11-28-2022  3:04 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

The Science of Lullabies: Portland Music Educator Gathers Songs of Soothing from Around the World

Licia Claire Seaman’s new book shares stories, neurobiology and music. 

The KKK in Oregon: Same Wine, Different Bottle

Oregon and the Klan: Guest Column: The tactics and rhetoric deployed by today’s Trump-centric conservative movement read like the playbook of the Ku Klux Klan a century ago.

Sheriff, Group Sue to Block Strict Oregon Gun Control Law

An Oregon gun rights group and a county sheriff have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a voter-approved ballot measure, saying it violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

Environmental Groups Oppose Pipeline Expansion in Pacific NW

The U.S. government has taken a step toward approving the expansion of a natural gas pipeline in the Pacific Northwest, but environmentalists and the attorneys general of Oregon, California and Washington states warn that allowing fracking will increases emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas implicated in climate change

NEWS BRIEFS

Oregon Faces Snow-Plow Driver Shortage Heading Into Winter

New federal licensing rules for drivers resulted in longer wait times to obtain a commercial driver's license, which contributed to...

Air Pollution Monitoring to Increase for Oregon Communities

Two of Oregon’s most economically disadvantaged and racially diverse communities are getting a boost in their fight against air...

Georgia High Court Reinstates Ban on Abortions After 6 Weeks

The high court put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal. Abortion providers who had resumed...

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Pose Ongoing Concern to Health of Youth in Los Angeles County, Report from Public Health Shows

Excess consumption of added sugars contributes to the high prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity, and increases the risk for...

Local police say 2 other stabbings, Idaho killings unrelated

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Almost two weeks after four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in their rooms, local police and federal agents continue to follow leads, but said they have ruled out any connection to two other stabbings in the Pacific Northwest. “There have...

Winter storm to bring heavy snow to mountains

SEATTLE (AP) — The National Weather Service urged holiday travelers to heed their warnings about a winter storm that was expected to bring snow to the mountain passes starting Saturday night and could drop snow on the metro areas by Sunday into next week. “Heavy mountain snow is...

Missouri holds off Arkansas 29-27 to reach bowl eligibility

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri and Arkansas will be headed to similar bowl games after the Tigers held off the Razorbacks 29-27 on Saturday night, leaving each of the bitter border rivals 6-6 on the season. Only one walked out of Faurot Field with victory cigars. Brady...

Rivalry week should bring SEC bowl forecast into clear focus

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — It’s rivalry week for most of the Southeastern Conference. The Egg Bowl. The Iron Bowl. The Palmetto Bowl. The Sunshine Showdown. Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. The Battle Line Rivalry. It’s a chance for everyone to either avoid or add to the powerhouse...

OPINION

‘I Unreservedly Apologize’

The Oregonian commissioned a study of its history of racism, and published the report on Oct. 24, 2022. The Skanner is pleased to republish the apology written by the editor, Therese Bottomly. We hope other institutions will follow this example of looking...

City Officials Should Take Listening Lessons

Sisters of the Road share personal reflections of their staff after a town hall meeting at which people with lived experience of homelessness spoke ...

When Student Loan Repayments Resume, Will Problems Return Too?

HBCU borrowers question little loan forgiveness, delays to financial security ...

Tell the Supreme Court: We Still Need Affirmative Action

Opponents of affirmative action have been trying to destroy it for years. And now it looks like they just might get their chance. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Missouri Supreme Court weighs fate of death row inmate

Kevin Johnson might not be facing imminent execution if he was white, attorneys speaking on his behalf told the Missouri Supreme Court on Monday. Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Parson announced he will not grant clemency. Johnson, 37, is scheduled to die by injection at 6 p.m. Tuesday for...

Georgia runoff: Early voting for Warnock-Walker round 2

ATLANTA (AP) — In-person early voting for the last U.S. Senate seat is underway statewide in Georgia's runoff, with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock working to get the jump on Republican challenger Herschel Walker who is putting less emphasis on advance balloting. After winning a...

Editorial Roundup: United States

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: Nov. 23 The Washington Post on regaining trust in the ethics of the U.S. Supreme Court Once again, the Supreme Court is finding its ethics under scrutiny. Last week, Justice Clarence Thomas...

ENTERTAINMENT

NYPD: No known threats to Macy's parade, but tight security

NEW YORK (AP) — New York is planning tight security around the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the wake of mass shootings elsewhere in the U.S., police said Wednesday, while stressing that there's no known, credible threat to the famed event itself. The holiday tradition, which...

New musical brings high-energy world of K-pop to Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — There are some familiar storylines in a new musical opening on Broadway — a singer and her relationship with the mentor who guided her; a newcomer trying to find his place; young women chasing their dreams. But they've never sounded quite like this. ...

Celebrity birthdays for the week of Dec. 4-10

Celebrity birthdays for the week of Dec. 4-10: Dec. 4: Game show host Wink Martindale is 89. Singer Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon is 86. Actor-producer-director Max Baer Junior (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) is 85. Bassist Bob Mosley of Moby Grape is 80. Singer-bassist Chris Hillman...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Lull in Russian attacks against Ukraine energy, aid pledged

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia held back Monday from launching a new round of strikes that have been expected...

Santa's back in town with inflation, inclusion on his mind

NEW YORK (AP) — Don't look for plastic partitions or faraway benches when visiting Santa Claus this year. The...

