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17 Apr 11:17

Restored steam engine to return to Roanoke May 30

by wtopstaff

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — A restored steam engine locomotive will return to Roanoke next month.

The Roanoke Times ( reports the Virginia Museum of Transportation’s Norfolk & Western Class J 611 locomotive will head into Roanoke on May 30.

The locomotive is being restored at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina. The engine has been inoperable for 20 years.

The Virginia museum will offer rides starting in June.




Information from: The Roanoke Times,

The post Restored steam engine to return to Roanoke May 30 appeared first on WTOP.

16 Apr 19:39

70% Of Coupon Users Still Use Print Circulars For Savings

by Laura Northrup

If you use coupons, what type do you use? Some surprising information came up at this week’s Association of Coupon Professionals conference, which is an actual thing. It’s not surprising that such a conference would discuss how much consumers like coupons, but it is surprising that 71% of consumers reportedly still use paper coupons.

Yep. Dead-tree coupons are still a thing! While retailers can distribute coupons digitally to more people more efficiently, the study found that redemption rates were much higher for old-fashioned paper coupons. It’s notable that the survey was only about consumer packaged goods: food, toiletries, and other items that you’d find coupons for in a circular in the newspaper. What about coupons for clothing stores and other retail venues? They didn’t present information on that, and it would be interesting to see the results.

Even millennials, the generation of American consumers broadly defined as “anyone younger than the Consumerist editors,” apparently still like paper coupons. According to this study, 61% of millennials still use coupons that came in flyers, as opposed to digital coupons that they printed out. Where are they getting these coupons?

70% Of Consumers Still Look To Traditional Paper-Based Coupons For Savings [GfK Research]

16 Apr 17:24

Veterinarians Warning Pet Owners In Midwest Over Canine Flu Outbreak That’s Sickened Hundreds Of Dogs

by Mary Beth Quirk

While we humans dread the arrival of flu season every year, we aren’t the only ones who can get sick by coming into close contact with the fellow members of our species. Veterinarians in the Midwest are warning pet owners over a recent canine flu outbreak, telling them to keep sick pooches away from clinic waiting rooms filled with their furry brethren.

At least 1,000 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana have been sickened by the H3N2 strain of the flu virus, reports the Associated Press, though it’s not clear yet how effective current vaccines are against this particular strain.

Dogs can develop a persistent cough, runny nose and fever, and although the virus can’t jump to humans, cats could fall ill from it as well. A small percentage of pups will develop more severe symptoms, experts say, with some deaths associated to the H3N2 infection.

Clinical assistant professor Keith Poulsen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine advises pet owners with sick dogs to make arrangements with their vet to schedule a test outside the veterinary clinic, to cut down on the risk of infecting other dogs.

As such, keeping your sick pets away from anywhere they’d sniff, lick or otherwise interact with their friends is a good idea.

“It’s really no different if you’re talking about dogs or toddlers, if you think they’re sick, don’t bring them to day care,” Poulsen said.

Canine flu outbreak sickens hundreds of dogs in Midwest [Associated Press]

15 Apr 16:56

DC Animal Watch - Washington Post

DC Animal Watch
Washington Post
These cases were handled by the Washington Humane Society, which operates its shelter at 7319 Georgia Ave. NW, and the District's, at 1201 New York Ave. NE. For information or assistance, call 202-723-5730 or go to Looking for a ...

and more »
15 Apr 19:52

Corrections dog dies when vehicle catches fire on I-68

by wtopstaff

FLINTSTONE, Md. (AP) — Corrections officials say a dog with the K9 unit at the Cumberland prison complex died when the car it was traveling in caught fire. A second corrections dog was rescued by two officers, who were not hurt.

According to the Allegany County 911 Emergency Center, a car fire was reported about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday on Interstate 68 in Flintstone.

Mark Vernarelli is a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. He says in an email that the two dogs and two officers were driving to the Cumberland complex, where they were assigned.

Vernarelli says the dog that died had recently completed the K9 unit’s training program, in which dogs are trained contraband detection and patrol.

The post Corrections dog dies when vehicle catches fire on I-68 appeared first on WTOP.

15 Apr 18:01

Prince William County crime report - Washington Post

Prince William County crime report
Washington Post
These were among incidents reported by Prince William County police. For information, call 703-792-7245. DUMFRIES AREA. ASSAULT. Mountain Laurel Loop, 3300 block, 8:25 p.m. April 5. A woman allegedly sprayed a female neighbor with pepper, then ...

and more »
15 Apr 16:31

Fairfax County Animal Watch - Washington Post

Fairfax County Animal Watch
Washington Post
The following incident was reported by the Animal Control Division of the Fairfax County Police Department. For information, call 703-246-2253. Searching for an owner: Rolling Rd. and Delong Dr., March 31. A loose 3-year-old bichon frise was captured ...

and more »
15 Apr 20:29

How Do You Get Your Tax Refund Back When Someone Steals It?

by Laura Northrup

If you have only one job and take the standard deduction, filing your taxes can be pretty simple. It’s so simple, in fact, that fraudsters are happy to do it for you, stealing your refund in the process. What happens to taxpayers who get stuck in this situation? Tax fraud is complicated, and sometimes they end up waiting for a very long time to get their money back.

How long? CNN profiled people who have been victims of tax refund fraud, including one retired accountant who normally doesn’t receive a refund at all and had almost $10,000 issued to a fraudster back in 2011. She had to wait to get her actual refund until January 2014, since such a large fraud led to a large investigation.

