Connect with us

News

W. Va. AG known for opposing Obama and Biden policies wins GOP primary for governor

Published

on

W. Va. AG known for opposing Obama and Biden policies wins GOP primary for governor

West Virginia voters chose their nominees in primaries with the key posts of governor and a U.S. Senate seat coming open.

Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting


hide caption

toggle caption

Advertisement

Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting


West Virginia voters chose their nominees in primaries with the key posts of governor and a U.S. Senate seat coming open.

Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After a campaign focused on national culture war issues, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the state’s Republican nomination for governor, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

In a state that voted heavily for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, Morrisey will start as the frontrunner for the November election. He’ll face the one contender in the Democratic primary, Steve Williams, who’s in his third term as the mayor of Huntington. Unopposed in the Democratic primary, Williams has been able to wait and focus his efforts on the upcoming general election.

Advertisement

They’re seeking to replace Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who has reached his two-term limit on that office.

Meanwhile Justice, according to the AP, won an expected victory in the GOP primary for the nomination to replace Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who is retiring. Justice, owner of a vast array of businesses and son of a coal magnate, is the dominant figure in the state’s politics and was endorsed by Trump. As governor, he has helped pass income tax cuts and a near-total ban on abortion.

He’ll start as a likely favorite against Democrat Glenn Elliott, the mayor of Wheeling, who the AP called as the winner of that party’s primary. With the Democratic Sen. Manchin leaving, the race could be key in determining whether Republicans can take control of the Senate.

In the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat, incumbent Carol Miller has defeated Derrick Evans, according to the AP. Evans served three months in prison on a civil disorder charge for participation in the storming of the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 6, 2021. He was a delegate to the West Virginia House at the time.

The new GOP gubernatorial nominee, Morrisey, was elected attorney general in 2012 and used the office to spearhead lawsuits against federal policies from the Obama and Biden administrations. He recently led other state attorneys general in suing to block rules by the Environmental Protection Agency requiring cuts in emissions from coal and gas-fueled power plants.

Advertisement

Much of the primary campaign saw the candidates for the GOP nomination competing for who was the more conservative and the biggest Trump supporter. They touted their support for the state’s coal industry, backing fossil fuels as still key to the U.S. energy supply as the country transitions to renewable sources. But much of the media campaigning was focused on their opposition to transgender rights.

“Because our candidates don’t have a lot, frankly, of policy alternatives they want to talk about, it’s easier to play the culture wars game and to gin up fear,” said Marybeth Beller, associate professor of political science at West Virginia’s Marshall University.

Though he grew up in New Jersey and moved to West Virginia in 2006, Morrisey beat contenders with deeper ties to the state’s political establishment. Moore Capito, a former delegate to the West Virginia Legislature, was on track to come in second. He is the son of U.S. Senator Shelley Capito and grandson of late Gov. Arch Moore. He was backed by Gov. Justice.

Another contender was auto dealership owner Chris Miller, who’s mother is U.S. Rep. Carol Miller. The other candidate was current Secretary of State Mac Warner.

Randy Yohe covers state government for West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

News

Visa program draws foreign teachers to a rural Alaska school district facing a staffing crisis

Published

on

Visa program draws foreign teachers to a rural Alaska school district facing a staffing crisis

Due to the success of the State Department’s J-1 Visa program, the Kuspuk School District and other rural districts in Alaska are looking at ways to utilize other visa programs to keep foreign teachers in classrooms for longer.

Emily Schwing for NPR/Emily Schwing


hide caption

toggle caption

Advertisement

Emily Schwing for NPR/Emily Schwing

When special education teacher Dale Ebcas moved from his home in the Philippines to the tiny village of Upper Kalskag in Alaska back in the winter of 2020, the warmest layer he brought with him was a trench coat: “I was imagining a weather like, you know, Korea,” he laughs. “Because I’m a fan of watching Korean movies and it’s like, ‘oh, they’re just wearing trench coats… it seems like it might work’.”

The average temperature in the Philippines’ coldest month is just about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. By contrast, the climate in Upper Kalskag is semi-arctic and snow can blanket the ground for more than half the year.

Needless to say, the trench coat didn’t cut it – Ebcas had to borrow a down jacket from the principal of the school where he’d been hired.

Advertisement

His school district – the Kuspuk School District in Western Alaska – is about the same size as the state of Maryland. While the region is large, the student population is small: only 318 kids spread out across seven villages and none are connected by a road system. Here, like in many other rural school districts across America, it’s a struggle to fill nearly 40 teaching positions. That’s why the Kuspuk School District is bringing in educators like Ebcas from over 5,000 miles away – so many of them, in fact, that they now make up more than half the district’s teaching staff. It’s one of many school districts around the country who are addressing a shortage of teachers by relying on special visas that allow foreign teachers to come work in the U.S.

Ebcas is from Cagayan de Oro City, on the Philippine island of Mindanao – an island with a population of more than 26 million people. By contrast, there are just over 200 people in Upper Kalskag. While winters are long and the community is tiny, Ebcas says he enjoyed teaching in Alaska so much that he encouraged other teachers he knew from the Philippines to join him.

