They prayed for an end to the drought: In 1861, as a California drought was wearing into its fifth year, farmers on the West Coast were all asking for one thing for Christmas: Rain. And boy did they get it. For 43 days rain and snow fell across the state, causing rivers to surge their banks, turning the 300-mile long, 20-mile-wide Central Valley into an ice-cold inland sea. Los Angeles got 66 inches. The state was forced into bankruptcy, and thousands of people died. Soil cores and climate models tell scientists that megafloods like this one have happened about once every 200 years. Which, if you’re doing the math, means the state is due. READ MORE


Restaurant horror: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday. READ MORE


Ice pops recalled: The Ziegenfelder Co. of Wheeling, WV, is recalling about 3,000 cases of ice pops and has temporarily closed a production plant after state inspectors found Listeria monocytogenes in the company’s Denver facility. According to the recall notice posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website, Ziegenfelder distributed the Popsicle-style frozen treats to retail grocers and distributors in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. READ MORE

Cargill funds poultry health lab: Cargill has donated $150,000 to build a state-of-the-art poultry health lab, focused on antibiotic alternatives, at the University of Arkansas, according to a news release from the school. The 4,200-square-foot facility will be located on the university’s Division of Agriculture farm north of the Fayetteville campus. READ MORE

When grocery store salad bars were targeted: Brad Deacon from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, will be a featured speaker at the upcoming Food Defense Conference sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Food Protection and Defense Institute from May 22-24 in Minneapolis. He will talk about an incident that occurred in late April 2016, when an alert employee in a southeast Michigan grocery store noticed a customer spraying a substance on ready-to-eat food items. Read more here in the Food Defense blog about the incident and Michigan’s response. REGISTER


The changing dairy industry: As producers continue to fight low milk prices, the nationwide dairy landscape continues to change as milk production shifts from smaller to medium sized farms to very large farms. “I recently attended the DFA annual meeting [where they explained] the first 25 percent of their milk comes from about 115 operations and the last 25 percent comes from 7,800,” said Scott Brown, an economist at the University of Missouri. “That’s a very different landscape for them as well.” READ MORE


The future of meat production? Achieving significant increases in meat production will require “continued applications of new and emerging technologies, according to an article on the Ag Professional website. Five trends worth watching: Sensors, robotics and drones, 3-D printing, human-animal bonding, and big data and the cloud. READ MORE


SunTrust customer records stolen: Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks has signed up all of its customers to identity protection services following the suspected theft of up to 1.5 million records by a former employee. SunTrust, which deals with international investment, mortgage, asset management, securities brokerage, and capital market services, among others, said that the potential theft of customer data was exposed through information relating to their contact lists. It is believed that up to 1.5 million customers may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, and “certain account balances” stolen. READ MORE


The problem with regulating drones: As unmanned aerial vehicles – or drones – multiply in number, more Colorado communities are putting in place regulations to control how and where the devices are used. But crafting those rules is not easy, as cities and towns strive to balance public safety and privacy with a burgeoning consumer industry that one market research firm estimates could be worth more than $9 billion by 2024. READ MORE

Toronto driver/killer charged with murder: The first of the 10 people mowed down Monday in Toronto by a crazed driver was identified on Tuesday morning as a young woman who worked in investment management and was standing near her office when the rampage began. Alek Minassian, 25, the driver in the van attack, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder in a brief court appearance Tuesday. READ MORE

‘Fire kites’ pose new threat: Gaza protesters against Israel have a new tactic. On Monday, they sent four kites affixed with flaming materials over the Israeli border, setting fire to wide swathes of a wheat field in southern Israel as Palestinians vowed to use the new tactic to try and cause “panic and attrition among the enemy.” Al-Jazeera reported Wednesday that the self-styled “Sons of Zouari” group in the Gaza Strip announced it was responsible for the flaming kites. The group said it would burn the Israeli fields because this would deny Israelis the right to work the land they viewed as theirs, according to a clip translated and uploaded by the Middle East Media Research Institute on Monday. READ MORE