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Flowers are University of Georgia horticulturist Paul Thomas’sspecialty. And, for holiday plant suggestions, they’re his toppick. But when asked, “What was the best plant you’ve ever gottenfor Christmas?” his answer is: “A ming aralia that I got from mymother-in-law. It’s strictly a foliage plant, and it looks like abonsai. It’s really awesome.”Ming aralias, specifically polyscias fruticosa ‘elegans’, havecarrot-like foliage and woody stems as they get older. A mingaralia was “the plant for kings and queens to have,” he said. “Itgrows slowly and beautifully.”While they are beautiful and do make good gifts, they’re also achallenge, he said. The biggest danger is overwatering andover-fertilizing. They only need a tiny bit of diluted fertilizerevery few months.When it comes to buying gift plants, the best place to purchasethem is at a local florist’s shop. “They have the best quality,and they’re grown by specialists for the highest quality,” he said.Thomas likes to give flowering plants as gifts. A deep basketfilled with a few pots of colored calla lilies or a basket with acluster of cyclamen topped with white or silver grass “makes astunning gift,” he said.For gift giving, Thomas suggests:• Calceolaria. The flowers look like a pocketbook, which gives itits common name of ‘pocketbook plant.’ “It’s just cool andunusual,” he said. Flower colors range from yellow to bright redwith polka dots. The flowers are delicate, so handle it carefully.The plants must be kept moist but not flooded with water. Theylike sunny windowsills that are cool but not freezing. There,they’ll last about a month. They can’t be saved and plantedoutside in Georgia, because they will die of plant diseases.• Cinerarias. These plants look like daisies, but their colorsare more intense, or, as Thomas puts it, they have “five timesthe impact” of daisy flowers. The blossom colors range frompurple to yellow.Like calceolaria, they need sunlight and water. “Don’t let eitherof these plants dry out ever,” he said. “I put them on my coffeetable during the day and on the windowsill at night.” They willlive about six weeks.• Cyclamen. These plants bloom white, pink or bright red. Theycan be found in grocery stores, aren’t expensive and are a greatsubstitute for poinsettias if someone is allergic to latex, whichis found in poinsettia plants. Kept cool and moist, cyclamenblooms will last three to four months. “Buy five or six plantsand put them in a big basket with white or silver grass, like thekind they sell at Easter,” Thomas said. “It makes a really niceChristmas gift.”They’re also a good gift plant if the holiday you celebrate isn’tChristmas. Because they are native in Israel, they are a goodchoice as a Hanukkah plant, he said.• Miniature roses. These tiny blooming beauties can do doubleduty as both a holiday plant and a garden attraction come spring.They prefer cool spots inside until all chance of frost haspassed. Then plant them near the foundation or in anotherprotected area of the yard.• Calla lilies. “Normally, people would buy bouquets of callalilies, but sometimes florists will sell calla lily bulbs inpots,” Thomas said. When growing calla lilies, their bulbs shouldbe kept moist and their flowers dry. The stems also need to bestaked so they won’t fall over and break.“Three to four pots in a deep basket are a really nice gift,” hesaid. “They’ll last a long time.”Before visiting a local florist, give them a call, Thomas said,especially if you have one type of plant you might want to giveto several different people. “Get your orders in now to get thebest quality for the Christmas season,” he said. read more
Prior to that, it was under the enhanced community quarantine—the most restrictive form of lockdown—for more than two months./PN It added that reports of hospital claims of reaching full capacity of COVID-19 patients should be taken with a grain of salt since not all of them have complied with the DOH’s requirement that 30% of bed capacity should be allocated for COVID-19 patients. MANILA – Instead of being downgraded to modified general community quarantine, Metro Manila may return to “stricter” community quarantine by July 16, the Malacañang said. The Department of Health (DOH), for its part, said that state hospitals in Metro Manila are not yet overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases but are in “moderate risk level.” “We go back to stricter quarantine or provide more facilities,” Roque said in an online media forum yesterday when asked about the government’s possible action in case of strained hospital capacity. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said yesterday that it could happen if hospitals in the capital city hit capacity due to a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Based on DOH data as of June 30, Metro Manila’s critical care and isolation bed utilization were at 62.18%, while the doubling time for COVID-19 cases was 8.19 days. The National Capital Region has been under general community quarantine since June, which entailed easing of restrictions on public transport and businesses in a bid to move the economy forward. read more
Panelists discussed how traditional media and social media drive the 2016 presidential election Tuesday in the third installment of the Road to the White House series, “Media and Politics: Traditional, New Media and Social Media,” Tuesday at the Ground Zero Performance Cafe. The event included a panel featuring John Thomas, CEO and president of Thomas Partners Strategies; Bob Shrum, Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife; Laura Davis, digital news director of the Annenberg Center; and Alison Main, a student producer for Annenberg TV News, discussed how the 2016 presidential election is portrayed in the media. Dan Schnur, the director of USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and Jack Walker, associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan, moderated the event. The panelists all stressed the importance of traditional media in campaigns, as it is where people still get a majority of their information, despite the large reliance on social media by presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.“Traditional media is still critical,” Shrum said. “We are fascinated with social media, but it’s a tool, it’s not a message. You have to have a framework or a message.” Thomas expressed his concern for people becoming screen agnostic. People watch television on their phones and computers, requiring politicians to follow their lead. To counter this issue, politicians will use social media to kickstart their broadcast campaigns. Social media is a conversation starter.Davis brought up how this is shown through Donald Trump’s use of Twitter. He will tweet something controversial early in the morning before an interview so there will be something to talk about in the broadcast. This strategy helped him get to where he is because it reaches the public more than traditional advertising. “Three years ago, five to seven percent of our persuasion budget was on online activities,” Thomas said. “Now we are at 15 to 20 percent, and every cycle it seems to inch up by 2-7 percent.”However, social media isn’t always reliable, Thomas said, adding that though social media is heavily used for advertising a campaign, it is still filled with clutter. The panel mutually agreed that though there is an advantage to the use of social media, it is still filled with false advertising and sensationalized articles. Davis said that as the digital news director of the Annenberg Media Center, she understood the dangers of social media and warned of what she called the “filter bubble.” In the “filter bubble,” Davis said, social media allows one to create their own world and reality, and in this world there are fake news sites and propaganda trying to take advantage of individuals’ bubble. Davis said that this can hinder one’s ideas and stances on issues.“Fake news organizations are growing on Facebook, and this content is getting spread,” Davis said. “I think it’s having an actual effect on democracy, because people are not believing sources like they might have in the past. I think the filter bubble, the algorithms that the social networks use to show you content that they think you want is having a real impact on democracy and possibly on this election.”Though social media has a large influence on campaigns, Thomas still stressed the need for stories to be told in politics, as nothing can be told without a story. Shrum added that a message must be framed, because social media comes and goes as trends do, but stories will always stay and maintain their importance in politics. “Campaigns still need certain basic things,” Shrum said. “They need a message and framing. They need discipline. They need polling and survey research and focus groups. If they don’t have them, or they don’t choose to use them, then this [social media] can become a lethal weapon that you turn on yourself.” read more