Garden centres struggle to source organic mulch and due to Covid lockdown supply chain issues

Garden centres struggle to source organic mulch and bark chippings due to Covid lockdown supply chain issues

  • Lockdown supply chain problems and increased demand caused shortage 
  • Mulch is applied in spaces between plants and around base of shrubs and trees
  • Autumn is favoured as the ground is warm, meaning more heat and moisture

It is the time of year when those with green fingers think about mulching their shrubs before temperatures plummet and the first frosts arrive.

But lockdown supply chain problems and increased demand have resulted in a shortage of organic mulch products and bark chippings, garden centres have said.

Mulch should be applied in the spaces between plants and around the base of shrubs and trees to strengthen the soil and protect the roots.

It is the time of year when those with green fingers think about mulching their shrubs before temperatures plummet and the first frosts arrive

It is the time of year when those with green fingers think about mulching their shrubs before temperatures plummet and the first frosts arrive

It can be used at any time of year but autumn is favoured as the ground is warm, meaning more heat and moisture can be trapped in the soil. 

Mulch also helps to reduce weeds and provide nutrients for plants.

Materials such as bark chippings, leaf mould, straw, well-rotted farmyard manure and crushed shells can be used to cover the soil. 

But the Garden Centre Association said there was a shortage of mulch and bark chippings, caused by a ‘knock-on effect’ of lockdown which affected the supply of raw materials across the compost sector.

Iain Wylie, chief executive of the GCA, said: ‘Where garden centres are able to source supplies, they are often finding that it is selling out very quickly after delivery.’

However, Vicky Nuttall, of the Garden Industry Manufacturer’s Association, said garden centres may have blips in their supply chains ‘but in general… mulch is out there’.

Materials such as bark chippings, leaf mould, straw, well-rotted farmyard manure and crushed shells can be used to cover the soil

Materials such as bark chippings, leaf mould, straw, well-rotted farmyard manure and crushed shells can be used to cover the soil

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White House to host ‘Fall Garden Tours’ this year, despite issues with health and safety

The White House is set to host “Fall Garden Tours” for lawmakers and the public this season to show off the newly renovated Rose Garden. 

The tours will be hosted Oct. 17 and Oct. 18, even after more than 20 staffers, journalists, allies of the administration and GOP lawmakers tested positive for coronavirus following contact with the White House. 

The tours are free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Visitors will be able to tour the South Lawn, First Ladies Garden, White House Kitchen Garden and Rose Garden.

Guest capacity is limited, and visitors are required to wear a face mask. Tickets will be offered to all congressional offices. 

President Trump and first lady Melania tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but White House physician Dr. Sean Conley announced the president will be able to return to public engagements this weekend. 

MCCONNELL HASN’T BEEN TO WHITE HOUSE SINCE EARLY AUGUST BECAUSE OF LAX COVID RULES 

“Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the president’s safe return to public engagements at that time,” he said. 

Other White House staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 at this point include senior adviser Hope Hicks and director of Oval Office operations Nick Luna. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien also tested positive.

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Former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced they tested positive this week, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helped Trump prep for the presidential debate, remains hospitalized from the virus. 

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Early’s Farm and Garden issues apology after post about Orange Shirt Day draws ire

A Saskatoon business is apologizing and will be providing its employees with sensitivity training after remarks made by its owner and his daughter criticizing Orange Shirt Day online were deemed insensitive and offensive. 

Andi Early, whose father Spencer Early is president of Early’s Farm and Garden in Saskatoon, criticized Orange Shirt Day in a Facebook post earlier this week. In the post, Early wrote about “Identity politics” entering into the classrooms of young children, citing Orange Shirt Day as an example.

“Children should not be political instruments and we completely disagree that orange shirt day has unanimously imposed on everyone,” she said in the post, which included a picture of an orange shirt, with the phrase “not for kids” written on top.  “The more we focus on the historical inequalities the more it will foster current inequalities. We don’t participate.”

Orange Shirt Day is an annual event designed to honour residential school survivors and their families, and to raise awareness about the the injustices and mistreatment Indigenous people suffered while they attended.

The day itself was inspired by the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who had a new orange shirt taken from her by residential school staff as a six-year-old girl, according to the Orange Shirt Day website.

