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Destructive ‘super-termites’ discovered in Israel for the first time – The Jerusalem Post

Posted: September 23, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Formosan "super-termites," known as the most damaging termites in the world, were identified in Israel for the first time on Wednesday. The termites were discovered in Petah Tikva by termite expert Tomer Low, who reported the finding to the Environmental Protection Ministrys Pest-Control and Pesticides department. Termites are known for their ability to cause extensive damage that can result in high costs for extermination and repairs. More than a billion dollars in damage is caused by termites each year in the USA alone, according to NPR.Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said that invasive species present a serious threat to public health, the environment and the economy. Termites especially may cause great damage to property and infrastructure. She went on to say that as climate change worsens there will be an increase in the amount of invasive species in Israel.The Ministry has set up a termite task force to work on finding an extermination method and to advise local authorities and exterminators. The task force includes representatives from the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, alongside exterminations experts and academics.The Formosan termite is known as the termite that is able to eat more and reproduce faster than any other termite. The Formosan termite is the most damaging in the world, said Dr. Gilad Ben Tzvi, from the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History. Ben Tzvi went on to describe how the termite hurts living and dead wood and often goes unidentified for long periods of time, until wood floors collapse or holes appear in plaster walls. It destroys railroad tracks, telephone polesand underground electricity lines causing power outages. cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: '36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b' }).render('4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6'); });"Climate change facilitates the spread and establishment of invasive species and invasive species are a global threat to food security and livelihood, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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ServiceMaster and Terminix Give Back with Virtual We Care Week 2020 –

Posted: at 4:55 pm

By: ServiceMaster | 0Shares 42Reads

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - (BUSINESS WIRE) - September 22, 2020 - This week, thousands of employees from ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SERV), a leading provider of essential services to residential and commercial customers, will volunteer their time and energy to support community organizations across the United States as part of We Care Week 2020.

This will be the seventh year ServiceMaster and its subsidiary brands have celebrated the annual signature event, but this effort will look different from past years, as the company adapts the initiative to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, ServiceMaster employees celebrated We Care Day as one day of service in local communities across the country. However, this year, ServiceMaster will dedicate an entire week to celebrate service giving more employees the opportunity to contribute to causes with personal importance, in ways that are personally important.

ServiceMaster and Terminix both have long histories of giving back to the communities where we live and work, said Brett Ponton, chief executive officer of ServiceMaster. Despite the challenges we are facing from the pandemic, we found a way to include our teammates from around the country. Its our people who are so passionate about giving back and dedicated to helping and supporting those in their neighborhoods.

Employees will have the opportunity to participate in the week virtually through a program called Caring Steps. For every step that employees walk, which will be tracked via a mobile app, ServiceMaster will donate money to 20 charitable organizations. This program will allow employees to give back while serving customers, working virtually and social distancing and getting some great exercise in the process.

Other ways employees will be able to contribute are by volunteering on their own, being part of a Make-a-Wish reveal or providing a personal donation. Employees making donations are encouraged to donate directly to the organizations involved and all will be able to witness the Make-a-Wish reveal live via a virtual video.

From its inception, our We Care event has held a special place in our employees' hearts and minds. It has served to help connect our teammates in the communities where they live and work with organizations supporting those communities across the country, said Velvet Graham, senior director of Events, Community Relations and Culture & Inclusion at ServiceMaster. Now, more than ever, we must continue that legacy of community and inclusion of organizations that not only our employees are passionate about, but that help to further the advancement of issues of poverty, hunger, mental wellness, social injustice, homelessness, and education."

Among the national organizations are Habitat for Humanity, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Color of Change. Employees will also be partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant a childs wish. Among the local community partners benefiting from We Care Week are LeBonheur Childrens Hospital, the Mid-South Food Bank, and the National Civil Rights Museum.

The entire list of partners for We Care Week 2020 includes:



Terminix is a leading provider of residential and commercial pest control. Headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, Terminix services approximately 2.8 million customers in 24 countries and territories. Terminix provides pest control services and protection against termites, mosquitoes, rodents and other pests. Terminix is a business unit of ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SERV), a leading provider of essential residential and commercial services. To learn more about Terminix, visit the Terminix website.

ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SERV) is a leading provider of termite and pest control, cleaning and restoration services in both the residential and commercial markets, operating through an extensive service network of more than 8,000 Company-owned locations and franchise and license agreements. The Companys portfolio of well-recognized brands includes AmeriSpec (home inspections), Copesan (commercial national accounts pest management), Furniture Medic (cabinet and furniture repair), Merry Maids (residential cleaning), Nomor (European pest management), ServiceMaster Clean (commercial cleaning), ServiceMaster Restore (restoration and reconstruction), Terminix (termite and pest control) and Terminix Commercial (commercial termite and pest control). The Company is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn. Go to the ServiceMaster website for more information about ServiceMaster or follow the Company at Twitter or Facebook.

SOURCE ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc.


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Professional Pest Control Market by Technology, Solutions, Application, Price, Demand Analysis and Growth Opportunities to 2025 – Express Journal

Posted: at 4:55 pm

Global Covid-19 Impact on Professional Pest Control market study presents an in-depth scenario Which is segmented according to manufacturers, product type, applications, and areas. This segmentation will provide deep-dive analysis of the Covid-19 Impact on Professional Pest Control industry for identifying the growth opportunities, development trends and factors limiting the growth of the market. This report offers forecast market information based on previous and current Covid-19 Impact on Professional Pest Control industry scenarios and growth facets.

The latest report on the Professional Pest Control market entails latest industry data and projections backed by historical statistics and growth opportunities over the study period. In addition, the report comments on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on this business sphere.

The report studies in complete details the multiple segmentations, inclusive of the product terrain, application spectrum, and regional territories. Key trends that will influence growth of each segment in the forthcoming years are factored in the report to impart a deeper understanding. Apart from this, a pool of leading players is assessed in the study to decipher the competitive dynamics of this industry vertical.

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Main highlights from the Professional Pest Control market report:

Geographical landscape of the Professional Pest Control market:

Professional Pest Control market segmentation: Americas, APAC, Europe, Middle East & Africa.

A gist of the regional analysis:

Product types and application spectrum of the Professional Pest Control market:

Product landscape:

Types: Rodent Control, Bed Bug Control, Termite Control, Cockroach Control, Others, By type and termite control is estimated to account over 24% of revenue share in 2019

Main highlights listed in the report:

Application spectrum:

Application scope: Commercial, Residential, Others and Commercial application holds an important share in terms of applications with a revenue share of 65.60% in 2019

Specifics mentioned in the document:

Competitive outlook of the Professional Pest Control market:

Companies profiled in the study: Rentokil, Bharat Group, AVON Pest Control, Godrej, Pest O Stop, Hicare, Bayer, SIS Group, BASF, DOWS, Master Industries, Reckitt Benckiser, SC Johnson and Kalyani Industries

Key pointers from the report:

The Professional Pest Control Market Report Addresses the Following Queries:

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Professional Pest Control Market by Technology, Solutions, Application, Price, Demand Analysis and Growth Opportunities to 2025 - Express Journal

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How to Stop the Spotted Lanternfly | Science – Smithsonian Magazine

Posted: September 22, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Every day the nurseryman rises and prays and walks the rows of his trees. Redbud and sweetgum, chokecherry and crabapple, hornbeam and plum. Maple. Weeping willow. Poplar. Acer rubrum. Salix alba Tristis. Liriodendron tulipifera. Armstrong. Niobe. Little Volunteer. The names are an incantation. Here in the rows its peaceful, just enough shade to ease the heat. Theres birdsong and the breeze in the leaves and you can hear your footsteps one to the next to the next. Theres a creek down in the bottoms and the place smells of flowers and sweet water and clean earth. If you look straight up you see the blue sky. You feel the world fall away. It is a pretty place.

