Newsbytes – Valley Fire, Pope Francis, European Union and Refugees, and Asthmatic Sea Otter

By: Staff Writers Deeksha Raina and Sayan Ghosh

President Obama officially declared the Valley Fire in Northern California a major disaster on September 22. As a result, federal money will be granted for home repairs and other forms of aid. Federal and state teams finished inspections of  the damage in Lake County the same day. Afterward, Governor Jerry Brown requested the declaration on September 21. The fires, “… expand quickly and unpredictably, thriving on dead trees, dry vegetation and wind conditions,” said Brown. The federal aid, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be used for repairs or replacements that will not be covered by insurance.

Pope Francis arrived in Washington D.C. for his first visit to America on September 22 welcomed by President Obama, Vice-president Biden, their families, and other dignitaries. Over the course of his six-day visit, the Pope will be talking about controversial topics including immigration, marriage, climate change, morality in modern societies, and US relations with Cuba. He spoke with Congress, addressed the United Nations in New York City, and will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia before returning to Rome on Saturday, September 26.


The European Union voted on September 22 to distribute over 120,000 refugees across its member nations. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia voted against the establishment of a mandatory quota. Nine Central and Eastern European countries will distribute 15,000 refugees amongst themselves, and Germany and France will take in the rest. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazenevue said that the plan’s approval was a “testament to the capacity of Europe to take responsibility and progress”. However, Robert Fico, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, one of the nations that voted against the plan, said, “As long as I  am prime minister, mandatory quotas will not be implemented on Slovak territory.”


Mishka, a sea otter from the Seattle Aquarium has become the first sea otter to be diagnosed with asthma and is learning how to use an inhaler. A veterinarian at the aquarium, Dr. LesannaLahner, was able to diagnose the otter’s problems after it was having trouble breathing because of wildfire smoke in Seattle. Mishka’s trainer is teaching the otter to use an inhaler by using food as an incentive to push her nose on the inhaler and take a deep breath.

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