Local Growers and Ag Officials Work to Increase Awareness of Citrus-Killing Insect

Source: Robert Miller, County of Placer  |  2016-05-24

It’s a small insect the size of a grain of rice that by itself is fairly innocuous. But the Asian citrus psyllid is capable of carrying a bacteria that will kill every citrus tree it infects.

A large-scale infestation can be devastating. Both the insect and the disease have been discovered in a handful of home citrus trees in Southern California and pose no immediate threat to Placer County. However, local citrus growers and agricultural officials both here and throughout the state are carefully watching.

The psyllid can carry Huanglongbing disease, HLB, also known as citrus greening disease. The psyllid has been found as far north as San Joaquin County, but so far HLB has only been found in Los Angeles County. The insects infest citrus trees by laying larvae into new growth. If the psyllid carries the disease, the tree will slowly die, though symptoms will not show up for several years.

“The concern for Placer County, and our world-renowned mandarins, is people unknowingly transporting the Asian citrus psyllid into the county,” said Agricultural Commissioner Joshua Huntsinger. “The psyllid can only fly a short distance and is almost always spread by people transporting infested plants or plant material.”

Placer County wants to increase the public’s awareness of not only what the disease can do, but how to avoid bringing it to the foothills.Transporting citrus trees, rootstock or fruit with attached leaves can give the psyllid the avenue to bring disease to our citrus trees.

The agricultural commissioner’s office has increased surveillance for the psyllid and is reminding everyone of the importance of not moving citrus trees or fruit into the county from other locations. The office also is asking the public to only buy citrus trees and root stock from reputable, licensed nurseries and to cooperate with county staff who do inspections.

Placer County has a robust inspection program. The county agricultural commissioner’s office has traps placed in about 40 commercial groves, in addition to 220 traps in urban and residential trees. All incoming shipments of citrus trees going to nurseries for retail sale are inspected, as are trees going to growers who are planting or augmenting existing orchards.  

For more information:
http://www.californiacitrusthreat.org/
http://ucanr.edu/sites/ACP/

The Big Showdown Over Fingerprinting Uber and Lyft Drivers

NewsUSA  |  2016-05-24

(NewsUSA) - Even some Sunday school teachers are subject to it. So why are Uber and Lyft so averse to having their drivers fingerprinted that they just suspended service in a major U.S. city?

Fingerprints are widely considered the best way to weed out criminals, but checking them costs more than the simple name-based background reviews the app-based ride-hailing companies have fought hard to continue using across the country.

So a few months after the City Council in Austin, Texas, voted last December to require them anyway for public safety reasons, Uber and Lyft spent $8.6 million on a campaign blitz -- described as full of “dicey misdirections” in the city’s largest newspaper -- to get voters to overturn the regulations.

It wasn’t even close.

By a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent, voters said: Hell, yes, we want your drivers fingerprinted, just like cabbies and limousine drivers are.

And why wouldn’t they? Consider the following:

  • Ride-hailing drivers have been accused of a string of rapes, murders and other crimes across the nation.

  • Uber agreed in April to pay as much as $25 million to settle a lawsuit in California that accused it of misleading customers about the strength of its background checks on drivers. “Laws designed to protect consumers cannot be ignored,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon declared.

What makes the Austin vote all the more amazing is that people went to the polls knowing that Uber and Lyft had threatened to pull out if the rules weren’t loosened.

“The threat brings to mind what was, for my generation, a famous (humor) magazine image,” an Austin American-Statesman reporter wrote, referring to a 1973 National Lampoon cover of a man pointing a gun at a cute little dog’s head. “‘If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog,’” the headline said.

“Lyft and Uber told Austin, essentially, pass our (favored) regulations or we’ll kill your dog.”

The “dog,” in Austin’s case, the reporter went on to clarify, being their customers and as many as 15,000 (at least temporarily out-of-work) drivers.

Public safety advocates are hoping the Austin vote marks a turning point in the ongoing effort to get the Ubers of the world to play by the same rules as everyone else.

“Until all municipalities require suitable background checks for drivers of these ride-hailing services, we fear continued disastrous consequences as a result of digital hitchhiking,” said Scott Solombrino, co-founder of the National Limousine Association (www.Limo.org).

