro, became the first – and so far the only foreign minister – to visit the border during a trip to McAllen, Texas. He noted that of the nearly 58,000 unaccompanied minors who have found refuge in the U.S. since October, 12,000 are Guatemalans.“We have to look at the violence in Central America, the hunger, misery, poverty and lack of education,” he said. “These are structural problems of our society that resulted 30 years ago from the Cold War. Help us to manage the crisis, but if you really want to solve the problem, you can invest in our countries. Promote real U.S. investments in Central America, and take advantage of the lower wages. And increase cooperation to solve narco-violence and our other social problems.”Recommended: Fix the immigration crisis at its root Facebook Commentslast_img read more