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Workers are climbing wind turbines to the middle class



After several friends graduated from Texas State’s wind program and went on to get well-paying jobs, he signed up, and plans, literally, to climb his way up a wind turbine to the middle class.

His mother has a certificate and works in accounting, and his father is a hydraulics mechanic. “That’s the end goal, at least what my parents drilled into me,” said Martinez, who is the first in his family to go to college. “To do better than whatever they’re doing now.”

The program doesn’t just test students’ math skills, it also tests their physical and psychological fitness for the job. They can’t be afraid of heights, for one. And while more wind turbines are being outfitted with elevators, climbing daily on the vast majority of turbines that still lack them is hard on the knees — even with powered climb assists taking some of the weight off as workers ascend the ladders.

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Industry experts say that physically demanding technician jobs are only one slice of a growing industry, however. The nation’s more than 52,000 wind turbines in 41 states and territories have helped generate a total of 102,500 jobs so far, according to a 2017 industry report. Projects need engineers, construction workers, control room operators, site supervisors and environmental assessors, among other positions. Analysts like Hunt say that even in places where there aren’t any turbines, most notably in sultry Deep South states, factories are cropping up to manufacture parts for the industry. And some older factories have diversified “because they believe it’s a smart investment,” Hunt said.

At NextEra Energy, a renewable energy company, communications manager Bryan Garner said it’s common for wind technicians to move up into site and project management positions. While these jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree, he said the company often helps its employees with tuition. “There have been some great success stories,” he said.

In Harlingen, David Sanchez said he hasn’t had to put much effort into recruiting students — the wind turbines themselves are the perfect billboard — although he sometimes takes a flatbed truck mounted with a model turbine out to high school career fairs. But elsewhere in the country, educators are trying to entice high school students to start thinking about wind (and studying their trig) before they get their diploma, especially in rural areas where entering the middle class so often means leaving home.

Oklahoma is famous for its gusting winds, yet the industry is still nascent there. But interest is growing, according to Kathy Jackson, founder of SpiritWind, an educational organization in Oklahoma City. She travels the state talking about wind to students and teachers at schools where local career options are “either farming or farming.”

“This changes the ballgame,” Jackson, who also still works as an oil landman, said of the wind industry. “It makes a more level playing field for kids in those rural communities.”

 Superintendent Beto Gonzalez talks to students about their futures in the tiny town of Bruni, Texas. Gonzalez is helping set up what may be the nation’s first wind technician certification program for high schoolers. Sarah Garland / The Hechinger Report

That’s what Webb superintendent Beto Gonzalez in Bruni is banking on. Wind companies, including NextEra Energy, have helped the district set up three immaculate classrooms alongside the pigpens in the district’s agricultural science building.

The classrooms, redecorated with posters showing wind turbine components, are awaiting a set of model equipment for students to practice on. The district is also hiring a new teacher.

The industry is so new, there are few instructors with experience in both wind and teaching, but Gonzalez has asked the state to waive the teaching certification requirement so he can find an expert with hands-on experience to share with students. The district’s budget will have to stretch to draw someone with the right résumé, he said, but it’s worth it.

“We have really good kids,” he said. “We’re doing this for them.”

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Germany election: Angela Merkel’s party has been castigated in the polls – and CDU activists are not happy | World News



It has not been a great election for Angela Merkel’s own party, the CDU.

Its candidate Armin Lashert was castigated in the polls, caught on camera laughing as the country’s president made a speech after the country’s devastating floods.

But they had hoped for better, especially after a rally in the polls in the final leg of this contest. They were gathering from early evening in bar R 23 buying drinks hoping to have something to celebrate.

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CDU leader Laschet ‘not happy’ with Germany exit polls

As exit polls and official projections predicted a tie between them and rivals, the SPD, there was a palpable sense of deflation.

Sandra Khalatbari, candidate for the Berlin parliament told Sky News they weren’t the figures she’d hoped for.

“It is disappointing,” she said.

“In the last one-and-a-half weeks we were raising our votes and we were very hopeful that it’s going to be successful but now it is kind of disappointing.”

Sandra Khalatbari called the figures 'disappointing'
Sandra Khalatbari called the figures ‘disappointing’

The right of centre CDU, Merkel’s party, should have done better. Its chancellor has completed 16 years in power and is one of the most popular politicians in German history. Yet her party has not been rewarded by voters.

There was some consolation in the party’s recovery from its meltdown early on, but campaigner Martin Feldmann told Sky News, only outright victory is what counts.

“The numbers in the past few weeks were disturbing – now it’s about 25%.

“This is okay but only because of the numbers in the past few weeks. What we want is to be number one. At the moment we are not and I’m not happy about this.”

As CDU activists took consolation in large servings of German lager, the period of reflection was already beginning. For some, the problem was the candidate or how voters perceived him on the doorstep.

Regional party organiser Christophe Lehmann told Sky News the problem was the candidate.

He said: “We had to drive against the wind.”

