January 14

Will the New Education Minister Change the System?

first_imgBarely a week following the designation of a new Minister of Education, some members of the public are of the view  that the new administration will not be different to change the educational direction of the country.However, others believe that the Ministry under Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell’s leadership will make a tremendous improvement—just as she transformed the Tubman University (TU) in Maryland County, over the past years.Those views about the incoming administrative structure at the Ministry of Education (MOE) were made when this newspaper quizzed some members of the public, particularly those in Monrovia, following the pronouncement of Dr. Russell’s name by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the Minister-designate for MOE.Some of those interviewed told the Daily Observer that the administration of Dr.  Russell will not succeed “unless she approaches the job in the same way she effected reformation of TU to its present status.”“Anything short of that, the education sector will continue to cry for improvement with regards to putting in place of quality education, mainly at the beginner’s level.“We expect that she will constitute a reform and amid her visionary temperament she will bring to bear the same kind of institutionalized tendencies that were manifested in the efficient, mature and responsible, manner in which she ran Tubman University.  There,  she involved the ‘best brains’ that made her administration purposefully workable for the past six years.Like the thinking of President Sirleaf, all other Liberians, including some of the educational partners, have perhaps placed their delicate confidence in Dr. Russell’s ability to lead the dawn of a new educational day in post-war Liberia.Before coming to the MOE, Dr. Russell served the TU for several years, transforming it to be rated as one of the best run institutions of higher learning in the country.Elizabeth Davis-Russell was born in Harper, Maryland County Liberia, to Former Supreme Court Associate Justice O. Natty B. Davis and Diana Dueh. She began her education at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Day School in Harper, and then transferred to Cape Palmas High School where she completed the eighth grade. She attended Suehn Academy from where she graduated from high school. She continued her studies at London Tutorial College in the United Kingdom (UK), where she completed her ‘O’ Levels. She then went to the United States and attended Oakland University in Michigan where she completed a B.A. degree in Psychology in 1965. Dr. Russell was shortly thereafter accepted into New York University for graduate work. In 1966, she obtained an M.A. in Educational Psychology, following which she was accepted into Yeshiva University where in 1975, she obtained an EdD in Counseling Education.Desirous of fulfilling her dream to become a psychologist, she then matriculated at New York University and completed a PhD in Clinical Psychology in 1987. Upon graduation, she pursued Post Graduate Training and received certification in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at the Institute for the Study of Psychotherapy in New York, NY.Dr. Russell is a licensed psychologist in the State of California, where she had a private practice in addition to her passion for the teaching in the profession.In October 2007, Dr. Davis-Russell was appointed president for W.V.S. Tubman College of Technology in Harper, Liberia. She assumed leadership of the institution in July 2008. Prior to this position, she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York College at Cortland. She has spent most of her career in higher education as a faculty member and then as an administrator.Prior to her appointment as the Minister of Education, she served in several other capacities both in government and private sector, the latest being president of TU where the institution now witnessed tremendous transformation.Dr. Davis-Russell is married to Thomas E. Russell. Their family includes daughter Dr. Allison Hader, son-in-law Dr. Daniel Hader, and son Scott Olie Russell.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

December 20

Sharks’ Lean Bergmann, Mario Ferraro are the real deal

first_imgSAN JOSE — This was a night for reassurances.After the Sharks’ 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday, there was reassurance that Erik Karlsson can look like his former self again, that Martin Jones is headed in the right direction, that rookies Lean Bergmann and Mario Ferraro belong in the NHL.Certainly the Flames, the defending Pacific Division champion, didn’t dress a lineup anything close to what they’ll go with in the regular season. Still, the Sharks needed to get all of their …last_img read more

