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Vegetative Vampires

Few of the over 4,000 species of known parasitic plants are of economic importance. Those that are however can cause 80 percent crop losses.

Some of the most infamous of these are the Dodders, Cuscuta, ironically of the of the Morning Glory (Convolvulaceae) family. Common names for various species indicate the hatred held for string-like stems: Devil’s Guts, Devil’s Hair, and Witch’s Hair. In medieval Europe, dodder was sometimes viewed as evil transformation of normal grape wine species. As late as 1831 the presence of dodder in crops was connected to the appearance of the comet in the previous year. Like other fully parasitic plants, it achieves its vampire act by means of haustoria, penetrating the host plant to suck its sap. Victims along with grape vines may include coffee shrubs, soybeans, asparagus, melons, chrysanthemums, petunias, garlic, oak trees, and tomatoes. Not all dodders achieve their evil design on tomatoes. As Susan Milius explained in Science News, a tomato plant poked by a haustorium of C. reflexa, however, panics. A patch of cells on the stem elongate and bursts, forming a scab that stops the intruder. The haustorium stalls and eventually dies.

By Wes Porter - Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - Full Story

Liberty Counsel Launches Annual Christmas Campaign

Liberty Counsel Launches Annual Christmas Campaign
ORLANDO, FL - Liberty Counsel has launched its fifteenth annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign. The campaign educates, and if necessary litigates, to make sure that Christmas and Christian themes are not censored.
Liberty Counsel has been actively monitoring cases across the country where there is intimidation by officials and groups to remove the celebration of Christmas in public and private sectors. These threats include atheist groups seeking to ban Nativity scenes from public property, senior living centers that prohibit residents from singing Christmas carols, public schools that ban students from wearing the Christmas colors of red and green, school officials who censor religious words from Christmas carols and retailers which profit from Christmas while pretending it does not exist. Liberty Counsel has successfully educated and reversed these anti-Christmas actions in all of these situations.

By Liberty Counsel - Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - Full Story

Garden Chores: Indoors and outside

Garden Chores: Indoors and outside
Time to give the lawn a close shave. Reduce mowing height to just a half-inch to prevent dead grass from ‘lodging’ or bending down and smothering fresh growth next spring. And if you haven’t done it for the past few years, it could be a good idea to aerate the lawn. Either rent a machine to do the job or plunge in a garden fork at 12-inch intervals.

By Wes Porter - Thursday, November 2, 2017 - Full Story

The Caribbean’s Bird-Catching Trees

Pisonia TreesIt sounds like a traveller’s tale. Or perhaps the very best of Brit tabloids. But is it true? There are trees that can catch birds. And two new ones have recently been identified in hurricane havoc—and Trump-ravaged—Puerto Rico.

The ripe fruits of Pisonia trees are sticky enough to doom small birds that venture near them. Several species are known from the Indo-Pacific area and to them are now added Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae. Botanically they are from the four-o’clock family, (Nyctaginaceae) and only found in Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, the biodiverse rich Caribbean may yet reveal more such startling discoveries.

By Wes Porter - Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - Full Story

Up the Garden Path—October 2017

Up the Garden Path
Front Garden

  • A collection of excruciating horticultural fails has been gather up by one cheeky account, Featuring a gardener painting his lawn green, a chicken’s garden party, a lonely palm tree on a bleak balcony, topiary lemurs and a dashboard miniature cacti oasis, amongst many others, there’s little to covet about these plots, observed The Daily Mail. The account welcomes submissions, with most of the gardens features so far located in Australia. Sounds about right: where else would you find a row of planted toilet bowls as decoration or an ample bra transformed into a hanging basket?
  • Open and shut case: The Daily Express‘s Alan Titchmarsh offers tips on choosing the right gate for you garden. The Brit paper explains that the right gate will make your garden look more inviting. And who knows where that might lead?
  • A Star Wars fan in England built a 20-foot-high AT-AT Walker on his lawn to compete in a local scarecrow-making contest. 54-year-old Ian Mocket raised $1,000 for an air ambulance charity thanks to eye-catching homage, reported The New York Post.
  • A Colorado mum lost it over a mystery woman who was pooping on the lawn outside her house. Cathy Buddle, of Colorado Springs, says her kids caught the daring defecator in mid-squat. Police in Colorado Springs are now investigating after the family first spotted the female jogger with her pants down outside their home seven weeks ago [The Daily Express, The New York Post]
By Wes Porter - Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - Full Story

