Revamped strategy may heighten troop deployment
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal submitted a classified, revised strategic approach to the war in Afghanistan on Aug. 31 which may require more troops to be deployed. According to McChrystal’s public commentary, the report focuses on safeguarding civilians and subduing insurrection. President Obama has already sent another 21,000 troops to Afghanistan this year, but one pressing issue being considered is the question of whether the Afghan people will view further occupation as menacing or beneficial.
Turkey and Armenia to overcome long-term rivalry
Diplomatic relations may develop between the adversarial countries of Turkey and Armenia, who have agreed to begin political negotiations. Their struggling economies would potentially benefit from inter-trade, which would open the border between the two countries. The border has been closed since 1993.The slaughter of countless Armenians by the Turkish government in early 1900 and the Turkish government’s subsequent denial of the genocide has been a primary factor in their dissension. Their next discussions have been allotted six weeks.
France attempts to ban Islamic tradition
A special commission in France is set to investigate the alleged negative cultural effects of Muslim womens’ use of the niqab. This ban is in an effort to retain French values and support women’s rights, although many women claim to wear them freely. Not to be confused with the burqa, the niqab is the face veil which shows only the eyes. Current French laws ban head scarves and religious symbolism from public schools.
Montana may legalize medically assisted suicide
Montana may become the first state to grant medically assisted death as a constitutional human right. This controversial issue was brought to the forefront during the case of Robert Baxter, a 76 year-old man who died of leukemia after doctors denied his repeated requests for assisted death. Although a lower court ruled in Baxter’s favor last Dec., the case has been sent to Montana’s State Supreme Court, with its seven members, who will be making the conclusive decision.
The wolf hunt is on
Just months after being on the federal endangered species list, gray wolves are being hunted again in Idaho and Montana.
Idaho has sold more than 10,700 wolf permits and Montana more than 2,600.An estimated 1,650 of the animals now live in the Northern Rockies, thanks to a controversial reintroduction program that started in 1995. However, these numbers will soon change with Idaho setting its quota of 220 wolves for this hunting season as part of its plan for managing the wolf population. The quota is 75 in Montana.
A Democrat with “family values”
Despite setbacks on the political front, President Obama seems to keep his ratings high when it comes to personal favorability. 53 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 72 percent approve of Obama “as a person,” according to the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll.
Smart lights work to save energy
Utah State University (USU) engineers are working to create self-adjusting lighting that will anticipate movement by observing past behavior, monitoring natural light and tracking people in the room.
Today, lighting accounts for one fifth of the nation’s electrical consumption and more than a third of commercial buildings’ energy use. Engineers at USU claim new buildings with intuitive lighting could cut electrical use in half.
The team is funded by part of the federal stimulus given to USU for its four new Utah Science, Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) teams.
Liquor laws may change
Salt Lake City is working to “normalize” some of the strictest alcohol laws and ordinances in Utah. Currently, there are laws to control how far apart bars can be and how far away they have to be from community facilities such as parks, churches and schools.
Mayor Ralph Becker, who is doing his part to rewrite these laws, hopes to give businesses an opportunity to fill the many vacant buildings downtown.
Trax airport expansion begins
Construction is now underway to link Trax from downtown Salt Lake City to Salt Lake City International Airport.
Crews began Sept. 2 what will be a six mile, five station line running every 15 minutes.
The line should be up and running in 2013 and will connect to the existing line at the Arena Station, curve over to North Temple and run through the center of North Temple to airport terminal one.