December 16

Get Ready for Heat-Pump Water Heaters

first_imgLast week I wrote about “hybrid” water heaters, a relatively new type of water heater that includes features of both storage and tankless models. This week I’ll cover another type of water heater that is also (confusingly) referred to as “hybrid”: heat-pump water heaters. These produce over twice as much hot water for each unit of electricity consumed as any other type of electric water heater (storage or tankless).You’re going to be hearing a lot about heat-pump water heaters over the next few years, because new federal regulations that take effect in 2015 will require heat pump functionality for larger electric water heaters — more on that below. New water heater regs to require heat-pump water heaters New federal regulations that are due to kick in on April 16, 2015, will require that electric water heaters larger than 55 gallons have energy factors close to 2.0. The exact energy factor required is based on a formula that factors in the storage volume, but for all sizes in this category the required EF is close to 2 — a performance level that can only be achieved with heat pump technology.The energy factor requirements for smaller water heaters — up to 55 gallons in size — are also rising in April 2015, but will remain below 1.0 and will be achievable with a very well insulated electric-resistance water heater. My next water heater will likely be a heat-pump modelI’m pretty sure we’ll install a heat-pump water heater in the house we’re currently renovating. Given what’s on the market today, I will probably select the GE GeoSpring water heater, a 50-gallon model that’s 10 dB quieter and half the cost of the German-made efficiency leader, Stiebel Eltron. I’ll also look at the Rheem Hybrid Electric and the A.O. Smith Voltex, which have the same energy factor (2.4) as the GeoSpring — though noise will be the biggest determinant. The GeoSpring is the only heat-pump water heater that’s made in America.At an electricity cost of 15¢/kWh, a heat-pump water heater will be significantly cheaper to operate than the highest-efficiency, condensing propane water heater (we don’t have natural gas in southern Vermont) — even if propane were to drop to $2/gallon (far below its current price). Where natural gas is available — and assuming the price of natural gas remains so low — heat-pump water heaters will have trouble competing on economic grounds.A big attraction to me of heat-pump water heaters is that they can be powered using a photovoltaic (solar electric) system. Our new place will be net-zero-energy and we hope to entirely avoid fossil fuels in the house.Be aware that heat-pump water heaters aren’t cheap. That GE GeoSpring I mentioned above lists for about $1,200, plus installation, and the Stiebel Eltron model costs about $2,500. Unlike electric-resistance water heaters, heat-pump models require condensate drains, which can add cost. By comparison, a standard electric or gas storage water heater can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. Noisier than other water heatersBe aware that these mechanical components produce noise — often significantly louder than a refrigerator. Heat-pump water heaters I’ve examined have noise ratings from 55 to 65 decibels (dB), which is a large range of variability (65 dB is ten times as loud as 55 dB). Most refrigerators are 40-50 dB.If you are particularly sensitive to noise and don’t have an acoustically isolated place to install it, the energy savings from a heat-pump water heater might not be worth it. Electric-resistance vs. heat-pump water heatingUp until recently, almost all electric water heaters relied on electric-resistance heat. Electric current flows through a special element with high electrical resistance, and the electricity is converted directly to heat. The conversion of electricity into heat is virtually 100% efficient — though heat loss from an electric storage-type water heater always results in an overall efficiency lower than 100%. (Note that if we’re looking at primary or source energy that the power plants use to produce the electricity, the efficiency is far lower.)Heat-pump water heaters are very different. Electricity isn’t converted directly into heat; rather it is used to move heat from one place to another. This is counterintuitive, because the heat is moved from a colder place (the room air where the water heater is located) to a warmer place (the water in the storage tank).This seemingly magic process happens because a specialized refrigerant fluid is alternately condensed and evaporated in a closed loop. This process relies on phase changes of the refrigerant that capture and release significant amounts of heat.A detailed explanation of the refrigerant cycle is beyond the scope of this blog. Trust me that it works. (It’s the same basic principle used in your refrigerator, which extracts heat from inside that insulated box and dumps it into your kitchen.)The net result is that for every one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity consumed, two or more kWh of hot water are produced. The energy factor, which is often thought of as a measure of efficiency, is 2.0 to 2.5 for most heat-pump water heaters on the market, while a 100% efficient electric-resistance water heater would have an energy factor of just 1.0. In an ultra-efficient Passivhaus building (built to the German standard for low-energy homes that is gaining popularity in the U.S.), it’s not unusual for water heating to be the largest energy user in the house, and it can be as much as twice that of space heating. Growing interest in these water heatersThere are a few heat-pump water heaters that have been on the market for decades, but these never really reached the mainstream. All that has changed in the past few years, however, as the largest water heater manufacturers, including A.O. Smith, Rheem, and GE have all introduced heat-pump water heaters.While standard electric water heaters have no moving parts, heat-pump water heaters have compressors (to compress the refrigerant vapor causing it to condense into liquid) and fans (to circulate room air across the heat exchanger so that heat can be extracted from it). Size mattersHeat-pump water heaters come in various sizes: from 40 to 80 gallons for products I know about. For most families, the larger sizes make sense, primarily because heat-pump water heaters heat the water quite slowly — often just eight gallons per hour.Most heat-pump water heaters have different settings that regulate how readily the back-up electric-resistance elements will come on. With larger models, users can operate them on the heat-pump-only mode (the most economic) more of the time. The first-hour rating will give you a sense of recovery time, but which setting the water heater is on makes a big difference. Heat-pump water heaters rob heat from the houseBecause heat-pump water heaters extract heat from the air where they’re located, with most installations they increase heating loads somewhat. If you have an expensive fuel, such as baseboard-electric and are in a cold climate with a significant heating season, a heat-pump water heater may not make sense.These water heaters can make a lot of sense when there is a lot of waste heat, such as in a basement where an oil or gas furnace or boiler is located. Why it’s worth considering water heating carefullyBefore diving into heat-pump water heaters and what makes them tick, it’s worth spending a minute to say why I’ve focused so much attention on water heating in this blog recently. As a fraction of residential energy consumption, water heating has become more and more significant over the past several decades.In 1978, water heating accounted for approximately 14% of a home’s average energy consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, compared to 66% for space heating. By 2005, those percentages had shifted to 20% and 41%, respectively. I assume that this isn’t because our water heaters are using a lot more energy, but rather that our houses are better insulated and our heating systems more efficient. MORE INFORMATION GBA Encyclopedia: Water HeatingAll About Water HeatersGet Rid of Your Gas Water Heater!Heat-Pump Water HeatersHeat-Pump Water Heaters Come of AgeGetting Into Hot Water — Part 4Product Guide: Heat-Pump Water Heaters Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. He also recently created the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed.last_img read more