Meanwhile, Austin Mayor Steve Adler has offered to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a compromise, and both Uber and Lyft are urging Austinites to contact their City Council members if they want the services to resume.

And, oh, yes, at least one small, start-up ride-hailing company named GetMe -- apparently sensing an exploitable opening -- has said it has no problem complying with the fingerprinting requirement.

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Can't Read It, Don't Feed It: Why Wild Bird-Lovers Should Choose Top-of-the-Crop Natural Feed

Brandpoint  |  2016-04-21

(BPT) - Have you ever wondered what’s in one of your favorite packaged foods, grabbed the box from your pantry, read the ingredients list ... and realized you still didn’t know what you were eating? The ingredients in some processed foods can read like a chemist’s shopping list. Now imagine if your backyard birds could read. What would they say about the ingredients in the food you feed them?

A growing number of Americans are choosing natural foods for their pets; nearly a third say they prefer natural products, according to PetFoodIndustry.com. People who feed wild birds care about them just as much as their four-legged pets and want to know they’re feeding their backyard birds the most natural and nutritious options available. It’s hard to feel that confidence when reading the mystifying ingredient list on the feed bag makes you feel like a bird brain.

The wild bird experts at Cole's Wild Bird Products Co. offer some tips for ensuring you’re feeding your feathered friends a healthy, natural diet that they’ll appreciate:

  • Avoid seed blends that are full of cheap fillers, like oats and red milo. Fillers not only lack nutritional value; birds will kick them right out of the feeder. Select natural feed comprised of top-of-the-crop seeds and pass by seed coated with chemicals and mineral oil.

  • Take note of ingredients you can’t read, often it’s an indication the ingredient is a synthetic or lab engineered. Ingredients like Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex and Thiamine Mononitrate aren’t found in natural food, they’re man-made versions of vitamins. Since wild birds normally get all their vitamins and nutrients from natural sources, adding a synthetic version is questionable at best. The rule of thumb for buying all natural is if you can’t read it, don’t feed it!

  • Focus on serving feed with an ingredient list you can read and understand. For example, Cole's Sunflower Meats contains nothing but shelled sunflower seeds. Easy, right? It’s a favorite feed to a wide range of backyard birds, too.

  • Either get to know the types of birds visiting your feeder and research feed they prefer, or buy feed from a reputable company who has already done that work for you. Cole’s offers select natural seed choices developed and based on factual research about what birds really eat. Feed is specifically formulated to attract certain species of birds as well as the largest number of birds, too. When you know and serve what your backyard birds prefer, you’ll keep them coming back to your feeders.

  • Feel free to supplement seed and feed with natural food you already have at home. For example, jays and woodpeckers love raw peanuts, while mockingbirds and orioles love fruit, and chickadees, blue jays and cardinals savor suet. Soak raisins and currants in water overnight, then place them on a table feeder, or purchase blends with a dried fruit and nut mixture, like Nutberry Suet Blend. To attract orioles and tanagers, skewer halved oranges onto a spike near your feeders for a special treat.

  • Don’t forget the importance of the right type of feeder. Dish and bowl feeders are great for serving fruits, while most birds will appreciate a terrific tube feeder for seeds both large and small. Traditional tube feeders are great all-purpose feeders, and a must-have for backyard bird feeding.

  • Buy feed from companies who specialize in wild bird food. Some companies offer bird feed as a side product to their main business of pet products or grass seed. Cole’s exclusively produces and sells products for feeding backyard birds.

To learn more about wild bird feeding and all-natural feed options with ingredient lists even birds could understand, visit www.coleswildbird.com.

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Top Tips for a Perfect Mother’s Day

Brandpoint  |  2016-04-20

(BPT) - She’s spent years taking care of you, whether it was mending your first broken heart, helping you pack and move for college, or moving in to help take care of your first child. Mom has always been around to help. For all the times she’s been there for you, now is the time to be there for her. This Mother’s Day, plan the perfect day to show mom just how thankful you are.

Plan a day together. Set aside all other plans and treat your mom to a day filled with her favorite people, places and things. Whether it’s a day spent indoors playing games or reminiscing, or grabbing the extended family and heading to her favorite park, lake or ocean for a picnic, simply sharing in these moments is sure to bring your mom joy and delight.

