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Obama Runs Wild With Bear Grylls to Call for Climate Action
President Obama guest starred in last night's episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls on NBC. Fans of the show know Grylls as a handsome, rugged Brit who's a former solider and will do just about anything to survive in the wilderness. The episode was filmed back in September when Obama was in Alaska on the last leg of his U.S. climate action tour. The president snapped this awesome selfie with the British adventurer.
A photo posted by The White House (@whitehouse) on
Obama is hoping the episode will draw attention to the impacts of climate change. “I’ve two daughters, and I don’t want grandkids too soon, but eventually I hope to have some. And I want to make sure that this is there for them, not just us,” said Obama, as they hiked in the Kenai Mountains.
He said he's focusing on climate change because “I think it will have a more significant impact on the lives of future generations as just about anything. And we’re still a long way from getting it right but it’s something that, working together, I think we can make a difference on."
While celebrities, such as Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Zac Efron, have made appearances on the show, it's the first time a sitting president has made an appearance, according to Reuters. About 50 Secret Service personnel, a food taster, snipers and helicopters were all on hand, but Grylls said Obama wanted it to be as authentic as possible. "He didn't have any problems. He wanted the physicality ... he was up for everything," Grylls said.
Well, almost everything. While Obama refused to drink his own urine, he did agree to eat a bit of bloody salmon that was "half-eaten" by a bear and drink tea made from catkins and glacier water.
“I’ve seen some of the stuff Bear eats, and it’s gotta be something that doesn’t still have its legs and eyes on it. I want it not to be too recognizable,” Obama said. “Bear’s a mediocre cook, but the fact that we ate something recognizable was encouraging. Now, the fact that he told me this was a leftover fish from a bear, I don’t know if that was necessary. He could have just left that out.”
The two bonded over fatherhood and the environment as they hiked on Exit glacier in the Kenai mountains. Grylls complimented the president on his physique, to which Obama said, “I’m skinny, but tougher than I look.”
It was "an Obama seldom seen on television," said The Guardian. The president was "loose, personal, stripped of pomp, just a guy out hiking with another guy."
Grylls commended the president on starting a fire without even needing "bellybutton fluff" for kindling. He also told Obama catkins tea was a good remedy for flatulence, to which Obama retorted, “It’s not a problem I have, but maybe you do.” And when Grylls warned that bears were especially dangerous if you surprised them while they were "fornicating," Obama joked the same could be said for humans.
Grylls was clearly enthralled. “He said it was one of the best days of his presidency,” Grylls told Reuters. “There were times along the route I had to pinch myself and think, ‘actually, this is the president of America.'”
"I hope we did something that really put a smile on his face that lasted for a while," Grylls added.
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A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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