October 16

Richard Branson And Bill Clinton Help Launch Haiti Forest Initiative

first_imgNobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Yunus Social Business, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Unite, and U.S. President Bill Clinton, founder of the Clinton Foundation, announced last Sunday the launch of a new social initiative called Haiti Forest.The partnership aims to solve social and environmental problems in Haiti by bringing sustainable, productive and socially responsible forests to the country.Ten thousand hectares of land are being promised by the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment to develop the new, bold Haiti Forest Initiative in the Artibonite and northern part of the country. Haiti Forest has full support of the Government of Haiti and is in line with the priorities of the Government to support long-term reconstruction efforts, especially those that create jobs and promoting economic opportunities. The multi-year project will provide affordable food, timber, and employment in Haiti, and will be organized as a Social Business – a company set-up for maximizing social benefit rather than private profit.“I am pleased that my Foundation is working with Yunus Social Business and Virgin Unite,” said President Bill Clinton. “Through this partnership, we hope to create a replicable model for programs that demonstrate long-term, positive social and environmental impact as well as economic benefits across Haiti.”“Haiti Forest is an example how social business represents a unique opportunity to drive economic growth in Haiti,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Yunus Social Business. “Social Businesses like Haiti Forest that are aimed at an environmental or social need represent not only the solutions to these pressing issues, but the financially sustainable means for continued development in Haiti.”“Virgin Unite is very pleased to partner with the Yunus Social Business Initiative and the Clinton Foundation to invest in supporting entrepreneurial solutions to generate reforestation and sustainable livelihoods in Haiti,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Unite. “This project will create much-needed economic opportunities for many and is wonderful way to do something good for our planet and the people of Haiti.”The new initiative’s four main objectives are: to re-forest Haiti; provide sustainable livelihoods to farmers; and over the long term help mitigate Haiti’s dependency on food imports; and help identify alternative fuel sources to reduce usage of charcoal. To ensure that the benefits of re-forestation are lasting and durable, Haiti Forest will empower micro-entrepreneurs and local communities to preserve and maintain their country’s forests.The announcement marks the beginning of a six-month planning and preparation study that will form the basis of the Haiti Forest pilot program. The study will work closely with Haitian rural communities and small holder farmers to determine what trees and crops should be planted, engage community leaders on the reforestation aspects of the project, and work with government to identify applicable land areas.The Haiti Forest partnership was created out of a recognized need to address environmental degradation and deforestation in a sustainable way. Haiti has lost virtually all of its forests over the last half-century, resulting in massive soil erosion and a consequent decline in the amount of arable land. By enabling sustainable forest management, Haiti Forest works toward providing a model to help reverse this trend.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