But Don Eaton is in trouble. Real trouble. Eaton Farms is surrounded.

Don Eaton is a big man, a tall man, wide and high as a doorway. Late 50s, sandy hair going gray, big handshake. Smart.

Big ideas. Big faith. Been a grower a long time. A born farmer. The footer on his emails nods to the Bible, the Book of Luke, Keep your hand on the plow.

He started this place with his father. Now he works the farm and the business with his wife, Kathy, and their six children, all of whom live near enough that the 16 grandchildren are around too, helping in the potting shed and whooping and chasing each other through the rows.

Our average production schedule today is probably at 48 months, he says. That means I have to plant four crops before I get to sell the first one. So trees are capital intensive. Its a high-risk crop because there are threats. But the profit margin is there.

Over my 35 years, Ive watched the industry go from independent garden centers, who were and are still my customer base, to where 85 percent of the market is now with mass retailers. Eaton Farms does not sell to the big chains.

In 2010, after the recession, Don saw a business opportunity. He used to grow what he describes as A to Zshrubs to perennials and trees. That year, he explains, I went 100 percent trees and topiary as a strategic long-term move, which were enjoying today. He also started Bower & Branch, the family e-commerce enterprise. I told my kids, all six, that are actually the owners now, that they shouldnt plant another tree unless they had a direct connection to retail customers. His daughter Laurel now manages Bower & Branch.

This is over in Leesport, Pennsylvania. Southwest end of the Lehigh Valley, just up from Reading. Not far from Philadelphia. Berks County. Ground zero.

* * *

They found the first spotted lanternfly on September 22, 2014. Found it in Berks County. Just a few miles from Eaton Farms.

Its a day you dont forget. Dana Rhodes is the state plant regulatory official for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Our entomology team received a phone call from an employee with our game commission. They had heard us advise, If you see something unusual, give us a call. They noticed a smell and a lot of insects around some tree of heaven. Three of our team went out there and found spotted lanternfly.

Spotted lanternfly: Lycorma delicatula, ruinous and beautiful, the size of your thumb and a destroyer of worlds. Spotted wings, often a silvery blue-gray, a sort of iridescent gunmetal, with a bright red-orange flamenco petticoat beneath. In every stage from nymph to adulthood, this is a stunning bug. Below-average fliers, but decent gliders and hoppers.

To feed, they unfurl their mouth parts and penetrate the phloem, or vascular tissue, of the tree or vine. They drain nutrients from the plant, and excrete sugar water. This they can do by the thousands or tens of thousands. Lanternfly feed most successfully on another invasive from Asia: Ailanthus altissima.

Tree of heaven.

Even in tony suburbs like Lower Merion, outside Philadelphia, the bug covers the trees. Stand at the foot of a mature maple when lanternfly are feeding and youll be showered in honeydew, the sugar poop that destroys the forest floor, the understory, with reeking sooty mold stinking of vinegar and molasses. Lanternfly can kill a tree outright, or stress it to the point where it dies over time. Same for hops and grapevines and fruit trees. Billion-dollar cash crops. Like locusts or the European gypsy moth, spotted lanternfly is a genuine threat.

Since its introduction to the United States in 1869 as part of a scheme to increase silk production here, the gypsy moth has defoliated tens of millions of acres of American forest. In 1989 alone, it stripped bare over 12 million acres in the Northeast. And while most hardwood trees bounce back even after a major infestation, many are weakened, made susceptible to disease, and eventually die.

From destruction caused by foliage feeders like the gypsy moth to tunneling insects like the emerald ash borer, losses to cash-crop forests already run in excess of $2 billion a year in the United States. Costs to residential landscaping and property values are also climbing.

In fact, the spread of pests and pathogens damaging plant life could cost global agriculture $540 billion a year. U.S. farm output alone is a more than $300 billion-a-year business. Whether youre talking about the Asian longhorned beetle or the diamondback moth or more than a thousand species of termite, the cost and effort to mitigate and repair the damage they cause is astronomical and constant.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture pest management budget is north of one billion a year, some of which goes to the USDA Integrated Pest Management Program, which encompasses research universities, extension services and county agents. Theres a worldwide battle being fought in silence from one end of the planet to the other. Make no mistake, this is war.

Gypsy moths blanket New England. Khapra beetle, a grain eater as devastating as any in history, is being seen more and more in warm weather climates from Arizona and New Mexico to Oklahoma and Texas. Spotted lanternfly is so far found mostly in a relatively narrow band concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic.

From the moment it hatches, the spotted lanternfly feeds on a vast range of plantsand has no natural predator in the U.S. Teddy Brokaw

And heres just a partial list of trees spotted lanternfly might feed upon: almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, maple, oak, pine, nectarines, peaches, plums, poplar, sycamore, walnut, willow, and on and on and on. More than 70 possible food sources have been identified so far, and we still dont know everything on the lanternfly menu. But we know some of the la carte prices:

Applesin 2018 the United States produced 10.2 billion pounds of apples, making the crop a $2.9 billion a year business.

Hops$600 million a year.

Grapesvalued at a whopping $6 billion annually.

Lanternfly? Theyll lay waste to a whole sector of your economy, then lay eggs in your Christmas tree. The Original Gangster. Read across the warnings and alerts from Georgia to Tennessee to Wisconsin and the news is the same: Be Vigilant. We dont know enough about the bug, but what we do know is chilling. For ag-based businesses not only in Pennsylvania, but in every corner of America, lanternfly is a detective thriller and a horror movie. A stranger in the darkness.

* * *

Maybe they got here on a load of decorative stone from China. Thats the story you hear, but no one knows for sure. They invaded South Korea a few years ago. Entomologists are in the woods right now trying to learn how to fight a pest we know too little about. Researching defenses like circle traps and sticky bands, which are exactly what they sound like; working on the life cycle of the bug and how it moves from one food source to another as it ages; studying lures and bait trees that might draw lanternfly off the grapevines and out of the orchards; looking for the natural enemies preying on lanternfly. Of which there are too few in North America. Theres a promising fungus that makes a zombie of lanternfly, takes over its brain, tells it to climb to the top of a tree, then binds it there to send out the fungus own spores. But it needs to be studied. Im out there every week talking to growers, says Heather Leach, an entomologist at Penn State. Inevitably somebody asks, Whats new? Is there anything else I can spray? What have you figured out? Theyre really stuck between a rock and a hard place right now.

Homeowners, she says, are a different story. The lanternfly poses a major threat to everyones backyard trees and gardens. Getting sugary poop dropped down on their cars. Getting insects crawling into their house if theyre on the back patio door. These are the first ominous signs. So Leach and her colleagues have set up a lanternfly call center.

No one is sure how many lanternflies there are in Pennsylvania right now. Or where they are. A billion or more. You can kill them with pesticides. But you have to find them first.

Leach spends hundreds of hours on the road going from grower to grower and test site to test site. In between, she delivers educational talks to the public. Awareness is a weapon, the first line of defense. She works with Julie Urban, whose office and lab are back at Penn State. Julie is an associate research professor in the department of entomology, specializing in planthoppers.

How much more does Urban know about the bug than she did five years ago?

A lot, she says. As nymphs theyll spread out and eat really anything, has to be tender, herbaceous. She also knows that as fourth instarsthe red stagethey tend to move on to woodier things. Black walnut. Tree of heaven. If those favored targets are not around, theyll continue on to something else.