Cordula Kollotschek
Cordula Kollotschek says Mr Laschert doesn’t have ‘charisma’

“Because many people didn’t understand why we picked Laschet. Voters were not convinced.”

Former member of Berlin parliament Cordula Kollotschek told Sky News, Laschet is not political box office but that wasn’t the only problem.

“He has not the charisma, he’s not really a star, he is not really good looking in the media – that’s really important in a time like now but also I don’t think we have the answer especially for young people for things like climate change.”

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A look back at Angela Merkel’s 16-year career

On the bar television, coverage continued in almost funereal tones. German political coverage is serious and sombre. Most had drifted away from the screen though, to drink outside on a balmy late summer evening, or head off home.

It’s a longer game now.

Whoever clinches the biggest share of Bundestag seats, haggling and horse-trading starts to form a coalition and with everything so close – that may take a while.

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La Palma: Residents in limbo as pressure in the Cumbre Vieja volcano drops – but eruption threat remains | World News



Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes to escape rivers of lava cascading from La Palma’s erupting volcano.

But 160 of them will now be allowed to return, after local authorities said their houses were no longer in the path of the molten streams moving down the side of the Cumbre Vieja volcano range.

The rest of the evacuees will have to wait, including Eliza Gonzales.

Eliza Gonzales with her dog, Luna
Eliza Gonzales has been separated from her dog Luna

I met her at an improvised animal sanctuary on the island. She had come to see her dog Luna. They’ve been separated for days.

Ms Gonzales was told she had to leave Luna behind when she fled her home.

Thankfully the rescue centre called to tell her they had saved Luna. But the reunion is bittersweet. Ms Gonzales is staying in temporary accommodation and no dogs are allowed.

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What’s next for La Palma?

“It’s very bad,” she says.

Luna will be fostered while Ms Gonzales waits to go back home.

“I’m happy there are good people that offered their houses for the dogs to stay in and be calm.”

There are several dogs at the sanctuary, waiting for their owners to come for them. They all bark whenever someone new arrives.

But the centre can only care for abandoned animals. Those who were badly injured during the eruption have to be taken for specialist care.

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Volcano eruptions ‘could last for months’

They rescued a goat whose udders were severely burnt and took it to the vet, hoping it can recover from its wounds.

Scientists say the pressure inside the volcano has decreased, but that doesn’t mean the eruptions are about to stop.

The experts can’t predict when the explosions of lava will end, they think it could last till December.

With each day that passes, people are becoming more desperate.

Volcanic dust is damaging the 'plátano' skin leaving farmers including Mr de Paz Perez fearing they won't be able to sell their produce to supermarkets.
Volcanic dust is damaging plátano skins, leaving farmers including Mr de Paz Perez fearing they won’t be able to sell their produce

Ernesto de Paz Perez is a banana farmer. The plant is known as “plátano” here, they are slightly smaller than bananas from Latin America.

Mr de Paz Perez, 75, started working on a plátano farm when he was 14.

La Palma depends on the fruit for around half of its economic output.

Banana farmer Ernesto de Paz Perez fears there will be 'many losses' due to the damage caused by the eruption.
Banana farmer Ernesto de Paz Perez fears there will be ‘many losses’ due to the damage

But the volcanic dust is damaging the fruit’s skin and farmers fear they won’t be able to sell their produce to supermarkets.

The eruption has also cut off the water supply to Mr de Paz Perez’s plants.

If it [the eruption] keeps going for a long time it will cause a lot of damage. If the plátano fields are not watered we will lose them. There will be many losses,” he said.

Elsewhere on the island they’re trying to get back to normal. The airport is open after closing because of an ash cloud, but flights haven’t immediately resumed.

The whole of La Palma just wants to repair and return to how their lives were before the volcano erupted, but when that will be, no one knows.

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Lewis Hamilton hails ‘magical moment’ as he wins 100th Formula One race | UK News



Lewis Hamilton has spoken of the “magical moment” of winning his 100th Formula One race at Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, 36, used his driving and overtaking skills, and his strategic thinking in the rain, to fight back from seventh place on the first lap to a landmark victory.

He is the first driver to reach 100 victories.

It was his fifth win of the season and his first since the British Grand Prix in July.

“It’s taken a long time to get to 100 and at times, I wasn’t sure it would come,” the British driver said.

“It is a magical moment. I could only have dreamed of still being here, to have this opportunity to win these races, and to drive with such phenomenal talents this late on in my career.”

“I am so proud of everything we have done with Mercedes, on and off the track, and this is a special moment for everyone that has been part of it.

“My dad called me last night and he has always been that one to reassure me and to continue to support me. I feel incredibly grateful for the amazing support that I have had.”

The victory takes Hamilton two points clear of Max Verstappen in the title race with seven rounds to go.

It also denied Lando Norris of his first victory following a thrilling finale.

Norris, 21, appeared on course to keep Hamilton at bay, and become the youngest British Formula One winner.

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