An IRS spokesperson explained to CNN that investigations take such a long time because the agency has had its budget cut and no longer has the resources to evaluate complicated fraud cases quickly. While they can take some measures like checking out returns that come from

Where does the information that fraudsters need to come from? Last year, hacks of payroll databases were a popular target and handy source of income data and personal information. One case targeted health care workers, and experts are now afraid that people whose personal information was stolen in the massive Anthem breach could also end up victims of tax fraud.

A hacker stole our $3,500 tax refund [CNN]

14 Apr 23:36

D.C. wants police body camera footage exempt from public records requests - Washington Times

Washington Times

D.C. wants police body camera footage exempt from public records requests
Washington Times
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wants footage from the Metropolitan Police Department's expanding body camera program to be exempt from public records requests, making the District one of an increasing number of jurisdictions trying to limit access in order ...
Mayor Bowser softens stance on keeping DC police body camera footage privateMyFox Washington DC
DC Mayor Wants Body Cameras On All Cops, But You Can't See The FootageDaily Caller
DC Mayor Wants Body Cam Footage Exempt From RequestsCBS Local
Huffington Post -W*USA 9 -WTOP
all 10 news articles »
14 Apr 17:17

H-Mart opens 49000 square foot store in Manassas Junction -

H-Mart opens 49000 square foot store in Manassas Junction
H-Mart opened up the doors of its new 49,000 square foot retail space in Manassas Junction today, located on Centerville Road in Manassas. H-Mart is a supermarket chain based out of New Jersey, according to a release. The building was formerly used by ...

and more »
13 Apr 22:17

Free-range mom speaks out: We’re being harassed

by Amanda Iacone

SILVER SPRING, Md. — A Montgomery County mother is irate that she was not notified for hours after her children were stopped by police for walking home alone from a park.

For the second time since December, the Meitivs’ six-year-old daughter Dvora and 10-year-old son Rafi were picked up by Montgomery County police as they made the almost 1-mile walk to their Silver Spring home unsupervised.

The Meitivs believe there is no reason why they shouldn’t let their children walk to the park and play. Danielle Meitiv tells WTOP that the risk of child abduction is low and the most dangerous thing a parent does is to put their children into a car. They believe in teaching their child self-reliance and responsibility.

Child Protective Services issued a statement saying that the Department of Human Resources, which oversees the agency, is reviewing the Meitivs’ case and will speak to all those involved.

“Protecting children is the agency’s number one priority. We are required to follow up on all calls to CPS.”

Meitiv called the reaction by CPS heavy-handed and lacking in common sense. She also feels harassed by the agency and by the adults who called police regarding her children’s activities.

“This machine starts to move and nobody stops and thinks … Are these children hurt, are they lost, are they abused?” Meitiv says. “(The police) observed my kids for three hours. It’s pretty obvious they’re not neglected children. They’re healthy, they’re well behaved. They’re clearly well-fed, well-dressed, articulate, intelligent, confident. There’s nothing in that list that suggests neglect.”

Police say they are mandated to report suspected abuse and neglect cases to the state agency and are investigating whether the Meitivs broke the law.

Meitiv says she and her husband dropped off their children at Ellsworth Park to burn off excess energy after a six-hour car trip to see relatives. They were told to be home by 6 p.m. Dvora and Rafi were almost home when they were stopped by police along Fenton Street.

Unlike in December, the police didn’t bring the children straight home to their parents.

Her children would spend another five hours away from their parents. During that time, they had little to eat. They weren’t able to use the restroom until arriving at a CPS building in Rockville. And they didn’t understand why the police wouldn’t let them go home, she says.

Montgomery County police released the following timeline:

  • 4:58 p.m.  — 911 took a call for an unattended child in the area of Fenton and Easley streets
  • 5:00 p.m.  — Officer dispatched
  • 5:01 p.m.  — Officer arrives , speaks to the original caller and identifies the children
  • 5:16 p.m.  — Officer contacts CPS
  • 6:10 p.m.  — Officer contacts another CPS employee
  • 6:41 p.m.  — CPS says a decision is pending
  • 7:18 p.m.  — CPS directs police to take the children to its Rockville facility
  • 7:43 p.m.  — Children arrive at CPS Rockville

Meitiv was not reunited with her children until 10:30 p.m., she says.

Montgomery County police spokesman Captain Paul Starks says police are obligated to report suspected neglect or abuse to CPS and that it was the state agency’s decision that police shouldn’t contact the Meitivs.

“It’s very difficult, without doing some sort of a query and preliminary investigation, just to return the children to the home without doing something first to ensure that it is a safe environment,” Starks says.

When the children didn’t arrive home, Meitiv and her husband began frantically searching the neighborhood.

Finally they heard from CPS.

“They’d had them for three hours at that point and hadn’t bothered to call us … two blocks from here sitting in a car for three hours,” she says.

The couple then waited at the facility in Rockville for two hours before they were allowed to see their children.

“It never occurred to me that the people we trust to protect our streets and to protect our children are the people that we now have to fear,” she says.

The couple signed a temporary safety plan to get their children released and they plan to obey it. They’re not allowed to let the children out of their sight even to play in the yard or walk to the school bus.

The couple plans to appeal the unsubstantiated neglect finding from the December incident and they are weighing their options regarding Sunday’s events.

“My philosophy hasn’t changed,” she says. “We’re going to fight this.”