It was 2017, Urban recalls, when she first observed how big the population was. We kept seeing things that would just make your stomach dropit was that much worse than we thought. She and her graduate students recorded the mass attacks on video. In one vineyard they had been monitoring, lanternfly had been hanging out in the grapes. Wed been working in that vineyard for the past two years, and theres apple in that same orchard and they never were on the apple, ever. Thats when they started flying around, and people reported swarming behavior: Theyre flying into the Walmart. Grad student Erica Smyers called Urban. Theyre on the apple, Smyers reported. Theyre hitting my car. Urban drove to the scene. Theyre covering the apple trees, feeding as they go, Urban remembers.

Urban oversees a lab wheres shes trying to grow enough lanternfly to study. Because of the insects relatively slow reproductive cycle, and the difficulty of keeping them fed, even breeding for experimentation has proved difficult. Shes part of what has become a humming nationwide network of entomologists and departments of agriculture, universities and state resource management offices, lumber operations and hops growers, vineyards and vintners, nurseries and tree services, orchardists, foresters, gardeners and farmers.

In its way, this is the lanternfly Manhattan Project.

* * *

Alex J. Rowland runs Penn States Lanternfly Call Center. Ten operators sit in carrels taking incoming reports from citizens around the state. Average day? Right now were at 50 calls, and its 11:30, Rowland says. Thats pretty average. We do have crazier days. Six people on the line, with three, four backed up in the queue. Thats a heavy day.

How many calls a week?

Roughly a thousand a week. Fluctuates anywhere from 500. We had 1,400 one week.

The calls range from the short and sweet, people who already know that they have lanternfly, and want to report updates so the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture gets current information. Three, maybe four minutes. For people who have never seen them before, longer calls. Wanting to know what the best pesticides are, what damage the insects might to do to the house, what crops are at risk, what this could mean for property values.

Martin Kubek grows grapes on a hillside in Lower Milford, Pennsylvania, 175 miles to the east. Hobby operation, maybe an acre and a half. Picturesque. Tidy. Kubek has done a crazy thing. He has invited Penn State to put lanternfly on some of his vines. Somebodys got to do something, he says. Here we have an invasive species that could destroy all grapes in the Eastern U.S. And what are we doing about it? Kubek decided to offer his grapessome riesling that Im not crazy aboutas a test plot.

So in the neat rows of leafing plants, more than a dozen mesh enclosures hold different numbers of lanternfly on individual grapevines. Forty here, 200 there. This to find out how many insects it takes to damage a plantor destroy it. At the base of each plant, a sensitive electronic dendrometer has been installed to measure the bugs destructive drain on the interior pressure of the plant. Healthy plants not only draw moisture and nutrition up from the soil, but send nutrients down to their own roots across the growing season. Lanternfly interrupt this cycle, as they do in trees, by tapping into the plants plumbing. This can kill a plant outright, or leave it so stressed and wounded that it can no longer produce fruit. To replace a grapevine means a grower might have to wait five extra years before the new vine makes cash-quality wine or three years for table grapes. Every dead plant may represent a half-decade loss to the bottom line.

While visiting Kubek one day, Leach was asked by a local newspaper to characterize grape growers lanternfly concerns. Theyre extremely terrified, she says.

* * *

Forests blanket the green hills of the Lehigh Valley, crosshatched by a patchwork of vineyards and wineries. Talk to John Landis, gray-haired and serious over at Vynecrest, who lost many productive plants to lanternfly last year and expects to lose more this year. They come out of the tree line in clouds and settle on his grapevines until the black mold is thick on the ground-and it gets worse as the humidity rises. Or Rich Blair up at Setter Ridge Vineyards, where the bugs are so dense they drive the customers off the patio. Theyre sucking the life out of my vines, he says, looking you straight in the eye. You hear that phrase again and again. Sucking the life out of the vines. Over the hill, Calvin Beekman lost something like 40 acres of grapes, and people talk about him now in whispers.

Lanternfly is a threat to every ag business in Pennsylvania. Laurel Eaton Keppley knows this all too well.

At first, she says, the family put in place a labor-intensive inspection and treatment process. We had to touch every tree multiple times. We had a checklist system, the orders were getting pulled and we would inspect for lanternfly and remove them. We would bring the trees to a staging area and do a spray on the order. Then we wouldnt touch the order for 24 hours. And then we would inspect it, I think two more times after that, to make sure we werent sending anything out.

Then the deluge. All of a sudden, she recalls, were seeing bugs fall out the sky and hitting the windows and collecting on door frames, and on the maple trees.

The Eatons devised a lanternfly protocol guide they have shared with other nurseries. They offer field-tested adviceThis is what worked for us. This rotating schedule of pesticides, Keppley explains. For several years now, the Eatons have avoided a toxic optionneonicotinoids, a more effective class of pesticide, but environmentally damaging. Kills the bees and everything, she says.

The grape industry, she acknowledges, has it even worse. I read stories of them losing entire crops. We can spray 24 hours before we put a tree shipment on a truck. On the grapes, its a bigger window that they have to stop spraying before they harvest.

Even so, fending off the lanternfly has taken its toll, Keppley says. It has been stressful. Theres this constant threat of states shutting us down by not allowing us to ship into their state, which they can do. We cannot let a live or a dead spotted lanternfly get through. Its very disheartening. And exhausting. We have to stop our lives and just make up whole new protocols, spray schedules, pest management schedules, and more paperwork and record keeping. We have to keep records for trees that are inspected, I think for three years. Its just making business a lot more difficult. It makes you pause and say, Is this worth the fight anymore? Or should we just give up and walk away?

Don Eaton insists that the family can beat the lanternfly invasion. My dad is an eternal optimist, Keppley says. He sees opportunity everywhere. Were going to push through, make up a protocol, empower other nurseries to be ready to deal with this.

Theres more at stake for Don Eaton than money. Not only profit and loss, but stewardship. A renewal of balance and restoration of a natural order. Hes partnered the farm with the Audubon Society to restore native trees to the landscape and with them, native birds. My job may be to make people aware that we may be out of balanceand we are part of the balance.

Still, he admits, costs are mounting as he fights the lanternfly. I estimate last year maybe $150,000 of real costs put to the pest. Last year I lost maybe half a million dollars to customers who were afraid to buy from us because of our location.

Eaton was already beginning to think the unthinkableclosing the family nursery business. Then Covid-19 struck. Our customer baseindependent garden centersare located in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, he says. All of them, at the center of Covid, had to close down. We lost 30 percent of our prebookings. New business coming in from March, April and May, 10 percent of normal.

* * *

The Lehigh Valley is a transit hub for the entire Eastern Seaboard, a tangle of interstates leading to other interstates that carry freight from Maine to the Carolinas. Stand in a hillside vineyard anywhere on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, look down and youll see mile after mile of warehouses and fulfillment centers, transshipment yards and truck lots.

As this article goes to press, spotted lanternfly infestations have been found in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Internal quarantines have been instituted in most affected areas. The wall goes up.

But theres tree of heaven along almost every highway and railway in America; the lanternfly egg mass can be cemented to anything; and the living bug can hitch a ride on everything moving. Trucks, trains, ships, cars. Airplanes.

Ethan Angell is field operations manager for the division of plant industry at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. In 2018, Angell and his colleagues partnered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop a response plan, to prepare New York if and when spotted lanternfly arrives. One of the things that we learned from Pennsylvania is that the public was very good at recognizing spotted lanternfly, he says. New York also instituted checkpoints for trucks coming into the state from areas where lanternfly has been documented. That gave us an additional tool to try and prevent spotted lanternfly from entry.

Amy Stone is an agriculture and natural resources extension educator with Ohio State University. Shes up in Toledo, and has been working with the group fighting the emerald ash borer invasion in Ohio since 2002. Shes getting ready.