Second grade teacher Vanissa Carbon said that the adjustment to winter in Alaska took some patience.

Second grade teacher Vanissa Carbon said that the adjustment to winter in Alaska took some patience. “Oh my God, it’s so long,” she laughed. But she appreciates the community in Upper Kalskag for its similarities to Filipino culture.

Emily Schwing for NPR


hide caption

Advertisement

toggle caption

Emily Schwing for NPR

His aunt, Vanissa Carbon, now teaches second grade in Upper Kalskag. Although she says the winter in Upper Kalskag is long, she’s been pleasantly surprised by life here, where the population is predominantly Indigenous. “The people here are also like Filipinos – their culture is somehow the same in terms of close family ties, being together on occasions and helping each other,” says Carbon.

In the Kuspuk School District, teachers who come from the Philippines say they can make 15 times the amount of money they could at home, in addition to benefits. And they have access to teaching tools and technologies that aren’t as readily available in the Philippines.

Advertisement

“I was quite fascinated with the fact that we have resources that are really readily accessible to students with special needs,” Ebcas says. He points to tools like a ‘talking pen,’ which assists students in learning to read, among other technologies. “These kinds of devices, we don’t have them in the Philippines. … It’s very expensive,” he says.

Dale Ebcas is from one of the most populated islands in the Philippines. He travelled more than 5,000 miles to teach special education at an elementary school in the village of Upper Kalskag, Alaska. Just over 200 people live there.

Dale Ebcas is from one of the most populated islands in the Philippines. He travelled more than 5,000 miles to teach special education at an elementary school in the village of Upper Kalskag, Alaska. Just over 200 people live there.

Emily Schwing for NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Advertisement

Emily Schwing for NPR

Aguillard did her PhD research on the special education system in the Philippines. She says the requirements for students working toward teaching degrees there aren’t so different from what’s required in the U.S. “Their studies were purely 100 percent based on the U.S. model of students receiving special education services.” She says her research was in the back of her mind when her school district opted to pursue hiring foreign teachers.

Both Ebcas and Carbon are here on J-1 visitor visas, which are good for three years and can be extended for two more. The J-1 is a cultural exchange visa, and J-1 Visa holders often fill summer service positions related to the travel industry in Alaska. Childcare workers, including au pairs, also use J-1 Visas. Nationwide, there are more than 5,700 teachers in the US on J-1 Visas, according to the State Department. 91 of them are in Alaska.

“They do have program requirements where they do have to share not only their culture, but also learn about the culture that they are immersed in for their job,” says Superintendent Aguillard. “A big part of education in rural Alaska specifically is the emphasis on cultural heritage and keeping that culture alive, whether it be Alaska Native culture, or whatever culture an individual brings with them to the space they’re in,” she says.

Advertisement

She says the teachers host Filipino-themed events in her school district. “A couple of our teachers have put on informative nights about the Philippines, so they’ll decorate the whole gym, they’ll cook food and do a lecture on Filipino cultural traditions,” she says.

Aguillard says J-1 Visas have had a dramatic positive impact in the Kuspuk School District. “We went from having zero applicants for positions for a year-long posting to over 100 applicants of extremely qualified people with experience and they’re wanting to come teach our students.”

Alaska's Kuspuk School District serves 318 students spread across a rural region equivalent to the size of the state of Maryland.

Alaska’s Kuspuk School District serves 318 students spread across a rural region equivalent to the size of the state of Maryland.

Emily Schwing for NPR


hide caption

Advertisement

toggle caption

Emily Schwing for NPR

Still, she says the teacher shortage is so dire that 20% of teaching positions at her schools were never filled this year – even with the teachers on J-1 Visas. Now the Kuspuk School District is looking at ways to keep foreign teachers on staff for more than five years. One option is the H-1B Visa – a specialty occupation visa that paves the way for immigration.

Kuspuk isn’t the only remote school district in Alaska utilizing state department visas to fill teaching positions. More than 350 miles south, the Kodiak Island Borough School District administration has hired an immigration lawyer to secure H-1B Visas and they’re also recruiting teachers in the Philippines.

Advertisement

At an Alaska Senate Finance Committee hearing in March, Kodiak Island Borough School District Superintendent Cyndy Mika said the district now hosts its own job fair there. “This year, we went to both Manila and Cebu city,” she said. “We went to Cebu, because it’s rural remote and we knew that those are the types of teachers that would be better integrated into our community.”

In Upper Kalskag, Dale Ebcas extended his J-1 Visa for two additional years, but at the end of the next school year, his time in Alaska will run out as well. He’s won a number of awards for his work in Upper Kalskag, and is also among 20 teachers recognized in Alaska as a 2024 Educator of the Year.

He says it’s a disappointing reality of the J-1 Visa program that he can’t stay on to build on the work he’s already done. “I could have continued the things I do with the community and the kids, if only I could go beyond five years,” he said. “I consider this already as my family, the community here, the kids here.”

