Author talks of education building

Greg Mortenson “careful” with creation of schools along Pakistan-Afghanistan border

Mountain climber turned social entrepreneur who once raised government suspicions is now attracting positive attention from the U.S. military for his school-building drive in the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands. This creates a problem.

“I have to be very careful,” said Greg Mortenson, who appreciates the recognition but fears that if he becomes aligned with the U.S. government he’ll no longer be trusted by the people he helps.

Sales of Mortenson’s book “Three Cups of Tea” just topped 1 million, and Pentagon officials bought several thousand copies as reading for soldiers training to fight terrorism.

Pentagon strategists three times have invited Mortenson to speak with them about his softer approach. He has established 64 schools that give a balanced education to 25,000 girls and boys otherwise targeted by recruiters for anti-U.S. groups.

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Road to U.S. citizenship slow, crowded, under construction

Officials want to cut the long wait caused by a surge in immigrants’ applications.

Mushrooming numbers of immigrants in Denver and other cities are pushing to become U.S. citizens, and their deluge of applications is forcing the government to fix its overloaded processing system.

Undaunted by a $200 application- fee hike and encouraged by political activists, more than 1.4 million immigrants applied for citizenship last year, nearly double the number in 2006 and among the highest totals on record, federal officials said Friday. At least 10,892 in Denver sought citizenship — apparently a local record, the latest federal data show.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials who process applications estimated their turnaround time has nearly tripled in recent years to 16 to 18 months. Nearly 1 million applications are pending, almost twice the number pending a year ago, data show. The government has promised to recruit and hire 1,500 new adjudicators to handle the massive backlog — using money from the fee hike from $475 to $675 that kicked in last July. Officials acknowledged that, despite receiving 1.4 million applications last year, the number of new citizens approved decreased — by 6 percent to 659,237 compared with 702,663 in fiscal year 2006.

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Artists cut rocks and reveal soul

Zimbabwean stone carvers find respite in Denver from their homeland’s unrest.

Zimbabwean sculptor Brian Nyanhongo winces inside the Denver Botanic Gardens amid 57 towering stone creations weighing up to 3 tons.

For Denver, these massive sculptures carved by Zimbabwean masters became a popular diversion — eliciting emotional responses from Americans passing among plants.

But for Nyanhongo, 39, and other visiting Zimbabwean sculptors — who have been chipping away at imported raw rocks in tents around the gardens — the exhibit is a matter of survival.

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