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

Watch CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman discuss Maryland law and the Meitiv case on “CBS This Morning”:

The post Free-range mom speaks out: We’re being harassed appeared first on WTOP.

13 Apr 17:13

Students Claim 11,327-Pound Rice Krispies Treat Holds New World Record

by Mary Beth Quirk



There are some endeavors so inherently delicious, it’s a wonder more people don’t undertake them. But alas, not everyone has the means to craft a ginormous 5.5-ton Rice Krispies treat and steal the world record for doing so.

That’s where a team of students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison calling themselves Project 15,000 came in, reports Reuters, wrangling Rice Krispies cereal, butter and marshmallows into an 11,327-pound behemoth.

Though their goal had been 15,000 pounds (7.5 tons), measuring in at 10 feet by 10 feet by 6.5 feet tall, the group’s huge treat is more than 1,000 pounds heavier than the reigning champ, a 10,314 pound treat made in California back in 2010 recognized by Guinness World Records.

The students started mixing up the treat on Thursday with 9,000 pounds of donated marshmallows, 5,500 pounds of Rice Krispies and 900 pounds of butter, and finished the project on Sunday, using a huge wooden mold.

Pieces of the treat will now be cut up and sold off to raise money for Wisconsin charities. Extra cereal will also be donated to food pantries.

“We had an ambitious goal and we succeeded,” one of the project leaders said.

Wisconsin students’ Rice Krispies treat a snap, crackle, colossus [Reuters]
University of Wisconsin Students Say They Broke Record for Biggest Cereal Treat [NBC News]

13 Apr 16:33

Italian Pizza Association Threatens To Sue McDonalds Over Happy Meal Commercial

by Ashlee Kieler

McDonald's has drawn the ire of on of Italy's pizza makers association for a recent commercial.

McDonald’s has drawn the ire of on of Italy’s pizza makers association for a recent commercial.

There appears to be a bit of a war brewing between Italian pizza makers and McDonald’s after the fast food company aired a commercial depicting a child overjoyed to receive a Happy Meal over pizza at a local pizzeria.

CNBC reports that the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) – also known as True Neapolitan Pizza Association – treatened to sue the Golden Arches, saying the commercial in question is an attack on the country’s cultural traditions.

AVPN says in a statement that the commercial, which shows a family waiting at a local pizzeria being transported to a McDonald’s after the child exclaims that he wants a Happy Meal, is a “dishonorable attack against one of the symbols of the Mediterranean Diet.”

The company further claims that the fast food chain’s commercial suggests children don’t like pizza, as well as indicates that McDonald’s promotes an unhealthy diet and unfairly targets children with advertisements.

“It is obvious that the American colossus is trying to discredit its main competitor, but speculating on children’s health is just too much,” AVPN Vice President Massimo Di Porzio said in the press statement.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s tells CNBC that they haven’t heard from AVPN personally. The commercial, which first aired on YouTube in February and on Italian TV in March, was taken off the air on Sunday as previously scheduled.

Industry analysts say that McDonald’s latest ad was a fairly significant change from its traditional European marketing strategy that targets family dining and locally sourced products.

“There could be a very real risk of a backlash here, as the local pizza trade association has come out with all guns blazing and a section of the Italian public seemingly don’t need much encouragement in terms of pushing back against McDonald’s,” Bryan Roberts, director of Kantar Retail EMEA’s Retail Insights, told CNBC.

Italian pizza makers threaten McDonald’s over ‘attack’ [CNBC]

13 Apr 15:53

Why Solar Panels Are Suddenly Sprouting On Everyone’s Roofs

by Laura Northrup

Have you noticed a lot more solar panels on homes recently? While an increase in solar panel installations can partly be explained by pointing out that people are more aware of energy conservation issues and want to save money, there’s a much simpler reason why there are more panels on roofs all of a sudden: they’re now super cheap, and aspiring solar panel owners don’t have to pay for the panels or their installation up front anymore.

One factor is that there’s a global glut of solar panels. The price has fallen significantly in recent years. During the last decade, industry and government in China realized that solar power would be important in the future, which it is. They responded to this prediction by building a huge number of solar panel factories and cranking them out. Factories began cranking out panels in 2009, leading to a massive oversupply. That cut prices worldwide, making it a lot cheaper to cover your roof with solar panels.

Of course, “cheaper” is relative. If you haven’t looked into it, you might not realize how expensive having solar panels installed on your roof can be. NPR’s Planet Money team hung out at an installation site on Long Island where covering a home with 41 panels would cost about $25,000 including installation. What do homeowners who don’t have extra cash and who don’t want to take out a loan to save money on their power bills do? It turns out there are companies that will bear the cost of installing panels, in exchange for a monthly payment.

This isn’t altruistic, of course: investors are putting up the money to put solar panels on roofs across the country. They’ll make that money back with interest. SolarCity gets to employ installers and sell panels, and homeowners get to pay slightly less for electricity over the next few decades while paying off the bill for their installation.

Episode 616: How Solar Got Cheap [Planet Money]

11 Apr 09:50

Class demonstrates the power of CPR for pets

by Lori Lundin

WASHINGTON — They can’t tell us if they’re in pain. And it’s not like we can call 911 and have a paramedic show up if our pet is in distress. But a new local class is making it easier to help our furry friends by being prepared in the event of an emergency.

Animals lovers in Prince William County have been learning the art of CPR and other lifesaving measures for pets. Through March, the county offered classes at some of its community centers.

