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Study Shows Sugarcane Ethanol Production Causes Air Pollution


UC Merced researchers show burning of sugarcane fields prior to harvest can create more pollution than previously thought, detracting from benefits of the alternative fuel source

MERCED, Calif. — The burning of sugarcane fields prior to harvest for ethanol production can create air pollution that detracts from the biofuel’s overall sustainability, according to research published recently by a team of researchers led by scientists at the University of California, Merced.

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Scientists Propose Thinning Sierra Forests to Enhance Water Runoff


Less water used by trees would result in more runoff, which could benefit farmers and water managers statewide; Project will examine impacts on forest health and other ecosystem services

MERCED, Calif. — Runoff from the Sierra Nevada, a critical source of California’s water supply, could be enhanced by thinning forests to historical conditions, according to a report from a team of scientists with the University of California, Merced, UC Berkeley and the Environmental Defense Fund.

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US Postal Service Enhances Online Service in Spanish and Chinese


WASHINGTON — Customers from two fast-growing U.S. populations — Spanish and Chinese speakers — will now be able to track packages, look up ZIP codes and learn about U.S. Postal Service products and services in Spanish and simplified Chinese on usps.com.

“We’re making it easier for our customers to take care of their mailing and shipping needs at a time and place that is most convenient and in a language that is most comfortable,” said Kelly Sigmon, vice president, Channel Access. “Translation of product pages and FAQs in Spanish and simplified Chinese is the latest example of how we’re improving customers’ experiences on our newly redesigned website.”

After English, Spanish and Chinese are the two most popular languages spoken in the United States. Simplified Chinese was selected for the Postal Service’s website because it’s the most common version in written communications.

Multilingual options are the first major functional improvements to usps.com since the recent launch of the site’s new look and feel. “Other major enhancements planned for the near future will build on the goal of expanding customer access to our products and services and improving customer service,” said Sigmon.

usps.com had 413 million visits in 2010 — more than 1.3 million each day. “Other companies have seen 1 to 3 percent of their traffic driven by their multilingual sites,” said Sigmon. “We’re hoping for the same results.”

According to the 2010 Census, the U.S. Hispanic population grew by 43 percent from 38 million in 2000 to 50 million in 2010 while the non-Hispanic population grew by only 4.9 percent. Of the 55.4 million people who speak a language other than English at home, 62 percent (34.5 million) speak Spanish, and 15 percent speak an Asian/Pacific Islander language. According to the 2009 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census, Chinese-Americans are the largest Asian group (3.8 million) in the United States.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Information provided by the USPS

Traffic Advisory for Modesto 99 from Sierra Drive to Kansas Ave.


Modesto – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the #2 (middle) and #3 (right) lanes on northbound and southbound State Route 99 from Sierra Drive to Kansas Avenue.

Work will begin on Monday, December 19, 2011, through Friday, December 23, 2011, from 9:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.

Crews will work on the roadway in this location.

Motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change based on weather conditions.

Information provided by Caltrans

Traffic Advisory for December 18 and 22nd


San Joaquin County- The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will work to widen bridges, repair the pavement, stripe the roadway and replace slabs on Interstate 5 (I-5) from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/Charter Way to the San Joaquin/Sacramento County line. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time. Work will occur at the following locations:

  • The lanes on northbound and southbound I-5 from the Stockton Channel to the San Joaquin/Sacramento County line will alternately close beginning Sunday, December 18, 2011, through Friday, December 23, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.;
  • The #3 (right) lane on northbound and southbound I-5 from Eight Mile Road to SR-12 will close beginning Monday, December 19, 2011, through Thursday, December 22, 2011, from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.; and
  • The on and off-ramps on northbound and southbound I-5 from MarchLane to the San Joaquin/Sacramento County line will alternately close beginning Sunday, December 18, 2011, through Friday, December 23, 2011, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

Motorists should expect 20 minute delays. Alternate routes should be taken whenever possible.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change.

Information provided by Caltrans

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