U.S. Briefs: Rare earth mineral trove discovered in Wyoming | WORLD
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U.S. Briefs: Rare earth mineral trove discovered in Wyoming

A mining company estimates its prospecting site holds more than 2 billion metric tons of valuable magnetic elements

American Rare Earths

U.S. Briefs: Rare earth mineral trove discovered in Wyoming
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An international mining company believes it has found significantly more rare earth minerals than previously thought at a site in the southeastern part of the state. On Feb. 7, American Rare Earths said more than 2.34 billion metric tons of the magnetic elements used in electric vehicles, computers, lasers, and military equipment could be extracted from the ground at a reasonable cost. That’s about 65 percent more than estimated last year. The new estimates came from data obtained during drilling tests in the fall that plunged 1,000 feet below ground, about twice as deep as previous tests. If the prediction pans out, the Halleck Creek find would dwarf the May 2023 announcement from another company that 1.2 million metric tons of rare earth elements, considered at the time the largest unconventional deposit in the country, are underground in the northeastern part of the state. The Australia-based American Rare Earths must complete licensing, environmental planning, and permit applications before it can begin work. —Todd Vician


An effort to legalize assisted suicide stalled in the Virginia legislature in mid-February after advancing further than any similar bills in previous years. On Feb. 9, the Virginia Senate passed legislation that would allow terminally ill adults to request and self-administer life-ending drugs. According to the pro-euthanasia group Death With Dignity, this successful vote was a first in Virginia history. It was also the first full chamber vote on an assisted suicide bill in any state this year. But the bill did not gain enough support to earn a spot on the House docket, effectively quashing it. Although the pro-death effort in Virginia failed, bills to legalize the practice are still active this year in 17 other states, including Minnesota, Maryland, and New Hampshire. —Leah Savas


The descendants of slaves who helped build St. Louis University are demanding around $70 billion in reparations. At a press conference on Feb. 8, civil rights attorney Areva Martin made the demand on behalf of a group of around 200 descendants. Economist Julianne Malveaux, who spoke at the event, says the figure was based on unpaid labor done 24 hours per day, 365 days per year for 70 enslaved people between 1823 and 1865. With interest added over time, that amounts to around $70 billion. St. Louis University said in a statement it cannot yet offer a detailed response. St. Louis University, America’s oldest college west of the Mississippi, is a Catholic research university with around 15,000 undergraduate and ­graduate students. —Emma Freire

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New Hampshire

Maelle Jacques is the latest male high school athlete from New England to become a state champion in girls’ track and field. Jacques, who identifies as a girl, won the girls’ high jump in New Hampshire’s small-school division at the state indoor championships in early February. The sophomore from Kearsarge Regional High cleared the bar at roughly 5 feet, 2 inches, though some media outlets have reported that Jacques’ jump was as much as an inch lower. Jacques edged out Somersworth High sophomore Savanna Comeau, who also got over at 5 feet, 2 inches but needed more jumps at 5 feet even to get there. Jacques got over on his first try. By comparison, small-school boys champion Rio Calle reached a winning height of 6 feet. No boy jumped lower than 5 feet, 8 inches. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association allows students to compete in the gender division of their choice. Jacques joins sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, both of Connecticut, as male winners of girls’ state titles. Jacques is the first to do it in a field event. —Ray Hacke

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The Silver State’s long-running experiment in legal prostitution came under attack in February when the National Center for Sexual Exploitation and an unnamed victim claimed the cozy arrangement between state and brothels led the victim into a “state-sanctioned sex trade.” In the Feb. 8 federal lawsuit against the state and several brothels, the victim argues Nevada’s “prostitution ­industrial complex” violates both the 13th Amendment’s ban on slavery and involuntary servitude and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Enacted in 2000, the federal law prohibits coerced commercial sex acts. The complaint asks the court to block Nevada from enforcing laws that permit legal prostitution and seeks damages for the victim and people like her. The state’s legal prostitution business of $75 million per year is dwarfed by its illegal prostitution business, estimated at $5 billion a year. —Steve West

New York

The Biden administration awarded $1.5 billion to New York–based chipmaker GlobalFoundries on Feb. 19 as part of an effort to boost American semiconductor manufacturing. The administration also offered an additional $1.6 billion in federal loans. The grants are expected to triple GlobalFoundries’ production capacity over the next 10 years at facilities in New York and Vermont. The company plans to use the money to build the chips needed in cars, satellites, smartphones, and the power grid—most of which are not currently manufactured in the United States. Only 12 percent of chips are made in America now. Most come from factories in East Asia. After a global chip shortage sent car prices soaring in 2020, Congress passed a law allocating over $50 billion to the semiconductor industry. But sales of many chip types have slumped this year, leading at least three other top chipmakers, including Intel, to delay their U.S. expansion plans. GlobalFoundries is the world’s third-largest contract chipmaker. —Elizabeth Russell


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