We have a Great Lakes early-detection app that we have been promoting for people to report invasive species, she says. Now were trying to really ramp that up. They are asking people to report locations of tree of heaven. Those data points will become sites that researchers will scout and monitor. Any citizen in Ohio can participate, where they adopt an Ailanthus and weekly go out and visit that tree, looking for signs and symptoms of the spotted lanternfly.

Do you have confirmed lanternfly in Ohio yet?

We do not.

In Michigan, Robert Miller is with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, specializing in invasive species prevention and response. To date, Miller says, we have no evidence of spotted lanternfly in Michigan. One of his biggest concerns is grape growers. They would be the hardest hit. And in Michigan we have both juice and wine grapes.

Miller worries, too, about everyone else. For the general public, this is going to be a nuisance pest. Feeding on street trees, trees near their homes, trees in their parks, maybe other vegetation in the yard. Spotted lanternfly can feed on many things, from roses all the way to black walnut and everything in the middle.

And, on top of everything else, he says, theres the sheer unpredictability that could accompany an outbreak. Were not really sure how spotted lanternfly is going to act in the state of Michigan, he says. Were a little bit farther north, we have less tree of heaven, our climates a little different. What impact are the lakes going to have, or our landscape, or our different species? We just dont know.

Michigan, Miller says, has assembled a spotted lanternfly response group, consisting of staff from his agency, along with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the USDA and entomologists from Michigan State University.

Were working to develop the playbook, he says. Whos on the strike teams, whos on the survey teams, how will we communicate with each other? Those sorts of things.

Grapes. Hops. Lumber. Apples. Stone fruit. Entire agricultural sectors at risk.

* * *

The nightmare scenario, of course, is that the bug would start to show up in California, the $50 billion-a-year engine of American agriculture, and one of the worlds greatest wineries. Thats the last 15 minutes of the horror movie. How it turns out is up to us. Because for a gifted hitchhiker like lanternfly, the question is not really if but when.

Nick Condos is division director of the plant health and pest prevention services division in the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

I dont know if youve ever driven into California, but we have border protection stations. Were screening passenger vehicles and commercial shipments, he says. The spotted lanternfly has been on our radar for several years now. Fortunately, its also in a part of the country where the gypsy moth is endemic. There is a national policy in place to prevent the movement of gypsy moth. Spotted lanternfly lays its eggs on very similar things that the gypsy moth will lay its eggs on. We already had some built-in protection because of the existing gypsy moth quarantine. Thats been very beneficial.

What that amounts to is a pretty good approach for keeping the lanternfly out. No other state can do that, Condos says. Were unique in that regard. We have a pest-prevention system in place designed to protect us from pests that we dont even know are pests yet, and pests that we know are pests.

Hes well aware, too, that California faces a dual entry challenge. If the front door is our international ports, and the back door is our land borders with other states, it can still come in through the front door, because its endemic to Asia. Obviously, were the gateway to trade with Asia. I worry that it could come from Asia, or that its already here, just unbeknownst to us.

At the University of California, Riverside, Mark Hoddle, extension specialist in biological control, is researching bio-interventions to deploy against lanternfly. We are beginning a biological control program targeting spotted lanternfly in advance of anticipated arrival in California. This hasnt been done before: We are taking a proactive approach to a threat.

UC Riverside is collaborating with the USDA Beneficial Insects Research Introduction Unit in Newark, Delaware. Scientists there, Hoddle says, traveled to the native range of spotted lanternfly, which is China. And in China they have found a parasitoid that attacks the eggs of the spotted lanternfly. Researchers including Hoddle are evaluating the parasitoid for possible release in California. Even though these parasitoids are classified as wasps, he says, they fall under a generic term that encompasses a lot of Hymenoptera. They are so tiny, you would probably never see them. They would never sting people and wont chase your household pets around. They present no threat to children either.

Given the state, local and national apparatus and organizations already in place, Californias Nick Condos is cautiously upbeat. I am fundamentally optimistic for the long term, but slightly pessimistic in the short term. At the moment, even as researchers are working flat out to understand and counteract the threat, simple lures and traps remain the available first lines of defense. Without the ability to find a bug, you have no ability to eradicate it, he says. Im not talking about Covid-19, but its the same issue. If you dont have a test or a lure, you dont know where your target is, you cant aim at it. Next come traps: Once lures enable scientists to detect a population large enough to be noticeable, the pest has often moved on. Because the lanternfly is always one or two steps ahead of you, Condos says, traps are key.

Condos is also encouraged by the potential for parasitoid introduction. Getting that bio-control agent up and running, super-important. It takes the pressure off the growers from having to use pesticides, which are expensive.

Inevitably, as things stand now, Condos says, lanternfly will continue to advance.

Despite one false alarm, there have been no live sightings of spotted lanternfly in California.


* * *

In the long main room of the 18th-century Washington inn at the historic village of Yellow Springs, Pennsylvania, 50 or so worried homeowners, gardeners and growers from around the state have gathered for one of the Penn State Extension lanternfly information sessions. This is last fall. Good turnout. Attentive. Heather Leach delivers her talk, calm and cheerful and reassuring. What and where, botany and entomology, strong visuals. The stages and seasonal timeline of the insect, circle traps and sticky bands, how to spot lanternfly and the egg masses and report in to the call center.

Were ten miles from Valley Forge, and the resonance between the battle fought then and the scientists on the front lines now is uncanny. She is optimistic. We can do this, she says. She speaks for 40 minutes or so. When she asks for questions, every hand goes up.

If youve got a lot of lanternflies in a group, how do you kill them all?

Well, it depends, Leach answers, on what you want to use and what you mean by a lot. You can take a fly swatter. Some people are using power washers or hoses to spray them down. They drown pretty easily. If you hose them down, you can kind of smash them with your foot. Or, you can use contact insecticides, which I suggest especially if you dont have very many, using something that doesnt have a strong residual. Its not likely to kill other insects visiting your tree. That can knock out lanternflies and kill them quickly.

Its coming on twilight now, the lights are up in the room and people are shifting in their seats or starting to stand. This is the 17th audience question. Shell answer a dozen more on her walk to the parking lot.

What qualifies a species to be invasive, and is this just a natural process of evolution that were seeing with the introduction of species across the U.S.?

Almost always, when they call a species invasive versus just non-native, Leach answers, it has some detrimental impact on the environment, our society, or our economy. Spotted lanternfly is all three of those. Were seeing devastationmoney being lost, this huge nuisance problem and environmental aspects that are being degraded. Thats why we call it an invasive species.

* * *

Lanternfly and lanternfly intervention protocols and the expense and the shipping quarantines and the business model and the regulations and the pandemic and the last recession and the next recession. These are the forces arrayed against Don Eaton. So for a long time he thought and walked and talked to his wife and his children, walked and walked in the rows of trees early and late, sun on the way up, sun on the way down, talking at the kitchen table and in the conference room, kneeling to pray at his bedside and talking to the bank and the county agent and Penn State and talking to the Department of Agriculture and talking to himself and maybe he can sell part of the farm, the acreage across the road, keep the rest so the family doesnt fly apart and move away, maybe keep the e-commerce business going with his kids. Maybe. Theyll still sell Pink Heartbreaker redbud and rose of Sharonbut online and sourced from other growers. The children and the grandchildren will have a business but not a farm, and that breaks his heart. Hell take his hand off the plow.

In the Book of Job, God tests a mans faith by taking away everything he has. He hath destroyed me on every side, Job says, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.

But Jobs faith does not fail him. He is restored to the world and the world restored to him. Still, science isnt sentiment. Nor is business a parable, nor a mortgage an allegory. This is the state of things.

