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Amnesty for refugees from Ebola-affected countries expires next month

T

housands of immigrants allowed entry to the US[1] to escape from West Africa s recent Ebola outbreak now face deportation, as the program that allowed them residence is ending. An estimated 5,900 immigrants from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone arrived in the US under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS)[2] program between 2014 and 2016. However the US Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed this week that the program will expire May 21. The widespread transmission of Ebola virus in the three countries that led to the designations has ended, the agency said in a statement. The last new cases of Ebola in West Africa emerged in 2016. Today the World Health Organization is focusing on recovery efforts in the countries affected, including an experimental Ebola vaccine. [3][4]

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Lawrence Beah is one of those who came to the US under the TPS program. Beah and his family left Sierra Leone in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak. He sent his mother, sister, and other relatives to Mauritania. But before he could join them, Mauritania issued a travel ban on immigrants from Ebola-affected countries. Beah then traveled alone to the US, arriving just as the Department of Homeland Security established TPS, allowing people from Ebola-affected countries to remain in the US and legally work. Now Beah works as a security guard in New York.

Amnesty For Refugees From Ebola-affected Countries Expires Next Month

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With the end of an immigration program comes Ebola fears for West Africans in the US

Beah fears he will have to leave the US.

Mauritania will not let me in, Beah said, noting that country s recent wave of crime and terrorism[5]. He would have to return alone to Sierra Leone. I cannot get a job there, he said. More generally, Beah said, he feels less safe as an immigrant in America these days, although he he hasn t heard of any deportations of people with TPS documentation. Because I see people getting deported in other cases, he said, I cannot sleep, and I am afraid to go out anywhere. Immigrants and their advocates had hoped that TPS, which had been extended twice, could be extended again, perhaps indefinitely.

Beah and other West Africans are talking to immigration attorneys, hoping they can get green cards or asylum. But most of them don t qualify [to stay in the US] under any other category, especially now, said Amaha Kassa, executive director of African Communities Together, an immigrant advocacy organization in New York.

Advocates argue that the secondary effects of the Ebola epidemic remain a threat to the economies and health of affected countries like Sierra Leone. Many of the 11,000 people who died during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak were health care[6] workers, which has devastated the health care infrastructures of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

The damage from epidemics will take years to fix, said Kassa. The number of health care providers plummeted during these epidemics. There is also the loss of foreign investment in those countries, and there have been effects on the food supply and widespread malnutrition.

References

  1. ^ allowed entry to the US (www.statnews.com)
  2. ^ Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (www.uscis.gov)
  3. ^ emerged in 2016 (www.who.int)
  4. ^ recovery efforts (www.who.int)
  5. ^ crime and terrorism (travel.state.gov)
  6. ^ health care (www.who.int)

Everybody needs a Ted: Two strangers become besties at a Capitals game

WASHINGTON – An unexpected friendship blossomed at a Capitals game for a retired Navy pilot with an extra ticket and a young man in search of one.

Ted F. Bronson is a retired Navy pilot who enjoys watching the Washington Capitals kick butt on the ice rink go Caps! His favorite player is Jay Beagle. Over the weekend the Caps played against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mr. Ted had an extra ticket and instructed a security staff member to hand it off to someone who d watch the game with him. That fortunate stranger was Ismael Ish Elhelbawey. He posted a selfie with Mr. Ted on Instagram and won the internet s heart!

Ish had plans to watch the Caps game with his family but they were short a ticket. He told FOX 5 he circled around the Verizon Center hoping to scalp one for cheap but the asking price was over $275, something way out of his budget. He approached a security guard to ask if reasonably priced tickets could be purchased inside, explaining that his family only had three tickets and needed a fourth for himself.

That was when the guard pulled out the extra ticket, given to him by Mr. Ted, and explained how incredible the seat would be and it was! Ish confessed he was skeptical at first. But when the guard handed him the ticket, he immediately was overcome by joy.

My instincts told me that I was extremely privileged and fortunate to receive this ticket. It is the greatest random act of kindness I had ever witnessed, Ish told FOX 5. Once he made it to his seat he met Mr. Ted and the two instantly hit it off.

As they enjoyed beers and hotdogs, Mr. Ted went on to talk about his favorite Egyptian presidents and how landing planes is apparently more stressful than dropping bombs. Honestly, both sound very stressful! The game went into double overtime so they spent a great deal of time laughing and bonding. The newfound besties exchanged emails and Ish told FOX 5 he hopes to meet him again real soon.

Never underestimate the profound ability of sports to bring people together, call your grandparents, love our vets, and pray for the Capitals!

To Build A More Resilient Electric Grid, Many Believe The Answer Is Going Small08:37

Today, nearly half a million miles of high-voltage transmission lines crisscross the country, but the people planning the future of America’s electric grid are thinking small. They say we should build microgrids[1] small, local systems that could connect and disconnect.

Advocates say the microgrid transformation of our electric infrastructure would make it more resilient to cyberattacks, the effects of nuclear weapons and climate change, and better able to handle electricity generated by renewable resources, such as wind and solar.

It turns out, it’s Massachusetts scientists and military engineers on Cape Cod who are leading the way to the microgrid of the future.

Building A More Resilient System

Steve Pike, the CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, says most of the time we take electricity for granted.

“When folks go to flip on their lights, those lights better go on, or better go on 99.9 percent of the time,” he says.

But sometimes, come hell or high water, the usually safe and reliable electric grid goes down.