“You have to prepare,” Melissa Korzuch, president of the Prince William County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in a news release. “There’s no ambulance that will come by and pick up your pet. So, you are the first responder.”

The class uses life-like stuffed cats and dogs to practice giving compressions. Also, participants learn to hold their hands over the animal’s snout while breathing into the pet’s lungs.

Learning the measures could very well be just enough to keep a pet alive long enough to get him to the vet, Korzuch said.

“What we tell people is that the number one problem when there’s an emergency with pets at home is that you panic. You don’t know what to do. This class will help you be prepared for when those things happen,” Korzuch said the release.

The county plans to offer the classes — based on American Red Cross CPR instruction — again in July for a fee of $50, reports The Washington Post.

Watch a video about the classes:

h/t: The Washington Post

The post Class demonstrates the power of CPR for pets appeared first on WTOP.

10 Apr 17:00

Beyond 9 Lives: Fat Cat is an Unhealthy Cat

by wtopstaff

Live Beyond 9 Lives banner

This is a sponsored post by veterinarian Elizabeth Arguelles of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza.

Obesity is a common problem among cats and can negatively affect their long-term health. Excess weight puts additional strain on a cat’s body and increases the risk of developing diabetes, joint pain, liver and heart problems, or other issues as it gets older.

The cause of obesity is typically very straightforward. It usually develops when your cat’s food intake exceeds its energy requirements. Typically, this means overfeeding coupled with an overly sedentary lifestyle. The good news is that obesity can easily be prevented by feeding your cat a nutritious diet, portion control, and ensuring that it gets regular exercise.

What is obesity?

Obesity is determined by percentage of body fat. If a cat has accumulated enough fat that it weighs 10 to 20 percent more than its ideal body weight, then it is considered “overweight.” Medical obesity occurs when the kitty’s weight swells to more than 20 percent of the normal weight.

Is there an easy way to check if your cat is obese? Obesity is determined by more than body weight alone. When touching your cat, you should be able to feel its backbone and palpate its ribs. If you cannot feel your kitty’s ribs without pressing, then it is potentially carrying too much fat. Always consult your veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis. You should also be able to see a “waist” between the back of your cat’s rib cage and hips when looking down. There should be a “tuck” in its tummy when viewed from the side, meaning the abdomen should go from the bottom of the rib cage to the inside of your kitty’s thighs.

What can you do if your cat is obese?

If you believe that your cat is too heavy, please visit your veterinarian. Once your vet has determined that your feline friend is indeed overweight, the first step is to help your cat with weight loss. Depending on your kitty’s specific case, your vet might prescribe a different diet either over the counter or prescription or may even have you switch to more wet food as opposed to dry food. Typically, diets lower in calories and fat, but higher in fiber can help your cat feel full without all the unnecessary extra calories.

In other instances, your veterinarian might suggest that your cat stay on its regular food, but that you limit it to specific portions or frequencies. Whatever food you and your veterinarian decide on make sure it is nutritionally balanced and a high quality food to keep your feline friend feeling great all around.

It is critical that you consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes designed to reduce weight. Shedding pounds too quickly can cause a cat to develop serious and potentially fatal liver diseases in the short term and to become malnourished in the long term. Simply reducing the volume of food your cat consumes is not recommended without consulting your veterinarian.

Once your cat is on the new food plan determined by its vet, it is up to you, the cat parent, to resist the temptation to give your feline friend snacks. And just like for humans who are on a weight loss plan, regular weigh-ins are essential. Those usually take place every two to three weeks at your veterinary clinic. If your cat prefers weigh ins at home, purchase a digital baby scale for maximum accuracy.

Are there other things that you can do at home to help? Increased physical activity is also very important for both weight loss and maintenance. Talk to your vet about exercises that burn more calories and help to enrich your feline’s well-being.

The post Beyond 9 Lives: Fat Cat is an Unhealthy Cat appeared first on WTOP.

10 Apr 18:54

Lowe’s Will Stop Selling Pesticides Blamed For Honeybee Decline

by Mary Beth Quirk

Jumping on the anti-neonicotinoids bandwagon with Portland is home improvement retailer Lowe’s, which says it’ll stop peddling the pesticide many critics say is to blame for declining honeybee populations.

Other retailers including BJ’s Wholesale Club and Home Depot took similar steps last year, reports Reuters, choosing to pull the pesticide also known as neonics, which are used on many U.S. crops as well as lawns and gardens.

Scientists and other critics of the stuff say bees are dying because of neonicotinoid pesticides, which is bad news for all the plants that honeybees pollinate, including plants that make food consumed by Americans. Basically, bees are free labor and really good at their jobs. Without them, it’d be a lot harder to make sure those crops get pollinated.

A study released in 2014 by Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute showed that 51% of garden plants bought at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart in 18 cities in North America contained neonicotinoid pesticides at levels that could harm or kill bees.

Lowe’s says it will start phasing out neonics in shelf products and plants by the spring of 2019, pending the availability of alternatives.

Lowe’s to eliminate pesticides that hurt crop pollinating honeybees [Reuters]

10 Apr 16:52

Someone’s Actually Doing Something Good With Leftover Hotel Soaps

by Mary Beth Quirk

Because no one wants to arrive in their hotel room and find used soap awaiting them in the shower, guests are always given a fresh bar upon checking in. While many of those partially used bars surely end up wasted in the trash, one non-profit group is collecting a bunch of leftover hotel soaps to help people in need.