Andi does not hold any position at Early’s Farm and Garden. However, in a response to the post, Spencer wrote, “What about the Jews, Irish, Ukrainian, Japanese, Chinese…etc,etc. Don’t ‘cherry pick’ the list. Discuss it all collectively as the human experience or not at all.”

Reaction was swift, with hundreds of comments expressing frustration and anger, and many people saying they’ll take their business elsewhere.

The business apologized for the post following the outcry, then later issued a second apology from Spencer Early from its Facebook page.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Spencer said he’s sorry for any pain the post and his response caused. 

He said upon reflection, he understands why it spurred such a strong reaction. 

“At the time, it was meant to be inclusive,” he said. “It was saying I’d like the education to be inclusive of all of these things that have happened to individuals and groups, and that was the intention of it, but it certainly didn’t work that way.” 

Early said the store will be closing early on Wednesday and that Cort Dogniez, a First Nation and Métis education consultant, will be speaking to staff about Canada’s residential school system. 

He said the opinion shared by her daughter and the remark he had made do not reflect the overall beliefs of Early’s Farm and Garden.

“Today is a day to listen,” he said in the apology.

He says the store has a good relationship with Indigenous people, including those who frequent the store from the Dakota Whitecap First Nation.

“We value them in the community. We value them as customers and if there was an interpretation of remarks that wasn’t what it was intended to be, we apologize for that, and we’ll be reaching out into

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Azerbaijani interior ministry issues statement on curfew across country

(MENAFN – Trend News Agency) BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept. 28

Trend:

Curfew has been announced throughout Azerbaijan from 00:00 (GMT+4) September 28, 2020, the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry told Trend .

The curfew will be imposed in Azerbaijan’s Baku, Ganja, Sumgayit, Yevlakh, Mingachevir, Naftalan cities, as well as in Absheron, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Aghjabadi, Beylagan, Aghdam, Barda, Tartar, Goranboy, Goygol, Dashkasan, Gadabay, Tovuz, Shamkir, Gazakh and Aghstafa districts from Sept. 28 from 21:00 (GMT+4) to 06:00 (GMT+4).

During curfew, individuals will be able to move in administrative-territorial units in which martial law is in effect only on the basis of an appropriate official certificate or a special permit obtained through www.icaze.e-gov.az .

“In this regard, we ask residents who live in cities and districts covered by the curfew or who enter or leave these settlements, to take into account the travel time to their destination and complete their visit, their affairs before the curfew begins, and not to leave the place of residence (location) during curfew without a special permission and an identity card,” said the statement.

The list of employees of the state structures, whose movement during the specified period is allowed on the basis of an official certificate, as well as the permitted spheres of activity, has been determined by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Interior Ministry also approved the procedure for issuing the special permits.

To prepare for the funeral of the deceased, in accordance with religious rites, close relatives can move freely after appealing the Interior Ministry via “102” or hot line (012 590-80-20).

The legal responsibility measures will be taken against violators of the martial law regime who do not comply with the legal requirements of police officers and military personnel involved in ensuring the curfew.

The resolution # 358 dated September 28, 2020 of the Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers has been approved.

The following employees of state structures (institutions) are allowed to move by showing an official identity card during the curfew:

– employees of the Azerbaijani presidential administration

– employees of the Administrative Department of the President of Azerbaijan

– employees of the Special Medical Service

– employees of the Office of the Cabinet of Ministers

– employees of the Administrative Department of the Cabinet of Ministers

– employees of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense

– employees of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry

– employees of the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office

– employees of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Justice

– court staff, lawyers

– employees of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations

– employees of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Health

– employees of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, as well as foreign diplomatic missions

– employees of the State Customs Committee

– employees of the Security Service of the President of Azerbaijan

– employees of the Azerbaijani State Security Service

– employees of the Azerbaijani Foreign Intelligence Service

– employees of the Special Communication and Information Security State Agency

– employees of the State Agency for the Protection of Strategic Facilities

– employees of the State Border Service

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White House pushes for pre-election SCOTUS vote, ‘Zoombie’ storm Paulette and CDC issues Halloween warnings

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump appears to have secured enough Senate support to push a vote on his Supreme Court nominee. “Zombie” storm Paulette has come back to life and Covid-19 claims another victim: Halloween.

