Carter McCoy 10 days agoU.S.Comments Off on Trump Moves to Sell Oil Drilling Leases in ANWR5 Views
The Trump administration is moving to finalize the sale of controversial oil drilling leases in a wildlife refuge in Alaska.
A notice from the Bureau of Land Management posted on the federal register is listed as “unpublished” as of Monday, but it calls for nominations on the lease tracts considered for the oil sale.
Oil drilling in the sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was banned for decades before a 2017 reversal by the Trump administration.
In an executive order signed in April 2017, Trump reversed the Obama administration’s decision to prohibit oil and gas drilling in the Arctic waters off Alaska.
The White House said 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are buried off the U.S. coastline but that 94% of the area is off limits.
President-elect Joe Biden opposes drilling in ANWR. Conservationists have fought against drilling since the 2017 executive order. In recent months, several U.S. banks said they would not help finance the project.
The 19-million-acre refuge is home to numerous Indigenous tribes and wildlife, including polar bears and caribou.
Thirty days after the call for nominations is published on Tuesday, the Trump administration would have to issue a notice for an impending sale of leases. The sale would take place 30 days after that, according to Reuters, which would be just before Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Carter McCoy 10 days agoU.S.Comments Off on British Diplomat Saves Drowning Student in China5 Views
A British diplomat leaped into a river in southwestern China and rescued a drowning student over the weekend, Britain’s embassy in Beijing and Chinese state media said.
Stephen Ellison, the 61-year-old British consul-general in Chongqing, jumped into the water in the municipality on Saturday after spotting the struggling female student, who had fallen in by accident, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
A video of the incident posted on the British embassy’s Twitter account shows a woman drifting facedown in the water as onlookers scream in panic, before the diplomat takes off his shoes, plunges in and swims to her aid.
We are all immensely proud of our Chongqing Consul General, Stephen Ellison, who dived into a river on Saturday to rescue a drowning student and swim her to safety. pic.twitter.com/OOgXqsK5oe
A life preserver is then tossed into the river, enabling people on the bank to drag Ellison and the student to safety.
“Thanks to the rescue, the student soon resumed breathing and regained consciousness,” Xinhua said, citing the local authorities, without naming the woman.
The British embassy said everyone is “immensely proud” of Ellison.
Sino-British ties have been strained in recent months over China’s decision to impose a new national security law to quell pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which London handed back to Beijing in 1997 after 156 years of British rule.
China on November 5 barred non-Chinese travelers from countries including Britain from entering amid surging coronavirus cases.
Carter McCoy 10 days agoU.S.Comments Off on More Syrians Sent Home from al-Hol Displaced Persons Camp8 Views
The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria is moving ahead with plans to empty the al-Hol displaced persons camp, releasing a second group of families under a plan to ease overcrowding and reduce the stress on security forces in the region.
The Autonomous Administration for North and East Syria (AANES) announced Monday it had released more than 500 people, belonging to 120 families, most of whom are now headed to their former homes in the Deir el-Zour countryside.
Officials said all the families left voluntarily after submitting the necessary documentation, and they expect more families will soon follow.
The mass departure from al-Hol is the second since the AANES and the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the civilian arm of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), announced plans last month to clear out the camp, which at its height was home to more than 70,000 people, including family members and supporters of the Islamic State terror group.
The first group of 289 people, mostly women and children, departed shortly after the announcement, with AANES officials offering assurances that those released “have not been proven involved in hostilities and crimes against Syrians.”
Displaced Syrians Heading Home From Notorious al-Hol Camp
As about 300 mostly women and children began making their way home this week, the US and aid groups are hoping the move goes smoothly
Unlike with that first group, though, there are fewer safeguards in place for the Syrians who left al-Hol on Monday. Most notably, local governments and tribal elders have not been required to sponsor or vouch for them.
The release also comes amid reports that the situation in al-Hol has been deteriorating.
A report last week by the pro-SDF Rojava Information Center found that violence in the camp has been increasing, though it placed the blame not on Syrian nationals, but on foreign nationals with links to IS.
#Syria‘s #alHol camp getting more dangerous following release of low-level #ISIS members from Syria who were not accused of violent crimes
Report from the pro-#SDF@RojavaIC cites rise in escape attempts by ISIS-affiliated individuals, along w/attacks using firearms
“A rise has been detected in escape attempts by foreign ISIS affiliates, with at least three such escape attempts being thwarted [in October],” the report said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.
“Three firearm attacks were also confirmed, resulting in three deaths, all of Iraqi nationals,” the report added.
Despite such challenges, the effort to send the estimated 24,000 displaced Syrians back to their homes has met with approval from the United States.
“We see these return and reintegration initiatives for women and the large number of children as positive,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA shortly after the plan was first announced. “We have been very clear that the situation at al-Hol, despite the magnificent efforts of the SDC, is unsustainable.”
In addition to emptying the al-Hol camp, the SDC and SDF have also been trying to ease the strain on more than a dozen prisons holding almost 20,000 inmates, many connected to IS.
The SDF released more than 600 low-level prisoners, all from Syria, under a general amnesty announced last month.
The sentences of another 250 or so prisoners were cut in half.
US Backs Release of ‘Low-Level’ Islamic State Prisoners in Syria
More than 600 Syrian nationals who sided with IS have already been released by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, with US officials saying it will lessen the danger at overcrowded prisons