Clean the World started seven years ago, founded by a tech company worker who traveled often. He tells the Associated Press he was hit with a thought one night while staying at a Minneapolis hotel.

“I picked up the phone and called the front desk and asked them what happens to the bar of soap when I’m done using it,” recalled Shawn Seipler, the group’s CEO. “They said they just threw it away.”

He did some research and found that millions of used bars of soap from hotels around the world end up in landfills every day. Meanwhile, people in developing nations are dying from illnesses that could be prevented simply with better access to personal hygiene products.

That’s how Clean the World began, and it has now expanded to include industrial recycling facilities in Las Vegas, Orlando and Hong Kong, places where there are plenty of hotels and used bars of soap can be collected by the thousands. Heck, they’ll even take half-used bottled shampoos and the like as well.

Though people in the U.S. and other developed countries might take hygiene products for granted due to their ubiquity, soap and other items aren’t as plentiful in many other nations.

“A lot of people are surprised to find out that one of the most effective ways to prevent many deaths is actually just hand-washing with soap,” Global Soap director Sam Stephens said. “We’re hoping to make a difference.”

Clean the World announced this week that it’s teaming up with another initiative called Global Soap to step up production, hygiene education and delivery to those in need.

Together, they say they’re now collecting used soap from more than 4,000 hotels, and have delivered about 25 million bars to 99 countries, as well as homeless shelters right here in the U.S.

Here’s how it works: The soap is collected, shredded, run through machines that get rid of any residual bacteria another guest may have left, and then get shaped into new bars and packaged up. People get soap to wash their hands and possibly prevent the spread of common infectious diseases, and everyone wins.

Group hopes recycled hotel soap helps save lives worldwide [Associated Press]

10 Apr 16:23

Injured owl found in fishing cat exhibit at the National Zoo - Washington Post

Washington Post

Injured owl found in fishing cat exhibit at the National Zoo
Washington Post
The National Zoo's fishing cats Lex and Elektra got a new roommate Sunday, when a wild screech owl landed in their outdoor enclosure. The fishing cats, which are native to Southeast Asia and look like large housecats, were fine, but the owl was ...

10 Apr 15:49

Relative Stabs Boy, 3, in the Neck in Woodbridge - NBC4 Washington

NBC4 Washington

Relative Stabs Boy, 3, in the Neck in Woodbridge
NBC4 Washington
A 3-year-old boy was stabbed in the neck by a family member Thursday afternoon, Prince William County Police said. Officers were called to the 1900 block of Teasel Court in Woodbridge just before 1 p.m. for a report of a stabbing. According to a ...

10 Apr 11:31

Latest chic amenity in new home construction: Keeping room - Washington Post

Latest chic amenity in new home construction: Keeping room
Washington Post
Two miles off the busy Lee Highway corridor close to Centreville in Fairfax County, a new community is rising on 83 acres of woodland. This is Foxmont, a group of nine luxury estates on spacious five-acre lots, designed and built by Basheer & Edgemoore.

and more »
09 Apr 22:57

A little-known secret to parking at Dulles isn't actually at Dulles - Washington Post

A little-known secret to parking at Dulles isn't actually at Dulles
Washington Post
One day, when Metro's Silver Line connects to Dulles International Airport, I might not have to initiate this conversation with myself. But until then (2018?), the inner dialogue babbles on. It goes something like this: The night before my flight, I ...

10 Apr 00:00

As eaglets hatch, D.C. becomes new haven for nation’s bird

by wtopstaff

WASHINGTON — Go birding with Dan Rauch, a wildlife biologist with the D.C. Department of the Environment, and you’ll have a hard time keeping up with him. Within seconds he can catalog by sight and sound, palm warblers, pileated woodpeckers, yellow shafted flickers and more.

But on Thursday, the big news is that the bald eagles nesting at the National Arboretum have become parents. Rauch and a colleague from DDOE spotted the eaglets this week. He saw the father wheel in with a fish. Then the mother took off and the father picked the fish apart, then leaned in toward the nest.

“And here came the little head popped up. And it was so exciting,” says Rauch.

That meant there was one confirmed eaglet in the nest, but Rauch believes there are two. While he never saw them at the same time, he says it looked like the father was feeding in different places.

There are three nesting pairs of eagles in District of Columbia: the pair at the arboretum, another on the campus of St. Elizabeth’s and a third at the Metropolitan Police Department training center. Rauch says they’ve confirmed an eaglet at the nest at St. Elizabeth’s is just older than a month.

The presence of bald eagles, a national symbol, right in nation’s capital, is a signal that the big birds are thriving, even in an urban environment. While bald eagles appear to be fearsome creatures, they do have some competition from other birds. Thursday, when the male was feeding the eaglets, some unwelcome visitors showed up and alarmed the bird.

“Three crows did come in, and he let out a call. The female showed up and chased them right off. They’re great co-parents, they’re very protective.”

As Rauch pointed out the birds wheeling above the arboretum on a cold, cloudy afternoon, he spotted a red tailed hawk moving in on the eagles’ nesting area. As if on cue, one of the eagles took off and in the manner of a fighter jet scrambling when a threat’s been identified, the big eagle escorted the hawk from the area, away from the nest.

Rauch says cities like Washington, D.C. provide a great opportunity for anyone interested in wildlife to spot a huge range of birds.

“Right now is the beginning of spring migration. We have all these fantastically colored near-tropical migrants who are moving through.”

All anyone has to do, says Rauch, is step out their front door.

“Nature is right here.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. 