* * *

It is a pretty place. Redbud and sweetgum, chokecherry and crabapple, hornbeam and plum. Pin oak and yellowwood. Just enough shade to ease the heat. Here in the rows its quiet even as the breeze rattles the branches. You can hear your own footsteps one to the next to the next. Birdsong. The smell of sweet water and clean soil from the creek. And today that blue sky is a certain kind of blue sky, a kind of make-believe blue, storybook blue, a blue that makes you ache for something without knowing what. Peace, maybe. Wings. Hope. Home. Maybe thats what the Eatons have sold all along, a view up through the trees to a blue sky.

But the forest rolls away to the other side of the valley, over the hills and streams in every direction and into the distance and you can sense them out there. A slow darkness in the trees, whispering and spreading. The living shadow. Lanternfly. Waiting.

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Cheap plastic is flooding developing countries were making new biodegradable materials to help – The Conversation UK

Posted: at 4:56 pm

Squeezed by lower fuel demand during the pandemic and the rise of renewable energy, the oil industry is staking out a new future for itself in plastics. Instead of powering vehicles or generating electricity, oil companies are increasingly looking to use their product to manufacture cheap plastic packaging, which they can sell in lower to middle income countries.

The problem? Many countries lack the means to recycle even their own plastics. Countries in the developing world are already inundated with plastic exported for sorting and reprocessing by higher income nations, so oil companies are effectively threatening to flood the developing world with a new wave of virtually unrecyclable plastics. Companies in the US are setting the groundwork for this right now by lobbying to undermine Kenyas plastic bag ban.

The vast amounts of plastic waste that have already accumulated in the developing world are not being adequately managed. Landfill and incineration are the most common solutions, but burning plastics releases toxic chemicals. In reprocessing or landfill facilities, plastics often escape to choke rivers and coastal seas. Even lying around on the soil, plastics cause problems. A team of researchers in China found that the number and variety of insects and worms in soil was significantly reduced when LDPE the kind of plastic carrier bags are made from was spread over the earth.

As pressure to sell more plastics to the developing world grows, so does the body of evidence demonstrating the harms caused by this waste accumulating in the environment. This calls for locking waste plastics in safe sinks, like wood-plastic composites.

Waste plastics from homes and businesses, like used carrier bags, can be collected, cleaned and combined with natural materials such as sawdust. These new composite materials lock plastic debris in a stable form, preventing it from being broken up and scattered into soils and the ocean. New materials could eventually replace plastics derived from petroleum and turn off the tap of new plastics production. But for now, these safe sinks are a vital step.

Our team at Universiti Sumatera Utara (the University of North Sumatra) in Indonesia recently developed a wood-plastic composite for use in construction. Combining LDPE and durian wood sawdust from a local sawmill, we pressed out composite materials suitable for building homes, fencing and furniture. Our study demonstrated that termites native to Indonesia can ingest these composite materials when buried in the soil, but we still need further research.

The termites have LDPE in their guts, but were not yet sure if they are digesting the plastics entirely or just breaking them up into micro and nano-plastics. Some termites cultivate microorganisms in their nests which can degrade LDPE plastics. Do ours? If not, introducing new termites or microbes that arent indigenous to Sumatra might create even bigger problems.

North Sumatra is home to rainforests, rhinos and tigers, and local ecosystems are vulnerable. People living in remote communities typically want the convenience of consumer goods, processed food, medicines and other amenities that come with plastic packaging. But they dont want the waste it generates. Most of these communities lack solid waste management services, so burning and burying are their only options. While people on the nearby Indonesian island of Java enjoy a higher standard of living, their rivers are more polluted with plastic than any others in the world.

Our wood-plastic composite could replace wood, plastic decking or fencing, diverting plastic waste from the environment and easing the pressure on forests for building supplies. But we also need to test if our biodegradeable composite is safe. We dont yet know if it will be more or less of a fire hazard than other building materials available on the Indonesian market. Flammability assessments are important recycled plastic decking recently caught fire and burned down an ancient archaeological site in Australia.

Durian wood evolved in concert with insect and microbial life in Indonesia that was capable of decomposing it. Combining plastic waste with materials that are part of local ecosystems could ensure that resulting composites are biodegradable within the environments theyre created, wherever that is in the world. Scientists have discovered some aspects of natural systems that can break up and degrade plastics. We used termites and their associated microbes, but moth larvae and plastic-eating bacteria might also work.

Worldwide, sawmills are producing dust and flour from local wood that could be combined with ubiquitous plastic waste. Where emerging markets are likely to be targeted with cheap plastic packaging, scientists could adapt our procedure for making composite materials to local conditions.

These composite materials are promising as safe sinks for plastic waste, but they take time to develop. Theyre most useful for countries inundated with plastic waste which lack the capital investment for most technical fixes, and have an even greater problem developing reliable solid waste management infrastructure. Though plastics are a global issue, it is this kind of low-cost, local research that can help solve the plastics crisis where it is felt most acutely.

Cheap plastic is flooding developing countries were making new biodegradable materials to help - The Conversation UK

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Today’s Rental was chosen because I was trying to remember if I had ever heard the neighborhood referred to as "SoFlo" – PoPville

Posted: at 4:56 pm

This rental is located at 1209 6th Street, NE. The Craigslist ad says:

$1,900 / 2br Union Market 2 Bedroom Apartment- VIDEO TOUR (Washington DC, SoFlo)

See walk through video here. Please note, there are two bedrooms, the video only shows one. The other room can be seen in the photos.

Housing vouchers accepted. Available immediately.

This two-bedroom home has granite countertops, dishwasher, washer and dryer, and a brand new HVAC system. The home is on the corner of Florida and 6th NE, so it gets light from multiple angles and is right across from Union Market, two blocks to the metro.

Shared access to a yard.

Pets OK. Parking allowed with a resident permit.

Ed. Note: PoPville is not affiliated with any Rental of the Day properties. Rent at your own risk and proceed with caution as you would with all Craigslist listings.

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Today's Rental was chosen because I was trying to remember if I had ever heard the neighborhood referred to as "SoFlo" - PoPville

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Termite Bait Systems Market Analysis With Key Players, Applications, Trends And Forecasts 2026 The Dow Chemical Company, Basf Se, Bayer Ag, Sumitomo…

Posted: September 21, 2020 at 5:53 pm

While creating this Termite Bait Systems Market report market type, organization size, end-users organization type, availability on-premises in the areas such as North America, South America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Middle East & Africa have been considered. The well demonstrated methods and tools such as SWOT analysis and Porters Five Forces Analysis are employed carefully while forming this market research report. Moreover, to structure these Termite Bait Systems Market reports, markets on the local, regional and global level is explored. Depending on clients needs, business and product information has been brought together via this report that assists businesses in taking better decisions.

With the utilization of significant attributes ranging from highest level of spirit, practical solutions, committed research and analysis, modernism, integrated approaches, to the most up-to-date technology, this Termite Bait Systems Market research report has been formed. This market report brings into light comprehensive analysis of the market structure along with the estimation of varied segments and sub-segments of the market. No effort is left to be made while making this market research report. Termite Bait Systems report is a great resource that endows with the current and future technical and financial details of the industry to 2025.

Download Free Sample (350 Pages PDF) Report: To Know the Impact of COVID-19 on this Industry @

Top Key Players: Termite Bait Systems Market

Few Of The Major Market Competitors Currently Working In The Termite Bait Systems Market Are The Dow Chemical Company, Basf Se, Bayer Ag, Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd., Syngenta, Rentokil Initial Plc, Spectrum Brands Inc., Ensystex, Rollins Inc., The Terminix International Company Limited Partnership, And Arrow Exterminators.

