Satellites aim to protect Sudanese

LONGMONT — Human-rights activists, Hollywood stars and private Colorado satellite controllers have teamed up to try to prevent atrocities in Sudan.

Their scheme starts with three fridge-size satellites tilting in space — like giant digital cameras that can zoom in anywhere — capturing details down to gun barrels on tanks.

That imagery from volatile Sudan, which just held elections after a war that killed 2 million, then moves from DigitalGlobe’s control room here to activists coordinated by the Washington D.C.-based Enough Project. They post the images, with analysis, on the Internet (

The idea is that, if people everywhere can see atrocities in the making, they’ll blizzard leaders with messages demanding swift preventive intervention.

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Colorado part of “new gold rush” for rare-earth metals

China may rule the increasingly ravenous world market for rare metals used to make smartphones, clean-energy technology, guided missiles and bombs.

But Colorado and other Western states also contain significant caches of rare metals – the makings of a modern-day gold rush. Mining companies, the federal government and state agencies are pushing to find out just how much potential new money lies beneath the dirt.

The exploratory work is intensifying because, after undercutting global prices for rare earths in the 1990s, China now mines 97 percent of the world supply. Past mining operations left Colorado with 7,300 abandoned projects that still leak toxic waste into soil and water.

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Puzzling Russian case reminds that spying in U.S. is still active

Deep-cover Russian spies posing as suburban Americans. Money covertly changing hands. Supposedly secret information moving via encryption software.

It’s an elaborate replay of Cold War intrigue that leaves some experts puzzled. But the FBI case against 11 people charged with conspiring to spy for Russia also raises concerns among counterintelligence veterans about new ways adversaries — including terrorists — may be seeking informational advantages.

Spying for foreign powers in the U.S. “is still active. Many, many countries are still engaged in it,” said David Szady, the FBI’s former top spy catcher and assistant director of counterintelligence, who retired in 2006 and works for a global security firm. “The threat now is probably as serious as ever.”

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