The post As eaglets hatch, D.C. becomes new haven for nation’s bird appeared first on WTOP.

09 Apr 18:21

Bald eagles make permanent home in nation’s capital

by John Aaron

WASHINGTON — Leaders in the nation’s capital are optimistic the nation’s bird has again found a permanent home here.

There are now three nesting pairs of bald eagles in Washington. “It symbolizes the environmental success and progress that we’ve made in this city,” says D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh. “It’s actually been very extraordinary over the last 10, 20 years.”

The birds disappeared in the 1940s but were reintroduced starting in the 1990s.  

“Ultimately it’s worked, but it had to work in tandem with cleaning up the Anacostia,” Cheh says.

Speaking outside the Wilson Building in an effort to raise awareness of D.C.’s bald eagles, Cheh also says she supports an effort to officially make June 20th Bald Eagle Day.

Cheh was joined by Challenger, a trained bald eagle called “the most famous eagle in the world” by handler Al Cecere, president of the American Eagle Foundation. He believes the region could be home to dozens more bald eagles.

“You’ve got plenty of trees, plenty of waterways, a lot of fish,” in addition to tall trees for the eagles to make nests in.

Dan Rauch, a biologist with the District Department of the Environment, thinks it’s especially impressive the bald eagles are coming back to louder areas of the city.

“If you go to a nest, you’re going to hear the Metro, you’re going to hear helicopters going overhead, you’re going to hear ambulances going by,” he says. “They’ve really urbanized in order to survive.”

Rauch says bald eagles are currently nesting near the National Arboretum, the Blue Plains police training academy and the St. Elizabeth’s campus.

The post Bald eagles make permanent home in nation’s capital appeared first on WTOP.

09 Apr 17:30

Healthy Paws: Traveling With Your Pet

by wtopstaff

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a new column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

As the weather improves, more and more of us will be traveling with our pets. While having our pets along on trips and vacations can be very enjoyable, sometimes getting to the actual destination can be wrought with stress for both pets and owners.

By Car

Many dogs can be anxious and/or nauseous with car travel, and often these two can be interrelated. For dogs that get anxious in the car, sometimes starting with very short rides and progressively working up to longer and longer rides can help them adapt to the car. For dogs that get car sick, there are a number of medications that can help control motion-associated vomiting, talk to your vet about which may be best for your pet.

It’s also important to provide a safe and secure place for your pet while traveling in the car.  Dogs should ideally be crated or even buckled in a seatbelt, and cats confined in a carrier.  Frequent rest and “potty” breaks should be taken to let them stretch their legs and get a drink of water and a small snack.

By Plane

Many owners will need to fly with their pets at one point or another. It is very important to check with your airline at least a month prior to travel, as many airlines require a health certificate from your pet’s veterinarian within 10 days of travel.

For international travel, it is even more important to start the process several months prior to anticipated travel. We recommend checking with the embassy of your destination country to get the most up-to-date requirements for travel to your destination country. If traveling to Japan, the United Kingdom, or Hawaii, the process typically needs to be started at least six months ahead of time, as these are Rabies-free areas that require extensive documentation of Rabies vaccination prior to travel to avoid an extensive quarantine on arrival.

When traveling overseas, specific health certificates are often required. Be sure to check with your veterinarian in advance to make sure they are USDA-certified for international health certificates, and have a plan to get those certificates cross-signed by the USDA veterinarian.


Microchips are recommended and, depending on the destination, may be required when traveling. This serves as a way for your pet to not only be identified in the airport here in D.C. but also internationally. And with domestic travel, the presence of a microchip can be the difference of finding your pet if they get lost hundreds of miles away from home or not.


Never leave your pet alone in the car, even with windows rolled down, as cars can heat up very quickly and cause devastating elevations in core body temperature. Even when flying, it is important to take the temperature into account as animals in crates, left on the tarmac, can reach unsafe temperatures if it is too hot outside.  Your veterinarian can make recommendations on the temperature range that is acceptable for airline travel.


Sedating your pet for travel is not generally recommended, but there are certainly cases where the pet may be so anxious without sedation that they may injure themselves while crated. Please discuss this with your veterinarian weeks in advance of the anticipated trip so they can help you find behavioral and (possibly) pharmaceutical solutions to keep everyone safe and happy for the trip.

We wish you happy and healthy travels with your pets!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

The post Healthy Paws: Traveling With Your Pet appeared first on WTOP.

09 Apr 15:07

Ticks, allergies, chemicals: How to keep your pet healthy this spring

by Rachel Nania

WASHINGTON — After a long and snowy winter, most Washingtonians are welcoming spring with open arms. But your pet may not be ushering in the season with the same enthusiasm.

Spring is the start of flea and tick season, and the bugs are back in full force. Veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson says if you haven’t ordered your preventive flea and tick treatments, now is the time.

“Truthfully, around here, I recommend that no matter how cold it is, you do that flea and tick prevention year-round,” Nelson says. “I have seen tick infestations in February with snow on the ground.”

Ticks aren’t the only thing that can make your pet sick this time of year — the budding flowers and blooming plants can have an impact on your pet’s health too. For example, Easter lilies are “extraordinarily dangerous” for cats if they chew on them, Nelson says. Even flower bulbs can be hazardous.

“Not only for them chewing on the bulb and what the bulb may contain, but also because dogs tend to swallow things, and a big old bulb in a GI tract is not a great idea,” she says.