The Global Termite Bait Systems Market Is Set To Witness A Cagr Of 5.9% In The Forecast Period Of 2019-2026, Raising The Initial Estimated Value From Usd 257.3 Million In 2018 To An Estimated Value Of Usd 407.01 Million By 2026. This Is Due To The Increasing Prevalence Of Termites In Buildings.

The Termite Bait Systems Market Report Consists of the Following Points:

The Report Covers the Following, Major Points Precisely:

Major Table of Contents for Methanol Market:

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Research objectives Termite Bait Systems Market:

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Data Bridge Market Researchis a versatile market research and consulting firm with over 500 analysts working in different industries. We have catered more than 40% of the fortune 500 companies globally and have a network of more than 5000+ clientele around the globe. Our coverage of industries includes Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, Semiconductors, Machinery, Information and Communication Technology, Automobiles and Automotive, Chemical and Material, Packaging, Food and Beverages, Cosmetics, Specialty Chemicals, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Robotics, among many others.

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Termite Bait Systems Market Analysis With Key Players, Applications, Trends And Forecasts 2026 The Dow Chemical Company, Basf Se, Bayer Ag, Sumitomo...

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The Oxford Group welcomes another Brazilian company in Boca Raton – The Boca Raton Tribune

Posted: at 5:53 pm

Wall Clic brings to the U.S., United States the construction technology of modular walls Goclic through its exclusive licensee Wall Clic USA, which today signed an important advisory contract and development plan with the Oxford Group for all its investment and development in the country, from Boca Raton.

The goal is to meet needs of the construction market, implementing the technological innovation platform that provides longer service life to materials, faster installations with gain in productivity, more attractive costs, through the core of PVC walls, antibacterial and recyclable material, of centenary duration, with the benefit of Life Warranty against mold and termites and other natural problems with the use of wood

Wall Clic is already established in Boca Raton, Florida and will begin operations in this state simultaneously with the state of Texas, where it has projects already underway.

The technological platform aims to implement sustainable benefits to the construction process, from manufacturing, transportation and logistics, elimination of periodic maintenance necessary by the decomposition of organic materials still used on a large scale in American construction.

GoClic is a Brazilian company that owns the technology, with more than a decade of experience in the creation and development of constructive innovations. The concept is patented in several countries and since 2017 has the North American patent

According to Mr. Pedro Chaves Barcellos, CEO of Wall Clic USA, the receptivity in the United States has been excellent, since the American consumer is demanding and open to innovations that deliver the promised result also because in the last decade, the American consumer came to know and value very much the Shock Windows, also built in PVC with steel or aluminum structure and which already has its characteristic of strength and durability widely recognized in this market.

What Wall Clic does is use the concept of these wall-walled windows being useful for sheds, and any other facilities, from external offices and other buildings based on pillars giving longer service life cycle (delivery Flat Pack), safety and endurance, improvement of indoor air quality, price and installation time suitable for an innovation that actually delivers what is proposed.

An extremely sturdy wall, safe and easy to deploy the coating and finishing on Drywall plates remain to maintain the visual aesthetics, to which the consumer is already accustomed.

The company expects to license exclusive representatives in more than 50 percent of U.S. states by 2025 and has plans to export the technology to other countries, generating jobs here in the United States.

After the implementation of the project, in a short time will make your product right here in Florida.

We are happy with more this company bringing jobs and technology to Florida

The Oxford Group welcomes another Brazilian company in Boca Raton - The Boca Raton Tribune

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Controlling your pests and mold | Parade Of Honor – The Central Virginian

Posted: at 5:52 pm

Dan Ferrell has owned Ferrells Termite & Pest Control for over 23 years. The family-run business has branched out to deliver additional services since that first year.

Ferrells Services Include: Residential Pest Control, Commercial Pest Control, Termite Control, Mosquito Control, Pest Inspections, Wildlife Removal, Condition Crawlspace, Moisture Inspections, Moisture Control, Other Wood-Destroying Insect Control, Heavy-Duty Concrete Floor Supports, Mold Inspections, Mold Remediation.

Real Estate Inspections are performed by a VPMA-Certified Wood Destroying Insect Inspector and Licensed Mold inspector.

Septic Inspections are done by a visual walk over inspection with report. No Pumping (can arrange, please ask).

Water Sample Pick-upThey can shock the water for you and send the water to the lab for sampling.

At Ferrells Termite & Pest Control Inc., we take pride in providing a suite of services that ensures your home or business is free from pests, wildlife and water damage, Dan said.

Dan states, Our customer's health and safety is very important to us, so we have help documents to aid you in preparing for a visit from one of our technicians. Once you contact us we ask that you read carefully any section that pertains to services you need.

Because of the success of their business, Ferrells has partnered in many aspects of Community Involvement. Through their partnerships and sponsorships, Ferrells is regularly involved with the community, in hopes of bringing positive change in the lives of those around us.

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The saga of Decriminalization of Electoral Politics in India and the way forward – 244th Law Commission Report – India Legal

Posted: at 5:51 pm

India is largest form of representative democracy. The citizens of India based on adult suffrage[1] elect their representatives who voice their constituencies concerns and opinions in the parliament and state legislatures.

By Ishan Kapoor

In pursuance of its legislative powers the parliament enacted The Representation of the People Act, 1951. The preamble of the act provides that it is an act to provide for the conduct of elections of the houses of parliament and to the house or houses of the legislatures of each state, the qualifications and disqualifications for the membership of those houses among other subject matters. The Honble Supreme Court of India in the case of Election Commission of India v. Telangana RashtraSamithi[2] held that the Act is a complete code for the conduct of elections by the Election Commission of India appointed under Article 324 of the constitution which provides for superintendence, direction, control and conduct of elections.

The present article deals with the issue of criminalization of politics by analysing various judgments in particular the judgments rendered in Lily Thomas v. Union of India and Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India and suggests the way forward.

Analysis of Provisions related to disqualification on being convicted for an offence

Article 102 deals with the disqualification for membership. Article 102 provides that a Member of Parliament stands disqualified if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by parliament. Article 191 deals with the disqualification for the membership from state legislature which is in concurrence with Article 102 and provides for disqualification on same grounds. In pursuance of these Articles Second Part of the Representation of the People Act 1951 was incorporated which deals with the qualifications and disqualifications. Chapter III of the second part deals with the disqualifications for membership of parliament and state legislatures. Section 8 to Section 11B deal with various kinds of disqualification. In regard to this article the grounds of disqualification in section 8 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951 constitute the subject matter.The section provides for disqualification of a sitting member of parliament or state legislature if he is convicted for any offence provided in the section sub clause (1) and (2) or if he is convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified and would remain disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.The Sub clause (4) of Section 8 of The Representation of People Act, 1951 provided a respite to a convicted Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly/ Legislative Council if an appeal orapplication for revision was filed by the convicted member within the period of three months from the date of order and such appeal or application of revision was accepted by the Court, then in such case the member could continue as the member of the concerned legislature until that appeal or application for revision was disposed of by the Court. The Honble Supreme Court struck down the sub clause (4) of Section 8 of The Representation of People Act 1951 in the case of Lily Thomas v. Union of India[3]as it was in violation of Article 14 and 21. In aftermath of the Judgment of Lily Thomas v. Union of India[4] the present position is that a member of parliament or member ofa state legislature stands disqualified on being convicted for an offence provided in sub clause (1) and (2) of Section 8 of the Representation of People Act 1951 or if he is convicted for an offence for which he is sentenced to a period of two years or more imprisonment and that such person would remain disqualified for that period of imprisonment and a further period of six years after his release.