To Build A More Resilient Electric Grid, Many Believe The Answer Is Going Small08:37Streets around a Con Edison substation are flooded as the East River overflows in Brooklyn, as Hurricane Sandy moves through the area on Oct. 29, 2012. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

That’s what happened when Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York City in 2012. A documentary from NOVA, called “Inside the Megastorm,” details the destruction as high voltage substations flooded and started exploding.

Saltwater and electricity are a dangerous mix. In order to prevent electrical fires, Con Ed[ison] makes a brutally tough call: The power company pulls the plug, plunging much of lower Manhattan, including Wall Street, into darkness.

Scientists say Sandy the largest Atlantic hurricane in history is the specter of storms to come, as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather.

Pike says the megastorm disaster focused the attention of electric grid operators and power generators.

“The hope is that, should a Hurricane Sandy strike again, and certainly one will, it’s just a matter of time here in Boston, that our power system will be far more resilient and microgrids are a potential solution to that,” he says.

A Back-To-The-Future Method

Microgrids are more resilient because they’re islands of energy that can connect and adapt to changing conditions, and disconnect and operate independently during disasters.

Actually, they’re a back-to-the-future method of powering a place.

At the start of the age of electricity, grids were small and generators local. Over time, regulators and companies cobbled together the micro systems and built the vast electric grid used today, where high voltage transmission lines carry electrons long distances from where they’re generated.

But at a recent conference at MIT, scientists and engineers gathered to plan for a return to the old, decentralized system, using some very high-tech hardware.

“It’s fundamentally changing how we operate our power system, which has been developed over the last hundred years plus to be a centralized system,” says Erik Limpaecher, of the MIT Lincoln Lab. He’s one of the engineers leading the effort. “Now we’re talking about having all this intelligence and controls and power generation and smarts be distributed, which weren’t necessarily designed to operate that way. So we need a new test bed capability in order to make that work.”

The new digital test bed MIT is developing will set national standards for the control devices that will manage the complex microgrids, making sure power from large utilities meshes perfectly with that produced by local intermittent sources like wind, solar and backup batteries.

In the hallway at the MIT conference, reps from vendors hoping to sell microgrid control devices vie for attention. Jon Lesage is an application engineer with MATLAB. The talk is heavy-duty tech.

“What we have here today is a hardware in the loop setup that’s modeling a peak shaving algorithm here on this industrial control system PLC, interfacing over ethernet IP to a real time computer that’s basically running a simulation of an electrical grid,” Lesage says.

Microgrid technology is nerdy but necessary, especially for national security.

This video[2] from the Electric Infrastructure Security Council dramatizes what’s called a “Black Sky Event” a worst-case electric grid scenario: a terrorist cyberattack on a transmission line, or the zapping of unprotected electronics from an intense electromagnetic pulse produced by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere.

Limpaecher says it’s the Department of Defense that needs microgrids the most, because if the larger grid goes down, a microgrid can disconnect or “island” and run on its own power.

“[The Department of Defense] is particularly interested for energy resilience for its bases,” Limpaecher says. “There are about 500 bases in the United States and the [Department of Defense] is more and more concerned about its reliance on the electric power system.”

When Power Failure Is Not An Option

One of those military installations is Joint Base Cape Cod, where a new microgrid will be powered by a powerful wind turbine.

The 22,000-acre base is the largest consumer of electricity on the Cape. It buys it from Eversource, off the grid. But Maj. Shawn Doyle says power failure is not an option here, so with $6 million from a special Pentagon research and development fund, engineers are building a microgrid to make sure there’s a sustainable way to provide nonstop electricity to the Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing.

“We have a 24/7 live mission where our analysts sit inside of our intel building and they are watching the live feeds that come off of UAVs drones around the world including U2s and things like that,” Doyle explains. “So they need to be in constant contact, and sometimes they’re actually talking to troops on the ground who are involved in operations, so they cannot afford the power to go down.”

To Build A More Resilient Electric Grid, Many Believe The Answer Is Going Small08:37Air National Guard and Army work crews set up a utility pole during microgrid construction last month on Joint Base Cape Cod. (Courtesy Maj. Shawn Doyle)

A giant battery will store electricity as a backup, and if that goes down there’s a diesel generator. Joint Base Cape Cod will have the military’s first renewable energy microgrid.

“The other way that we’re different is that we’re going to be creating the first in the federal system what we call a cyber secure connection to the outside world,” Doyle says.

Doyle predicts microgrids will transform the nation’s electric infrastructure.

“There may come a time when the whole idea of a coast-to-coast, interconnected grid is no longer relevant because you don’t need it because you have enough smaller microgrids that kind of serve themselves,” he says. “I don’t need to be able to take power from Quebec, for instance.”

‘We’re Inventing The Methods To Make It Work’

Of course, microgrids are also a threat. The technology will disrupt the way traditional mega grid utilities make money sending them searching for new business models.

“I do think that the utilities in Massachusetts are some of the more progressive in the country. They have the vision,” says Pike, of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. “I don’t know that they know exactly how to get there. I don’t think anybody does at this point.”

But don’t be shocked if one day in the not too distant future your home, your neighborhood, town or city is connected to a microgrid.

“There’s no question it’s going to work,” Doyle says. “We don’t know how yet, we’re inventing the methods to make it work. But yes, it’s going to work.”

The new microgrid on Joint Base Cape Cod should be up and running by next year.

References

  1. ^ microgrids (energy.gov)
  2. ^ This video (www.youtube.com)
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