U.S. Briefs: Geologists hit lithium jackpot in Nevada | WORLD
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U.S. Briefs: Geologists hit lithium jackpot in Nevada

Geologists say lithium reserve on the Nevada-Oregon border could dwarf all currently known global sources

Juan Roballo/iStock

U.S. Briefs: Geologists hit lithium jackpot in Nevada
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Fact Box Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and World Atlas


Geologists have determined that a huge reserve of lithium on the Nevada-Oregon border could dwarf all currently known global sources of the valuable metal. It is the primary component in batteries for electric cars, portable electronics, and power tools. Prospectors identified high concentrations of lithium in the McDermitt caldera in the 1970s but didn’t know the extent of it until recently. The lithium is contained in rock formations created after a volcano erupted and collapsed. According to a research paper published Aug. 30, the estimated 20 to 40 million metric tons—and possibly as much as 120 million metric tons—make it the largest and highest-grade lithium reserve in the world. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates current worldwide resources at about 98 million metric tons. A Canadian mining company that contributed to the new findings plans to begin work at the site in 2026. Several Native American tribes say the area is sacred ground and called the search for lithium “green colonialism.” —Todd Vician


Two Roman Catholic colleges now welcome students who believe their gender differs from their biological chromosomes. The all-male St. John’s University will admit women calling themselves men, and the all-female College of St. Benedict will admit men who say they’re women. Both colleges have permitted transgender students since 2016, but the new policy explicitly welcomes those who “consistently live and identify” as “gender fluid or nonbinary.” The Catholic catechism and the Vatican’s 2019 statement on gender affirm God created humans distinctly male and female. But Pope Francis this year said the church welcomed nonbinary people, adding “anything that detracts from real ­sexual expression lessens you.” —Sharon Dierberger


Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who famously refused to sign same-sex marriage certificates in the wake of the 2015 Obergefell ­decision, has already endured a five-day jail stay for contempt of court, a failed 2018 reelection bid, and ongoing court battles. Now, eight years later, her problems continue. A federal judge on Sept. 14 ordered Davis to pay $100,000 to a homosexual ­couple she denied a marriage license. Lawyers with Liberty Counsel argued Davis was entitled to a religious accommodation. The case is now set to go to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The couple at the center of the case told GQ Magazine in 2015 they did not consider getting married until they learned about a protest at Davis’ office. —Kim Henderson

Ken Paxton

Ken Paxton Eric Gay/AP


Attorney General Ken Paxton is back on the job after ­surviving an attempt to remove him from office. State senators voted overwhelmingly on Sept. 16 to acquit Paxton on 16 articles of impeachment. His alleged offenses included abuse of office and bribery associated with attempts to help an Austin real estate developer and cover up an affair with a former Senate aide. Whistleblowers in Paxton’s office brought many of the allegations to light. Republicans hold the majority in both chambers, but more than 70 percent of House members voted in favor of impeachment. The disparate votes highlight a growing rift in the Texas Republican Party. Conservative interest groups backed Paxton and lobbied senators during the trial, threatening opposition at the ballot box if they voted to convict. After his acquittal, they vowed to retaliate against House members who sought to oust the attorney general. Paxton still faces state securities fraud charges, and the FBI is investigating some of the allegations raised during the impeachment trial. —Leigh Jones

Leah Willingham/AP

West Virginia

A Narcan distribution event started in 2020 has grown to include all 13 Appalachian states. This year’s Save a Life Day, held on Sept. 14, included 300 sites in 180 counties. Volunteers at churches, restaurants, and ­community centers distributed 30,000 doses of naloxone, better known as Narcan, for free. Two doses of the drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose typically retail for $50. The FDA approved Narcan for over-the-counter purchases in March. This year, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources spent $600,000 on doses for the event. According to federal ­statistics, West Virginia has the highest number of opioid-­related deaths in the nation. In 2021, over 1,500 state ­residents died of overdose. That’s about one opioid overdose every six hours. —Bekah McCallum


The state’s university system became the first in the nation to approve the Classic Learning Test (CLT) for admissions. Florida’s 17-member Board of Governors voted for the change Sept. 8. The CLT is a standardized college entrance exam currently accepted by over 250—mainly Christian and ­conservative—colleges and universities. The test has three sections, takes about two hours, and serves as an alternative to the more widely used SAT and ACT tests. The CLT’s creators, who launched the test in 2015, say it covers similar material to the other tests. But researchers from the College Board, the organization behind the SAT, published a report in July claiming the CLT is not comparable and that it tests math in particular at a lower grade level. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appointed most members of the state Board of Governors, has battled the College Board for months over what he calls “woke” influences in several of its advanced placement courses. —Elizabeth Russell


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