McCarthy's pursuit of speaker's gavel comes at a high cost

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is in the fight of his political life, grinding through the...

Talks begin on disarmament of rebel groups in eastern Congo

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The third round of Congo peace talks facilitated by the East Africa regional bloc opened...

Poles vent anger at leader over his policies, ideas on women

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Some 300 demonstrators gathered Monday outside the house of Poland’s ruling party leader...

New arrest warrant issued for McCann suspect in other cases

BERLIN (AP) — Authorities in Germany said Monday they have issued a new arrest warrant in separate cases for a...

Vickie Cheng New America Media

SAN FRANCISCO – Elsa Eder stands in her lab coat, preparing to inject genes from one cell into another. Biotechnology isn't something the 40-year-old former journalist ever expected to be studying, but when she lost her job with a local media outlet at the height of the Great Recession she was suddenly forced to make a dramatic career change.

She eventually came across City College of San Francisco's Bridge to Biotech program, which works to expand access for the city's low-income and minority residents to this rapidly growing sector.

"I noticed the Bridge to Biotech course on [CCSF's] website a couple of times, but never had the courage to try," says Eder, who is Filipino American. She holds a bachelor's degree in international studies and psychology, as well as a master's degree in communications.

With no background in science, she credits the program's counselors for helping her get past her own reservations about being qualified. "They were very supportive … [and] explained to me what the course was about in detail, semester by semester," she said.

CCSF's Bridge to Biotech program began 10 years ago, one of the first such programs in the country. It aims to give people like Eder a chance to break into one of the Bay Area's – and the nation's – fastest growing industries. There are more than 250,000 California residents employed in the biotech field. The San Francisco Bay Area represents the largest cluster of such jobs, with close to 900 companies employing 30 percent of the state's biomedical workforce.

A lot of those jobs are in manufacturing according to Travis Blaschek-Miller with the San Francisco-based industry trade group Bay Bio. Unlike other industries that have outsourced entry-level work overseas, he notes, the Bay Area remains a "strong corridor" for this kind of work.

A fact sheet released by the group shows that the industry weathered the recession, with overall job growth contracting by only 0.2 percent. With the local economy again picking up steam, experts anticipate an increase in employment opportunities.

But for low-income and minority communities, access to these positions remains low. Program counselor Li Miao Lovett says part of the reason has to do with a basic ignorance about what biotech is. "Unlike in nursing or radiology [two other popular programs at CCSF], people don't see the role of biotech directly in the clinics."

Lovett also says there's a misplaced sense that biotech requires an extensive background in science, a concern that almost kept Eder from applying. "You don't need any science background," insists Lovett, who says the program has been key to "bringing underrepresented minorities to the field of science."

Indeed, in 2012 Bay Bio honored the program with a Biotechnology Educator award for its work with these communities. But with less than a year before CCSF's accreditation expires, the future of the program is in doubt.

The Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges ruled last month that it would revoke CCSF's accreditation in July 2014 for failing to meet a set of recommendations made by the commission a year earlier. School officials are appealing the decision.

In the meantime, faculty and students are contending with the fallout.

"They've come since day one," says Lovett, referring to the steady stream of students that have been in and out of her office since the accreditation crisis first erupted. With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the school, students are eager for advice on everything from financial help to transfer options.

Lovett says such concerns reflect the reality of students in the program, most of whom can't afford the alternatives. "A lot of them are priced out of the private universities," she notes, "while public education [including California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) schools] is growing less affordable."

In-state students pay $46 per unit at City College, far below the $3,000 price tag for a full semester at San Francisco State University and the $271 per-unit cost at a UC school.

Eder received a biotech scholarship, which helped her cover tuition and basic living expenses. But there were other challenges. Midway through her first year, her father passed away, causing her to miss several weeks of class. If it weren't for the support of classmates and teachers, she says she wouldn't have stayed with the program.

"They were supportive. That doesn't mean they lowered their standards, but they did give me the flexibility I needed at the time," she said. "It's something I'll always remember."

There are eight core instructors in the Bridge program and a number of part-time faculty. Most come straight out of big pharmaceutical and biotech companies, bringing with them years of experience and expertise. Eder says teachers often share tips on job interviews and other work-related advice.

She chose science because of her concern for the environment, she says, and because she wanted a challenge. "I thought to myself, 'I still have about 35 years of healthy brain activity,'" she says jokingly. "I wanted to really learn something."

Within a year Eder completed 15 of the required 21 units for the program's lab assistant certificate. She says that while much of her time was spent in the lab, her classes covered everything from research methods to resume writing. During her second semester, she took an internship with a consultancy group that focuses on food safety, and says the experience convinced her to continue her education past the program.

"Food is everything," she says enthusiastically, adding that when she's done with the Bridge program she plans to pursue a certificate in environmental monitoring, which could open the door to a career in biofuels and other food-related research.

Eder says it would be a "tragedy" if the program disappeared. She recently joined the Save City College campaign, which is working to boost enrollment as applications have fallen in the wake of the accreditation crisis. With much of the funding for City College and other community colleges enrollment based, any decline in the student body spells financial trouble for the school, even as it makes cuts to meet commission recommendations.

As for her own future, Eder is more optimistic.

"I hope to do something good for the world," she says. "I know it sounds idealistic and maybe a little pretentious, but who knows." She adds, "The Bridge program gave me this opportunity."

Additional reporting by Peter Schurmann

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