Here’s what we’re watching this Wednesday morning.


White House gets behind idea of pushing Supreme Court nominee vote before the election

A consensus has formed within the West Wing to push for a vote on President Donald Trump’s coming Supreme Court nominee before the election, with aides and advisers saying they are increasingly optimistic that they will be able to pull off the speedy confirmation, three NBC News White House correspondents report.

Some outside advisers had initially argued that waiting to hold a vote until after Election Day could be the most politically advantageous strategy, said a person familiar with the thinking. Having the seat vacant could motivate conservatives to turn out for Trump to ensure that it got filled and save senators in tight races from having to make a controversial vote so close to the election.

But the momentum in the past 48 hours has swung toward getting a vote done as soon as possible, with those inside and outside the White House arguing that the quicker the process, the more likely they are to fill the seat, senior administration officials said.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, added to GOP confidence Tuesday when he threw his support behind Trump’s push to fill the seat vacated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quickly.

All eyes had been on Romney, often a Trump critic who voted to convict the president during the Senate impeachment trial earlier this year, as someone who could join Democrats to block the confirmation vote.

Trump even expressed appreciation toward his frequent foe during a rally in Pennsylvania Tuesday, saying: “Thank you, Mitt.”

To date, only two Republican senators have said it is too close to the presidential election to consider a court nomination, not enough to block it.

The president promised to “reveal” his nominee at the White House at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Meantime, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden punted on the hypothetical question of how Democrats should retaliate if Republicans manage to secure their nominee. Asked if he’d be open to expanding on the number of Supreme Court seats if given the opportunity, he demurred.

“It’s a legitimate question. But let me tell you why I’m not going to answer that question. Because it will shift the focus,” Biden said.

The former vice president also won an interesting endorsement Tuesday: Cindy McCain threw her support behind Biden in a stinging rebuke of Trump by the widow of the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee.

Trump has had a fraught relationship with members of John McCain’s family since he disparaged the Arizona senator during his 2016 campaign. But the McCains have stopped short of endorsing Trump’s rivals until now.

Cindy McCain’s backing could help Biden appeal to Republicans disaffected with Trump and give him a boost the crucial swing state

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Policing, criminal justice issues at the forefront in Dallas County race for Texas House

An already combative race for an eastern Dallas County statehouse seat grew even more contentious this week when Republican challenger Will Douglas questioned Democratic incumbent Rhetta Bowers’ support for local police.

“I’d like to push back on on the idea that Rep. Bowers supports local services,” Douglas said during an interview Monday with The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board. “I’m pretty sure Rep. Bowers chose not to sign Gov. [Greg] Abbott’s pledge to not defund the police. That brings me to another point of where representative Bowers and I differ. I’m a strong supporter of our law enforcement.”

“So am I,” Bowers cut in.

Douglas’ snipe came after Bowers fielded a question about her opposition to last year’s bill to cap a local government’s property tax revenue increase at 3.5%. Bowers said she opposed it because the city and county officials in her district told her it could harm their ability to fund public services like police, fire and emergency responders.

Bowers, who accused Douglas of being divisive, said he is distorting her record.

“My opponent has been very accusatory of me, not knowing me at all,” she fired back. “I am not about defunding the police. I fought hard for law enforcement when I was in the Legislature, and I took it as a great honor, and still do, to serve.”

Support for police has become a wedge issue since activists began calling for “defunding the police” after the death of George Floyd in May at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. The issue gained more attention as cities like Austin began reallocating resources away from policing and toward social services to address issues, like homelessness and mental illness, that police encounter on a regular basis.

Abbott, a Republican, seized on the political opportunity to create a ‘Back the Blue’ pledge and asked lawmakers and citizens to sign it to show their support. The GOP sees the issue as an easy way to peel off voters in competitive races like House District 113, where Bowers is facing her first re-election campaign. The district covers parts of Dallas, Balch Springs, Garland, Mesquite, Rowlett and Sunnyvale.

Douglas, who has a Black father and a white mother, said reducing funding for police would impact communities of color that are most impacted by violent crime. He said Bowers is trying to stay away from calling it a “defunding” but the end result is the same.

“If your boss tells you he’s going to reallocate your paycheck, I think you’re going to consider yourself defunded,” he said.