Analysis of judgments related to criminalization of politics

In the case of Dinesh Trivedi v. Union of India[5]the extent of criminalization of politics was discussed by the Supreme Court of India. The Court held that criminalization of politics is a danger to the sacredness of democracy, the court noted that the crime syndicates is growing in the Indian Society and that the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and criminal elements in the society is on the rise which is adversely affecting the free and fair electioneering process in the county. Supreme Court in K. Prabhakaran v. P Jayarajan[6] held that people with criminal background pollute the process of election as they have no reservation from indulging in criminality to gain success at an election. In the case of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India[7] Supreme Court held that the voter has a fundamental right under Article 19(1) (a) to know the antecedents of the contesting candidate. It further held that voters fundamental right to know the antecedents of the contesting candidate is independent of other statutory rights. The right to vote would become meaningless if the antecedents of the contesting candidate is not known. The Court held that money power and muscle power have polluted the democratic process in India. Supreme Court in the case of Ram Udgar Singh v. State of Bihar[8] held that Politics which at one point of time was considered as the choice of luminaries, noble and decent people is increasingly becoming a heaven for law- breakers.

The Supreme Court in the case of K. Prabhakaran v. P Jayarajan[9] dealt with the issue of section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act which created a separate class of members of legislature who were convicted of offences provided under section 8(1) (2) and (3) and other convicted persons who desire to contest election. The Supreme Court upheld the section 8(4) and also upheld the special treatment and protection that it provided to the sitting members of the legislature. While upholding the said section 8 (4) the court opined that section 8(4) operates as an exception, the purpose of carving out the said exception between the sitting legislator and candidate is to protect the house. It is possible that the government in power may be having razor thin majority where disqualification of even one member may have serious consequences upon the functioning of the government. Therefore, the said distinguishment as created by the section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act was upheld. The Honble Apex Court did not examine the provision on the basis of Article 102(e) of the Indian Constitution which was in-fact done by the case Lily Thomas v. Union of India.

The Supreme Court in Union of India v.Association for Democratic Reforms[10] while discussing about the purity of elections held that voters have elementary right to know full particulars of a candidate who is contesting an election to the legislature, the court further held that a voter has a right to know the antecedents including the criminal records of the contesting candidates before making the choice for whom to vote for. The court further directed the Election Commission to ensure that the contesting candidates furnish information pertaining to whether the candidate has been convicted/ acquitted or discharged of any criminal offence in past and if he was convicted what was the sentence awarded.It is thereby clear that attempt at cleaning the politics by bringing to the knowledge of voter the criminal antecedents of the contesting candidates was attempted by the apex court through its judgment rendered in Union of India v. Association for democratic reforms.

It was in the aftermath of the Union of India v. Association for Democratic reforms judgment that a contesting candidate is mandated to submit an affidavit in Form 26 which is to sworn before an oath commissioner or magistrate of First class or before Notary Public. This affidavit includes details of pending criminal cases, movable & immovable properties, sources of income and educational qualifications. It can therefore be concluded that Union of India v. Association for democratic reforms was an important step in the direction of decriminalizing politics as it mandated the necessary disclosure of criminal cases pending against a contesting candidate.

The issue before the Supreme Court in the case of Chief Election commissioner v. Jan Chaukidar[11] was pertaining to the conflict between section 4 of the Representation of people Act 1951 and section 62 of Representation of People Act 1951. Section 4 of the act provides the preconditions that the contesting candidate needs to fulfill in order to contest the election to the parliament which states that the contesting candidate needs to be an elector for any parliamentary constituency in the county.While section 62 (5) states that a person who is confined in prison would not be entitled to vote in a general election for Lok Sabha or State assembly. The contention of the petitioner wasthat as a person who is confined in Jail is not entitled to vote by virtue of section 62(5) of the Representation of people Act, 1951 therefore he is not an elector and is therefore disqualified from contesting the election to the Lok Sabha or to the state assembly as precondition set forth in section 4 and 5 of the Representation of People Act is not met. The Supreme Court held that right to vote is a statutory right which can be taken away by the procedure established by law. People in lawful custody of police in prisons will not be voters thereby they will not be electors temporarily though their name is present on the electoral rolls. In other words, the qualification to be an elector and right to vote is taken away from the person when such person is in lawful custody of police. The Supreme Court on this basis held that a person who has no right to vote by virtue of Section 62(5) is not an elector for such time period and is therefore not qualified to contest general elections to Lok Sabha or to State assemblies. In order to over-ride the effect of judgment delivered in the case of Chief Election Commissioner v. Jan Chaukidar the then central government got the bill passed by the parliament which amended the section 62 of the representation of the people act, 1951. The amendment added a new provisio which provided that by reason of prohibition to vote under section 62 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 whose name has been entered in the electoral roll shall not cease to be an elector. Thus, the amendment nullified the judgment rendered by the Supreme Court in the aforementioned case and expressly provided that an inmate though does not have a right to vote but he continues to be an elector thereby fulfilling the necessary condition set by section 4 and section 5 to contest general election to Lok Sabha and state assembly. Thus, the said amendment allowed the inmates to contest general elections to Lok Sabha and state assembly by nullifying the judgment rendered in the case of Chief Election Commissioner v. Jan Chaukidar.

Analysis of Lily Thomas V. Union of India Case that barred criminals in politics

The Supreme Court bench led by Justice A.K Patnaik delivered an important judgment in Lily Thomas v. Union of India[12] which has contributed significantly in decriminalizing the political system of the worlds largest democracy. This 2013 judgment had serious aftermath for those politicians who had criminal antecedents. The Judgment delivered by Justice A.K Patnaik led to severe backlash and in order to undo the effect of the judgment then central government came out with an ordinance to override the judgment pronounced by the Apex Court in the matter of Lily Thomas v. Union of India. This ordinance was severely opposed which led to withdrawal of the ordinance.

The Petitioner in the case Lily Thomas was an advocate herself and fought a long litigation battle to ensure that members who have been convicted of criminal offences dont remain members of legislature. The efforts of Lily Thomas led to striking down of controversial section 8 (4) of the Representation of People Act,1951 which provided relief to convicted criminals to continue as members of legislature when their appeal was accepted by the higher adjudicating court. One of the first politicians who lost his membership of parliament was Lalu Prasad Yadav after he was convicted in the fodder scam in early 2013.

The Supreme Court in this particular case specifically dealt with Article 102 (1) (e), Article 191 (1) (e) of the Indian Constitution 1950 along with the chapter III of the Representation of People Act ,1951 specifically section 7 and section 8 of the Act.The specific challenge in the writ petition pertained to section 8(4) of the Representation of people Act, 1951 which provided that notwithstanding anything mentioned in sub clauses (1) (2) and (3) of section 8, a sitting member of legislature would be provided a 3 months period to file an appeal against his conviction and if such appeal is admitted by the higher adjudicating court then until the appeal or application for revision is disposed of the said member of legislature would not stand disqualified due to being convicted for the offences mentioned in sub clause (1) (2) and (3).It was this protection provided by the section 8(4) for members of legislature which was pleaded by the petitioners to be declared ultra vires and unconstitutional. Senior Counsel Fali Nariman who appeared on behalf of the petitioner argued that filing of an appeal will not prevent the disqualification under sub clause (1) (2) and (3) from taking effect until a stay on order of conviction is obtained from the appellate court which is adjudicating the appealreliance upon Navjot Singh Sidhu v. State of Punjab[13]. Mr. Nariman, Senior Advocate further argued that section 8(4) does not provides any rationale for providing special protection to sitting members of legislature and therefore said provision is arbitrary, discriminatory in nature and violative of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, 1950.

