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Over 200 black bears killed in US

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Miami: More than 200 black bears were killed in the first day of an authorised hunt in Florida, a state where hunting the animals was banned for 21 years, officials said.

A total of 207 bears were killed on Saturday, the first day of the seven-day season, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, said on Sunday.

Hunters killed nearly two-thirds of the maximum of 320 black bears authorised by the FWC for the entire state of Florida in just one day.

The limits were reached in two of the four districts approved for hunting in the first day of the hunt and no more bears would be allowed to be killed in those areas.

Hunting will continue on Sunday in the southern and northern parts of the state.

Environmentalists and animal rights groups oppose the planned hunt, which the FWC justified on the grounds that black bears had become a nuisance in many areas, attacking people and pets, and scavenging for food around homes.

The FWC said hunting would be allowed for at least two days, with officials evaluating the results on the third day before deciding whether to continue or call off the one-week hunt.

Officials estimate that about 3,100 bears live in Florida, with the animals moving into areas where they did not have a presence in the past.

Some 1,900 hunters obtained permits from the FWC, raising concerns among environmentalists that the hunt would get out of control.

The permits, which allow hunters to kill only one bear, cost just $100 for Florida residents and $300 for non-residents.

The hunt will stabilise Florida’s bear population, which was nearly wiped out in the 20th century and has recovered from about 300 animals in 1974 to 3,100 today, making the big predators a conservation success story, the FWC said.

Conservation groups and animal rights organisations criticised the hunt but were unable to keep the 1994 ban on bear hunting in place.

(IANS)

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US Planning For Space Force To Stay Ahead in War

The general says his team is already writing government proposals to make space resupply a certainty for future military mobility

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Space Force
Air Force Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, the Commander of Air Mobility Command, left, holds a binder with a photograph of Air Force One on the cover as he speaks to Navy Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, second from left, while arriving with other generals and admirals for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Dec. 21, 2016. (VOA)

It might sound like science fiction, but the general in charge of the U.S. military’s air transports across the globe says refueling and resupplying the military may soon be a job that’s literally out of this world.

“If I can resupply from space I can go across globe in about 30 minutes,” Air Force General Carlton Everhart, the head of Air Mobility Command, told VOA. “I do truly believe that is the next step. We can really make inroads.”

Everhart says the time gained by using hypersonic craft in space could keep him ahead in “the speed of war,” where competitors China and Russia have been trying to make gains.

The idea of using space deliveries isn’t as far out as it may seem. In fact, industry leaders, companies Everhart hopes to partner with, are already working on this type of technology.

Launch vehicles from companies like SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and even foreign ventures could “provide tremendous strategic advantage to the U.S. government,” according to Eric Stallmer, the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

But it’s an advantage that would come with an astronomical price tag of thousands of dollars per kilo.

Experts say the need to transport via space must outweigh these costs, perhaps only being used during the most important of missions.

Todd Harrison, a space and defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, points to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, as a situation where time necessities could overpower cost concerns.

“Imagine if we had been able to launch a SEAL team and put them right down in that compound within 45 minutes of knowing that it was under attack. It could have made the difference,” he said.

The general is not just focused on launching from one point on Earth to another, Everhart also wants to use satellites to preposition cargo in space.

Stallmer said a lot of spaceflight companies are looking at this idea of space refueling depots, including plans to convert those refueling vehicles to habitats within space once they’ve been used.

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The future is full of possibilities, but it is unclear when these technologies will be fully developed. Experts give estimates ranging from a couple of years to more than a decade, but that doesn’t stop Everhart from dreaming.

“The train is leaving the station and we’re going to be on it. And I’m not going to be on the caboose. I want to be in front of, I’m going to be in the front,” he said.

The general says his team is already writing government proposals to make space resupply a certainty for future military mobility. (VOA)

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