How do you know what plants are safe to bring into your home and to plant in your garden? Nelson says the ASPCA’s Poison Control website is a great resource. It has a list of plants that are safe, and those that are toxic, to pets.

If your pet has a runny nose or watery eyes, pollen may be to blame. Nelson says similar to humans, pets experience seasonal allergies, too.

“These guys can display very similar symptoms to us — everything from itchy, watery eyes to runny noses.”

Skin irritations and ear infections are also symptoms of seasonal allergies. If your pet is experiencing allergies, Nelson suggests talking to your veterinarian. Treatments range from a simple therapeutic bath to antihistamines and prescription medication.

“It’s definitely something you can get control of, but you’re going to need to work with your veterinarian on that,” Nelson says.

Spring is the time of year when people clean their homes from top-to-bottom. Before you break out the scrub brush, think about how the cleaning supplies you use may affect your pet.

Toxic fumes, liquids and the residues they leave behind can all be dangerous. So when it comes to cleaning, Nelson’s best piece of advice is to think green.

“You can find these products that are out there that are safe, not only for your pets but also for your children. So rather than bringing in these high-chemical products, try to find some that are more vinegar-based or something along those lines.”


The post Ticks, allergies, chemicals: How to keep your pet healthy this spring appeared first on WTOP.

09 Apr 14:59

NHTSA Closes Five-Year Probe Into 1.8M GM Trucks & SUVs With Brake Failure; Doesn’t Order Recall

by Ashlee Kieler

After five years of investigating why brake lines in some 1.8 million older trucks and SUVs have a tendency to fail, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to find a safety defect and plans to close the probe without ordering General Motors to replace the often rusted brake lines.

NHTSA’s investigation, which first began [PDF] in March 2010, covered nearly 1.8 million full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles produced by GM’s GMT800 platform – including the 2002-3 Cadillac Escalade, the 1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, the 1999-2006 Chevrolet Suburban, the 2000-2006 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, the 2000 GMC Yukon XL and the 2002-2006 Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 and 2500 – that were thought to be affected by an issue causing corrosion of brake lines, often leading to brake failure and subsequent crashes.

According to documents [PDF] posted by NHTSA, over the course of the five-year investigation regulators analyzed 3,645 consumer complaints of brake pipe corrosion failures, including 107 crashes and 40 injuries.

In addition to consumer narratives, the agency also conducted and analyzed field data regarding GMT800 vehicles.

NHTSA determined that while only 20% of all GMT800 vehicles were sold in the salt states – areas of the U.S. where road salt is used during the winter months – a disproportionate number of complaints came from those regions, leading investigators to make a strong correlation between the issue and the vehicle’s age and region of use. In all, 2,702 of the complaint, 88 of the crashes and 20 of the injuries were reported in those vehicles.

For vehicles with less than 8 years of service, the complaint rates were minimal for all regions. In the salt states the failure rates begin to climb as the vehicles advance in age, particularly in the Northeast corner of the United States. The complaint rates in the salt states go from less than 0.1 incident per thousand vehicles (IPTV) at 7 years in service to over 1.0 IPTV after the 12th year of service for the subject pickup trucks and utility vehicles.

Despite the connection, investigators did not identify any specific defect conditions that caused or contributed to the brake pipe failures.

Instead, the investigators determined that many of the brake corrosion failures appear to be a result of the normal expected wear out of pipe coating material used in the vehicles, and not due to a problem in production.

“The agency will monitor this issue and reserves the right to take further action if warranted by the circumstances,” NHTSA states in its closing documents [PDF].

In lieu of issuing a recall order, the agency encourages owners of model year 1999 to 2007 Chevrolet Silverados, Tahoes and Suburbans; GMC Sierras and Yukons, and Cadillac Escalades to have their brake lines inspected and to wash their underbodies after each winter season.

By closing the investigation without ordering a recall or finding a safety defect, NHTSA places the cost of maintaining and replacing the brakes squarely on the consumers.

Back in 2013, GM previously released developed a parts kit for the brake lines.

“These are available through dealers and the aftermarket,” a spokesperson for the company tells the Times. “Based on time studies, the repair including labor should cost about $500. We can only suggest how much labor time the repair should take.”

Still, some consumers continue to report that out-of-pocket costs to fix the issue can exceed $2,000.

Wednesday’s announcement by NHTSA brings to an end one of the agency’s longer running investigations. NHTSA began investigating the problem after receiving a formal defect petition [PDF] asking regulators to look into widespread stalling issues.

“In particular, our 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD pickup truck…experienced hydraulic brake failure at 51,848 miles due to corroded brake lines bursting. The lines burst in an area that was weakened by corrosion and field under normal usage and brake line pressure. There was no indication to the driver that failure was eminent and only fate precluded any injury, as the vehicle was traveling slowly with a load of hay in the bed.”

At the time the investigation was first opened, NHTSA reported receiving at least 110 owner complaints alleging loss of braking effectiveness due to brake line rupture because of corrosion. Three of those reports involved crashes. A preliminary evaluation was opened to determine the frequency, scope and safety consequences of the alleged defect. However, no recall was issued.

During the preliminary investigation, NHTSA reported that officials with GM said the vehicles were equipped with dual brake lines, meaning that “should a brake pipe suddenly fail for any reason, the affected vehicle would be capable of stopping with the pressure supplied by the remaining circuit.”

Additionally, the manufacturer said if any type of brake fluid leak were to occur the system malfunction indicator would illuminate.

However, consumer complaints continued to cast doubt on GM’s statements.