October 16

David Beckham Brings Voices Of Children To United Nations General Assembly

first_imgA unique installation that brings the voices of children and young people to the heart of the United Nations General Assembly was unveiled today by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, and two young people from UNICEF Voices of Youth initiative.Noor Samee, 16, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham and Rodrigo Bustamante, 17, stand in front of the unique new digital installation Assembly of YouthCredit/Copyright: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2369/TijerinaAs the UN prepares to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the Assembly of Youth, a digital installation created for UNICEF by Google, harnesses mobile technology and social media to deliver personal messages from children and young people across the globe directly to world leaders. The messages highlight the challenges they face in their homes and communities – including extreme poverty, inequality, violence, deadly disease and conflict – and express their hopes for the future.At the unveiling, David Beckham urged world leaders to listen to these messages – and to take action – to transform the lives of millions of children by putting the most disadvantaged children and young people at the centre of all decisions and investments in the new 15-year development agenda.“It breaks my heart to see the struggles that children and young people across the world face every day,” said Beckham. “I’ve met children and mothers in South Africa living with HIV, I’ve met children living in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and I’ve met children who have experienced violence in Cambodia. Whatever challenges they face, they all share the same hope for a better future – and we have an opportunity this year – with the world focused on the new global goals – to make that hope real for millions of children.”“I want a world where children can grow up safe from war, violence, poverty and preventable disease – a world where every child has a fair chance. I hope everyone will join me in asking world leaders to put children, especially the most disadvantaged, at the heart of the new global goals.”Earlier this year, Beckham marked his 10th year as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador with the launch of 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund to use his powerful voice, influence and connections to raise vital funds, fight inequality, and rally for lasting positive change for the world’s most vulnerable children. The Assembly of Youth is the latest initiative from UNICEF and David Beckham that brings the voices of children and young people to a global audience with the aim of inspiring action.“The Sustainable Development Goals speak to all people in all countries, especially children,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The voices of young people helped forge the bold new 2030 agenda. Now the world must do more to involve young people in achieving the goals and building a world of peace, prosperity and justice for all on a healthy planet.”Despite the progress made toward realizing the Millennium Development Goals, millions of children are still left behind. Nearly 6 million children under the age of five still die every year from mostly preventable causes. More than 120 million children and adolescents are still not in school and many millions more are not receiving a quality education. The Sustainable Development Goals present a critical opportunity to extend progress to every child, but only if the world makes reaching the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children a policy and political priority.“Unless we invest in the most disadvantaged children from the earliest years, we will continue to see in the next generation the same poverty and inequalities that divide and destabilize our world today – and rob us of the potential of so many young people,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “To realize tomorrow’s goals, we need to listen to children and young people today – for who knows better than children and young people themselves what their needs are? And we must do more than hear these voices, we must heed them.”Data displayed in the installation is drawn from U-Report, a free SMS-based system that allows young people to speak out on the issues they face and what is happening in their communities. Data is also derived from outreach to children and young people across UNICEF social media channels.Share your views and hopes for children across the world here, and your voice will be added to the installation, to remind world leaders that children must be at the heart of the new global agenda.last_img read more

October 14

Band members incensed over skyhigh salaries

first_imgAPTN National NewsBand members at Glooscap First Nation recently packed a community hall to confront their chief and council.Members demanded the gathering after details emerged that the band council was pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary.APTN National News reporter James Hopkin has the story.last_img

October 14

Bellegarde declares candidacy for AFN national chief

first_imgAPTN National News SASKATOON–Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nation Chief Perry Bellegarde is taking another run at the brass ring of First Nations politics.Bellegarde announced on Wednesday his candidacy in the race for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.“I am committed to being a catalyst for positive change for First Nations across Canada,” said Bellegarde, in a statement. “I want to see Aboriginal rights and tittle and our treaty rights recognized, honoured and implemented.”Bellegarde conceded to former AFN national chief Shawn Atleo in the 2009 race following a marathon round of voting in Calgary. He was widely expected to run again and had been working the phones, calling chiefs for support over the last several months.It appears that those phone calls paid off, as Bellegarde unveiled supporters from British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick.Xeni Gwet’in First Nation Chief Roger William, who led the Tsilhqot’in charge in their landmark Supreme Court ruling victory, is supporting Bellegarde.“Given the opportunities and challenges in front us, as First Nations people, I can’t think of a better candidate for the position of national chief of the AFN than Perry Bellegarde,” said William, in a statement. “We need Perry’s leadership at this time.”Bellegarde’s only declared candidate is current AFN interim national chief Ghislain Picard. Picard is the former head of the Assembly of First Nations in Quebec and Labrador.APTN National News has learned Simon Fobister, the former chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, will soon officially announce his candidacy for national chief. Fobister was chief of Grassy Narrows for a total of 16 years.During his time in office Fobister presided over Grassy Narrows’ decade-long fight with the province over clear-cut logging in their traditional territory. The First Nation launched court action against Ontario’s provincial government. It was a case that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court which sided with the province and ruled clear-cutting did not infringe Grassy Narrows’ treaty harvesting rights.Grassy Narrows is also the First Nation where toxic waste was dumped into the community’s river system in the 1970s, resulting in severe contamination.Decades later, people in that community are still coping with the debilitating health impacts of mercury poisoning.Journalist, educator and former hip hop artist Wab Kinew was also contemplating a run, but is now not expected to enter the race.Atleo suddenly resigned the national chief post in May.Voting for national chief is scheduled for December in Winnipeg.-with files from Delaney Windigolast_img read more