Continue Reading

News

Technology for slashing nuclear power plant waste wins Swiss backing

Published

on

Technology for slashing nuclear power plant waste wins Swiss backing

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free

Switzerland has endorsed a long sought-after technology known as “nuclear transmutation” to dramatically reduce the amount of radioactive waste from atomic power plants. 

Nagra, the Swiss national body that manages nuclear waste, said it had spent several months exploring the method proposed by Geneva-based start-up Transmutex and had concluded that the technology could cut the volume of highly radioactive waste by 80 per cent.

Storing highly radioactive material for hundreds of thousands of years has always been a huge and expensive problem for the nuclear industry. 

Advertisement

While more than 20 countries, including the US, France, the UK and South Korea, agreed at the UN COP28 climate negotiations last year to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050, there is currently no long-term storage site in operation. 

Finland is building the world’s first such facility, which it says will safely guard waste for 100,000 years. 

“Transmutex is trying to solve the problem we have had for a long while in nuclear, which is not safety, actually, but waste,” said Albert Wenger, an investor at Union Square Ventures, which is financing the start-up.  

Nuclear transmutation is the conversion of one element into a different form, known as an isotope, or another element altogether. Transmutation has been a concept of fascination since the days when alchemists tried in vain to turn base metals into gold.

The idea of using the technique for managing nuclear waste has been a subject of interest for decades. Several countries have launched significant programmes to explore transmutation, according to the Nuclear Energy Agency of the intergovernmental OECD. 

Advertisement

Transmutex proposes to use a particle accelerator coupled to a reactor to combine subatomic neutron particles with thorium, a slightly radioactive metal. This produces a uranium isotope that then fissions, releasing energy. Unlike uranium, thorium does not produce plutonium, or other highly radioactive waste.

“If it can be demonstrated to work, you basically get the best of both worlds,” said Jack Henderson, chair of the nuclear physics group at the UK’s Institute of Physics and a researcher at the University of Surrey. “You are able to reduce the level of radioactivity produced by burning up some of the longer-lived isotopes produced in your reactor — and you get energy out at the same time.”

Franklin Servan-Schreiber, chief executive of Transmutex, said transmutation was the “first technology that has been taken seriously by a nuclear waste agency to reduce the amount of nuclear waste”. 

He said it could be used on 99 per cent of the world’s nuclear waste and would reduce the time it remains radioactive to “less than 500 years”.

“This is very significant because you can guarantee waterproof storage for 1,000 years,” he said. He added that the process also reduced the volume of waste by 80 per cent. 

Advertisement

Servan-Schreiber said the idea behind the process had been conceived by Carlo Rubbia, the former director-general of the Cern particle physics laboratory. 

A potential obstacle to the viability of transmutation is the cost of set-up. The price of building a reactor coupled with a particle accelerator is unclear, but the Large Hadron Collider at Cern cost about $4.75bn. 

The study undertaken by Nagra and Transmutex found that the technology could “dramatically reduce the volume of high-graded radioactive waste and reduce the lifetime for a very significant part of that waste category tremendously,” said Matthias Braun, head of Nagra. 

Switzerland voted in a 2017 referendum not to replace its existing four nuclear reactors but Servan-Schreiber said the results gave “credence to this technology for other countries”, adding that he was in talks with at least three countries over a possible deal.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

News

Primate remains on the loose in South Carolina | CNN

Published

on

Primate remains on the loose in South Carolina | CNN



CNN
 — 

South Carolina authorities are searching not for a fugitive prisoner or a stolen vehicle, but rather for a resident’s wayward primate.

The search for the errant animal stretched on for a second day Saturday. The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina advised residents in a Facebook post on Friday that a primate is loose somewhere in the Walterboro area, 48 miles west of Charleston.

Authorities didn’t specify what kind of primate, though in a post on X, the sheriff’s office labeled the missing animal as a “primate/ape.”

According to the sheriff’s office, the animal’s owner “is attempting to capture it and has called in assistance.”

Advertisement

A video submitted by a viewer of CNN affiliate WCSC shows the unidentified primate on the roof of a shed in Walterboro. An image taken by Walterboro resident Tiffany Edenfield seems to show the primate standing in the grass. It has a red face, similar to some species of baboon and macaque monkeys.

Residents in the area are advised not to approach the primate, which the sheriff’s office said “could be stressed,” and only to report sightings.

“Please monitor your pets while they are outside as a precaution,” the sheriff’s office added.

The sheriff’s office received a report of the primate “attempting to attack a resident’s dog in a yard,” according to South Carolina news station WLTX.

It’s unclear how the animal got loose or came to live in Walterboro, a city of over 5,000 people.

Advertisement

South Carolina law says that it’s illegal to purchase or possess great apes – chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. But it is legal to keep other wild animals as pets, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Smaller primates like monkeys and baboons seem to fall outside the state’s law on possessing wildlife.

Continue Reading

Trending