Additional Solicitor General of India argued on behalf of the Union of India and stated that as the chances of acquittals in the levels of appellate court such as High Court is very high therefore section 8(4) provides the said protection to the sitting members of legislature from being disqualified pending adjudication by the appellate court.

The Apex Court in the present case in the 28th Para held that parliament does not have power under Article 102 (1) (e) and 191 (1) (e) of the Indian Constitution 1950 to make different laws for a person to be disqualified for being chosen as member of the legislature and for a person to be disqualified for continuing as a member of legislature in other words the apex court ruled that only one set of disqualifications would govern both those who aspire to be members of legislature and those who are members of the legislature.The apex court further held that section 8(4) which craves out special protection for sitting members of legislature from being disqualified due to section 8(1) (2) and (3) is beyond the powers conferred by the constitution on the parliament, the bench held that parliament has exceeded its powers in enacting the section 8(4) and therefore the said section is ultra vires.

The apex court thereby through its judgment rendered the section 8 (4) as ultra vires and declared it unconstitutional. The judgment thereby removed the special protection that was enjoyed by the sitting members of legislature. The law on disqualification on being convicted of offences as prescribed in section 8 (1), (2) and (3) now stands as follow-

The member of legislature would be immediately disqualified from the membership of the concerned legislature on being convicted for offences as mentioned in section 8 (1) (2) and (3) and that he would stand disqualified even if his appeal is pending adjudication, the sole respite for the contesting candidate is that ifthe operation of the said conviction is stayed by the appellate court under the powers conferred upon it by section 389(1) of the code of criminal procedure, 1973 or if operation of such conviction is stayed by the High Court under its inherent powers as conferred by section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 then the candidate can contest the election.

Analysis of Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India Can filing of charge-sheet lead to disqualification?

The chief Justice delivered the judgment of the constitutional bench. The bench opined that it is the responsibility of the constitutional functionaries to ensure that the political framework of the country does not gets tainted with the evil of corruption but despite this mandate the Indian democracy has seen a steady increase in the level of criminalization in Indian polity. Criminalization of politics strikes at the root of the democratic form of government by making the citizenry suffer at the hands of those who are nothing but a liability to the country.

The issue before the apex court for consideration was whether new grounds of disqualification can be laid down by the court beyond the Article 102 (a) to (d) and the laws made by the parliament under Article 102(e) to hold a member of legislature as disqualified. The apex court highlighted that the disqualification as per section 7 of the Representation of People Act,1951 can only take place on the grounds mentioned under the chapter III of the act and not on any other ground.

The counsel for petitioner argued that there cannot be a paradise for people with criminal antecedents in the legislatures. The counsel for petitioner further contended that framing of charges in criminal cases has been recognized as a disqualification for several constitutional posts such as members of Public Service Commission, Chief Vigilance Commissioner and therefore same should be extended to the post of member of parliament and state assembly. It was contended that such disqualification should be extended as members of legislature hold such posts in constitutional trust. The counsel for petitioner contended that debarring a person charged of serious and heinous offences from contesting election is merely a restriction which is distinctively civil in nature.

The court recognized that it is settled law that court cannot legislate. It can merely issue guidelines and directions. It was held that it cannot legislate new grounds for disqualification, the legislature has enumerated the grounds for disqualification and the said provision leaves no room for any new ground to be introduced. Further the court opined that the law commissions 244th report which has studied the question of disqualification on filing of charge-sheet has held that disqualification at the stage of framing of charges is justified given the concerns of criminalization of politics in India. It was also highlighted by the court that the recommendations of law commissions 244th report never saw the light of the day but the report has exhibited the concern of the society in regards to increasing criminalization of politics.

The amicus curiae Mr. Sidharth Luthra Senior counsel opined that if the court is not inclined to insert a new disqualification ground, it can direct the election commission to include a condition in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968 that a candidate against whom criminal charges for commission of serious and heinous offences are framed should not be allowed to contest the election under the symbol of the party he belongs to this would not amount to insertion of a new disqualification and at same time would lead the political parties not to give tickets to persons having criminal antecedents. The Supreme Court rejected this alternative proposal as it held that this would tantamount to adding a new ground for disqualification which is beyond the powers of the judiciary. The court held that criminalization of politics is a termite to the citadel of democracy but the courts cant make the law which is constitutionally not permittable and can only advise the legislature to make law to tackle the menace.

The Apex Court recommended the parliament to draft a strong law which makes it mandatory for the political parties to revoke the membership of persons against whom charges of serious and heinous offences are framed, this in view of the court will go a long way in decriminalizing the political system of the country. The Apex Court held that though it cant stop the candidates from contesting elections if charges are framed against them for heinous and serious offences but laid down certain directions which included mentioning of the criminal cases pending against him in bold. He further needs to inform the political party about the criminal cases pending against him, such political party is obligated to put up on itswebsite the criminal antecedents of the contesting candidates. The Court further directed that the candidate needs to issue a declaration in a widely circulated newspaper regarding the criminal antecedents same needs to be given publicity in electronic media as-well. It was held that complete information in regards to the criminal antecedents of the contesting candidate forms the bedrock of the decision making and informed choice by the citizenry which is the cornerstone to have a pure and strong democracy. It further opined that the time has come when the parliament must make law to ensure that persons charged with serious and heinous offences do not enter the political stream.

Way forward:

The Law Commission in its 244th report dealt with the issue of disqualifying candidates from contesting elections when final investigation report is filed under the section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and charges are framed against such person.

The Commission held that the disqualification after conviction has been proved to be incapable of controlling the growth of criminalization of politics due to the fact that there is presence of inordinate delays in conducting the trial.The Commission report provided that framing of charges stage provides much required judicial scrutiny and disqualification after charges are framed if backed by legal safeguards to prevent its misuse would be sufficient to curb the growth of criminalization of politics.

The commission concluded that once the final investigation report is submitted to the court, the court examines the evidence on record and based upon the judicial scrutiny of the available evidence either discharges the accused of the charges levelled against him by the investigative authority or frames charges therefore if such person is disqualified on the basis of the framing of charges then such disqualification would be able to curb the growth of criminalization of politics.

The commission opined that all charges framed within one year prior to the date of scrutiny of nominations would not lead to disqualification.The cut off period of one year before the scrutiny of nominations would ensure that no person is prohibited from contesting elections on the basis of a false case lodged against him, further the commission recommends disqualification of a person against whom charges are framed only if the said offence provides for a minimum punishment of 5 years. The commission recommended the amendment of Representation of People Act, 1951 and insertion of new section 8B in the enactment which should read as Disqualification on framing of charge for certain offences.

It is the opinion of the author that implementation of the said report will ensure that habitual criminals are prevented from entering the political system of the country.It is clear that the commission has provided sufficient safeguards to ensure that the said amendment is not misused. Implementation of the Law Commissions 244th report would be of great use in reducing the criminalization in the electoral system of India and is the way forward to decriminalize electoral politics.

The Author is an Advocate, Supreme Court of India.

[1] Article 326 of Indian Constitution.

[2] (2011) 1 SCC 370

[3] (2013) 7 SCC 653.

[4] (2013) 7 SCC 653.

[5] (1997) 4 SCC 306.

[6] (2005) 1 SCC 754.

[7] (2003) 4 SCC 399.

[8] (2004) 10 SCC 443.

[9] (2005) 1 SCC 754.

[10] (2002) 5 SCC 294.

[11] (2013) 7 SCC 507

[12] (2013) 7 SCC 653.

[13] (2007) 2 SCC 574.

The saga of Decriminalization of Electoral Politics in India and the way forward - 244th Law Commission Report - India Legal

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