Nearly a year later, in January 2011, NHTSA opened an engineering analysis of the issue [PDF]. By that time the agency had received 890 complaints, 761 of which were located in the so-called “Salt Belt states” – areas in which salt is routinely used on roads during the winter months.

Again a majority of the complaints alleged the failure occurred suddenly with no warning to the driver and resulted in extend stopping instances. Twenty-six of the reports resulted in crashes, while in 10 other cases the vehicle was intentionally steered off the road or into another lane to avoid a crash.

09 Apr 13:47

Sabra Recalling 30,000 Cases Of Classic Hummus Over Listeria Fears

by Mary Beth Quirk

sabrahummusWhether you like to dip pita chips or veggies, pretzels or just your fingers, check that hummus package before you go snacking: Sabra is recalling 30,000 cases of its classic flavor of hummus sold nationwide over fears that the product could be tainted with listeria.

The potential for Listeria monocytogenes in several samples of hummus has prompted Sabra Dipping Co. to voluntary recall 30,000 cases of Classic Hummus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Inspectors for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development discovered the possible contamination after a routine inspection March 30 at a Kroger store in Port Huron.

The recall only applies to five stock unit numbers (SKU) of Classic Hummus, with no other products included in the recall at this time. There have been no reported illnesses linked to the hummus products at this point.

Check the top of your product for the following codes and discard any packages that match — consumers can also return them for a refund. Questions? Call Sabra at 888-957-2272 weekdays.


040822011143/300067 – Sabra Classic, 10 oz. – 3-059/Best before May 11

040822011143/300067 – Sabra Classic 10 oz. – 3-060/Best before May 15

040822014687/300074 – Sabra Classic, 30 oz. – 3-059/Best before May 11

040822342049/301216 – Sabra Classic Without Garnish, 32 oz. – 3-059/Best before May 11

040822017497/301290 – Sabra Classic, 17 oz. Six Pack – 3-058/Best before May 11

040822017497/301290 – Sabra Classic, 17 oz. Six Pack – 3-059/Best before May 11

040822342209/301283 – Hummus Dual Pack Classic/Garlic – 3-058/Best before May 11

09 Apr 10:27

How to avoid attracting ‘nuisance’ coyotes

by Kristi King

WASHINGTON — Local wildlife officials want homeowners to take measures to avoid attracting coyotes. Those measures would include not leaving pet food outside, removing bird feeders and clearing away brush piles where rodents may live and attract coyotes.

Coyotes are considered a nuisance animal in Maryland and Virginia. They’re known to prey on small pets that are roaming free, have attacked pets that are on leashes, and Virginia’s Department of Inland Fisheries notes that coyotes in other eastern states have even attacked and severely injured small toddlers who were left unattended.

Coyotes are typically nocturnal and very shy, but they do hunt for food in urban areas, as seen in a video of a coyote jumping from rooftop to rooftop in Brooklyn, New York.

The post How to avoid attracting ‘nuisance’ coyotes appeared first on WTOP.

09 Apr 08:52

Fairfax County plans license plate crackdown

by Max Smith

WASHINGTON — Residents of Fairfax County who have kept license plates on their cars from Maryland or other states should prepare for a costly crackdown: County leaders are responding to complaints about the number of cars regularly parked in many neighborhoods overnight without Virginia plates.

The Fairfax County Board Tuesday asked for changes to a law that currently fines car owners who fail to properly register their cars a one-time $250 fee. The board wants that fine to be charged annually, on top of the existing $100 “no-plate tax” that was introduced in fiscal year 2010.

In addition, the board heard more details about plans for a crackdown by police and sheriff’s deputies to catch more residents with out-of-state plates, and charge them the fines and fees called for by the existing law.

Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler says the effort will focus on “known neighborhoods that have this chronic problems,” including several areas in Supervisor Jeff McKay’s Lee district. The district covers the area south of the Beltway, west of the Fairfax County Parkway and Fort Belvoir North Area, east of U.S. Route 1 and north of the Interstate 95 interchange with the Fairfax County Parkway.

“This is one of those things where we can really generate revenue, and educate the public. Because there are instances where people just don’t know, and then there are instances where people are deliberately doing this,” McKay says.

An unscientific survey of a Springfield neighborhood on a recent Sunday morning revealed a “large number” of cars that were not properly registered in Virginia, McKay says.

“I regularly hear from constituents who are concerned that the display of out-of-state plates gives the inference that these residents may be skirting our local tax laws,” McKay adds.

There are exemptions, including for cars owned by members of the military and full-time college students.

“The intent behind this legislation was that the combined charge of $350 would provide an annual inducement to get owners to comply with Virginia law and properly display Virginia license plates,” McKay says.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth sees a lot of Maryland license plates on cars that seem to be owned by people who live in the county.

“Even if we only get $250 once, it’s still $250 plus the (no plate tax),” she says.

Roessler says he met with county tax staff this week to coordinate the license plate checks with the sheriff’s office to make sure there are no overlapping efforts.

“We have a few volunteers that are willing to be trained with our traffic division to go out and target neighborhoods throughout the county,” Roessler says.

The sheriff’s office is also directing deputies to keep an eye out for any potential registration issues as they crisscross the county as part of daily duties.

D.C. has a similar, but more stringent, enforcement program focused on vehicles that park overnight on city streets without District plates. It can result in $100 tickets for each time a car is spotted parked overnight within 180 days after a warning ticket is issued.

Fairfax County does not ban repeated overnight parking by people who live out of state.

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