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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
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    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; Yesterday 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.

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