Jack and the Beanstalk

Halloween with its customs and tales of ghosts, witches and their dreadful doings has its origins in Celtic times. Other still popular accounts date back 5,000 years according to folklorists, bringing them into the realm of that widespread tribe. One such is that of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk.’ The classic English fairy tale originally appeared as ‘The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean’ in 1734 and as Benjamin Tabart’s moralized ‘The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk’ in 1807.

By Wes Porter - Sunday, October 29, 2017 - Full Story

Edison and Ford Estates in Fort Myers, Florida

Edison’s Seminole Lodge (main house)Hurricane Irma hit Florida with a vengeance six weeks ago, the island had to be evacuated, and the ocean receded from its bay. Siesta Key was spared severe devastation but its neighbors to the south, Naples, San Marco, and Fort Myers did not fare as well. Irma hit them as a strong category 3 hurricane. The evidence is painful to see in the mounds of chopped up uprooted trees and torn vegetation yet to be picked up in front of every home.

The Edison/Ford Estate lost 100 old trees, shrubs, and other tropical vegetation that used to shade almost 20 acres of property, now fully exposed to the sun. Vegetation grows fast in Florida but 100-year-old trees are hard to replace. The estate museum opened on October 14, 2017 for the first time since the severe winds devastated the once shady and lush green gardens, still beautiful but showing signs of distress.

By Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh - Friday, October 27, 2017 - Full Story

Questions We’re Often Asked: Perennial Renewal

True, a few perennials such as peonies may go for decades, even a half-century without requiring lifting, dividing and replanting. Most perennials, however, perform better with more frequent attention—perhaps every three to five years, rarely a decade apart. October is a good month for most of this work. Even when cut back, divided and replanted, the soil will not freeze for several weeks, allowing continued root growth.

Mark before lifting those that are the most prized, best performers. Older advice to lift clumps, is to drive in two garden forks back-to-back, and push them together to pull apart the perennials. Why most gardeners would own two forks makes one wonder. And just try it on a well-established growth of hostas or daylilies. A well-sharpened turf edging tool works as well. Split into pie-shaped pieces, discarding the centre, older played-out portions. Clean out weed roots from those to be saved.

It may seem hard, but avoid replanting everything. Ask friends, relatives and neighbours if they would like to share the wealth. Many community organizations welcome such contributions for their fall fund raising sales.

By Wes Porter - Thursday, October 26, 2017 - Full Story

Living in Trump Country USA

Living in Trump Country USA

For those of you who haven’t heard, Mary and I moved from Florida to a tiny town in West Virginia to be closer to our parents. We are experiencing wonderful culture shock. I am not a fan of the winding mountain roads. Supermarket and hardware stores are over 20 miles away. And yet, we unexpectedly love our new heavenly haven of Americana.

I am one of around 20 blacks in the population of 500. Everyone from the town hall to the bank, post office and country store knew we were the Marcuses who “bought the white house”.

By Lloyd Marcus - Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - Full Story

World Series preview: Dodgers look like a team for the ages

Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, World Series
There appear to be two versions of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The one you see most of the time is the one you’ve seen throughout the postseason. Determined. Resilient. Relentless. Confident. This is the team that will come to bat in the ninth inning down by three runs and appear to be under no stress whatsoever - because someone’s going to hit a grand slam. It happened so often this season, you almost came to expect it, and you were rarely disappointed.

The Dodgers’ pitching is so deep, especially since the trade that added Yu Darvish to the rotation, that a stellar pitcher like Kenta Maeda can’t crack the postseason rotation. No problem. Maeda has become one of the mainstays of the bullpen.