Bowers said she has pushed back against the moniker of “defunding the police” because it sends the wrong message. But Bowers, who is also Black, said Douglas is oversimplifying a complicated issue.

Police leaders in her district have told her they need help with homeless people. Because of that, Bowers filed a bill last session that required more training for officers on how to interact with homeless people. The bill did not pass.

After Floyd’s death,

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House labor committee subpoenas NLRB over conflict of interest questions on joint-employer issues

Committee chairman Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) said that the board’s ongoing refusal to provide the documents suggests that the board is covering up malfeasance, according to a letter from Scott to the panel to NLRB Chairman John Ring.

“[T]he continued refusal to give the Committee certain documents indicate that the NLRB has something to hide regarding decisions that are likely tainted by a defective process, such as the McDonald’s case and the joint employer rulemaking,” Scott wrote in the letter, sent earlier this month. “The Committee is left to conclude that the NLRB’s sole motivation for refusing to produce requested documents is to cover up misconduct.”

The NLRB says that though it has not given the documentation over, it has offered the committee the ability to review some of the documents in private.

“The Committee knows it is not entitled to the documents it is demanding,” Ring said in a statement. “This is a made-up controversy solely for political theater.”

A spokesman for the NLRB called the subpoena “unprecedented,” in a statement, adding the “disclosure of these pre-decisional documents would discourage agency employees from providing candid advice and undermine the internal deliberations of the Board.”

The Committee disagrees, saying that it is entitled to the information that is being shielded from it.

The documentation requested involves the issue of joint employer classification, which is an issue when there is more than one employer involved, such as when one of the employers is a franchise. Joint employer labor issues could have implications for millions of workers at large corporations like McDonald’s.

The NLRB, under President Barack Obama, focused on making it easier for workers to hold joint-employers accountable for their working conditions — such as workers who work for McDonald’s franchisees seeking redress from the McDonald’s Corp. But the Trump administration has worked to narrow these protections.

The first case the committee has sought more information on was a decision made by the NLRB in December to approve a settlement between McDonald’s franchisees and workers that absolved McDonald’s from direct responsibility over workers, as a joint employer — a legal win for the company.

William Emanuel, an appointee to the board by President Trump, was asked to recuse himself by the workers’ lawyers, because he worked for a law firm that had helped set up a hotline for McDonald’s franchise owners to call for legal advice about how to respond to some of the protests by workers, according to the committee and Bloomberg Law.

Emanuel participated in the McDonald’s decision — a violation of an executive order that prohibits appointees from participating in any matter that is “directly and substantially related” to former employers or former clients, said Josh Weisz, a spokesman for the House Education Committee.

The committee also wants more information on the NLRB’s decision to hire a contractor to sort and categorize public comments on the joint-employer rulemaking process.

The NLRB board disagrees that its members have been involved in any conflict of interests.

“There is

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State Police uncovered more trooper payroll issues last year. This time, they kept it in-house

When indictments were unfurled, his name was never mentioned. The state’s largest law enforcement agency never forwarded its investigation to prosecutors. The agency released it only last month, in response to a records request the Globe filed in December.

Lynch, who resigned as union president last year while facing union dissent, remains on the force today as a supervisor, relocated to a barracks that was at the center of the overtime fraud scandal. He collected $62,900 in overtime pay through August of this year, records show, significantly more than he earned in any year over the last decade.

Lynch’s case raises questions about how seriously the department handles pay abuse and how many other troopers may have escaped sanctions.

Dennis Galvin, a retired State Police major and president of the Massachusetts Association for Professional Law Enforcement, said prosecutors should examine the case.

“This continues to smear the image of the Massachusetts State Police,” he said. “It does not provide confidence that significant and meaningful changes have been made.”

In a statement, State Police spokesman David Procopio said the department never shared details with prosecutors because Lynch’s misconduct was “administrative in nature” and “relatively minor.” Procopio said Colonel Christopher Mason has since made changes to “foster a culture of accountability,” and the department “has reiterated to its members that such actions are not permissible under policy and implemented mandatory training.”

Procopio declined to say what discipline Lynch faced, but records reviewed by the Globe show he received a letter of counseling — the second-lowest form of discipline — ordering him to reread internal policies and not violate them again.

