Scarred fields ‘explode’ with wildflowers: Vast swaths of the California Wine Country landscape were torched by raging wildfires in October and then soaked with rain in early spring, creating the perfect conditions for a spectacular floral display. In recent weeks, flowers have bloomed in colorful profusion amid carpets of fresh green grass, bringing new life to the burn scars across Sonoma and Napa counties. READ MORE


The Smoggy State: Forget the Golden State. California should be called the Smoggy State. Eight of the USA’s 10 most-polluted cities, in terms of ozone pollution, are in California, according to the American Lung Association‘s annual “State of the Air” report, released Wednesday. The Los Angeles/Long Beach area took the dubious distinction of being the nation’s most ozone-polluted city as it has for nearly the entire 19-year history of the report. READ MORE


Tracking kids? Thousands of popular children’s apps available for download on Google Play may be violating child privacy laws, according to a new study, drawing more attention to big tech’s data-collection efforts. The study analyzed 5,855 of the most popular free children’s apps and found that a majority of them may be violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). According to the study, thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without a parent’s permission. READ MORE


Illegal booze kills at least 45: At least 45 people have died and dozens more are being treated in hospitals in Indonesia after drinking illegally produced alcohol. The death toll is likely to rise, with fatalities recorded in several provinces in recent days, police said. Spirits bought on the black market in the Muslim-majority country can contain lethal amounts of methanol. READ MORE

No charges for ICE agents: California’s Kern County prosecutors on Wednesday said they would not file charges against federal immigration agents involved in a crash that killed two farmworkers trying to flee from the agents. The two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, faced misdemeanor charges of giving false information to police after statements they made were contradicted by surveillance video. READ MORE


Dog food recalls: Carnivore Meat Co. has recalled two Vital Essentials raw dog food products because of possible Salmonella contamination. In addition to the Vital Essentials recall, TruDog LLC has advised its customers by email that it has withdrawn a single batch of its Boost Me product, also because of possible Salmonella contamination. READ MORE


Are these volcanoes going to erupt? A large number of earthquakes have been felt beneath volcanoes across the world, sparking fears of major eruptions. In Hawaii, for example,  a total of 18 earthquakes have been measured under Kilauea volcano during the last 18 hours. In Mexico the Cerro Prieto volcano is showing an increase in activity with a magnitude 2.4 earthquake measured. And in California, a swarm of earthquakes has been detected under the Clear Lake volcano. So are any volcanoes erupting and could there be a violent explosion? READ MORE


Shielding farmers from tariffs: To shield farmers from feeling the brunt of China’s tariff action, the Trump administration is considering direct payments through the Commodity Credit Corp., analysts say. In tit for tat action between President Trump and China’s President Xi on last week, President Trump announced that he is considering another $100 billion of additional tariffs against China. READ MORE

Ag Data Act would promote research sharing: The “Agriculture Data Act of 2018” was introduced in early March, sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD).  Supported by some 28 ag groups, the act’s purpose is to gather more information about how USDA-sponsored conservation practices impact profitability. In addition to gathering all the data together in a single data “warehouse,” the act will open data up for universities to use in their research, with restrictions on what kind of data can be published. Notably, individual producer results cannot be published—only the aggregated data. READ MORE