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  1. #17131

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Morning glories and mustard: U.S. investigates unsolicited seed mystery
    CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department has identified more than a dozen plant species ranging from morning glories to mustard in bags of unsolicited seeds arriving in the mailboxes of thousands of Americans, mostly postmarked from China.

    While most species identified seem to be innocuous herbs, flowering plants, vegetables or grasses, plant experts warn that seeds from other parts of the world could be non-native varieties that harm commodity crops.

    Another concern is what appears to be an unknown coating, possibly insecticide or fungicide on the seeds, said Robin Pruisner, state seed control official at the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in Iowa, the top U.S. corn growing state. Pruisner said unknown seed treatments could damage crops. “I’ve had people describe to me that the seeds are coated with something purple. I haven’t had it in my hands yet, but it sounds an awful lot like a seed treatment,” she said. Pruisner said she had received 297 reports of seeds received as of Thursday afternoon.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is instructing state agencies to collect the seeds and send them to it for analysis. The agency on Wednesday said it had identified 14 different species of seeds, but noted it was still early in the process.

    The Agriculture Department has said the packages are most likely part of a “brushing” scam, in which people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false positive customer reviews to boost sales.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also investigating the origin of the seeds. China’s foreign ministry spokesman has said the packages appear to have been falsified.

    The packages have also been reported in Canada, where Ontario’s Central Region Provincial Police posted a warning on Facebook Wednesday against “foreign seeds in the mail from China or Taiwan.”

    The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said it had received 1,209 reports about the seeds, with 300 phone calls on Thursday alone.

    State agriculture departments have also reported packages postmarked from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, though most are reportedly from China.

    Most states are asking people to report the packages to the state agriculture department, which will then send inspectors to collect them.

    Sadie Crawford, who works in marketing in Townsend, Massachusetts, said she had just ordered watermelon, ivy and morning glory seeds from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), so assumed the two packages she received were just mislabeled. “I put them in water and got some sprouts,” said Crawford. “We were really curious what they were.”

    The plants have since died and Crawford reported the second package to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

    Seed companies have seen global online and retail demand boom during the pandemic as consumers with time on their hands take up gardening. But Pruisner cautioned that online international seed purchases could pose an ecological threat.

    “The a-ha moment I really had here is how much seed people are buying from other countries,” she said. “I have been simply amazed, when I talk to people, how they say the other seed they’ve bought from China is fine.”

    It is a little amazing to me, how after years of stories on invasive species - pythons, kudzu, fire ants, etc., that people would plant something without knowing what they are. I'm not saying that this is something nefarious, but what a simple scheme to wreak havok in a country.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  2. #17132

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Jeff said: It is a little amazing to me, how after years of stories on invasive species - pythons, kudzu, fire ants, etc., that people would plant something without knowing what they are. I'm not saying that this is something nefarious, but what a simple scheme to wreak havok in a country.
    I don't get it either.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  3. #17133
    Everyday Warrior MJ2004's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    It's been really tragic to see how many small businesses are closing now. We visited a neighboring town yesterday afternoon where we like to visit small local shops. My favorite clothing shop closed last month. Another store was closing. 5-6 others had severe 50% off sales. Overall it was fairly quiet - not a lot of shoppers out and about. I think many small businesses may have held on until now but are teetering on the edge, and a large percentage of those will fall off the cliff sooner rather than later.

    In the meantime, while the U.S. economy shrank 33% in the second quarter, Amazon sales grew by 40% in the same quarter.

    The retail industry has been in dire straights for a while now, particularly for smaller retailers. The COVID crisis will be the death knell for many. We already knew this, but it's terribly sad to watch it play out.
    Last edited by MJ2004; 08-01-2020 at 05:59 AM.

  4. #17134

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Quote Originally Posted by MJ2004 View Post
    In the meantime, while the U.S. economy shrank 33% in the second quarter, Amazon sales grew by 40% in the same quarter.
    Careful here! Actually US economy shrank 9.5% in the second quarter, 33% is an annualized rate which would come to pass if the 3rd and 4th quarter showed the same magnitude of decline. That's not going to happen so it's a meaningless number.
    Roger forever

