Raccoons are terrorizing the White House press corps

Call it a hazard of the job. Encounters between raccoons and reporters on the White House grounds are becoming a regular occurrence.

a raccoon walking on green grass

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CNN host Alisyn Camerota shared a video of the network’s senior White House correspondent Joe Johns yelling and throwing something at a raccoon on Wednesday morning “seconds before” he turned around and delivered an on-air report.

“Freakin’ raccoons, man,” Johns said. “Again! It’s the second time!”

Also on Wednesday morning, an NBC White House producer shared video of Secret Service agents attempting to “wrangle a raccoon.”

Wednesday was not the first incident of raccoons terrorizing the White House press corps. Last week, CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid reported that “a raccoon attacked multiple news crews on North Lawn,” having “allegedly grabbed pant leg of a photographer & then a corespondent before being fended off.”

She shared a photo of White House raccoons at a previous date in a press tent. Later, Reid shared a photo of a raccoon trap placed on the White House grounds.

“The curious creatures explored the green enclosures, chased off several journalists and photographers, and one even attempted to chew its way into a backpack. While their presence was considered an inconvenience, they were not the first raccoons to roam the White House Grounds and most certainly will not be the last,” a post on the White House History website said.

The furry mammals are known for their “bandit mask” face markings and causing a nuisance by rummaging through trash cans. They accounted for about 30% of human rabies infections from wild animals in the United States in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most famous of White House raccoons was the family pet of President Calvin Coolidge, named Rebecca.

A Coolidge supporter from Mississippi gave the family the raccoon as a pet in 1926 with the suggestion that they eat it for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, it became a family pet, even making appearances at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 1927.

When the Coolidges

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Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen > United States Marine Corps Flagship > News Display

The Fire Prevention team is cooking up some excitement for Fire Prevention Week 2020, themed “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, October 4 – 10.

The goal of Fire Prevention Week is to involve people, children and adults alike, to learn how to stay safe in case of a fire.

“Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires,” said Michelle Bledsoe, fire prevention officer on base.

This year the focus is on preventable fires and injuries that happen while cooking in one’s kitchen or while barbequing in their yard.

“During 2014 – 2018, local fire departments responded to approximately 172,900 home cooking fires per year,” said Paul Aguilar, fire prevention officer aboard MCLB Barstow. “These fires caused an average of 550 civilian deaths; 4,820 civilian injuries; and $1.2 billion in direct property damage annually. Cooking caused almost half of the reported home fires, 49 percent, and home fire injuries, 44 percent, and one in five home fire deaths, 21 percent. Cooking was the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths.”

One of the things that makes cooking such a hazard is indeed the fire or hot surface itself. However, in many cases, it is human error, negligence or complacency which is the root cause of the disaster. So, it’s important for families to learn and teach proper kitchen safety etiquette.

“One common cooking related injury is caused by introducing frozen foods to hot grease or oil,” said Greg Kunkel, Emergency Medical Services chief on base. “Typically, when ice melts it turns to water then to a vapor. When frozen foods are dropped into the hot oil, it causes what is called ‘sublimation,’ which means it skips the water stage and goes straight from solid to vapor, suddenly and violently causing mini explosion. The expansion rate of the ice to gas is crazy! It expands at a factor of 1,600. So, those mini explosions the oil to pop and spray, potentially burning the cook.”

“Cooking is such a routine activity that it is easy to forget that the high temperatures used can easily start a fire,” said Nicholas Llewellyn, fire prevention officer aboard MCLB Barstow. “Sometimes people become complacent and leave items unattended. Sometimes, especially during holidays, sporting events, or other activities, it can be easy to get distracted. For example, home fires caused by cooking peak during Thanksgiving and Christmas when people may be cooking more than usual, but may also be distracted by visiting family members and friends. Always be attentive to what’s cooking and never leave any items on the stove or oven unattended.”

 “Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.” Michelle Bledsoe, base fire prevention officer

The type of clothing worn while cooking can also make the difference between slight discomfort, versus a full on 3rd degree burn.


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New Bill Would Create a Conservation Job Corps Run By Interior and USDA

A legislative proposal unveiled on Tuesday would create a jobs program overseen by the Interior and Agriculture departments to tackle conservation projects. 

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced the “RENEW Conservation Corps Act” to mirror President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps created during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The National Bureau of Economic Research proclaimed in early June that the U.S. economy entered into a recession in February due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Durbin’s bill is one of several introduced over the last few months to create civilian jobs programs for matters such as expanding the public health workforce and safely administering elections during the pandemic. 

“America’s outdoor spaces have provided recreation for generations, and this year we’ve seen how important and valuable they’ve been to countless Americans looking for a respite,” Durbin said in a statement on Wednesday. “This bill is a straightforward approach to creating 1 million jobs that can address maintenance and restoration of our greatest natural resources and recreation areas… [and] is an investment to protect the beauty of America’s natural treasures.”

If enacted, the bill would authorize $55.8 billion over a five-year period for 1 million Americans over the age of 16 to work on conservation projects nationwide. These could involve: planting trees, restoring wildlife habitats and wetlands, controlling invasive species, conducting fish and wildlife surveys, monitoring water quality and other projects deemed necessary by the Interior and USDA secretaries. 

Participants’ terms would be at least 12 weeks, but no more than a year. They would be paid what is “appropriate for the type of work” they do, but no less than $15 per hour and could receive up to a $5,500 credit for post-secondary education and training for future jobs. The bill says that the Interior and USDA secretaries and their program partners must ensure that “participants reflect the demographics of the area” where they are working.

“Access to public and natural spaces is an essential part of our individual and collective health and well-being,” said Jerry Adelmann, president and CEO of Openlands, a conservation organization in the Chicago area. “With the RENEW Conservation Corps Act, we will welcome a new generation of jobs that restore and preserve our natural lands and waters, and create more inclusive and inviting places for all to enjoy and connect with nature.”

The legislation would also create a national council that will meet annually to assess the jobs program and its possible projects. Members will include top officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Bureau of Land Management; Natural Resources Conservation Service; Bureau of Reclamation; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; National Park Service; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Office of Personnel Management; Environmental Protection Agency; Council on Environmental Quality; and the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

The bill was referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. There is not a companion version in the House yet. 

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Grenell excoriates White House press corps over coverage of historic Kosovo and Serbia agreement

Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell castigated the White House press corps for a perceived lack of interest in Friday’s news that Serbia agreed to become the third country to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“This is atrocious … You might be too young to understand what this issue is about,” Grenell said during a White House press conference that was intended to address the news that Serbia and Kosovo had agreed to a historic agreement to normalize relations. “Maybe the older journalists should step up and say, ‘This is a big deal.’ … I am astounded about what happens in D.C. and especially [in the White House Briefing].”

Grenell, who serves as the special presidential envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations, added that the issue is “substantive, maybe it’s too complicated of an issue for you all.”

Grenell continued: “You guys don’t understand what’s happening outside of Washington, D.C., people aren’t listening to you anymore. It’s really a crisis in journalism, and I think it’s because people are too young to understand issues like Kosovo and Serbia.”

Grenell was widely criticized by many left-leaning journalists, who took issue with his critique of the media, and the former ambassador to Germany responded to some of those criticisms on Twitter.

“I’m not paid,” Grenell tweeted in response to Vox’s Aaron Rupar. “You get this advice for FREE! You are welcome.”

The agreed upon deal normalizes relations between Kosovo, a majority Muslim region that declared independence in 2008, and Serbia in every area from air and rail to the opening of borders, according to Fox News.

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