By Dan Calabrese - Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - Full Story

The Wisdom of a Third Grade Dropout Will Change Your Life

Make an Impact: Rick Rigsby delivers a powerful speech on how his father’s teachings have guided him through the most troubling times of his life. Are you Inspired? Order Dr. Rick Rigsby’s book, “Lessons from a third grade dropout” here


By News on the Net - Sunday, October 22, 2017 - Full Story

An Uncanonically Elected Pope?


With all the controversy that surrounded the election of Pope Francis upon the resignation of Pope Benedict in 2013, it seems that Catholics may have lost sight of a key element in this episode, namely, that Benedict XVI never resigned his papal office, but only the active exercise thereof.

On the eve of his resignation, he said: “Anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church… “The ‘always’ is also a “forever”—there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this.” (General Audience, February 27, 2013)

By David Martin - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - Full Story

An Apple a Day

If only it were as simple as “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Nutrition scientists are in fact constantly scrutinizing the health properties of foods, advises National Geographic‘s Catherine Zuckerman.

All well and good but apples are the world’s third favourite, pipped at the post by mangoes and bananas. And while June is Mango Month and March proclaimed Banana Month, October is not only National Apple Month in the U.S.A. but the 16th is International Eat an Apple Day followed by International Apple Day on 21st October.

By Wes Porter - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - Full Story

Their Just Deserts

French physicist Blaise Pascal once wrote, “This letter is long because I hadn’t the time to make it short.”

Even though Pascal’s comment seems contradictory, it isn’t, as demonstrated in great short stories that have withstood the test of time by delivering essential elements — time, place, setting, plot, and characters — in a minimum of words.

By Jimmy Reed - Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - Full Story

The making of medieval bling

Gold has long been valued for its luxurious glitter and hue, and threads of the gleaming metal have graced clothing and tapestries for centuries. Determining how artisans accomplished these adornments in the distant past can help scientists restore, preserve and date artifacts, but solutions to these puzzles have been elusive. Now scientists, reporting in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry, have revealed that medieval artisans used a gilding technology that has endured for centuries.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - Full Story

Key odorants in world’s most expensive beef could help explain its allure

Renowned for its soft texture and characteristic flavor, Wagyu beef — often referred to as Kobe beef in the U.S. — has become one of the world’s most sought-after meats. Now in a study appearing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report that they have detected several key odorants that contribute to the delicacy’s alluring aroma.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - Full Story

Ancient Roman theater uncovered next to Western Wall

Jewish historian Josephus Flavius told of a small Roman-era theater built in the vicinity of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. But no one had seen it for nearly two millennia. Archaeologists beginning with Charles William Wilson have been searching for that theater for 150 years to no avail.

By ISRAEL21c - Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - Full Story

Amoris Laetitia: Conscience Recognizes that we can Break the Commandments

Yes, yes, I know what the Bible says about adultery. But what does Francis say?

There has been much controversy in recent months over Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and its hot-button topic that adulterers can be admitted to Communion without a prior commitment to amend their life.

By use of ambiguous wording, Amoris Laetitia insidiously argues that because of “concrete circumstances” and “concrete realities” (being hardened in sin) which supposedly limit freedom of the will, people living in adultery through cohabitation or illicit marriage could be guiltless and even “be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” (Paragraph 305)

Dramatic moment dog being swept out to sea is rescued

This is the dramatic moment a dog being swept out to sea is rescued after it was spotted by a coastguard helicopter on a training flight.

Footage shows a cockapoo swimming desperately in the Moray Firth, north-east Scotland at 10.45am on Sunday.—More…

By News on the Net -- Daily Mail- Monday, October 16, 2017 - Full Story

Dog stays behind with family’s goats as California wildfire destroys property

A guard dog is on the mend Sunday after heroically protecting eight rescue goats and several small deer from the wildfires raging through California’s Sonoma County.

By Fox News - Sunday, October 15, 2017 - Full Story