  5. #17135

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    And why is that NOT going to happen? If there is one thing that it seems we can agree on, other than your proper assessment that we should wait some time before we get a real proper picture of this, is that the handling of the pandemic in the USA goes from terrible to abysmal. To have a 3rd quarter with a second 10% drop all you need is for the outbreaks to continue around the country, as they are doing. July is over and it was, for all purposes, identical to June. So you are already 1/3 of the way to an identical quarter. As has been said, even NYC and the states that from the beginning tried "proper" procedures are exposed to those that did not, so don't expect Broadway or any other iconic location to be bustling with people spending money. A 4th quarter with another 10% drop comes clearly into picture if the pandemic is still going, the expected Fall wave arrives, and political chaos ensues after a contested election and a country even more divided than it currently is (if that is possible).
    33% annual contraction? Calling that number meaningless is, I am sorry, naive. I would not even call it improbable. I think that the way this has been handled, real concern about that possibility should be present.

    On what MJ says. I had to go to a shopping mall here in Bogota because it was my GF's birthday. Wore my mask, put on my gloves, I have a small disinfectant dispenser hanging from my back pack. The place was right out of 28 DAYS LATER. Deserted. It felt very odd. I was walking all by myself through it. And at least 1/2 of all stores are already closed. So even if the retail industry survives, it will only survive like a COVID patient survives after one week in a ventilator. It will be all beat up and not the same.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  6. #17136

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    33% annual contraction? Calling that number meaningless is, I am sorry, naive. I would not even call it improbable. I think that the way this has been handled, real concern about that possibility should be present.
    It is meaningless because in this form it's a prediction not an established fact like those 9.5%. One shouldn't compare predictions with facts...

    As for shops and restaurants they all seem to be still around in Basel. No guarantees about the future of course.
    Roger forever

  7. #17137

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    On Facebook today, I saw this Owens/McEnamy 2024 photo and thought it was a joke. Then I realized that this was for real based on the comments.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Jeff in TX; 08-02-2020 at 07:25 PM. Reason: correct grammar+
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  8. #17138

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    For the GOP, it still is an improvement.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  9. #17139

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff in TX View Post
    On Facebook today, I saw this Owens/McEnamy 2024 photo and thought it was a joke. Then I realized that this was for real based on the comments.
    I was going to say no way because there's no money in it for them, but the current occupant of the White House has demonstrated how to benefit financially while in office.

  10. #17140

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Tropical Storm Isaias batters U.S. Northeast with rare tornadoes
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Isaias raced up the Atlantic seaboard on Tuesday, generating powerful winds that put New York City and other parts of the U.S. Northeast under a rare tornado warning, after a twister killed at least two people in North Carolina.

    The fast-moving storm knocked out power for 1.4 million customers from North Carolina to New York and threatened flash flooding, as stunned northeasterners took cellphone video of tornadoes, which are more commonly seen in the South or Midwest.

    Social media images showed tornadoes in Cape May, Marmora and Long Beach Island along New Jersey’s southern shore, and tornado damage in Dover, Delaware.

    In Bear, Delaware, Tammy Trelford Campos said she was terrified to hear a tornado destroy her backyard.

    “The damage is crazy. No power, almost all my trees are split or uprooted, water is coming in all windows,” she said on Facebook.

    The center of the storm was about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Philadelphia as of 1 p.m. Eastern Time (1700 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said. Maximum sustained winds reached 70 miles per hour (110 kph).

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a tornado warning through 4 p.m ET. Massachusetts and other parts of New England were under a National Weather Service tornado watch until 9 p.m. ET, and most counties in New Jersey until 4 p.m. ET.

    All New York state-run COVID-19 testing sites were closed because of the storm and would reopen on Wednesday, a Department of Health spokesman said.

    The storm made landfall as a hurricane in North Carolina late Monday, killing two people at a mobile home park that was reduced to a field of debris.

    “It doesn’t look real,” Bertie County Sheriff John Holley told WNCT television. “There’s nothing there. ... Vehicles are turned over. Vehicles are piled on top of each other. It’s just very sad.”
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  11. #17141

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Arlington GOP leader doxes neighbors who complain about mask-less businesses



    By
    Patricia Sullivan
    August 3, 2020 at 5:46 p.m. EDT
    Add to list
    The chairman of the Arlington County Republican Committee was kicked out of a Facebook group Sunday for posting personal information of people who complained about county businesses not enforcing rules on masks and physical distancing.

    Andrew Loposser posted a set of names with contact information he obtained from the Virginia Department of Health to the more than 11,200-member group “Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through Covid-19.”