Governor Charlie Baker, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did public safety Secretary Thomas Turco.

Reached by phone, Lynch said: “I’m not going to comment on this.”

The internal investigation determined Lynch was paid more than the actual hours he worked, including for a shift along the 2017 Boston Marathon route. He also had overlapped work assignments and changed the start time of paid details without authorization, including detail shifts directing traffic for Sunday services at a Revere church.

The department also found he had “misrepresented his knowledge” to a superior officer when first questioned. The department told the Globe it ultimately did not consider this lying, a more serious charge.

While the investigation does not identify how much he earned improperly, a conservative estimate is at least $2,000 during the four months investigators examined.

By comparison, troopers criminally charged or suspended without pay in the overtime scandal were accused of fraudulently collecting from nearly $3,000 to more than $51,000 over three years.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Maura Healey declined to comment, but confirmed the office was never notified of Lynch’s case. US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office declined to comment.

Brenda J. Bond-Fortier, a law enforcement expert and Suffolk University professor, said Lynch’s case is likely to anger taxpayers.

“People want assurances that the organization is changing, and these kinds of cases work against them,” she said.

This is

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House panel chairman issues subpoena to compel acting DHS secretary to testify

Thompson said that although DHS committed to Wolf testifying Sept. 17, he “reneged on the commitment on September 8,” forcing him to issue a subpoena.

“Nineteen years after the attacks of 9/11, we continue to face grave threats to the homeland. From the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of right-wing extremism to ongoing election interference, there are urgent threats requiring our attention,” Thompson said. “Mr. Wolf’s refusal to testify — thereby evading congressional oversight at this critical time — is especially troubling given the serious matters facing the department and the nation.”

In a Sept. 8 letter to Thompson, the department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Beth Spivey, said Wolf’s appearance before the committee would be inappropriate as officials formally nominated typically do not testify to Congress before they have been confirmed by the Senate.

Wolf was installed to run the department about 10 months ago on an interim basis, a move that a government watchdog has called unlawful. Trump formally nominated Wolf Thursday.

Spivey said Ken Cuccinelli, who is filling the role of deputy secretary, could testify in place of Wolf.

The department had no immediate comment Friday about the subpoena.

The hearing will be held days after a senior department official alleged that he was told to stop providing intelligence reports on the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election, in part because it “made the President look bad,” an instruction he believed would jeopardize national security.

The official, Brian Murphy, who until recently was in charge of intelligence and analysis at DHS, said in a whistleblower complaint that on two occasions he was told to stand down on reporting about the Russian threat and alleged that senior officials told him to modify other intelligence reports, including about white supremacists, to bring them in line with Trump’s public comments, directions he said he refused.

On July 8, Murphy said in the complaint, Wolf told him that an “intelligence notification” regarding Russian disinformation efforts should be “held” because it was unflattering to Trump, who has long derided the Kremlin’s interference as a “hoax” that was concocted by his opponents to delegitimize his victory in 2016.

Shane Harris contributed to this report.

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IHC issues stay order on Interior Ministry’s decision

Cynthia Ritchie had challenged interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days in the IHC on Saturday. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued a stay order on US national Cynthia D Ritchie’s plea against the Interior Ministry’s decision to turn down a visa extension for the blogger.

Ritchie had petitioned the IHC on Saturday, challenging the interior ministry’s decision to deny her an extension and ordering her to leave the country within 15 days.

In the petition, the US national has nominated the interior secretary, deputy secretary and the director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as respondents to the case.

She has argued that she fulfilled all legal obligations required of her in her visa application to ensure her continued stay in Pakistan, yet was turned down without explanation.

After hearing her arguments, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stopped the Interior Ministry from deporting Ritchie and issued notices to the home ministry, the DG FIA and others.

The court also ordered the blogger to submit an affidavit detailing her allegations in the document.

“Visas of Pakistanis are denied every day and no reason is provided,” Justice Minallah remarked. He assured that the petitioner gets complete justice in the case.

The ministry, in an earlier response to the IHC, had stated that the American citizen’s visa had been extended twice during 2018-19 against the law.

It had mentioned that the blogger had applied for an extension in her work visa twice, but was instead given a business visa by the authority against the visa policy even though her company was not registered in Pakistan.

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