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Government Says Shutdown Unlikely To Delay Guestworker Visas, But Farmers Still Unsure

More than 240,000 guestworkers, many from Mexico, work on U.S. farms for several months each year as a part of the federal H-2A visa program. This year, farmers and industry associations worry the ongoing government shutdown could impede the workers’ arrival. But the visa program, which is overseen by no fewer than three U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, is unimpeded. That’s according to officials from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification and United States Citizen and Immigration Services. Both of those agencies are fully funded.

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St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Many federal workers in the St. Louis Region are dipping into their savings and cutting spending as they cope with uncertainty from the partial government shutdown.

That includes air traffic controllers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

“We’re toughing it out,” said Allison Schwaegel who heads the local chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

A program designed to curb Illinois’ pension debt is now underway. Early numbers show more Illinois state employees than expected are choosing to take a pension buyout from the state.

State Rep. Dottie Bailey, R-Eureka
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

State Rep. Dottie Bailey joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum to talk about her first few days as a member of the Missouri House.

The Eureka Republican represents parts of St. Louis and Franklin counties, including municipalities such as Wildwood, Pacific and Eureka.

St. Louis Women's March participants gather in Aloe Plaza, across from Union Station in downtown St. Louis on January 19, 2019.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday morning for the third annual St. Louis Women’s March, as a winter storm crept toward the city.

Some, like 23-year-old Mckenzie Eston, attended the march for the first time.

“If you want your voice to be heard, then you actually have to speak,” said Eston, who lives in Cape Girardeau.

Officials are considering the addition of turnstiles to the MetroLink system.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The top people who handled security for the Metro Transit agency are out of a job.

Bi-State Development President Taulby Roach confirmed the departures on Friday but provided no other details, including the names of the two officials.

Cathy "Mama Cat" Daniels stirs a pot of chili while prepping food to deliver to shelters and to people experiencing homeless. January 27, 2019.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis agencies and community organizations that work with the region’s homeless population are calling on city and county residents to volunteer time and donate supplies.

The groups are stretching resources to keep people warm and fed as weekend forecasts warn of more sleet, snow and freezing temperatures.

AAA of Missouri's Mike Right (at left) and Kent Flake, commissioner of streets for the City of St. Louis, offered suggestions and insights on the talk show Jan. 18, 2019.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Snow, ice, streets and St. Louis – it all tends to make for a tricky wintry mix, as was evident last weekend when a major snowstorm hit the region. With the potential for additional winter weather now imminent, Friday’s St. Louis on the Air included a focus on why some St. Louisans drive poorly in such conditions – and how residents can better prepare for and deal with future weather events.

Joining the discussion were Kent Flake, commissioner of streets for the City of St. Louis, and Mike Right, vice president of public affairs for AAA of Missouri.

(Jan. 18, 2019) Lauren Kohn Davis (left) and Heather Fleming (right) discussed the logistics and goal of the third annual St. Louis Women's March.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A winter weather advisory goes into effect at midnight Friday and will last until Saturday evening, but the St. Louis Women’s March is still set to take place 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown St. Louis.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh previewed the march with two of this year’s local organizers and marchers: Lauren Kohn Davis and Heather Fleming.

“Absolutely the march is still on,” Kohn Davis said. “I think one of the important things to remember is that it's just a little cold, it's just a few flakes. One of our other organizers said it best when she said, ‘If the unhoused population in our community can deal with this daily, we can deal with it for a few hours – we’re women, come on.’ Lace up your boots. Let's get out there.”

People who most intensely oppose genetically modified food think they know a lot about food science, but actually know the least, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in January in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

GMOs are widely considered safe by scientists, but opponents have said they want more science on the potential harm so that subjective arguments aren’t part of the equation.

A red total lunar eclipse seen in Greenbelt, Maryland.
NASA Goddard

If weather cooperates, people all over the Western Hemisphere on Sunday will be able to see a “super blood moon” eclipse.

The total lunar eclipse begins at about 8:30 p.m. in the St. Louis area. Totality — when the Earth completely blocks the sun from the moon — will occur after 10:40 p.m., as the moon turns a dull shade of red.

The moon also will appear large, because it will be at a point in its elliptical orbit that’s close to the Earth. Total lunar eclipses happen almost every year, but this exact type of lunar eclipse happens every 18 years, said Brad Jolliff, a professor who studies lunar geochemistry at Washington University.


St. Louis on the Air

Monday: Remembering Mill Creek Valley

We air an encore of a discussion recorded at Harris-Stowe State University about the neighborhood that was home to 20,000 black St. Louisans.

Metro St. Louis federal workers, businesses grapple with government shutdown

Federal employees throughout metro St. Louis are feeling the brunt of the partial government shutdown, as agencies have placed workers on furlough or have required them to work without pay.

We asked our readers and staff to send their favorite stories of 2018, then compiled them for you to read (or re-read). Enjoy as we look back at the year that was, and come back for more in 2019!