    “Only part of the snitches in Arlington County,” Loposser wrote. “If y’all want to try to destroy businesses via the health department, we will make sure your name, email, phone numbers and addresses are well known to activists who want to peacefully protest you.”

    In response to other commenters who supported the effort to report violations to the health department, he added: “The board and any Nazis who want to support this can pound sand.”

    Conflicts between those who believe masks and physical distancing are necessary to battle the coronavirus, and those who consider them an unneeded government intrusion, have sprung up throughout the nation as Americans tire of the pandemic.

    The heavily Democratic community of Arlington reacted angrily to Loposser’s messages, with the founder of the Facebook group, Kellen MacBeth, saying Loposser had ignored rules of respect and civility that are required for membership.

    “Andrew was removed from the group and blocked and his comments were deleted for violating every rule that we have in the group,” MacBeth said.

    Loposser, who runs a political consulting business, also works as a legislative assistant to Del. Michael J. Webert (R-Rappahannock). He said complaining about lack of enforcement could harmful both to struggling restaurants and retail shops and their low-paid employees.

    “The small businesses have a hard enough time recovering” from the prolonged coronavirus shutdown, he said. “Having a minimum-wage guy trying to enforce a mask rule is just too much. . . . We’re putting them in danger.”

    More than 23,000 complaints from across the state have been logged by the Virginia Department of Health’s online complaint portal since it opened June 14; all the information there is accessible to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.

    The moderator of the Arlington neighbors’ Facebook group, Joshua Farrar, said that shortly after he deleted Loposser’s posts and banned him, someone uploaded the same information about people who had made complaints to an Arlington Reddit thread.

    The information was soon removed, and the account that posted them was deleted, Farrar said.

    That Reddit post was titled “The Karens of Virginia exposed,” and the anonymous writer accused complainants of “filing abusive complaints against struggling businesses.” The term “Karen” is a pejorative term that refers to privileged white women who demand their own way.


    Loposser said he did not post the item on Reddit. He was indifferent to being ousted from the Facebook group. “Facebook doesn’t really run my life,” he said.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...988_story.html
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  12. #17142

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    There is no cure for stupid.

    Americans are planting mystery seeds the government has warned against
    At least four people who were unaware of government warnings planted seeds that arrived in mail

    Amanda Holpuch in New York

    Americans have been planting mystery seeds which appeared to be sent from China, unaware of government warnings to dispose of the suspicious shipments.

    Four people who have come forward after apparently randomly receiving the seeds have since contacted their local agricultural departments to collect the resulting mystery plants – or in some cases, fruitless seeds.

    Tiffany Lowery, of Kentucky, said she had thought the seeds were sent from her planting club. “I didn’t realize it was a thing until I saw it on the news,” Lowery, who ended up with a bright green-leafed plant, told WBKO news.

    Patricia Smith, of Texas, also thought the seeds were a gift from a group she is in. “I planted them in a pot, they never came up, so I didn’t think any more of it,” Smith told KXII news.

    Shelley Aucoin, in Louisiana, said she had bought seeds from online retailer Amazon, so she planted the ones she received in the mail.

    “Then we saw the post saying don’t plant them,” Aucoin told WAFB news. “I mean, I’m not scared about it, I’m not worried about it, but I guess people are.”

    “We brought them down here and planted the seeds just to see what would happen, every two weeks I’d come by and put Miracle Grow on it and they just started growing like crazy,” Doyle Crenshaw, of Arkansas, told local news channel 5News.

    Crenshaw said he planted the seeds in his garden months ago and they produced large white fruit and orange flowers, resembling a squash plant.


    The US Department of Agriculture warned people last month not to plant the seeds and to keep them in their original packaging after more than a dozen states reported receiving the mystery packets in the mail. People who receive the seeds are also instructed to contact their local agricultural office.

    The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said in a release: “Seeds for planting pose a significant risk for US agriculture and natural resources because they can carry seed-borne viruses or other diseases.”

    The agency’s preliminary analysis has shown the seed packets included a mix of ornamental, fruit, vegetable, herb and weed species – as in weeds, not, apparently, “weed”. It also said the agency did not link the seeds to “agro-terrorism”.

    So far, the agency said the most likely reason these seeds are being sent around is because of an online scam where sellers try to boost sales by sending unsolicited items to unsuspecting customers, then post false online reviews of the item.

    US Customs and Border Protection, which is helping with the USDA investigation, has in recent years intercepted similar seed shipments.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...they-americans
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




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