WASHINGTON — It’s the start of the new school year, which means new teachers, a bunch of homework assignments and the never-ending dilemma of what to include to make a healthy and safe school lunch.

“As a mother, I understand the stress that comes with the start of a new school year, but preparing a safe lunch doesn’t have to be a challenge,” said Carmen Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. “Simple steps like washing your hands and keeping food at the correct temperature can stop the spread of bacteria and keep your children safe from foodborne illness.”

Handwashing is the first and easiest step to avoid foodborne illnesses. A recent study by USDA found that 97 percent of the times participants should have washed their hands they did not do so correctly or at all. This poor hand hygiene caused participants to cross-contaminate other spice containers, refrigerator handles, even ready-to-eat foods and other areas of their kitchen with a harmless tracer bacteria.

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Kombucha is the “in” health drink lately, available from local producers, in stores, online and even many people make their own version of the fermented tea. Kombucha (pronounced kom-BOO-cha) can help restore the body’s natural microbiome and improve overall health, but it’s important to make informed choices about kombucha sources and consumption.

Kombucha, originating from China, is made by adding a scoby—a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast—and sugar to brewed tea. By allowing the mixture to sit for seven to 14 days, the sugar feeds the yeast and the liquid ferments. The result of fermentation is a naturally fizzy drink similar to a carbonated vinegar or wine.

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This is part of our series profiling Agency officers in various positions throughout the Agency. We talk with them about their daily challenges and rewards, as well as some exceptional moments. CIA.gov recently sat down with a current employee, a Science, Technology, and Weapons Analyst, to learn more about her journey to the CIA and her experiences here.

Tell us about your path to the CIA.

I sort of stumbled into the CIA by accident. As a freshman, I had attended a seminar for general engineering students that featured the Intelligence Community (IC). At the time, I thought it would be an incredible field to work in, but I had the impression that it was highly competitive, and only people who already knew people in the IC had a way in. Fast forward to my junior year of college, where I was attending a job expo for   more...
By: Keith Martin

If you drive north from NIST’s Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus, you will soon reach the famed Mason-Dixon Line marking the border between the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Continue for just a few more kilometers and you’ll cross over a second historic line: the Inch Line (sometimes called the Inch Lines, for reasons explained below). Contrary to its diminutive name, this line stretches more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Texas to New Jersey. Constructed during World War II, it inspired a quip that illustrates its importance: “The war was won by an Inch.”

The genesis of this line can be traced back to one man and his first job at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now called the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST).

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Gina Haspel joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the waning days of the Cold War, and for the past three decades she quietly devoted herself to serving on the front lines of the Agency's mission. She received many honors throughout her career, including the Intelligence Medal of Merit, a Presidential Rank Award, the Donovan Award, and the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism.

Kentucky Roots

Gina was born in Ashland, Kentucky, the oldest of five children. Her father served in the Air Force, having joined at 17, and she grew up on military bases overseas. But Kentucky was always her home away from home. Both her parents grew up there, and after graduating from high school in England, Gina returned home to attend the University of Kentucky, where she studied languages and majored in journalism. She remains an avid fan of Wildcat basketball even though she moved to Louisville her senior year for an internship and graduated with honors from the University of Louisville.

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A quarter mile from CIA’s Headquarters building, within the confines of CIA property, sits a four story Georgian Revival house at 6200 Georgetown Pike. The house is the oldest standing structure on CIA grounds. Built in 1926, the house was occupied by Margaret Scattergood and Florence Thorne for 53 years. Looking for a quiet retreat, they purchased the house and 20 acres of land in 1933. Margaret was a Quaker and a pacifist who devoted a significant portion of her time and funds to advancing liberal causes.

Neither Margaret nor Florence could have ever predicted that within 30 years of purchase, their home would be enclosed on CIA property, behind its protective barriers, while hundreds of CIA officers came to work just a stones’ throw away.

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