Host an afternoon tea. While breakfast in bed may have been your Mother’s Day tradition growing up, perhaps it’s time for something new. This year, treat mom to a relaxing and indulgent afternoon tea filled with delicious treats like these Lavender Buttermilk Scones.

Ingredients:

8 ounces self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus extra for greasing

3 ounces lavender-flavored sugar, sifted if preferred (see Cook’s Tip below)

1 pint buttermilk, plus extra for brushing

Salt

Your choice of Bonne Maman Preserves

Directions:

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the lavender sugar (sifted if preferred) and a pinch of salt and make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the buttermilk and mix to combine, making a soft dough.

Briefly knead the dough on a floured surface, then lightly roll out to about 3/4-inch thick. Cut scones with a 2-inch pastry cutter and place on a greased baking sheet.

Brush the top of each scone with a little extra buttermilk and bake for 12–15 minutes, until lightly browned on the top. Cool on a wire rack, dust lightly with flour and serve with your favorite choice of Bonne Maman preserves.

Cook’s tips:

  • To make lavender-flavored sugar, push 2–3 small washed and dried sprigs of fresh lavender into a jar of caster sugar. Leave for at least 24 hours before using.

  • Brushing the scones with beaten egg before baking will give them a shiny golden top.

Give Mom a well deserved day off. Even after a perfect day spent with loved ones, sometimes all mom really wants is a day to herself doing whatever she pleases. While you may not be able to give her just that, Bonne Maman, maker of 100 percent natural preserves and jellies, is here to help through the Share The Love national sweepstakes. Mom can enter for a chance to win a $4,500 day off to spend doing whatever she’d like, plus she can download a $2 off coupon for her next Bonne Maman purchase. For more information and to enter, visit www.BonneMaman.us.

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Top Tips for Recycling Tossed-Aside Tech

Brandpoint  |  2016-04-20

(BPT) - Do you know what to do with that old computer monitor sitting in storage? What should you do with a retired PC or tablet? If the items cluttering your home were newsprint, plastic bottles or aluminum cans, you would know exactly what to do with them - recycle! But if you’re unsure how to recycle technology, you’re not alone.

Nearly 80 percent of American households have old technology sitting around, according to a recent survey by Staples. Most people with old, unused tech devices have one to five pieces they’d like to get rid of, but less than half know how to recycle it, the survey found.

“You make a lot of changes when you’re trying to live a greener lifestyle, from recycling all the plastics your family uses to choosing more energy-efficient appliances,” says Toni Hammersley, blogger at A Bowl Full of Lemons. “Fortunately, you can also green your digital life by recycling old technology you no longer use. Staples will take a slew of your old and unused technology products right in-store for free to help you responsibly and easily recycle.”

Recycling technology is good for the environment,the EPA says. Valuable resources like metals, plastics and glass can be reused; every 1 million cellphones recycled yield 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium, according to the EPA. What’s more, recycling or donating electronics reduces consumption of natural resources, greenhouse gas emissions, and air and water pollution associated with making new materials.

Hammersley, an organizational expert, offers some tips for recycling tech:

  • You can recycle old office technology that no longer works for free by taking them into your local Staples. The store will accept the computers, monitors, printers and numerous other types of electronics for recycling - free of charge. For more information on the program and a list of tech items that can be accepted into the free recycling program, visit Staples online.

  • You can also trade in eligible technology to receive a Staples eCash card that you can use toward your next in-store or online purchase. The laptop that’s too slow for your gaming activities might qualify for a trade in and get a gift card to put toward new technology or anything else you need within the store.

  • Equipment that still works can also be donated. Goodwill accepts technology items for repair and recycling and schools, churches, charities and other community organizations in your area may accept older tech that’s still usable. You can also find computer donation organizations with a simple online search. Before you donate any piece of technology, be sure that the organization can use it and you won’t burden them with items they might have to recycle. Also be sure to delete all your personal information, including files, documents and apps that may contain personal information. Staples provides this service in stores through their Tech Services.

“Clutter of any kind can stand in the way of organization at home or in the office,” Hammersley says. “Recycling is one of the most efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible ways to get rid of any kind of clutter - including old technology.”

