If the United States really wants to stabilize Afghanistan, say six Afghans visiting Colorado farms, then it should focus more on building agricultural options beyond the illicit drug trade for the war-torn nation’s mostly agrarian people. “If we keep people busy in agriculture, that will be good for security,” said Abdul, a veterinarian from northern Afghanistan. “We have a lot of land that is not used for drugs. We have no water to irrigate that land,” Abdul said. “If our agriculture is supported by the United States — if we can have a good irrigation system — this could be good land and a lot of people could get jobs.” U.S. agriculture officials brought the six Afghan veterinarians to Colorado for a month as part of nonmilitary efforts begun during the war that was launched shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks. Retired Colorado State University professors have escorted the six to farms, feedlots, research stations and clinics.
An armada of giant yellow earthmovers on the prairie south of Denver is racing to dig one of Colorado’s biggest water-supply reservoirs in decades — a hole 180 feet deep across 1,400 acres — designed to wean suburbs off waning aquifers. But the water to fill this reservoir? Not yet secured. The prospect of what critics call an empty bathtub is generating anxiety around Colorado as water managers clash over the last unclaimed mountain river flows.
A Denver center that offered counseling and legal help to asylum-seeking immigrants who said they had been tortured in their home countries has closed after losing its federal grant. Now hundreds in Colorado — among the 50,000 who seek asylum in the U.S. each year — must look elsewhere for help. Torture-survivor programs in Atlanta, Jersey City, Chicago, San Diego and Detroit also have had federal funding cut and are struggling to stay open.