• Matthew Inui

Weekly News Blast | Apr. 17-24

A recap of key developments from the last week.


1. White House Easter Egg Roll returns after two-year hiatus.


The White House Easter Egg Roll, held annually on Easter Monday, is a presidential tradition dating back to 1878. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, the event was canceled in 2020 and again in 2021. This week on April 18, for the first time in over two years, the White House once again held festivities. Featuring 30,000 guests and celebrities such as “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon and Broadway actress Kristin Chenoweth, the Easter Egg Roll was undoubtedly the largest public event held at the White House since the beginning of the pandemic.


Drawing inspiration from First Lady Jill Biden’s background as an educator, the theme of this year’s Egg Roll was “EGGucation.” In a post-event interview, Dr. Biden said “the determined spirit of education is what we wanted to honor in this Easter Egg Roll . . . so we turned the South Lawn into a school community.” Besides the usual egg roll race, there were also educational events like book readings and “Physical EGGucation” activities.


However, more than just a social gathering, the 2022 Easter Egg Roll represents a return to normal after two years of political and social tumult. As President Biden said in his opening statement, “This year, we’re finally getting together and it’s so special. . . . It means so much to see and hear the children and all the families show up to be here today.” Carlos Elizondo, the White House social secretary, added that they are “looking forward to hosting more events in the coming months and sharing the White House with the American people.”


2. Arizona wildfires prompt the evacuation of over 700 homes.


On Sunday, April 17, the Arizona Tunnel Fire was reported about 14 miles northeast of Flagstaff. By Tuesday it covered about 100 acres, and by Wednesday it had grown to nearly 20,000 acres. According to Patrice Horstman, chair of the Flagstaff board of supervisors, over 700 households and 1,000 animals have been evacuated. Fortunately, the government response has been swift and decisive. On February 19, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors declared a State of Emergency. The next day, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved federal funding to cover 75 percent of firefighting costs, allowing for the deployment of over 200 firefighters.


Still, as of April 23, the fire is only three percent contained. With incoming dry weather and winds projected to reach 50 mph, containment and evacuation procedures are expected to become significantly more difficult. Already, all firefighting planes have been grounded because of wind speeds. Fortunately, as of April 20, no deaths have been confirmed. The causes of the fire, however, are still unknown. Matthew McGrath, a district ranger of the Coconino National Forest, said that an investigation will begin shortly.


3. President Biden signs Earth Day executive order.


(Flickr/Prachatai)


To commemorate Earth Day on April 22, President Biden gave a series of speeches across the country in which he reaffirmed his devotion to the environment. After his first speech in Seattle, Washington, Biden also signed an executive order aimed at preserving old-growth forests. As they absorb close to 10 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, old-growth forests are critical to mitigating the effects of global warming. This executive order will require that the Agriculture and Interior departments inventory all old-growth forests on federal lands and then take steps to assess and address possible threats, such as wildfires and invasive species.


Biden also took the opportunity to speak on the centerpiece of his climate agenda, the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill, which includes $8 billion for the environment. It also contains provisions for addressing harmful chemicals in drinking water and implementing a clean energy tax credit to incentivize the transition to renewable energy. However, despite having a majority in both houses, Democrats have been unable to advance the bill through the Senate. In his speeches, Biden expressed the urgency of passing his infrastructure bill. “For the future of our planet, for our health, and for our children and grandchildren,” he said, “we must act now.”


 

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