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Mom Knows Best: Even When Buying a Mother's Day Gift

NewsUSA  |  2016-04-19

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - If choosing the right Mother’s Day gift has been your biggest challenge over the years, try taking a cue from mom herself.

Millions of dollars have been spent researching and/or polling what moms desire most, so use it to your advantage! Thank mom, a mother figure or wife for all that she does -- from giving you style advice to motivating you when you needed it most -- celebrate your unique bond with a gift she will celebrate for many years to come.

Mom has always been there when you needed it, and she deserves the best. Below are a few ways to treat her on Mother’s Day:

  • Handwritten Letter. Showing your appreciation for mom with a handwritten note takes time and thought, and she’ll recognize this. Remember all of the moments that mean the most to you and express your gratitude in a way that is unique to the bond you share. It will be a letter she’ll cherish.

  • Time to Unwind. A thoughtful way to thank mom for all she does is to give a gift that helps alleviate her busy schedule so she can relax. Whether giving a spa package or simply cleaning the home, research has shown that moms expressed wanting to have time to themselves as a top Mother’s Day gift.

  • Create Unexpected Wrapping Paper. Because mom wants a thoughtful gift, why not put extra care into how you wrap it? A unique way to showcase the special bond you share is to create custom wrapping paper decorated with photos of the two of you at different stages of your life.

  • Jewelry. Research has shown that jewelry is one of the best-received gifts on Mother’s Day. The question then becomes which jewelry to choose for the one-of-a-kind woman in your life.

Country singer Jessie James Decker and wife to football player Eric Decker, has her own personal favorite: “I’m a huge fan of PANDORA Jewelry,” says Jessie, herself a mother of two. “Their handcrafted pieces are so customizable that you can have fun stacking and layering them to wear every day or on special occasions. On the top of my wish list at the moment are the Sparkling Love Knots earrings and Sparkling Love Knot Pendant, which can be styled on one of PANDORA’s .925 sterling silver or 14K gold necklace chains.”

PANDORA Jewelry (Pandora.net) released a special Mother’s Day collection of 14K gold and .925 sterling silver rings, bracelets, necklaces, charms and earrings with whimsical blooms, symbolic knots and love-filled hearts sure to be on mom’s “most wanted” list.

Whether the woman in your life is modest or tuned into the latest trends, she deserves a gift that makes her feel as special as she actually is. So this Mother’s Day put some thought into it and give her something she’ll actually want to keep.

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Think Your Data is Safe? Think Again

NewsUSA  |  2016-04-14

Gabriel app encrypts your data to keep it safe.

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - No matter who you are or what business you are in, you're vulnerable to a cyber attack. That's the unfortunate reality of the times we live in.

Think you're immune? There are millions of cyberattacks in the United States every year, with big companies like Home Depot, Adobe Systems, Sony, Citigroup, Target, Facebook, Evernote and The New York Times taking the biggest hits and falling victim.

And like Fortune 500 companies that seemingly have the resources to battle data breaches, small businesses are just as exposed, if not more so. According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report more than 70 percent of the businesses in the study that were breached had fewer than 100 employees. Those breaches result in huge losses. Trend Micro found that "cybercriminals steal as much as $1 billion a year from SMBs in the United States and Europe, alone."

Which begs the question: If both large and small companies and the U.S. government can be compromised (even with security protocols in place), then what does that mean for individuals?

It's a question that Dr. Robert Short, chief technology officer and chief technical scientist of VirnetX, struggled with and finally answered in the form of Gabriel, a set of secure encrypted communication apps derived from a CIA-sponsored Department of Defense project.

"The genesis of Gabriel really was trying to solve the problem of how you make security transparent to the user. The means to automatically create a secure connection whenever a secure connection is needed to wherever it is needed, and create it on demand," says Short. "That has always been the vision behind Gabriel."

The difference between Gabriel and other products, says Short, is that users do not have to transmit data to or store data with any third party, including VirnetX. In this way, data is stored only on their own devices. Essentially, users maintain control of their own data.

Gabriel users also have secure, encrypted (spamless) email, text messages, free voice and video calls and picture or file share with other trusted Gabriel users in their network -- all directly from their personal device.

Gabriel runs on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Mac OSX. For more information or to download Gabriel go to www.gabrielsecure.com, the App Store or the Google Play store.

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