Corn could combat snow

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants to use corn to combat snow drifting onto roads.

According to the state, officials observed the success of an Iowa program that used corn rows as a snow fence.

They say there was a significant reduction in snow drifts when farmers left eight to 16 rows of corn standing parallel to highways.

Germans wary of ethanol fuel

BERLIN (AP) -- Eco-friendly Germans happily separate their trash into at least four separate recycling bins, but are refusing in droves to purchase gasoline with higher levels of ethanol.

Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle met with oil industry and auto representatives on Tuesday for talks on how to ease public fears that the fuel is harmful to their cars and even to the environment, concerns he says are unfounded.

The government ordered gas stations in February to make so-called E10 gasoline with 10 percent ethanol its standard fuel to meet European Union biofuel targets.

But concerned consumers have widely been opting for lower-ethanol, higher-priced super unleaded fuel amid fears E10 could damage vehicles.

Gypsy moth spray planned

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- Agricultural officials are preparing to launch their largest air war ever to protect the forests of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin against gypsy moths.

In the wake of infestations found in the region last year, including in Duluth, experts in both states are expanding aerial spraying to keep the leaf-eating, tree-killing gypsy moth caterpillars in check.

In June, planes will spray a natural soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki that kills the caterpillars.

In July, they'll drop synthetic hormone flakes to confuse male moths so they can't mate and help the population expand.

State officials say neither Btk nor the mating disruptant are toxic to people, animals, fish or plants.

The invaders, which originated in Europe, have been on a century-long march westward across North America, and the front lines have reached northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.

Prison sentence handed down over undocumented workers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The owner of a Southern California furniture manufacturing company has been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for hiring illegal immigrants.

Prosecutors say 57-year-old Brownwood Furniture owner Rick Vartanian was told earlier that 61 of his 73 workers at the Rancho Cucamonga firm were illegal immigrants.

In November 2009, Vartanian told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that the illegal immigrants no longer worked for Brownwood Furniture, but investigators discovered 18 illegal immigrants were still working for him.

The Los Angeles Times says Vartanian, who was convicted of obstruction of justice and employing illegal immigrants, was sentenced Monday by a Los Angeles federal judge.

Brownwood Furniture vice president Michael Patrick Eberly pleaded guilty to employing illegal immigrants and he was placed on a years' probation and fined $10,000.

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